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Snow and sunshine - 3 nights on Skye

Snow and sunshine - 3 nights on Skye


Postby malky_c » Tue Apr 27, 2021 3:00 pm

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn na Caillich (Kylerhea), Sgùrr na Coinnich

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn nan Carn, Ben Meabost, Sgùrr na h-Iolaire

Date walked: 12/04/2021

Time taken: 18.1 hours

Distance: 35.5 km

Ascent: 1765m

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Another long weekend was looming (I had gone back to work for a couple of days rather than take the entire Easter fortnight off). While sub-zero temperatures and snow showers seemed to be the theme after our mini heatwave in Torridon (temperatures all the way into double figures :lol: ), the wind looked to be dropping again, and plenty of sunshine was forecast between the showers. After initially planning to go down to Glenelg and Arnisdale, we swapped at the last minute for the other side of the water. Jackie was uncertain of her abilities and there was a much wider selection of small hills on Skye. We packed for a couple of nights of camping, fully expecting to give up after one.

Friday 09/04/21 Sgurr na h-Iolaire: 170m ascent, 3km, 2 hours, 10 minutes.

The weather had varied on the drive over from bright sunshine to driving snow, but winter was definitely back on the hills for a short while. As an easy warm-up for the first day (it was getting on for 3pm by the time we crossed onto Skye anyway :roll: ), we decided to head down the Sleat peninsula again. Sgurr na h-Iolaire would be a quick summit with great views.


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Parking up at the weir on Loch Dhughaill, we set off in sunshine. The water was running over the top of the weir but it wasn't too deep, and on the other side was a path of sorts. We could see the trig point at the summit of the hill so this wasn't going to take too long.

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Loch Dhughaill

The ground was a little squelchy and heathery but nothing particularly bad. Halfway between the end of the loch and the summit, it began to snow again. Lightly at first and then quite intensely! Since we had picked this hill for the views, we decided to hide behind a rock and wait it out. About 15 minutes later, the sun returned and we moved on.

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Heading for Sgurr na h-Iolaire

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Weather moving in

We took a direct route up the craggy face of the hill, finding a ledge to lead us through, and 5 minutes later we were on the summit. The cloud was gradually clearing, and when it had gone, it was well worth the wait lower down.

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Weather clearing again - Blaven and the Red Cuillin

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Blaven, Garbh-bheinn and Belig

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Rum emerging from the cloud

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Loch Nevis

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Blaven

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Beinn Sgritheall and Loch Hourn

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Last look up Loch Slapin

After a good 40 minutes enjoying the views, we retraced our steps back to the car. It was now early evening and time to find somewhere to camp. We had ideas of wandering down towards the Point of Sleat and finding somewhere secluded to put the tent up, but another snow shower and laziness drove us to pick a spot on the Tarskavaig road that we were already on. We just had time to put up the tent before it snowed heavily again for 30 minutes.

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Crossing the weir at Loch Dhughaill

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Knoydart and the Sound of Sleat from our camping spot

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Ladhar Bheinn

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Another snow shower over dinner

Later on we drove back to the high point of the road for sunset over the Cuillin - it was bloody freezing :lol: . The night in the tent was pretty cold too (dropped to around -3 I think) - I need a new sleeping bag!

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Cuillin from the top of the Tarskavaig road

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Sun going down over the Little Minch

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Black Cuillin

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Last of the sun obscured by cloud
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Saturday 10/04/21 Sgurr na Coinnich, Beinn na Caillich: 750m ascent, 8.5km, 5 hours, 50 minutes.

The following morning had more snow showers interspersed with strong sunshine. A look at the weather forecast hinted that the expected band of rain on Sunday evening had now disappeared, and Monday looked good too. We had decided against Jackie's better judgement to go up one or both of the hills north of Kylerhea Glen today, but we went into the Co-op at Broadford first to get an extra day's worth of food - we might stick it out longer than planned if the cold didn't get to us first!


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Parking up on Bealach Udal, we set off up the slopes towards Beinne na Greine. Due to the snow showers of the last week, there was actually quite a fair coverage up here which made the going more difficult than expected. Although we picked out a faint quad bike track for parts of the ascent, the vegetation was thicker than I had remembered.

