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Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks


Postby Sgurr » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:19 pm

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Gormol (Lewis), Muaithabhal (Lewis), Uisinis (Lewis)

Date walked: 02/06/2018

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Pairc is one of the remotest parts of Scotland, consisting of the largely roadless section on the south east corner of Lewis. We had been encroaching into it between 2013 and 2017with reasonable trips to Ferihisival and Guainemol, and a longer one to Beinn Bhreac. Caiteshal, Ciphealgil Beag and Bein Mhor had their terrors removed by discovering that Shaun from the Bracadale Centre would ferry us across Loch Seaforth in his tiny boat. Now remained only Muaithabhal which is almost as hard to access as it is to spell, Gormol and Usinis. To date, there doesn't seem to be a WR on Walkhighlands for them

I had been negotiating with boatmen to drop us on the coast near Usinis and one by one they had backed out. Too far, need very low swell, would have to book the whole boat not just get dropped off on the way to the Shiants, beyond the scope of boat. However, Angus from Kilda Cruises had said that he could probably drop us off on the way the The Shiants. He had shown me on the forecasts how Wednesday looked better than Monday and said he would phone
We started on Sunday 2nd June for Mouiathabhal. It was a cloudy day, as we set off from our rented cottage in Tarbert.

We parked at the gates of Eishken Lodge where midges were out in force,
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We made our way down the track with the electric gate, past the house and along the path that runs on the northern banks of Loch Sealg
The gorse made a good shot at substituting for the sun
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We met these horses
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After a while the substantial lane becomes a more narrow path
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We arrived at a bridge,
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But we didn’t cross it (we should have…our visit to Gormol shows that it carries on the opposite side of the burn, then crosses it towards the foot of Muaithabhal, much less heather bashing). We made for the point at NB 276115 (Beinn na Uamha)

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before carrying on to NB 270119
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. The mist was down to this level, so we used compasses. Finally we headed for Mouaitheabhal itself, through all sorts of peat hags, by which time the mist was lifting

Summit
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The cloud had lifted enough for us to see our way down
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On our descent I found the remains of what must have been the wind measuring mast for the wind-farm
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https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk:8000/planning-and-building/planning-service/other-planning-information/wind-power-development/pairc-wind-farm-application/

Meanwhile Angus had phoned that he would try to drop us off near Usinis the next day, and could give us three hours to do the hill.

We contoured round the hill we had climbed

Descending
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And then saw a bridge across the river. We should have crossed and taken the path which we later discovered was so much easier than what was to come
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We struggled back through pathless heather and felt not at all like attempting Usinis the next day, especially to a deadline.
The loch looked picturesque….if long
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The track by the loch seemed to go on for ever
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The horses had moved closer to our end
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It reminded me of all those Victorian paintings entitled something like “Return from the hill"

I can't make it display, so you will just have to google it.

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At least the sun was out now
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Neither of us got much sleep the next night, since not only had a pipping smoke alarm kept us awake (sorted by the landlady grabbing the nearest man with a van she could spot) , we were worried about Usinis…but it had to be attempted. We arrived at the pier, and Angus told us that the wind was probably too high to drop us off. We could pay the £110 fee for the Shiants, and see how things went, but there would be no guarantee. So we decided not to go. There was some talk of a private charter later, but at £100 an hour, it would be like bagging by public transport, except that we would have hired the whole bus and the meter would be whirling round (forgive the mixed metaphors).

I had taken three photos that morning, all of which the BBC wanted for Weather Watchers (they probably landed up on a Twitter page, but my laptop is so slow, I couldn’t be bothered looking. They are at the end of this report). Instead we went to Stornoway. I had trodden on my glasses and pushed close to my face, they didn’t really give me a satisfactory view of where I was going. We went into a shop to buy a pair of socks and asked where we might find the opticians “Do you want the near one or the good one?” I opted for the good one which was outwith the normal shopping streets, and they fixed them with no charge. On the way home and back, we took some Weather Watcher pictures, but they didn’t want them
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On Tuesday we set off to climb Gormol. Below, pines near Eishken Lodge
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It was almost 12 noon before we reached the bridge. R had read of the standard way to do Beinn Mhor from this side, and knew a path rose up from the bridge.
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Here it forks, the right hand path going towards Mouaithabhal
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Maintaining it must be a job and a half
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It was wonderful walking, but stopped abruptly at a fish weather vane at approx. NB 2581114
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From here we set off up the ridge. Deer kept emerging and trotting away ahead of us. I went on strike and demanded lunch at about 2.30 pm. Below, setting off again after lunch
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We reached Crionaig at nearly 4 p.m.
Cairn on Crionaig I thought it was the summit until I did a GPS, and then turned round
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Then we had to walk across to the summit.
View towards Gormol from Crionaig
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Summit of Gormol
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Pano
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Coming down seemed to take us for ever, as R was feeling his dodgy knee. We descended directly down the ridge to the bridge.
Descending slowly
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Looking back
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Shieling near the bridge
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It is a long way back to the lodge.
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The following day, despite our struggle on Gormol, we set out for Usinis. All other attempts at boats having failed, I had found a kind lady with contacts in the fishing community that got us across Loch Sealg with a promise of a pick up later in the day, but it had to be that Wednesday. A maintained path starts from almost directly opposite the lodge.
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We veered slightly to the west and then directly up the ridge.
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It was a picnic compared with Gormol.
Every time I zoomed the deer, they ran out of shot. Here they are in the far distance
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We climbed up a flattish area to some tiny lochans R still has his midge net festooned around his hat
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Once at the top of the ridge we found wide areas of peat hags which we crossed
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We contoured around the first summit and directly to the summit of Usinis itself.
Below, cairn in the distance
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Below, cairn up close
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Looking back at the route of ascent
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The views were spectacular. We saw an eagle down the coast to the south.
Out to sea, the Shiants were far less hazy than the preceding day. We took photos of each other
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As this was the first time we had "completed" on the same mountain, took a photo of ourselves with the timer. Our pockets are stuffed full with midge nets, gloves etc
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The Shiants looking east
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Looking south
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Pano from summit looking north
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Of course, it isn’t a true completion. Five sea stacks remain,
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There is no way R can jump onto them from a boat without doing in his knee for good, and there is no way I could contemplate climbing them with my duff shoulder, so there we are....stuck. As we are both pushing 80 anyway we shall just have to be content with 1551 out of 1556 Marilyns.

We still had to get back, so retraced our tracks back to the bottom of the path where we were picked up.

The tiny lochans were still there
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Pano on the way down
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Below, the little shed at the landing spot
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Thank goodness for the GPS, as although we had both looked back and worked out where the pole that marks the top of the path must be, neither of us could recognise anything on our return.

We stopped on the way home to get some bits and pieces from the petrol station. I took a long time, because I didn’t realise there was an upstairs with things like shower gel, which we needed, but R had thought that maybe I had been looking for some sort of presentation gift and that the shower gel was all I could find.
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“No, it’s not a commemorative gift for you," I said “It’s for US, unless you want to go in and find some shower gel for heroic women to give to me.”

We were so lucky with the weather. We had been desperate to get all remaining three hills done, so would have gone ahead in anything short of thunder or a tornado, but the sun shone all the final two days, and the midges mostly left us alone. It has needed nine trips to Harris and Lewis to complete all forty four Marilyns, and we have loved every minute.

My new hobby of weather watching kept us busy when we were too tired to walk, and resulted in four Editor’s Picks. The one of the beach near Leverburgh ended up on the 6.30. news, and on Countryfile . Apparently it looked like the Carribean (not surprising since I had knocked the dial on my camera and had taken it on sunset mode. )

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If I had been better at organising I would have organised a group of 14 people to rent Eishken Lodge for a week. That way, you get use of boats, dinner B & B for £64 per person per night. i.e. £6500 for a week and at least 14 people, but maybe they would let more people come and cut the cost

http://www.eishken.com/rent/

However, I didn't suppose I could get 14 people to agree to come.


EDITED:SOME STATS
Muaithabhal: 6.9 Miles, Ascent= 2414 feet
Gormol: 8.2 miles Ascent= 3425 feet
Usinis 5.1 miles Ascent=1387 feet
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Sgurr
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby jmarkb » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:38 pm

Sgurr wrote:As we are both pushing 80 anyway we shall just have to be content with 1551 out of 1556 Marilyns.


That's a tremendous achievement - huge congratulations to you both :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby mrssanta » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:20 pm

that's an amazing achievement. It seems to me that the sea stacks would just be the cherry on top of the icing and quite unnecessary!
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby BlackPanther » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:30 pm

Fantastic achievement, biiig congratulations! :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby gammy leg walker » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:19 pm

That's an amazing achievement, many congratulations to you both
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby mountainsofscotland » Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:39 pm

A huge well done on completing all the Marilyns bar the ones at St Kilda. Have found a number of your reports useful over the years :)
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby Fife Flyer » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:10 pm

WOW, what an achievement, fantastic report and stunning photo's.
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby rockhopper » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:14 pm

Many congratulations to both of you ! :clap: :clap: Well done, that's a heck of an achievement. Glad you got such good conditions for the final two days. Am wondering what challenges you'll be thinking of next ? - cheers :D
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby inca » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:18 pm

Enjoyed that report and the pics. Moreover what a fantastic achievement. Can only marvel at the dedication and physical and mental fortitude its taken to get there :clap: :clap: I too have benefitted from your trip reports over the years. Plus that picture of your other half crawling out of the trees on some woebegotten summit always makes me smile. Mind if ask how long you guys have been battering away at the Marilyns? Best of luck to you both with your new ventures.
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby iangpark » Thu Jun 14, 2018 1:18 am

A heartfelt congratulations to you both - I'd go as far to say the most astounding hillwalking achievement I am aware of on WH. Have been waiting for this compleation since I joined in late 2015. I can't really fathom what it must be like for those like you who have amassed such a long list of hills. I'm sure I would see the geography and cartography of Scotland far differently than I do now. Will be visiting Harris (and the OH) for the first time this year so will make sure to bag a marilyn in commemoration! Also saw your name under the Leverburgh photo on a rare occasion of watching TV and proclaimed to my family: "That's Squiz!"
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby robertphillips » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:34 am

well done to the both of you, a great number to get to. :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:38 am

Fantastic achievement - what a hardy pair you are! :clap: :D
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby Mal Grey » Thu Jun 14, 2018 11:42 am

Congratulations! A great achievement, that has clearly got you to visit some amazing parts of the world.


Eventually, sea stacks will crumble and fall down, so perhaps they don't really count ;)
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby McMole » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:26 pm

Awestruck congratulations to you both. Should we try to persuade NTS to install via ferrata on those St Kilda stacks to allow you to climb those last five? Or is that cheating? And I'm mightily impressed at how you arranged such good weather for your 'last' summit.
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Re: Three Marilyns in Pairc. That's it folks

Postby yokehead » Thu Jun 14, 2018 4:30 pm

A superb achievement, a massive well done to you both and so good you had fine conditions for your trips. I am in awe of what you've done and find it highly inspirational. Forget the sea stacks, they are for the birds!

What's next, oh, how about Ireland.........
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