Canisp from Loch Awe

Hillwalking route to Canisp from Loch Awe

Of the two main approaches to Canisp, this is the shorter, but has little in the way of decent paths to follow. Some interesting rock formations are passed on route.

Route outline

  Map base ©OpenStreetMap


Ascent 740m (2420ft)
Distance 13km (8m)
Time 4:30hr
Start/finish Loch Awe
Grid Ref : NC250161
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

Compared to other nearby hills and mountains, Canisp is not as dramatic and as such less frequented by boot traffic.

This route starts obvious enough, if a tad wet and boggy, where a vague path winds its way over moorland, gradually becoming rougher until disappearing into rocks, grass and heather. Higher up, a path reappears and leads onto a rocky summit from where a superb aspect of Suilven is seen. Quinag looks pretty good from here too !

Route map

Route description

1. Getting to Loch Awe

Canisp from the bridge over the River Loanan

In the north-west highlands, the A835 travels northwards of Ullapool to meet with the A837 at Ledmore Junction.

A couple of miles north of the junction, the road passes Loch Awe and at its northern end there is a layby on the opposite side of the road from a small quarry. This layby is used primarily by fishermen, so perhaps better to continue onwards for a further '450yds' to park in a layby just north of the loch.

2. Canisp

Suilven from the summit of Canisp

Leaving the roadside, follow a wet path through deer grass aiming for the northern shore of Loch Awe. The path reaches a small wooden bridge over the River Loanan.

Cross the bridge and follow a vague path north-west over soggy ground. After walking over a weird patch of white stones, the path meets with the course of the Allt Mhic Mhurchaidh Gheir - this was completely dry on my most recent visit with grass established along the river bed.

The path then begins to climb and reaches a small bump at c300m, before turning northwards for a bit to lose a little height. The path turns north-west again and meets with a weird quartzite pavement of a watercourse (dried on my visits). The pavement lasts for around 500m, beyond which the path disappears into rocks and heather - look ahead and you should see some cairns to aid route finding.

Further on, the route hits boulderfield after boulderfield and its a case of persisting until around c650m, where terrain becomes easier and more grass-covered and gradually a path begins to form.

Following this path to around c700m, it comes away from the crest and to an abrupt end at a superb viewpoint to Suilven. From here, look on your right and you should be able to see a faint path through rocky ground which leads back onto onto the crest of Canisp's south-east shoulder.

The crest, now grass-covered, leads to a final boulderfield on Canisp's summit , where there is a cairn and to the north of which, also sits a large shelter. Outstanding views of Suilven and Quinag from here !

3. Return

Breabag from the quartzite pavement

To return, basically retrace your steps !

On my most recent visit, to ease the impact on my joints, after descending to the viewpoint to Suilven , I deviated slightly from my uphill route by by descending on grass following the course of a burn. This headed east for around 500m and kept slightly to the north of the crest of Canisp's south-east shoulder. I met with my uphill route again by the cairns just before the quartzite pavement.

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