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Suilven facts for kids

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2011 Schotland Suilven 31-05-2011 14-58-40.png
Highest point
Elevation 731 m (2,398 ft)
Prominence 496 m (1,627 ft)
Listing Graham, Marilyn
English translation Pillar mountain
Language of name Old Norse + Scottish Gaelic
Suilven is located in Highland
Location in Highland
OS grid NC153183
Topo map OS Landranger 15

Suilven (Scottish Gaelic: Sùilebheinn) is a mountain in Scotland. Lying in a remote area in the west of Sutherland, it rises from a wilderness landscape of moorland, bogs, and lochans known as Inverpolly National Nature Reserve. Suilven forms a steep-sided ridge some 2 km in length. The highest point, Caisteal Liath ("Grey Castle" in Scottish Gaelic), lies at the northwest end of this ridge. There are two other summits: Meall Meadhonach ("Middle Round Hill") at the central point of the ridge is 723 m high, whilst Meall Beag ("Little Round Hill") lies at the southeastern end.


Geologically, Suilven is formed of Torridonian sandstone, sitting on a landscape of Lewisian gneiss. The surrounding rocks were eroded during an episode of glaciation. Suilven was covered by the last British and Irish Ice Sheet. Prior research described Suilven and many other mountains in Northwest Scotland as nunataks, but cosmogenic isotope dating of mountaintop erratics has since disproved this hypothesis. The flow of ice created the distinctive narrow teardrop plan, while carving and scouring the vertical sides of the mountain.


In 2005 Glencanisp estate, of which Suilven forms part and the neighbouring Drumrunie estate, were bought by the local community with the help of the John Muir Trust. The Assynt Foundation aims to create local employment and safeguard the natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of the community and future generations, and for the enjoyment of the wider public.


The most common route of ascent starts from the end of a public road that leads to Glencanisp Lodge, about 1.5 km from Lochinver to the west of the summit. From here a path leads across undulating moorland towards the steep north side of Suilven and the route up to Bealach Mòr (the Great Bealach or Pass) after a little over 2 km. The final pull up to the bealach is steep, and the path has been re-made with many boulder steps. From here the summit is nearby. The summit itself is broad and grassy, though it is almost totally surrounded by vertical cliffs.

Another route starts from Inverkirkaig, some 4 km south of Lochinver: this route reaches the bealach from the south, passing Kirkaig Falls on the way. One may also start from Elphin, on the eastern side. It is possible to reach the ridge without first climbing to Bealach Mòr from this direction, though very exposed scrambling is required, particularly between Meall Meadhonach and Meall Beag.

All these routes involve a round trip of around 25 km over rough terrain.

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