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Ben Aslak above Bealach Udal

After 40 minutes or so, we had made some progress but not as much as hoped for, and it started to snow heavily again. We sheltered behind a boulder and had some lunch (a late start as ever), and Jackie told me she felt awful. I had undersold the difficulty of the route as usual and she didn't really feel like going on.

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Surprise - it's snowing again!

As usual though, she was stubborn, and after I suggested turning back, she decided to carry on at least to the ridge above so we could get some views. There was more heather and pockets of deep snow, but eventually we were on the ridge and the summit looked more achievable. She perked up a bit and we pushed on to the top, the views improving all the time.

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Rum and Loch Eishort

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Black Cuillin starting to emerge

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On our way up Sgurr na Coinnich

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South over Ben Aslak and Beinn na Seamraig

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Broadford, Scalpay and the Cuillin

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Eigg

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Looking across Kyle of Lochalsh towards Applecross

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Kyle of Lochalsh from Sgurr na Coinnich

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Inner Sound

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Loch Alsh and Kintail

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Jackie on Sgurr na Coinnich

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Kyleakin and the Skye Bridge

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Loch Alsh

This summit is really excellent once you get above the initial heather. It is quite steep and rocky and you are in a pivotal location with Knoydart, Kintail, Applecross and the Cuillin all looking marvellous, as well as the inlets to the various sea lochs and the Inner Sound. Despite the moderate height and time of year, it felt like full-on winter up here - probably our most wintery walk this season. I pointed out Beinn na Caillich for a future visit, but before I knew it we had come up with a plan to drop down to the base of it (with a traverse back across the slopes of Sgurr na Coinnich possible if Jackie changed her mind about going up). We dropped down to the col, feeling more like we were on the high ridges of Kintail, and Jackie decided that she wanted to have a go at Beinn na Caillich.

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Beinn na Caillich

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Looks like we're going up!

I vaguely remember a path of sorts here, but the preferred route today was to stick to the west side of the ridge and away from any icy rocks. Here, we could climb up steep heathery snow and weave about to avoid the most awkward bits. Again the going felt way more epic than we would have expected from these hills, and before too long we were on the ridge with a short ascent to the summit.

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Looking back to Sgurr na Coinnich

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Up the steep bit

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Looking down on Kyle Rhea and Glenelg

Spirits had risen and we weren't too bothered about being hit by more snow showers - they were always temporary and followed by sunshine. In the end we only really caught the edge of some flurries, and were glad we had made the effort. I think this hill has even better views than the other one so I was glad (and surprised) we'd made it this far.

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More weather moving in over Glenelg

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Loch Alsh and Loch Carron

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Weather on Glas Bheinn

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Inner Sound and Raasay

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Looking down onto Kyle

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Black Cuillin and Blaven above Broadford

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Kyle Rhea

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Luinne Bheinn and Ladhar Bheinn

Earlier in the week we had considered camping up here, but I'm glad we hadn't bothered. I don't think my gear is warm enough and I think Jackie would have struggled in the snow with a backpack in her current condition. We dropped back down to the col following our footprints and readied ourselves for a slightly tedious traverse back to the starting point. One day I intend to do a proper horseshoe of these hills and Ben Aslak from Kylerhea, but it hadn't really fitted the bill today as Jackie wouldn't have been able to manage the required ascent.

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Knackered!

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Looking back at Beinn na Caillich

The traverse started well, then we dropped steeply into Coire na Coinnich. Amusingly this is where it got rough (looking back at a report I had written for doing this in 2013, I had called this section easy and the traverse we had just done rougher :roll: . Seems I have finally found out what it's like to be caught out by one of my reports :lol: ). We thought it would be a good idea to just keep dropping down the corrie to meet the road rather than trying to traverse back to the top of the pass. Who knows what was easier, but lower down the corrie, the ground was even worse - steep slopes, deep heather and hidden tussocks and new trees planted!

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Beinn Sgritheall

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Ladhar Bheinn

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5 Sisters above Glenelg

By the time we dropped out onto the road, Jackie was just about done for the day, but decided to carry on walking (I had offered to get the car and pick her up). This was straightforward but involved another 100m of ascent.

