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A superb day on the Paps of Jura

A superb day on the Paps of Jura

Postby DaveSan » Thu May 05, 2022 3:04 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn an Òir

Fionas included on this walk: Beinn a' Chaolais, Beinn Shiantaidh

Date walked: 28/04/2022

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 17.7 km

Ascent: 1488m

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

There are two ferry services to Jura from the mainland - I liked the look of the one from Tayvallich which went directly to Craighouse on Jura, meaning I could travel over on foot and camp at the Jura Hotel. I had taken the 6pm service the previous evening - a smooth crossing in glorious sunshine with stunning views of the Paps on the way.

I paid for my two nights camping at the Jura Hotel, set up my small tent on the grass by the water's edge, cooked my
dinner and looked forward eagerly to the next day - the forecast was looking excellent and I had hopefully planned my timing to perfection.

After a chilly night, I made preparations for the day and at 7:45am wandered over to the road to await the bus to drop me off at the Three Arch Bridge. A chap by the name of Paddy, from Lancaster, joined me and we chatted and waited …. and waited … and waited. No bus, despite being told by the hotel the previous evening that the service is reliable on a school day, which it was. We got chatting to a young lady working at the hotel out walking her dogs and she offered to drive us if the bus didn’t turn up soon. Tired of waiting, we took up the kind offer and 10 minutes later were dropped off, having paid her the equivalent of the bus fare – she reluctantly accepted it.
At 8:40am we set off together along the undulating path to the huge stepping stones at the outlet of Loch an t-Siob. There were a few wet sections to jump over but overall it wasn't as bad as I was expecting. Paddy was just going for Beinn a’ Chaolais today as he’d done the other two the previous day, so a few minutes after the crossing we separated and I began my climb of Beinn Shiantaidh, which looked pretty daunting from below with vast stretches of scree and rocks in the higher reaches.
Foreshortened view of Beinn Shiantaidh from the loch

I headed up grassy slopes aiming directly for the nose of the east ridge, clambered over a few short stretches of boulder and scree and was relieved to find the path that skirted across the southern face of the hill below the first substantial screes.
As the path rose, it became more indistinct and there was no choice but to head up the steep and loose scree. There were a few stretches of heather to make life a bit easier and higher up, the angle thankfully eased - it was with great relief I reached the summit ridge and headed for the cairn. It had taken just over two hours from the bridge, with the climb from the loch taking about 80 minutes. The weather, as forecasted, was just about perfect – slightly hazy but virtually no wind at all and pleasantly warm.
View from summit of Beinn Shiantaidh looking across to Beinn an Oir (right) and Beinn a' Chaolais

After a brief rest and a bit of sustenance, I set off down the west ridge, taking my time on the precariously steep section over boulders down to a shoulder. A further steep but easier section then led down to a grassier shoulder - I was looking for a path off to the right that would take me off the crest of the ridge to an easier rake. There were traces of a path off to the right but also a more obvious path continuing over the next part of the ridge. I decided to take the latter and a few minutes later saw a wider path off to the right which soon turned left to the aforementioned rake – hooray!
The rake heading down right side of the ridge

There was a good path down the steep rake which led to easy-angled open slopes that presented no problems. Down at the bealach I headed for the obvious leftward-slanting path at the foot of Beinn an Oir and was soon climbing up the well-worn path which veered round to the north and up the long ramp. At the top of the ramp I aimed leftwards for the heathery gap between screes and climbed up to the summit ridge with fantastic views over to the islands and peninsulas to the NW. A short walk then led to the large wind-shelter and summit cairn, which I reached just after 12:30pm - it had taken just 90 minutes from the summit of Beinn Shiantaidh.
Beinn Shiantaidh from summit of Beinn an Oir

A light cooling breeze blew up as I sat eating my lunch in the sunshine and taking in the extensive, if slightly hazy views out to the islands and the other hills of Jura. Although I had now done two out of the three Paps, I knew I still had plenty of difficult terrain still to negotiate, so I set off with care down the south ridge. After a short descent, a spectacular view opened up of the gully to the right.
The steep gully off to the right just below summit of Beinn an Oir

It was then very slow progress on an easy-angled path through rocks and small boulders down to a steeper section. The next part of the descent was somewhat easier on a path that zig-zagged down until reaching a nasty, but thankfully fairly short section of loose scree that led down to the grassy SSW shoulder. A meandering path then led around crags and with just one final short section of scree I was down at the bealach, feeling mightily relieved.
Looking across to Beinn a' Chaolais from halfway down Beinn an Oir

On the way down I had seen a path that skirted round the lower slopes of Beinn a’ Chaolais to its easier east side. I began up an obvious path but as I gained height, there was no sign of that path and crags seemed to bar any easy way to contour round, so I carried on up, crossing a few short sections of scree and aiming for the east ridge. Although very steep, this was straightforward and I eventually reached a well-worn path up the ridge. The going was suddenly much easier and it wasn’t long before I was striding out and at the summit.
It was now about 3pm - it had taken just over two hours from the summit of Beinn an Oir – the weather was still holding although wisps of cloud were threatening to cover the summits. It was time to rest after the effort and concentration of the last two hours and after chatting to a couple who were on their way down, I sat in silence and stocked up on water and food.
Summit of Beinn a' Chaolais looking south across to Islay

Looking across to two other Paps from summit of Beinn a' Chaolais

I seemed to have plenty of time to get back for the final bus at 6pm so took my time on the descent. This began well
and I could see the couple from earlier down below - then I lost sight of them and the ground suddenly seemed to be rockier and steeper. After a bit of cursing, I realised I had veered off the intended ESE ridge and was heading towards the bealach I had crossed earlier. Now committed, I gritted my teeth and slid and slipped down the path until reaching the safe haven of the grassy bealach. This led easily to a surprisingly good path on the north side of the loch that led all the way back to the eastern end where I recrossed the stepping stones. Time was moving on and I still had over two miles of partially boggy path to follow, so I picked up the pace. With great relief, and sore feet I reached the bridge at 5:45pm and just 15 minutes later the bus turned up (hooray!).
That evening I celebrated with a few swigs of Jura (what else?) and reflected on a fantastic day.
Homage to Jura!
Mountain Walker
Posts: 61
Munros:36   Corbetts:221
Fionas:11   Donalds:8
Joined: Jun 27, 2017
Location: Tallentire, Cumbria

Re: A superb day on the Paps of Jura

Postby The English Alpinist » Thu May 05, 2022 9:53 pm

Great pictures and nice report, I might bump up this place ahead of my next Munro plans now. Being also from Lancaster I'm wondering if 'Paddy' is the same chap I met on a rambling club walk, about 6 years ago. I only met him once, but I don't think there'd be too many Paddy's with a walking hobby in Lancaster!
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The English Alpinist
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Fionas:27   Donalds:28+16
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Joined: Oct 27, 2015
Location: Lancashire England.

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