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An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge


Postby Marag » Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:56 pm

Route description: Heritage Trail: Tolsta to Lional

Date walked: 19/07/2015

Time taken: 3.5 hours

Distance: 20 km

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As my family is from Ness and I had always heard stories from my relatives of the Airaidhean (sheilings) at Cuisheadar, Dibidale and Heilistoter I thought that I would walk the "Heritage route" between Sgiogarstaidh (My dad's village) and Tolsta in order to get a feeling for the interior of the island I was born and bred on. I was egged on by a wee yellow book I bought the previous year entitled "Western Isles Walking Guide".
I was let out of the car at the Sgiogarstaidh road end by my dear wife at 12.30pm on what appeared to be a short break in the weather. Within 30 minutes I arrived at Bonny Cuisheadair which, despite the "Western Isles Walking Guide's" assurance that it was full of ruins, turned out to be quite well cared for with well maintained huts some of them surrounded by mown grass and planters. Some wag had also placed a sign warning the unsuspecting walker of koala bears!
From Cuisheadar however, thing got bleak. The most noticeable thing about the walk is that, after Cuisheadar, the path disappears. Secondly, the "waymarkers" also seem to disappear; being painted green and yellow (the same colour as the moor). What followed was a very arduous bog slog over some of the worst moorland I have ever walked (I've walked a lot). Despite careful inspection of the terrain, I fell waist deep in deep bogs at least twice; the second time loosing one of my walking poles.
There were only two highlights. The first was the view from on top of the rise above Feliscleiter where you could see the houses of Sgiogarstaidh and the Traigh Mhor and the houses of Tolsta. The second was the view over the sea crags to Tolsta from the top of the slope leading down to Dibidale. After climbing out of Dibidale the going got slightly less boggy and became more heathery and slightly drier under foot. One entertainment was imagining the nutters who had tried to ride quad bikes on "The trail" as their tracks were still clearly visible.
I managed to reach "the road to nowhere" and met my nearest and dearest at precisely 4pm at the "Traigh beag" carpark in the middle of a downpour.
Overall, I've had worse walks although they escape me just now. This walk should only be attempted by drunken squaddies as a bet and could not in anyway be described as enjoyable. Furthermore, the person who wrote the "Walking guide to the Western Isles" had clearly not done this walk and should be shot at dawn! I was reasonably fit having had done 12 Munros already this year so, although arduous, I made it comfortably. My biggest fear is that, based on the "Walking Guide", some unsuspecting soul may attempt the walk thinking it to be the easy and pleasant stroll described in the book. As a final laugh the sign at the Tolsta end of the "Trail" states, "Thoir an Aire (take care), waterproof boots may be required"!! No mention is made of the need for a snorkel or a kayak!!!
Marag
 
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby Sgurr » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:14 pm

That is a shame, since it looks as if it is marked on the map as a path all the way. We have yet to climb Muirneag, and had thought that doing it from Tolsta would be the best bet (no marked path). Any comments, in light of your experience? Do you have a GPS that confirmed you were on where the path is marked?
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby SecretSquirrel » Thu Jul 23, 2015 6:48 pm

It does indeed sound pretty grim and WH seem to agree with your assessment! ....

Walkhighlands wrote:Heritage Trail: Tolsta to Lional
Terrain
Apart from the minor roads at both ends, this route crosses very boggy moorland with infrequent waymarkers. Appropriate footwear (flippers!) and navigation skills essential.
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby Sgurr » Thu Jul 23, 2015 8:57 pm

SecretSquirrel wrote:It does indeed sound pretty grim and WH seem to agree with your assessment! ....

Walkhighlands wrote:Heritage Trail: Tolsta to Lional
Terrain
Apart from the minor roads at both ends, this route crosses very boggy moorland with infrequent waymarkers. Appropriate footwear (flippers!) and navigation skills essential.



Oh dear. Now I now why husband has been avoiding Muirneag... though the slight elevation could possibly mean better drainage?
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby basscadet » Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:45 am

Aye, its a boggy part of the world.. I did some of this walk last year, but must of turned round before the really grim stuff began!
We struggled to get 300 yards across the bog near Ness to get to a broch, so not part of the world to be travelling off piste :?
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby MountainHare22 » Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:53 am

I started at the road to nowhere end but gave up as the weather was very poor, however I too had a similar experience with one of the other walks in that same guide, it seems it is a good book for those who like soul destroying trudges across deep bogs with relatively little reward!
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby Marag » Mon Jul 27, 2015 9:09 am

Sgurr wrote:That is a shame, since it looks as if it is marked on the map as a path all the way. We have yet to climb Muirneag, and had thought that doing it from Tolsta would be the best bet (no marked path). Any comments, in light of your experience? Do you have a GPS that confirmed you were on where the path is marked?


I have to smile at the accusation that I probably missed the path. If you don't believe me then please have a go yourself and enjoy.
Marag
 
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby Caberfeidh » Tue Jul 28, 2015 6:57 am

Ah, the wild, windswept and deserted boglands of North Lewis. Deserted for a reason! The natives don't go there...
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby domhnull » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:24 pm

Here's one Tolsta native who has done the walk many times and plans to do it again later this month (on the 27th). I would give it a maximum Bog Factor of 4 (and maybe only 3). My advice to anyone is do it North to South, forget the posts, keep the sea on your left, use common sense and you can't go wrong. Of course, it's easier after a spell of dry (or frosty) weather. Unlike Muirneag, it is a walk I am happy to repeat. At the moment, it's easily done on public transport from Stornoway - on a Saturday, 08:50 W2 for Shawbost connects with the W1 to Ness at Barvas (Skigersta 09:53) and you should catch the 15:05 W5 from Tolsta to Stornoway 15:44 (there's also one at 17:05, 18:45, 20:30 and 21:55, so no pressure) (but bus services are under threat just now, so check it out).
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby Sgurr » Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:20 pm

Since my last reply, I have done Muirneag, and due to a dry summer, found it not nearly as bad as we had feared. At least we got back.

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=21028
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Re: An awful, dangerous and soul sucking drudge

Postby janetdonnelly » Mon Sep 27, 2021 12:12 am

I couldn't agree more....did it today and my only advice is that as well as flippers, pack yourself a small boat...and maybe some waders...

Best idea: ignore the 'path' and the markers and head for the coast where you'll find a dry, well trodden path with spectacular views. It's not on the map but it's infinitely preferable to the soul destroying, energy sapping, hell that is the 'heritage trail'
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