Stac Pollaidh Walking

Stac Pollaidh could hardly be more accessible, rising from a road not far above sea level to a 600m summit in a single precipitous kilometre. But from the top the northern prospect opens out into the loch-splattered heart of Inverpolly, an iconic chunk of Scottish 'wilderness' punctured by peaks such as Suilven and Cul Mor. With neighbours of this calibre Stac Pollaidh has a lot to live up to; and it does just fine. Don't let its size fool you - this eccentric little weirdo is among the most likeable of all Scotland's mountains. There's nothing else quite like it. The weathered crest bristles with a surreal array of sandstone pinnacles, offering all sorts of scrambly variations. If you're into scrambling (or indeed, climbing) it's the perfect place to muck about for an hour or two.

Stac Pollaidh from Cul Beag  © Dan Bailey -
Stac Pollaidh from Cul Beag
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Detailed description

NC1076809536 Paths on Stac Pollaidh used to be a mess but in recent years a new trail has been laid to give a complete circuit of the hill, and provide access to the crest. From the car park take the path uphill through birches; it soon forks. You can go either way (it's a circuit after all), so let's just say right. The path now climbs fairly gently around the east flank of the hill, coming from behind to reach the saddle on the crest between its east and west summits.

NC1099810529 From this saddle you might as well first visit the lower east summit: climb over a bump, and then down a short slabby section into a narrow gap. The top is just beyond. Return to the central saddle and continue along the crest, weaving around or climbing over every lumpy tower in turn as the mood takes you. some lines are easy, others pretty tricky and in places excitingly exposed. An eroded path on the right flank bypasses some of the more interesting bits, but it seems daft to miss the fun. Look out on the left for the weird and wonderful rock formations in Pinnacle Basin (they're not scramble-able, but if you've brought a rope and rack...). Soon reach a squat tower that straddles the ridge crest, a barrier to the west summit. Climb this direct on good holds, being mindful (naturally) of the gullies that cut down to either side. The summit is just beyond.

NC1073010609 Heading back to the tower, you can either directly reverse the way you came up or take an easier but possibly more serious variant, stepping slightly right (facing down) to squirm down a gap and a final big step - with the gully dropping off below you, it's a bit gripping when wet and slimy. Find your way back along the crest and at the central saddle slant down left on a different path to rejoin the engineered lap trail. For the sake of variation why not take the western half of the loop to return to the car park?

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