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A Pappy day on Jura

A Pappy day on Jura


Postby denfinella » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:55 pm

Route description: The Paps of Jura

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn an Oir

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

Date walked: 12/07/2016

Time taken: 9.5 hours

Distance: 17 km

Ascent: 1400m

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The Paps of Jura! A highlight of any trip to... err... Islay, and they'd been on my bucket list ever since seeing them perfectly outlined from Dun Skeig, Kintyre in November 2014. With various distillery tours booked for some of the other days, we didn't have a great degree of flexibility in when to make the trip to Islay, and westerly winds all week weren't ideal for these exposed Atlantic hills. But Tuesday looked OK, with sunshine and showers forecast and a lifting cloud base. Making the trip in a single day from Islay without booking the ferry meant we needed to be back to the ferry terminal at Feolin by 6.30pm, so we took the 7.35am outward crossing to give us plenty of time.


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



Setting off from the parking layby shortly after 8, the sky looked promising, with increasing amounts of blue sky above the Corran River. Although very boggy in places, the path up the shallow glen was mostly clear and often gave reasonably good going. Coming over a small crest the trio of Paps were visible together for the first time today. Beinn Shiantaidh in the foreground was free of cloud, although the summits of the other two were still stubbornly hidden away. But only just...

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Somehow we made it to Loch an t-Siob' with dry feet. Even better, the stepping stones over the Corran River were the type that were easily negotiated - without them it would be a tricky river to cross.

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Beyond the loch, the ascent to the north was drier underfoot but soon pathless. Clouds were speeding in from the west, but Beinn a' Chaolais (summit no. 3) was now free of cloud. A slowly rising path traversed the south-eastern slopes of Beinn Shiantaidh with excellent views, before an abrupt turn uphill was needed as the path fizzled out. Waterproofs on as the first spots of rain arrived.

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Disappointingly after the earlier sunshine, the views from the summit were patchy at best:

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On descent, the mist made it look like we were about to step off the ridge into nothingness. Soon we emerged back under the cloud base though, with tantalising views across to the east face of Beinn an Oir:

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As the ridge narrowed it briefly became very windy before we cut to the right to find the gully mentioned on the walkhighlands description.

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We found the gully without any problems, but actually descending it wasn't quite so straightforward. Loose, wet rocks and soil made getting to the base trickier than the photo below suggests - hands definitely needed.

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From the base of the gully there were great views across Jura's wild northern parts. It was sunny far away over there:

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Meanwhile Beinn an Oir was still cloud-covered, but the ascent route (rising diagonally from left to right) was clear.

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Before that we still had a surprisingly long descent to the bealach. The "shower", which had turned out to be quite a serious one, had gradually been getting heavier on the descent and we waited far too long to put on waterproof trousers. We ended up doing it on an exposed rock with heavy horizontal rain pouring down, having to take boots off in the process... not the best-timed decision! Behind us, Beinn Shiantaidh was laughing at us, improbably now cloud-free.

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Predictably enough the rain eased off as soon as trousers were on :crazy: and we began ascending Beinn an Oir. Here we met the only other walkers all day, who were planning just to climb two of the Paps as they had a ferry to catch from Islay back to the mainland. Views from the ascent were excellent, showing the surrounding lower hills bathed in sunshine...

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Failing to spot the ruined buildings as our cue to turn left, we carried on traversing north until reaching the north-east ridge. The lower parts of this looked particularly fine:

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Further up the ridge we did manage to spot some of the ruined Ordnance Survey buildings:

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From here the OS had even constructed a path to the summit cairn, where we had a lunch break. A few moments of fleeting blueness directly overhead, but mostly it was more like this:

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The descent from Beinn an Oir was entertaining, although the scree probably shaved a few years off the life expectancy of our boots. First, views from the south ridge down a long gully:

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The ridge narrowed before a straightforward descent off the side of it, then a great rollercoaster ridge all the way down to the next bealach, with some long scree runs to slide down. Down the ridge to a (nearly) cloud-free Beinn a' Chaolais:

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Looking back up the scree:

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Beinn a' Chaolais beckoning:

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View towards Islay:

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More deer:

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From the bealach, views towards Loch an t-Siob' reminded us that we had a ferry to catch.

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Just enough time for one more though?

(continued below)
Last edited by denfinella on Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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denfinella
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Posts: 1116
Munros:66   Corbetts:34
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Sub 2000:61   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:6   Islands:45
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: A Pappy day on Jura

Postby denfinella » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:15 pm

Ascending Beinn a' Chaolais was tiring late in the day and often pathless. Annoyingly the cloud lifted off Beinn an Oir behind like clockwork:

1.jpg


...while predictably, it lowered overhead to graze the summit of Beinn a' Chaolais!

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So no views from the summits today. But plenty of views of them, just not while we were on them! On the way down I had a brief onset of cramp, making it impossible to walk for a few minutes. Fortunately it passed and the rest of the descent was straightforward. There were still a couple of pathless kilometres to go though until the far end of the loch, and time was a bit tight.

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Happily this stretch was mostly good underfoot, with wonderful views of all three Paps:

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Part way down I came within a few inches of stepping right on top of a huge adder, which I only saw when my partner pointed it out just behind me. The adder didn't move until the camera came out, at which point it hissed loudly and slid away at an impressive speed:

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Just before the loch there was one last barrier to progress in the form of an annoying deep creek, with an annoying detour away from the water's edge to find a crossing point. Once down at the loch:

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Fleeing lizard:

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Back at the loch outflow we were back on familiar ground, just leaving the boggy descent back to the car. For the last few hundred metres we detoured to the left to avoid the last boggy stretch, finding a drier (but strangely smelly) path alongside the Corran River.

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In the end we had about 45 mins to spare en route to the ferry back to Islay, leaving plenty of time to stop off and enjoy the various car-side views from the coastal road. Despite some heavy rain showers and pesky cloud, the weather didn't really detract from a wonderful day, with plenty of views in the sunny periods! And a good contrast to all those Islay distilleries...

Islay & Jura 2016
<< Sunday afternoon: Dun a'Choin Dhuibh, Knapdale
>> Wednesday lunchtime: Machir Bay, Islay
Last edited by denfinella on Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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denfinella
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1116
Munros:66   Corbetts:34
Grahams:23   Donalds:16
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Wainwrights:6   Islands:45
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: A Pappy day on Jura

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sat Sep 10, 2016 12:31 pm

Sounds like a challenging day, especially given the weather but your beautifully descriptive report has made me wonder if I have the confidence to try it between ferry times.
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Cairngorm creeper
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Re: A Pappy day on Jura

Postby denfinella » Sat Sep 10, 2016 6:28 pm

Thanks! Looking at your hills map I doubt you'd have too much trouble. It should be doable, I think, as long as you're staying on Islay and aren't coming from the mainland for a day. If you need more time then there are also both earlier outward and later return ferries from Islay to Jura and back which we didn't use. But you have to book them in advance, which fixes you to a specific day.
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denfinella
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Posts: 1116
Munros:66   Corbetts:34
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Wainwrights:6   Islands:45
Joined: Mar 19, 2012
Location: Edinburgh

Re: A Pappy day on Jura

Postby goth_angel » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:38 pm

Very nice. We were over in Islay a couple weeks ago but was for distilleries rather than walking. Made it to Jura but not the Paps. Sounds like organisation and an early start needed!!
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Re: A Pappy day on Jura

Postby John Doh » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:15 pm

Good stuff. Jura is a lovely place and if you need more time, spend a night a the Jura Hotel - right next to the Jura Distillery. Jura was my introduction to remote islands, and it did the trick. Haven't climbed the paps tough :(
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