River Inver and Glencanisp Circuit.

Start. Lochinver.

Route. Lochinver - Old Bridge - River Inver - Dubh Chais (The Black Glen) - Druim Suardalain - Glencanisp - Glencanisp Lodge - Lochinver.

Notes. Our little guide book promised dramatic woodland walking, a valley full of waterfalls, wonderful views up stream to the massive wall of Quinaig, spectacular vistas to Suilven and Canisp. From experience you should refrain from making promises in Scotland, though I will promise you spectacular beautiful scenery on clear days, but on a grey day like today with low cloud the views were limited. Never fear we will experience awesome river bank wandering through ancient woodland, a slice of Highland history and a wander through a very special Highland estate owned and run by the Lochinver community.

This walk started in the small port of Lochinver, a scattering of houses, shops and various eateries strung out along the waterfront. After parking in the main car park we wandered north through the village, just before the road crossed the river a sign invited us to walk the Glencanisp Loop, we obliged immediately joining river side paths. Through mixed woodland we rambled the fast flowing waters of the River Inver our constant companion.

Good paths guided us up stream, we soon reached a salmon fishery with it's small piers and weirs, the river was wider here, calm and tranquil. We escaped the tree cover before the end of the fishery, here our guide book promised wonderful views up stream to the great ridge of Quinag, unfortunately a promise broken. A few yards further up stream the path swung away from the river, ascending through a glen, a much bleaker landscape welcomed us.

As we ascended the path wound passed a number of ruined Black Houses, the village of Dudh Clais – the Black Village, cleared in the 1800s to make way for far more lucrative sheep, a cruel period in Scotish history. The roofs were burned to stop the residents returning, most knew not where they were going, most ended up in Nova scotia. Over the years we have walked through many cleared villages in the Highlands and Islands but this felt different, I felt sad and lonely, almost depressed ascending through this glen, shivers ran up my spine, a quite moving experience, I was glad of Sues company.

After passing through a large deer gate we ascended to a wide coll, Druim Suardalain, again our guide book promised excellent views to Assynt's famous mountains, not today the views were zilch. A good track descended from the coll, we descended with it. The day may be grey but the gorse bordering this stretch of path was in full bloom, bright yellow against the drab colours of a misty Highland day. The descent deposited us at Glencanisp Lodge, a splendid house built in the 1850s to house the tenant of the new sheep farm, but is now part of the Glencanisp Estate purchased in 2005 by the local community.

After wandering passed the lodge we strolled down the access road, beautiful Loch Druim Suardalain to our left and another promise of stunning views to the “cone-like peak of Canisp and the amazing sugar-loaf summit of Suilven”, I'll take the guide books word for that. The narrow access road safely ushered us out of the glen depositing us back on the waterfront at Lochinver a few hundred yards from the car, and a few hundred more from the pub.

view route map.

home.

The Old Bridge over the River Inver.

What better place to be on a grey Highland day, than wandering along the banks of a rushing Highland River.

The River Inver in a constant hurry to reach the sea.

Further up stream we reached this River Inver Salmon and Trout Fishery.

A change of scenery, the Black Glen a wild and lonely place....

....but not always so. Until the 1800s six households all Macleods lived and farmed in this glen, cleared to make way for a sheep farm.

Ascending to Druim Suardalain before descending into Glen Canisp.

Looking down on Loch Druim Suardalian.

Loch Druim Suardalain, again a promise broken, the Assynt mountains sit under a blanket of cloud.

Loch Inver on view from near the church.

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