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It was a bit of a wrench to leave Assynt after several days stravaiging (a Scots word meaning ‘wandering’) but we hadn’t quite finished yet. I fancied a longer mountain day, so it was time to visit new ground, and to grab a new peak – Cùl Mòr would do nicely, thank you!
I usually go solo for the bigger, higher days, so Chris decided to take a wander around the nature reserve at Knockan Crag while I set off with Border Collie ‘Mist’ to Cùl Mòr – on the solo days I aim to go for ‘Further, Faster’, to pinch the Montane™ motto and, as usual, ‘Mist’ also seemed up for it.
Cùl Mòr looks good seen from the A835 road, though the weather started dull at first, with the skies starting to clear as I went on. From the parking at Knockan Crag, a great stalkers path gave rapid access – the guys who first trod these paths were not heading out for fun, they were working, and they didn’t waste effort wandering about. Before long I was enjoying views of Suilven, before Cùl Mòr came back into view.
The stony little lump of Meallan Dìomhain (609 metres/1998 ft) gave a good view of what was to come. Another hiker caught me up there, and we had a chat about the route alternatives. I was heading west into the broad corrie between Creag nan Calman and Cùl Mòr, whilst he was going around the north shoulder of Cùl Mòr, going the opposite way round to my route.
An obvious line led me on a traverse of the hillside before heading up a steeper section next to a stream – it looked like this route isn’t used a great deal, but the way was always obvious. The steeper stream section eventually opened out into a broad corrie, leading up to a col. The lower summit of Creag nan Calman (828 metres/2716 ft) was a mere 45 metres higher than the col, so it made sense to collect it – my reward at the summit were great views across to Cùl Beag and Stac Pollaidh.
From Creag nan Calman I could also see a tiny figure on the summit of Cùl Mòr (849 metres/2785 ft) and as I retraced my steps to the col and headed up to Cùl Mòr summit, it turned out to be the solo hiker I had chatted to earlier, heading in the opposite direction to me. From the top of Cùl Mòr, he had also seen me and the dog on Creag nan Calman and asked if it was worth the detour – I assured him it was.
Before we parted, he added that there was a beast of a boulder field on the north side of Cùl Mòr – as the only way for me to avoid it would be to return the same way I had hiked in, I decided to give it a go. It was an absolute monster, though as I was looking down the slope, I was better able to pick out a sensible route than the other guy would have been going up – I was glad to get clear of it though.
Once free from the boulders, it was an easy enough route back towards stony little Meallan Dìomhain, where for the last time that day I saw the solo hiker – apparently he also believes in the ‘Further, Faster’ motto, and the only view I had of him was the rear view, as he pulled away until he was finally out of sight.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock, except where stated otherwise, and which are taken from the Geograph Project and reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence