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The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!


Postby JimboJim » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:51 pm

Route description: The Paps of Jura

Corbetts included on this walk: Beinn an Òir

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

Date walked: 09/08/2017

Time taken: 7.6 hours

Distance: 16.5 km

Ascent: 1410m

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Often have I stood and admired, or taken photo's of the Paps of Jura, when out on a local walk, or drive in Mid Argyll. Even from the summit of many a far away hill, I have been able to pick their distinctive shape out. Now, having taken up this hill walking lark, their status gradually changed from being on the viewing list, to being well up my bucket list. I really wanted to try and do them on a great day, but inevitably these are few and far between and hikes to Munro's tended to jump the queue.
Paps Jura 096_1280_832_1024_666.JPG
Leaving Tayvallich. Full steam ahead!
Paps Jura 136_1280_821_1024_657.JPG
Skervuile Lighthouse, with the three main peaks of the Paps, behind.
Paps Jura 099_1280_812_1024_650.JPG
Looking down Loch Sween, the castle off to the left.
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And looking back up Loch Sween. Cruachan hills in the distance.


I looked at various transport options possibilities, such as via Kennacraig/Feolin, bike/car/bus, back in one day, camping overnight? Eventually opted for the Jura Passenger Ferry with my bike, from Tayvallich, camping overnight in Craighouse, then returning same method, the following day. The ferry departs on Wednedays at 10am and arrives in Craighouse, in less than an hour and costs £20 each way. Camping at the Jura hotel cost a fiver for a wee tent.
Paps Jura 168_1280_822_1024_658.JPG
The distillery and hotel await.


The forecast was reasonably hopeful, though always likely to be more cloudy and windy on Jura, as opposed to Mid Argyll. The crossing was absolutely beautiful, from leaving Tayvallich, down Loch Sween, across the Sound of Jura and into Craighouse, with lots of wildlife, nautical activity and places of interest to view. Alas, the Paps emerged shrouded in cloud, but I hoped they might clear by the time I got ashore, pitched the tent and made my way to the start. Wishful thinking :(
Paps Jura 141_1280_900_1024_720.JPG
Hoping vainly the cloud lifts in the next couple of hours. Beinn Shiantaidh and Beinn an Oir looking pretty impressive.
Paps Jura 138_1263_960_1010_768.JPG
Beinn Shiantaidh to the left, Corra Bheinn, to the right.
Paps Jura 142_1280_892_1024_714.JPG
The Paps. left to right, Beinn a' Chaolais, Beinn an Oir & Beinn Shiantaidh.


Managed some good photo's on the way over of Skervuile Lighthouse, the Paps, or what could be seen of them, the Jura Hotel, distillery and to cap it all, two tall ships in the Bay of Small Isles. Already the fare was proved to be more than worth it ;) I soon paid my money to the hotel, got a fob for the shower block, bought a few provisions, before attempting to put my tent up, sorry, pitch my tent! Camping new to me :lol: Fortunately, the quick practice I had a few days before worked a treat and after a couple of hours, I could sit back and admire my tent, nearly looking as it ought :)
Paps Jura 160_1280_860_1024_688.JPG
Dutch tall ship, Thalassa, looking magnificent, in the Bay of Small Isles.
Paps Jura 164_1280_878_1024_702.JPG
Just about another tall ship, The Flying Dutchman, also adding to the nautical attractions off Craighouse.
Paps Jura 165_1280_911_1024_729.JPG
Couldn't believe my luck.


Hiking gear, food, drinks and bike sorted, I was then on the three and a half miles or so, to Three Arch Bridge. Unfortunately, there was a stiff, northerly headwind, all the way there, so I was out of puff, even by this point! Chucked the bike beside a few others in the trees and set off on the route, as described on WH's. As described on WH's, it is a very boggy approach. If you want to find out how boggy, just go there ... and this was summer :lol: Avoiding one bog, usually meant a pointless detour, as another bog was soon found in the way!
Paps Jura 188_1280_883_1024_706.JPG
Beinn a' Chaolais, behind Loch an t-Siob, or Loch an Slob, or Loch an Slog, as it gradually became :)
Paps Jura 190_1280_862_1024_690.JPG
Similar view of Beinn a' Chaolais.
Paps Jura 189_1280_960_1024_768.JPG
The stepping stones lead the way to, Beinn Shiantaidh.


Gradually, Beinn Shiantaidh began to loom large and steep off to the right, then Loch an t-Siob appears in view. Wow. Lovely spot, just beside where large stepping stones cross the outflow from the loch, where two lovebirds were enjoying a soggy, soppy moment, before I arrived on scene :lol: By now I was scanning the way up and just beginning to think this might be tougher than I thought. Daunting and quite formidable is how WH's understate it :) I was quite glad just to make it to the east 'ridge' and enjoying the more gentle traverse, round the front of the hill, to where it really gets steep and tough going. That scree is murder! Amazing how these big blocks of stone sit undisturbed, until the lightest foot comes along and sends them slowly tipping over, or sliding down, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, but always sapping the strength for the next step, to repeat the process.
Paps Jura 180_1280_813_1024_650.JPG
Beinn Shiantaidh, rising to daunting and formidable proportions.
Paps Jura 200_1280_821_1024_657.JPG
View out to Skervuile Lighthouse and the Sound of Jura, on the way up to first summit.


No option for it, but to keep grinding away, but this is truly a place where two steps forward and one back, is probably better than reality. To think some people run up this sort of stuff! Anyway, enough sob stories. Gradually the gradient eased off, which was about the time a bank of cloud rolled in, to smother what would have been great views, as I made the short stroll along to the summit cairn. How could it do this to me?? I think I was about two and a quarter hours to the summit. Waited a while and got a few photo's, but none as I had hoped :( Beinn an Oir, was also more heavily enveloped in cloud, which didn't bode well, but maybe it would clear as i made my way toward the upward path, which was quite visible from afar.
IMG_2914_780_960_624_768.JPG
On the summit. Beinn Shiantaidh. Cloud slowly beginning to clear.
Paps Jura 244_1280_854_1024_683.JPG
View of the west side of Beinn Shiantaidh.
Paps Jura 242_1280_827_1024_662.JPG
Out to Lowlandman's Bay, looking quite colourful.


The descent off Shiantaidh, is very steep, rough and rocky and requires your best attention, to avoid taking a tumble. At times, I think I wasn't always on the WH's route, but didn't take long getting down to the bealach, where I met a couple of folk camped next to me in Craighouse. At that point I was moving faster, so they kindly waved me through, but the lady having a wise, old head and been there before, took a more direct line to the summit and they emerged near the ruined OS buildings close to the top, just at the same time as me. The cloud which had since vacated the summit, now returned with perfect timing, to leave us sitting in the chill wind, waiting to see if it would quickly pass. I think I was about an hour between both tops.
Paps Jura 235_1280_960_1024_768.JPG
Path rises up the side of Beinn an Oir, while the scree chute can also be seen on the left flank of Beinn a' Chaolais.
Paps Jura 233_1280_960_1024_768.JPG
On the way over to Beinn an Oir, now free of cloud.


By now my feet were feeling a bit tender and tired, so I was happy to have a wee natter and try to gather strength for the last hill, Beinn a' Chaolais, which looked every bit as steep and daunting as the first. I could see the prominent scree chute and immediately decided on taking the alternative route up. Gradually the fog did clear. Hazy views of Islay, Colonsay, Arran and Jura came and went, as did the cloud.
Paps Jura 251_1280_926_1024_741.JPG
Doing my best to look happy as the cloud envelopes Beinn an Oir.


Time to move on. The descent from Beinn an Oir, is quite interesting and exciting :wink: A nice wee arete, steep drop, scree chutes, nice crags, the lot. Again, plenty care and attention to foot placement comes in handy :lol: By the time I was heading upward again, I must admit to the occasional negative thought, as time was getting on and I was feeling more fatigued than expected, but worse was the firey feeling from the soles of my feet, my new'ish boots, not being the most comfortable yet.
Paps Jura 282_1280_881_1024_705.JPG
Beinn Shiantaidh, low down Beinn an Oir.
Paps Jura 269_768_960_614_768.JPG
Over to the final hill, from Beinn an Oir.


