Stac Pollaidh – A Hill For All
Stac Pollaidh – 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 Stac Pollaidh, which we feel is a hill that has something to offer everyone.
The name Stac Pollaidh (pronounced ‘stack polly’), means steep rock by the pool. Looking at the photo above, it’s a fairly apt name!
You don’t need to be an experienced hill walker for this one. Firstly there is a good path most of the way up. Secondly it doesn’t take too long to climb (approx. 3 hrs total). At just over 2000 ft (612m) Stac Pollaidh is classed as a Graham, so quite small compared to most famous Scottish hills. Most climbers however, will not quite reach that altitude, even if they have a head for heights. The true summit requires some fairly advanced climbing skills up & over large pinnacles of Torridonian sandstone. So despite being ‘just’ a Graham, this is certainly a worthwhile climb if you’re a serious munro bagger.
Stac Pollaidh Ascent – Image by Lochinver Landscapes
Photographers too will find appeal with Stac Pollaidh, both from the summit and from the approach. Suilven lies side on to the north next to Canisp. Cul Mor & Cul Beag are seen to the east and to the south Ben Mor Coigach. To the west the coastline is clearly seen and on a clear day so are the summer isles.
Plenty of vistas then, but there are also some interesting close up features at the top. The sandstone pinnacles have been eroded by centuries of rain, wind & ice into some quite unusual shapes & structures.
A characteristic of hills in Assynt is that they tend to stand alone from one another, unlike the long ridges of the Cairngorms for example. This means that photos of Stac Pollaidh are also stunning from the the road in.
Getting There From NC500Pods
Of the four hills lending their names to our pods, Stac Pollaidh is the furthest away. As the crow flies, it’s only about 20 miles, but it’ll take about 50 mins in the car. There is also a choice of two routes to get there.
The main road via Ledmore (A835 then A837) is longer in terms of distance. This route basically loops behind Suilven, Canisp, Cul Mor & Cul Beg Mountains. Follow the road to Achiltibuie for about 5 miles, The car park will be on the left side of the road.
The shorter, slower & twistier route is via Lochinver & Inverkirkaig on the single-track B869. The chances are that you have already travelled the A835/A837 route to arrive at NC500pods. This way is therefore a nice alternative, through a very remote landscape. Turn left at Badnagyle and continue 3 miles or so. The car park will be on the right side of the road.
Since the time for each route is the same, it is possible/interesting to do the journey as a big loop. This mirrors the walk to/from Stac Pollaidh as we’ll show in the next section.
The path from the car park starts from the other side of the road. After a short climb you’ll be faced with a choice – left or right (orange or blue below). Just like the drive to Stac Pollaidh there are 2 routes up the mountain. Again, we’d recommend going up one way and back the other if weather isn’t a factor.
Both paths are well defined and join together before the climb gets steep. You’ll end up on the ridge to see those views mentioned earlier. Judge for yourself how much/little scrambling over the pinnacles you’re comfortable with to climb higher.
Stac Pollaidh Walking Routes From Car Park
We mentioned in out last blog that Canisp is quite featureless and exposed at the top. Stac Pollaidh couldn’t be more different. If the wind is preventing you from having some well earned refreshments, a sheltered spot isn’t far away. Once you explore the ridge a bit you’ll see what we mean. The peaks & pinnacles act as wind blocks along the ridge. This is also reason to be wary however, as strong gusts of wind can surprise you as you walk around bigger rock formations.
The journey down is surprisingly quick, but keep your eyes peeled for deer & birds of prey, that are common in this glen.
There we have it – a hill for all. If you are a hill walker, photographer or wildlife lover, Stac Pollaidh should be on your to do list. Do you agree? Give us your thoughts on our Facebook page.
Thanks to Lochinver Landscapes for the use of the main image of Stac Pollaidh. To see more of their amazing images of Assynt mountains, beaches & landscapes, please visit their Facebook page or website.