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Slaggan Bay and Rubha Mor circuit

Slaggan Bay and Rubha Mor circuit

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Oct 19, 2016 1:57 pm

Route description: Slaggan Bay beach, near Aultbea

Date walked: 16/10/2016

Time taken: 6 hours

Distance: 18.9 km

Ascent: 220m

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Not as good a weekend as the two previous ones, wet Saturday, windy Sunday. Or at least that was the forecast. Sunday turned out to be better than predicted in the end so we headed for the seaside. It would have been possible to climb a half-day Graham, but we wanted something different. The circuit of Rubha Mor deserves to be done on a good day, when the sea is quiet and one can see all the way to the Outer Hebrides.
The weather man warned us that a wet front was coming over Scotland in the afternoon, so we were happy to stay at low level, just to avoid getting soaked on some slippery slopes. No regrets here - I always wanted to walk the full circuit of this lovely, remote peninsula. There might be better cliffs further north (and south indeed) but Rubha Mor has its own charms and delights, best appreciated on a sunny day.

The full circular walk does not feature on WH yet, just the shorter walk to Slaggan beach, but it is really worth walking the whole stretch of the coast here. We have been to Slaggan Beach before, now it was time for more advanced explorations :D
It was a gorgeous morning and as we drove to the western coast, we admired the views to Assynt weirdos...
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 003.JPG

Our route mostly follows the description from "100 classic coastal walks in Scotland" by Andrew Dempster. The book suggests starting from the car park by the beach in Mellon Udrigle, but we preferred to park in a small parking area just past Achgarve, next to the start of the track heading for Slaggan. After the 5km marching to the beach, we mostly followed the coastline:

Track_SLAGGAN BAY 16-10-16.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Even the first stage of this circuit, which one may consider boring when studying the map, is not without some interest. This lovely wee lochan (called Loch na h-Innse Gairbhe) is passed en route:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 012.JPG

The track makes for fast going and soon we could see the coastline with the ruins of the croft in Slaggan:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 023.JPG

An Teallach on the horizon and Loch an t-Slagain:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 018.JPG

The gate by the ruined cottage was guarded by two local beasties :lol:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 032.JPG

...but they were tame enough to let us pass by without any incident... Apart form a few annoying stable flies, trying to get us :lol: :lol:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 038.JPG

The tide was out. This beach is simply a stunning place and usually we explore it for a longer time, but today we had a longer walk in mind, so just took photos from the cliff above:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 040.JPG

2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 057.JPG

From Dempster's book:
"Although unmarked on the map, a reasonable path exists for much of the way, hinting at the route's popularity."
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 053.JPG

Kevin busy photographing:

As we had some fun with our cameras, we heard a noisy sound - a ship siren! Soon we spotted a few naval vessels nearby, they were having fun as well :lol: :lol: Most likely some kind of maneuvers. A few snaps for the fans of navy ships (pics enhanced in Picasa):
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 060.JPG

2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 078.JPG

2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 088.JPG

After watching the spectacle for some time, we followed the path along the shore. The cliffs are not very high here, but the views across Loch Ewe are hard to beat:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 096.JPG

"From Slaggan Bay, a fairly distinct path follows the edge of the steep slope on beautiful springy turf and crowberry, making for delightful walking."
From the first "tip" on the coastline, we could see a fair distance north along the shore. An excellent viewpoint, this point is called Gob a'Gheodha.
Image2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 109 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Locals :D
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 120.JPG

The path follows the coast with more views around every corner, past a wee lochan:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 137.JPG

The rocks on the shore are mostly red sandstone:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 138.JPG

The next stop - Gob a'Chuaille, another "tip" with good views north, more sandstone formations, some of weird shapes:
ImageDSCF7747 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
Kevin spotted more locals...
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 156.JPG

...whereas I was busy exploring the very tip of the tip :lol: :lol:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 159.JPG

The book gives 6-8 hours to do this walk, which we regarded as far too much, but I soon understood why the overestimation - basically every 5 minutes we stopped to take photos as the seascape (coastscape?) changed constantly, different perspective from every rocky outcrop:
Image2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 175 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
We even spotted local pirates! :shock:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 181.JPG

The path was still pretty obvious and though boggy here and there, it was surprisingly well worn - obviously this circuit is quite popular with walkers!
Soon we spotted the NW tip of the peninsula - Greenstone point. Not sure if the name is correct, as all the rock around this area is definitely RED!
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 198.JPG

Maybe the green refers to the grass growing between the rocks. We asked the local inhabitants, but they were not very keen to answer... One said baaaaa...

Around Greenstone point one can feel like in rocky heaven :lol: so many rocks of different shapes and sizes, like giant Lego blocks, some lying at strange angles and weird shapes. This one reminds me of a sleeping rhino:

A wee rock pool:

The very top of the Greenstone Point is a large crag, in the shape of overturned pot...
"Make an optional ascent of this crag by way of an easy scramble on the south side. On the top are a cemented cairn and a pole, and it is a fine vantage point for the curious rock architecture all around."
Kevin followed the instructions:

...while I lingered behind, snapping photos and admiring the odd shapes of this remote sandstone world.
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 230.JPG

Panoramic view south from the top of the crag:

It's not a listed hill by any chance, but Kevin was happy to pose on top:

From now on, we had even better views to the north, including the familiar shape of Ben More Coigach and the rocky outline of Priest Island and all the Summer Isles (no wickerman on the horizon though):
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 245.JPG

We took a longer break here, stretching our legs and enjoying poppyseed strudel, but Kevin noticed that the southern horizon was clouding up and the wind became stronger, meaning that the forecast wet front was coming in. The sky was a bit darker now and photos came out more atmospheric, even a bit gloomy:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 255.JPG

We set off to continue the circuit, following the path east along the shore now. We passed a few deep inlets, looking like some giant used an axe here:
Image2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 258 by Ewa Dalziel, on Flickr
From the next vantage point, the NE panorama looked even more breathtaking:

The path became more indistinct now and the ground a bit more squelchy, but the navigation is never difficult here - just follow the coast! We cut across one of the outlets just to save time, and soon arrived by the next bay, Camas an Lochain:

Here we picked the path once more - it was well worn again, indicating that we were closer to civilization. Indeed we saw a family walking a dog and soon we noticed the first buildings of Opinan. But there was still plenty of wild landscape to admire:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 282.JPG



Back to civilization:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 283.JPG

It is possible to follow the coast even further, all the way to the lovely beach of Camas a'Charraig, but we saw the weather front coming and decided to return along the Opinan tarmac road. Leaving the coastline was somehow difficult, I couldn't stop gazing in the distance...
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 297.JPG

From the first houses in Opinan a "sort of tarmac" road can be followed to Mellon Udridge and further back to the starting point:

Just before reaching the car, we had the last opportunity to admire the views towards the peaks of Torridon:
2016-10-16 slaggan bay coast 305.JPG

We took just short of 6 hours but as a lazy pace with countless stops for photos, there was no need to hurry and lots to see. The rain caught us eventually, as we were driving back home, some time around half past three - we could have done an easier hill, but I have no regrets whatsoever. The Rubha Mor route well deserves to be called "one of the most satisfying circular coastal walks in western Scotland".
Last edited by BlackPanther on Thu Dec 05, 2019 6:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Slaggan Bay and Rubha Mor circuit

Postby Gordie12 » Wed Oct 19, 2016 5:03 pm

OK, I've got to ask, what are the Assynt weirdos?????

Really enjoyed this BP, I love sea walks which makes me wonder why I don't do them more often :?
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