Anyway, despite the odd misgiving, I wasn't going to come this far without giving it my best shot to complete the three, so I made toward the scree chute, as per guidance, however think I went too high and thus didn't find any path to make the traverse round to the east side of the mountain. Finding my own way round and up, didn't make for easy going, but eventually i found myself back on track, but the ascent just seemed to keep going and going. Eventually it levelled off and I found myself at the summit. You will not be surprised that the waves of cloud maintained their immaculate timing to leave me once again, in the cloud, just about driving me mad :-x

After a few sweary words to myself, a quick photo of some cloud, I made my way down. Again, probably not concentrating fully, I found that I had actually joined the track from the steep scree chute, which would now became my route of descent. I couldn't be bothered reversing my steps to rejoin the other path. It is incredibly steep, but with nimble footwork that would have impressed John Travolta and a few heart in mouth moments, I was very quickly at the bottom :lol:

Before me lay the walk to Loch an t-Siob and then still a fair hike, back to the bridge. Be warned the trudge back to the loch is no joyride. There is the occasional bit of path, but very little. It is often boggy, thick, tussocky grass, thigh deep. There is also adders in there :shock: I took a wee run down a slope, to get up speed for a small incline. As I was about to put my foot down, at the top of this slope, I spotted a nice, plump adder just where I was about to plank my foot. Somehow, at the last minute I shifted my weight to my right side. The snake seemed to sense its role was to slither to the left, which it performed most adroitly, uncoiling and disappearing before my eyes. I'm not an adder expert, but i would say this was a biggy and left me wondering how many more there were as I crashed through the long grass.

Lower down I headed more toward loch and burn that feeds into it. Personally I don't think this was a good move. Having finally reached it, I made my way to the south shore, but even the path round here is quite a trudge. Indeed by now my agitated brain had renamed it Loch an Slob, or Loch an Slog. It felt good getting back to the stepping stones and the inward path, but this feeling soon goes as the bogs return, seemingly deeper and wider than ever, but eventually made it back, taking 7 hours 40 minutes, or so.

The cycle back to Craighouse wasn't so bad, with the breeze now behind and generally downhill gradient. All in all, the trip had taken just under the 8 and a quarter hours. Glad now I hadn't attempted to get over and back, all in the one day. Even happier to find my tent was still up, on return to the camping ground, beside the hotel. Managed to get showered and in for a fine meal before they stopped serving, then had a few pints in the bar, with some good company, before the bell went a midnight.

Slept well till about the back of 6 and the voices woke me up :) Midges weren't too bad, surprisingly. Did the distillery tour, wee walk around Craighouse, church exhibition, the pier and cemetery, before another superb boat trip back to Tayvallich.
Paps Jura 364_1280_960_1024_768.JPG
Lots of wildlife on Jura.


I have to say, I either underestimated these beautiful hills, or overestimated my fitness, but now I know why WH's gives them a five boot rating for difficulty, despite not being the highest of hills, but contrary to my moans and groans, I thoroughly enjoyed my wee expedition and still can hardly believe after years of admiring the Paps, I can now say I have climbed them :D
Last edited by JimboJim on Sat Sep 02, 2017 2:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby dogplodder » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:07 am

Have often looked at the Paps but never thought of climbing them. Sound a bit challenging so good on you. :thumbup:
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby jmarkb » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:16 am

Excellent: glad you made it at last and had some decent weather.
Tough wee hills for sure.....
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:05 pm

They are rough hills, as is everything on Jura. Apart from the whisky. Good effort in doing them in a day.

Shame about the cloud. I did these in 1984, when 16, and have never forgotten arriving at the ridge on B an O to find the expanse of the Hebrides laid out before me on a sparkling blue sea.