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In Kylerhea Glen

We had considered camping spots back down the road towards Broadford on the drive up - we wanted something sheltered from the light but savagely cold north wind. In the end I moved the car slightly to create a barrier and we ended up putting the tent right next to it in our parking spot - super lazy :lol: )

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Lazy (but nice) choice of camping spot

We had a leisurely dinner and were in a good place to observe the sunset again. Despite the chill, the evening was beautiful. In the 15 hours or so that we were at the tent, we only observed one car passing.

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Bla Bheinn from Bealach Udal

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Saddle from Bealach Udal

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Sunset over the Red Cuillin
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Sunday11/04/21 Boreraig and Sushinish coast walk: 420m ascent, 17.5km, 5 hours, 25 minutes.

Another cold night turned into another bright morning - once the sun hit the tent, lying there without my face buried in the sleeping bag was suddenly comfortable :D . Surprisingly after the exertions of yesterday, Jackie felt better than she had the previous morning. The original plan had been to nip up another small hill then home, but the weather looked to be holding so I suggested the coastal loop of Boreraig and Sushinish - quite long but entirely on paths with only gentle ascent.


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Another cold but sunny morning

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Strathcarron from Broadford

By the time we started, the sun was lovely and warm if the breeze could be avoided, and as we climbed up the tramway past the old marble workings, I regretted the layers I had on. After a break and some more walking, we dropped down to Boreraig. This was a beautiful spot with views out to Rum.

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Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn na Caillich from Suardail

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Bla Bheinn

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Beinn na Caillich from near the old marble quarries

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Blaven, Clach Glas, Garbh-bheinn and Belig

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Happy that we're on a path today

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The path to Boreraig

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Sleat and Rum from Boreraig

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Boreraig and Rum

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Across to Sgaith Beinn-an-Uird

We had another break in the shelter of an old ruin, enjoying the view back over a low bit of Skye to Beinn Sgritheall. Then it was onto the shoreline for an entertaining traverse below the cliffs - there was a good path the whole way but the situation was interesting.

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Loch Eishort and Beinn Sgritheall

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West along the coast from Boreraig

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Mainland peeking out behind Loch Eishort

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Waterfall on the coast

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Coast path

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Looking east again

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Eigg and Rum

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Loch Eishort

Climbing back up to higher ground, we traversed round Sushinish to the north, and were then hit by the edge of various snow and sleet showers for the next hour or so. I had been hoping for panoramic views of the Black Cuillin as we turned north, but they were all shrouded for much of the walk. At least the going was good underfoot, although Jackie was now tiring.

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Sushinish and Bla Bheinn

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Rum behind another shower

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Looking up Loch Slapin

We hit the end of the tarmac at Camas Malag just as the cloud began to draw back from Bla Bheinn. It had soon disappeared completely, leaving us in sunshine and a bit of warmth. On the east-facing slopes of Ben Meabost and Nead an Fhior-eoin, fresh snow was prominent, it now being too late in the day to catch the sun again.

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Bla Bheinn emerging from another snow shower

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Bla Bheinn, Clach Glas and Garbh-bheinn

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Bla Bheinn to Belig

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Bla Bheinn and Clach Glas

Jackie eventually flaked out on the walk back along the road and I left her on the shore of Loc Cill Chriosd in the sun to go and get the car from Suardail. We fancied being at Elgol for the sunset, so after picking her up, we continued down the road, looking for a camp spot.

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Bla Bheinn from Loch Cill Chriosd

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Beinn na Caillich

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Church at Suardail

We found a great one on the grazing just after the Drinan junction - brilliant views back to the mainland in the east.

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Beinn Dearg Mor from Drinan

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Mainland from Drinan

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Camping near Drinan

After dinner, we drove round to Elgol and wandered out onto the beach for sunset. You can't really get much better than that - even the cold didn't bother us!

