The week we spent on Harris and Lewis was divided in two parts weather-wise. Coming from Ullapool on the MS Seaforth we had arrived in Stornoway in perfect weather. This had given us the chance to see the beauty of the island(s) on our leisurely drive to Borve (on Harris, in case you ask which Borve). Once we had settled into our great Borvemore cottage there – the Beach House, which as its name indicates is only 300m from the beach – we explored the surroundings. The local graveyard, the grassy stretch of land leading to the wide bay and the sandy beach. Later and as we had intended from the start Alex, Frank and me watched the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean. Very romantic indeed.
Less romantic was the fact that a front from the West then brought us two days of nearly constant downpour. I managed to finish reading my book on the geology of Assynt, Alex and Frank made some short excursions but generally speaking we were stuck in the Beach House.
Then, after this prolonged rainy intermezzo, the weather was benign again and we finally ventured out into the hills of North Harris. Our aim was to see the great overhang of Sron Ulladale and then walk back to the road via the ridge. Via Tarbert we followed the A 859 to where the B887 branches off towards Huinish. We followed this extraordinarily scenic coast road to the point where the private road to Loch Chliostair joins it. A few hundred metres on the private road brought us to a spot where we could park our car close to where the road was blocked off by a barrier.
We continued on foot passing Loch Leosaid and when the road started climbing towards Loch Chliostair we kept following it. From the end of the road we followed the well-engineered footpath along the east shore of the loch. This reservoir nestles very nicely between Tiorga Mhor and Oreval. At its north end a short climb leads to another small loch, Loch Aiseabhat. Before we continued along the path leading to Sron Ulladal we had a small break at the north-most tip of the loch. Without our rucksacks we followed the stalker’s path for another two kilometres down into the next glen. A few hundred metres shy of Loch Ulladal we stopped and marvelled at the great stone face and overhang of Sron Ulladal. An impressive view indeed.
We retraced our steps towards Loch Aiseabhat, picked up our rucksacks and embarked on the 450 metre climb up the more or less uniformly steep slope leading to Ullaval. This was quite a slog for me but the views from the summit were great. Alex, Frank and me sat at the rocky summit and soaked in the Harris land- and seascape. Great!
With the main work of the day already behind us we headed south along the undulating ridge towards highest point of the next summit, Oreval. From there we hiked to Bidigidh and finally to Cleiseval. On the way we met two or three other hiking parties who had come up from the other end of the ridge. The day was slightly windy but quite sunny and the views from Cleiseval’s summit of the hills and Loch a’ Siar were absolutely fabulous. What can you say or write? You have to see it!
After 20 minutes we tore ourselves away from the summit of Cleiseval and returned to the bealach between this hill and Bidigidh. Starting steeply, then switching to a more relaxing angle, the walk over heather and grass towards the south end of Loch Chliostair proved to be quite comfortable. For maybe 500 metres before the loch end, we walked along and on top of the pipeline which funnels the water of this wide corrie towards the reservoir. Once at the dam of Loch Chliostair the only thing left was the hike back along the road towards our car parked at the barrier.
After two days of constant rain this very benign hill walk gave us all that we had been looking for: Great views, warm sun, Scottish wind and the opportunity to give our old bones some exercise. A perfect day.
Max elevation: 666 m
Min elevation: 39 m
Total climbing: 1704 m
Total descent: -1708 m
Total time: 07:20:32