My younger brother sat on an adder on Jura. It wasn't impressed. Neither was he. (no adders or children were hurt in this incident)
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby Borderhugh » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:22 pm

Looks great!
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby litljortindan » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:31 pm

Pity about the summit cloud but you still got some great photos. I remember that boggy path in so well.
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby Jaxter » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:07 pm

Wonderful stuff! Jura has been on my hit list for a while (and not just for the whisky :lol: ) Like you I like the idea of spending at least a night there. I think the whole of the other side of the island is inaccessible other than by foot which makes it all the more attractive :lol: Smashing photos despite the cloud 8) :clap:
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby Cairngorm creeper » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:25 pm

Stunning photos. Looked a great trip, if rather tough. The stuff dreams are made of.
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby JimboJim » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:14 pm

Cairngorm creeper wrote:Stunning photos. Looked a great trip, if rather tough. The stuff dreams are made of.


Thanks all for kind comments. Creeper, you are right, it is more than the height and distance would make one think.

Jaxter wrote:Wonderful stuff! Jura has been on my hit list for a while (and not just for the whisky :lol: ) Like you I like the idea of spending at least a night there. I think the whole of the other side of the island is inaccessible other than by foot which makes it all the more attractive :lol: Smashing photos despite the cloud 8) :clap:


Thank you for comments, Jaxter. Am sure you will love Jura, hills, whisky, hotel, the whole kit & kaboodle. Hard to pick the right day, as you can imagine, as it seldom seems to be cloud free, even in good weather.

litljortindan wrote:Pity about the summit cloud but you still got some great photos. I remember that boggy path in so well.
Cheers, Litljortindan, you know I'm not kidding about the bogs. Some should have a lifebelt by the side, eh :lol: I think if one was inclined to have a dig deeper, a few boots, walking poles, or bodies, might be found! Worth it all the same.

Borderhugh wrote:Looks great!
Thanks, Hugh. Tasty wee hills, but all in all, adds up to a fairly stiff challenge - to an old guy like me :) Definitely wouldn't want to go there without a good chance of decent, to excellent weather!

Mal Grey wrote:They are rough hills, as is everything on Jura. Apart from the whisky. Good effort in doing them in a day.

Shame about the cloud. I did these in 1984, when 16, and have never forgotten arriving at the ridge on B an O to find the expanse of the Hebrides laid out before me on a sparkling blue sea.

My younger brother sat on an adder on Jura. It wasn't impressed. Neither was he. (no adders or children were hurt in this incident)


Cheers, Mal. I thought I could manage in less than 6 hours, but I had another thought coming, as my mum would say. Rough and tough, but worth the effort, but glad I never had a sit down with my adder. I wonder if anything is known about their general number, location, etc?

RTC wrote:What an adventure, Jimmy. As always, great photos.
Thanks, Russell. I try to make every hill an adventure, in some way, or another, as you know :) As for the photo's, I blame the camera :lol:

dogplodder wrote:Have often looked at the Paps but never thought of climbing them. Sound a bit challenging so good on you. :thumbup:
Appreciate your feedback, Plodding Pup. I think I probably overestimated my fitness, without taking into account bogs, scree, steepness, sore feet, but am sure you would find it an enjoyable day, or two days if need be, weather permitting.

jmarkb wrote:Excellent: glad you made it at last and had some decent weather.
Tough wee hills for sure.....


And, finally, thanks jmarkb. It's a good feeling to complete something like the Paps, or other target, which means a lot t oneself. Very thrilled to have done them, specially as it took a lot of effort. The drams at the end of the day had nothing to do with it :lol:
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby falling monkey » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:40 pm

Looked like you had a fantastic trip Jim , need to try to get over there myself sometime when work and family allow, been a pretty poor summer so far for the hills every time I,m off the weather has been absolutely rubbish,or I end up on the boats doing overtime and the sun comes out then.Haven,t even been for a wild camp this summer either, maybe need to catch up on the hills sometime.
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Re: The Paps - small but, perfectly formed!

Postby Andymac75 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 11:02 pm

Cool report.

A place that's on my to do list.

Fine hills, and if I'm honest; the Paps appear to be a bit more of a proposition than I thought.

Shiantaidh almost has a air of menace about it.

Good work :clap:
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