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Rum from above Elgol

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Gars-bheinn and the Black Cuillin

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Black Cuillin from Elgol

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Sgurr nan Gillean and Sgurr na Stri prominent

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Jackie on the beach at Elgol

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Elgol crags

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Rum

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Across Loch Scavaig

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Zoom to Canna

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Black Cuillin and Loch Scavaig

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Sgurr na Stri and Marsco

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Sun going down over Soay

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Sun leaving

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Black Cuillin after sundown
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Monday 12/04/21 Beinn Meabost: 220m ascent, 2.5km, 2 hours, 15 minutes; Beinn nan Carn: 205m ascent, 4km 2 hours, 25 minutes.

Last night had been the warmest of the 3 nights in the tent, but that wasn't really saying much. Still, another bright and sunny day ahead, and a warm bed awaiting us at home in the evening. We were almost camped at the foot of our next objective (Ben Meabost), so after watching the highland cattle surround the tent over breakfast and moving out of the way of some peat cutters who turned up, we packed the tent away and re-parked in the quarry beneath the hill.


Beinn Meabost.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Sgurr Fhurain and Beinn Sgritheall at sunrise

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Sunrise over Loch Slapin

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Cows at breakfast

Ben Meabost is steep but the going was good, mostly on grazed ground, and the plateau was only a short distance away. Jackie had suggested camping up here last night. I had liked the idea, but felt it was already cold enough where we were!

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Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Beag

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Eigg and Rum

Once on the plateau, we headed for a cairn on a rise at the NW side - excellent views for very little effort 8) . While this isn't as impressive as Sgurr na Stri, it is a pretty good alternative if you don't have the time or energy. We spent a good hour up here before deciding to head down.

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Bla Bheinn

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Across Loch Slapin

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Gars-bheinn and Sgurr Dubh Mor

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On the summit of Beinn na Cro

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Across Soay to South Uist and Barra

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Rum, with Coll just visible behind left

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Jaxter

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Canna and Soay

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South ridge of Bla Bheinn

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Sgurr Dubh Mor, Sgurr na Banadaich and Sgurr a Gheardaidh

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Gars-bheinn across Loch Scavaig

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Beinn Mhor on South Uist

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Knoydart biggies across Sleat

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Rum

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Mainland and Sleat

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Descending Ben Meabost

We stopped off at the head of Loch Slapin for lunch, and Jackie decided she could probably manage another hill - why not try to make the most of the great weather?

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Bla Bheinn and Clach Glas

We had earmarked Beinn nan Carn as a possible walk for this trip. I didn't think it would seem that interesting after Ben Meabost, but I was wrong. The temperature warmed up slightly as we drove around to Haesta - a new corner for me. Parking just above the village, we crossed a dyke and followed a fence around the edge of enclosures. There were a couple of boggy moments here but the going was OK.


Beinn nan Carn.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


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Rum from Haesta

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Beinn nan Carn

We started following a burn uphill, concerned that we would soon be marooned in deep heather, but before long we picked up a series of old dykes. We were able to use these and a couple of clear runs of ground to get almost all the way onto the summit plateau, there just being a short steep stretch at the end.

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Loch Eishort from above Haesta

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Mouth of Loch Hourn

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Following a dyke to the summit

The summit didn't quite the views of the Cuillin that Ben Meabost did, but there were probably a wider variety of things to see - we ended up enjoying this hill just as much, and spent another 45 minutes lounging up there.

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Eigg and Rum

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Loch Eishort, Haesta and the mainland

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Cuillin from Beinn nan Carn

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Rum from Beinn nan Carn

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Sleat and Loch Eishort

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Bla Bheinn

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Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Dearg

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Lunch (for the second time)

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Rum

We followed a slightly different series of dykes down to the car, then took a short detour down to the shore of Loch Eishort before hitting the road home.

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Loch Hourn and Ladhar Bheinn

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Haesta and Knoydart

Not overly ambitious compared to our more usual trips, but a really enjoyable few days away. Jackie's Long Covid might be a bit of a life ruiner for now, but at least we are able to do this sort of thing :) .
User avatar
malky_c
 
Posts: 6179
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Grahams:219   Donalds:79
Sub 2000:295   Hewitts:271
Wainwrights:130   Islands:39
Joined: Nov 22, 2009
Location: Glasgow/Inverness

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