Quinag – Three For The Price Of One
Quinag & Ardvreck Castle – Image by Lochinver Landscapes
The four pods at NC500pods are named after four local mountains. We thought it would be good to look at each in a bit more detail. This week is Quinag, which is in fact a Y-shaped ridge of three Corbet height peaks.
A Bit About Quinag
The name Quinag (pronounced ‘coo-nyag’), means milking pail – presumably an upturned one.
Like it’s neighbours, Quinag consists of a geological mix of Lewisian Gneiss, Torridonian Sandstone & Cambrian Quartzite near the peaks. Where Quinag differs from lone peaks like of Suilven, Canisp & Stac Pollaidh, is that is is really a small mountain range. It’s a long walk but all three hills can be climbed in-a-oner.
The three peaks on the Quinag ridge are called Sail Gorm – 776m, Sail Garbh – 808m & Spidean Coinich – 764m. The translation to English is The Blue Heel, The Rough Heel & The Mossy Peak respectively.
In last week’s blog we discussed how Stac Pollaidh was a fairly easy walk even for inexperienced hill walkers. Quinag is a different beast that is a much tougher prospect, both physically & mentally.
If you are an experienced ‘munro bagger’ then this will not be the challenge of a life time, but will be a long & rewarding walk. For those who are less experienced, Quinag is a bit of a tester. It’s a much longer climb than Stac Pollaidh, with the occasional false summit to test the resolve. The walk can be shortened to just the first peak (Spidean Coinich) if all three are a little too much.
Like Stac Pollaidh there a great side-on view of Suilven from Quinag. Suilven sits in the middle of the three hills, so the opposite of Suilven is in view this time. There are also some great views west to the coast and North to the very top of Scotland.
Quinag Ridge – Image by Lochinver Landscapes
Getting There From NC500Pods
Drive towards Lochinver but turn left onto the A837, instead of right into the village. After 10 miles, turn left on the the A894 towards Kylesku. Quinag will be on your left, in fact it has been for a while! After 2 miles, turn right into the small car park.
From the car park turn left onto the main road. The path starts a short distance down the road to the right. Cross the bridge over the stream and continue on the path until it forks. The left path leads to Spidean Coinich and is the recommended route (yellow route on the map below). If you intend to summit all three Quinag peaks you will return along the path to the right (white route).
Quinag – Walking Routes From Car Park
The path becomes less defined as you ascend but stick to it as much as possible to avoid boggy ground. Eventually the climb becomes steady and rocky. Follow the ridge to the summit of Spidean Coinich.
Once you’ve had some refreshments & admired Suilven and the other hills, it’s decision time. If you feel that you’ve had enough hill walking for one day, follow the same route back to the car. If not there are 2 more peaks to summit.
Follow the path/ridge down, then up, towards Sail Gorm & Sail Gharbh. The ridge can be narrow at points with fairly steep drops either side – take care!
A cairn marks the point to bear left towards Sail Gorm. From here the route requires a bit of scrambling at points to reach the summit. The cairn sits on a grassy plateau and is a great spot for photos and taking in the landscape.
To reach Sail Gharbh, back-track to the cairn where you previously turned left. Continue to the summit, which is the highest peak of Quinag.
Follow the same route back down intitially, then take the path to left (marked by a cairn). The ascent is fairly steep until reaching the flatter moorland. The path leads back to the starting point/car park.
Expect the 3-peak walk to take about 8 hrs (4-5 hrs for the single peak). By the time you get back to the pods, a quick dip in Achmelvich bay, followed by a beer & a barbecue will be very much required/deserved!
Do you think you would manage all 3 peaks? Have you already done so? Let us know & share your photos on our Facebook page.