Clisham

Route No. 100 in Ralph Storers Book 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains formed a fitting end to our excursion to the Outer Hebrides in spring 2018. The 2018 trip to Scotland was the first in 25 years during which we climbed no Munro at all having finished our first – and likely last – round of the coveted 282 hills in September 2017 on A’Mhaighdean.

The relatively modest height of these island hills is more than compensated for by their unique setting: The blue Atlantic Ocean in almost every view from the summits, the sea lochs snaking into the heart of North Harris, the white sand and emerald-coloured water of Luskentyre beach, to name but one of them.

The Clisham circuit of course forms the most challenging and most rewarding high-level trip in Harris. With Tomnaval, Clisham, Mulla bho Deas, Mulla bho Thuath and Mullach an Langa surrounding Loch Vistem and Glen Scaladale this is a ridge walk that need not fear comparisons with many a mainland classic.

We opted for doing the whole circuit in exactly the way Mr Storer describes it. This meant a start at the bridge over the Scaladale River where there was enough space to park our car beside the A859. The hike along the A859 to where the easy path towards Tomnaval branches of to the right took us less than 10 minutes. With the crags of Castail Ard to our left we headed up this hikers highway to the three lochans which appear one after the other close to where the path reaches its highest point. Leaving the path behind we took a line avoiding the crags above Lochan a’Chleit Ard which led us through thick heather up onto the broad shoulder of Tomnaval. Once on the open grassy shoulder it was an easy tramp over successive bands of rock to the summit region of Tomnaval. Before we reached the summit we headed due west to the bealach between this hill and Clisham.

At the bealach we rested for a few minutes before we tackled the … [Read More]

2019-02-08T13:20:25+01:00May 24th, 2018|2018, The Islands|

Ullaval, Oreval, Bidigi, Cleiseval

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, … [Read More]

2019-04-28T18:16:58+02:00May 22nd, 2018|2018, The Islands|

Foinaven

Alex, Frank and me had rented a bungalow very close to the ultra-scenic camping ground in Clachtoll perched above the sandy beach by the Atlantic Ocean. We spent two nights there before we took the ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway. The sunset was very beautiful to watch but the whole spot was a wee bit windy and consequently marvelling at the sea, cliffs and sun left us feeling quite cold before we retreated to our living room.

The program for the next day was simple and plain but nonetheless filled Frank and me with anticipation: We finally wanted to climb Foinaven, a hill whose ascent we had postponed for more than a decade because its remote location and “lowly” Corbett status had kept us from taking a day off from our Munro-bagging quest. Nuts. Indeed.

So, the three of us drove up the A838 to Gualin House where we parked our BMW at the hikers’ parking lot. We went back along the road for a few hundred metres past Gualin House and then struck a more or less direct line across the moor towards the north-west ridge of Ceann Garbh. On the way to the foot of the ridge both Alex and me each inadvertently sunk one of our booted legs into one of the many water holes and tiny pools the heathery land held in store for the inattentive hiker. Once on the first grassy than rocky shoulder of Craig na Claise Camaich and the ensuing ridge of Ceann Garbh we made good progress. Some of us went faster, one of us was not so quick. I struggled to keep up with Alex and Frank but finally they disappeared out of sight. Soon I was greeted by the whirring sound of Frank’s quadro-copter drone, indicating the lads were having a break at the summit. Then I joined them not without having inflicted some significant scratches and bruises to myself: When ascending the boulder field below the summit I had lost my footing and fallen sideways and backwards into a cavity between … [Read More]

2019-04-26T08:19:43+02:00May 17th, 2018|2018, The Islands|