Canisp – The White Mountain
Canisp – Image by Lochinver Landscapes
The four pods at NC500pods are named after four local mountains. We’ll take a look at each in detail over the next few weeks. This week is Canisp, meaning the White Mountain in Old Norse.
In some ways Canisp suffers from being so close to the more popular Suilven. Of the two, Suilven is certainly the more iconic, frequently climbed & photographed. Interestingly, Canisp is the taller of the two by over 100m & is a Corbett, where Suilven is not. Canisp is therefore a must if you plan on doing a lot of hiking on the NC500.
The summit of Canisp arguably has better views too. Cul Mor, Stac Pollaidh and all of the land down to the coast can be seen. What is really spectacular however is Suilven seen in all of its glory, 5km to the West.
Suilven Seen from Canisp
There is also a great view of Canisp on the way to NC500Pods from the A837 (provided you dodge the mist). The gradient of Canisp is fairly constant, allowing you to see all 847 metres (2779 ft) to the top.
The most popular hiking route of Canisp starts at the north end of Loch Awe. Allow 5 to 6 hours total walking time.
There is a small car park just off the road (A837), which is about a 20 minute drive from NC500Pods. The A837 is part of the north coast 500 route. As hiking on the NC500 goes, you really can’t find closer!
The path from the car park crosses the footbridge over River Loanan at the north of Loch Awe. The path ends shortly after and it is a case of picking your own route through the heather, boulders & bog.
Canisp Recommended Route
Once you gain altitude the ground becomes much firmer, eventually turning to Gneiss* rock. It’s a bit of a slog up that steady gradient to the top from here on. The rock colour will eventually change to the lighter Cambrian quartzite, signalling that you are nearing the summit. This is doubtless where the Old Norse name of White Mountain arises from.
It is also possible to walk to Canisp via Glencansip lodge from Lochinver. This is a much longer walk however (10+ hours in total), so we’d recommend the route above.
The summit is identified by a circular stone cairn. Like most mountains the top is fairly exposed. The cairn is therefore welcome shelter for a much earned rest and a sandwich or two.
Canisp Summit & Cairn
The return route is the same as the ascent. Descending Canisp you will be facing two more Assynt mountains, Conival & Ben More Assynt to the east.
*This type of rock is common throughout Assynt and is some of the world’s oldest rock
Assynt Map showing Canisp Area