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Corbett bagging: Canisp, near Ullapool

Written by Fiona

November 22 2021

There are so many fantastic mountains – including Munros and Corbetts – to choose from near Ullapool, on the west coast of Ross & Cromarty. I picked Canisp because I thought it would be manageable for my whippet, Wispa.

She is still an active dog but at the age of 12 she prefers a mountain that is not too arduous.

Canisp is one of the fabulous Assynt mountains, in east Sutherland. The other-worldly Assynt landscape is dominated by Inselbergs, or “island mountains”, which is the geological term to describe the many isolated peaks created from Torridonian Sandstone and laid down as sand in rivers more than 1000 million years ago.

Erosion through many ice ages exposed and carved the mountains of rock to create the unique and distinctive Assynt scenery we see today. The mountains also sit on an even older Lewisian base rock, which forms the “cnoc and lochan” landscape, also characteristic of the Assynt area.

#WoofHostelling in Ullapool

I enjoyed a #WoofHostelling two-night break at Hostelling Scotland’s Ullapool Youth Hostel. Woof Hostelling is such a great idea.

When I travel with Wispa she doesn’t like to be far from me, plus I prefer to stay in budget-friendly accommodation.

Ullapool Youth Hostel is one of 17 dog friendly “WoofHostels” spread across the country. The hostel has a lovely warm welcome for dogs and humans – and the self-catering rooms and facilities are clean and fresh.

Wispa and I shared twin-bedded room. She had lots of attention from the hostel staff and there were “paws for water” stations and treats on offer. Wispa was very happy with all of this.

The Ullapool Youth Hostel also has a drying room – essential for an autumn outdoor weekend – where we could dry out my boots and jacket, as well as Wispa’s coat.

There is a small lounge where dogs are welcome and this meant there were very few times when Wispa had to be on her own. In the evening, Ben (in a separate bedroom) and I enjoyed a dram and and a board game in the lounge, while Wispa curled up close by to sleep.

I did leave her in our room while I ate my pre-ordered breakfast (dogs aren’t allowed in the kitchen or dining room) but apart from this, she could happily be beside me for the entire short break.

The low season sees Hostelling Scotland offering Rent-a-hostel options. You can rent an entire hostel and there are #woofhostelling rent-a-hostel options if you fancy.

Note: Ben, Wispa and I were hosted by Hostelling Scotland for the two-night break.

Walking Canisp

One of the great joys of Canisp is its relative ease for a Corbett – and the fantastic views it gives of iconic Assynt mountains, such as Suilven, Cul Mòr, and Stac Pollaidh.

The walk follows an out-and-back route of around 12km (7.5 miles) to reach a summit at 847m. With a starting point above sea level, the overall elevation climb is a little more than 700m.

The start is a lay-by just north of Loch Awe on the main A837 road. The route that most people walk leads up the eastern slopes.

You’ll find a path that is fairly obvious to follow most of the way, although it gets a bit more hit-and-miss at higher elevation where the terrain becomes rockier. It’s not difficult to find your way in clear weather but it’s still a good idea to have a map and compass with you.

I have an annual subscription to OS Map, so I take my phone with the route uploaded on to the app.

Fantastic views on Canisp

The rewards of walking Canisp are the views. The vistas of mountain peaks stretch north, east and south, with the added bonus of sea and islands to the west. Looking down from on high, you are also treated to a bird’s eye view of the many lochs and lochans that also form Assynt’s unusual landscape.

It was still autumn as my friend Ben and I walked with Wispa and we enjoyed the seasonal hues of the moors and mountains. Another highlight was hearing – and then spotting – a roaring stag surrounded by more than a dozen hinds.

Wispa greatly enjoyed the fairly easy going slopes, then welcomed a rest and a bite to eat at the top in a large cairn windshelter before we descended. We followed the same general route to descend but ended up heading further north.

It is possible to follow either routes, further north or south, as a return route or follow one up and the other down.

See walking guidance notes at Walk Highlands, as well as my route on OS Maps.

Corbetts bagged: 67.

Also read: 10 great walks with dogs neat Ullapool.

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