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Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles


Postby Jaxter » Mon Aug 05, 2019 1:18 pm

Route description: Heaval, from Castlebay

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn Mhor (North Uist), Beinn Sciathain (Eriskay), Sgaoth Aird (Harris), Sheabhal (Barra)

Date walked: 30/07/2019

Time taken: 7.45 hours

Distance: 17.83 km

Ascent: 1411m

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Tuesday 20th July – Lochmaddy to South Uist
53.47km
257m ascent
3 hours 30 minutes

We had been watching the forecast for the Western Isles for a while and when a weather window of a couple of days synced up with Malcy’s holiday we chucked the bikes on the car and off we went – arriving at Uig I discovered it was much simpler travelling with bikes as we strapped on our stuff and rolled on 8) Cycle tour was a go :thumbup:
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The weather was already incredible as we left Uig 8)
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The Cuillin
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The Northern end of the Trotternish
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After stocking up on calories (the Calmac mac n cheese is incredible) we enjoyed the last bit of the journey as we pulled into Lochmaddy on North Uist and tried to orientate myself on a new island – Ben Mhor (South Uist), Eaval and North & South Lee
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Once off the ferry we topped up water at the terminal and off we went – a perfect evening of weather and lovely quiet island roads 8)
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Eaval
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Skye Cuillin
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As one would expect going south, we were into the wind but we had fresh legs and it was a gentle breeze (we hoped it kept up when we camped :shock: ) – the first causeway across to Benbecula was reached 8)
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At the south tip of Benbecula at Creagorry we stopped at the Coop for a Unicone (a recent discovery of an amazing icecream that only the Coop seem to stock). We had done 20 miles so it seemed justified 8)

This is a classic case of mine’s bigger than yours :lol:
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Although on this occasion, Malky to his credit has a much bigger load :lol:
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Across the causeway to Beinn Mhor on South Uist
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Hecla, Beinn Choradail and Beinn Mhor
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We had identified a nice beach to camp at and headed down the Tobha Beag road until we found a spot 8)
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We set about pitching the tent and getting some hot chocolate on. As we’d had a big meal on the ferry we had a lazy dinner of sandwiches before watching the sun start to set
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There were a few midges around but fortunately the breeze was relatively constant. To warm up we went for a wander along the beach
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It was time for some cake and custard before setting in for the night
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Lochmaddy to S Uist.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




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Wednesday 31st July – South Uist to Barra
74.56km
773m ascent
4 hours 45 minutes

The next morning dawned – the tent very quickly turned into a greenhouse and we were forced to brave the midges outside. As is often the case the worst of them were in the sheltered tent door area and once we were out there were barely any :roll:
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At one point we had thought to climb Beinn Mhor but I was concerned about the terrain setting off my knee as I was in trainers and without poles so we decided to cycle to Barra instead :lol:
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Approaching Eriskay
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After a quick stop for some tea at the café in West Kilbride (rather nicer than its namesake on the mainland :lol: ) we were across the causeway to Eriskay
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Beinn Sciathain
1.91km
124m ascent
41 minutes

As the Barra ferry didn’t leave until 1 we had time to sneak up Beinn Sciathain, a wee lump of 185m
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The ferry arriving
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Malky leading the way
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Looking over to South Uist
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Causeway
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20 minutes later we were on the summit
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Dodging the bogs again, it was a quick trot back to the bikes for a nice roll down to the ferry
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Beinn_Sciathain_Eriskay_.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




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Ahead to Barra
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“Barra is a bit hilly” warned Malky – for once I reckoned he had actually made it out to be more difficult than it was (or maybe I’m just getting fitter :roll: )
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The one big hill from Brevig was a bit of a stinker right enough, but the road was actually making life easier for us as we were using the top of the hill as a start point to nip up Sheaval (or Heaval on the map)
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Sheaval
2.29km
254m ascent
1 hour 20 minutes

We followed a couple of gates which led us onto a path, boggy in places but we were able to dodge the worst bits to stay dry. The views back to Castlebay were pretty good already
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Malky decided to ignore the path after a while and headed straight up – steep ascent isn’t a problem for me anymore but we would definitely be taking the easier route down :shock:
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Unfortunately as we reached the summit the cloud came in and we didn’t get any views :roll: Typical :lol:
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It was chilly up there and we did wait a while but the cloud seemed to be stuck…we did get some views back to Brevig as we dropped out the cloud though
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The statue and Castlebay
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We followed a steep but relatively decent path down and only had to dodge a few bogs on the way back to the bikes. From here we free-wheeled into Castlebay and stopped at the Coop for a unicone (as well as a couple of more important things like apples and pork pies :lol: )


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




There’s a castle in the bay – hence Castlebay :roll: :lol:
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As we were so close it seemed a shame not to visit Vatersay so we climbed up and over the hill (ouch) before crossing yet another causeway onto another new island
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There’s a nice beach on Vatersay as well as a community centre with a café (although it had closed by the time we got there) as well as toilets and showers :thumbup:
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After brewing up a hot chocolate we were back on the bikes to get back over the hill :roll:
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Sheaval almost clear…
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Malky looking tired :wink:
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This is a gradient of 1 in 9 but it looks funny :lol:
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Back on Barra we continued on our circuit – we were both feeling quite tired and hungry by now but it was worth a wee stop to put a call into Malky’s distant relatives on North Uist for the next day…
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One more bit of a hill and we were back on the ferry road which we followed a bit further out to have a nosy at the airport – the only airport where the landing strip is actually a beach (tide currently in so no planes) :lol:
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A short push of the bikes had us a cracking spot – the tent up and dinner on made us very happy 8)
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There was enough of a breeze to keep the beasties away all evening and we were able to relax. The next day was going to be a big one :shock:
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S Uist to Barra.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



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Thursday 1st August – Barra to North Uist
86.03km
543m ascent
5 hours 45 minutes

Fortunately we had a good sleep – a slightly lower temperature meant the tent was less of an oven – and we woke up refreshed to a beautiful morning 8)
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When you’re not quite sure if you pitched on a beach or an airport :shock: :lol:
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A combination of breakfast and no midges made for a happy start to the day 8)
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Back on the bikes we passed the baggage reclaim at Barra airport :lol:
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It was a few easy miles around to the ferry terminal where we had time for a quick cup of tea before hopping on the ferry – there were plenty of cyclists here, mostly doing the standard south to north route. The ferry journey was incredible – it was turning into an even better day 8)
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Looking back to Barra – of course Sheaval is clear now :roll:
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Plenty of seals out and about enjoying the sunshine
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Back on Eriskay but it could have been the Mediterranean
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There was the small matter of the steep hill to climb over, although the views were definitely worth it….
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Before basically a freewheel to the causeway (that’s Easabhal straight ahead)
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Look, no feet :lol:
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Caring for otters and stegosaurs alike
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Back on South Uist Malky felt a burning desire to bag Easabhal so dumped his bike and ran off. I had decided that today was going to be long enough as it was :roll: and headed along the coast a few miles to the West Kilbride café for a pot of tea 8)
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Looking back to Eriskay
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An hour later sweaty mess Malky showed up with an extra Marilyn added to his count and, after finishing off my last cup of tea, dragged me back to my bike :lol:

It turns out that South Uist is long – like, really long. And when the wind has switched around and is blowing the wrong way it feels even longer :roll: Fortunately the views were stunning – the impressive ridge of Beinn Mhor appearing
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Hecla, Beinn Choradail and Beinn Mhor
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Malky insisting that South Uist will end at some point :lol:
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And it did – eventually we were on Benbecula and had a quick stop at the Coop for a few more provisions, although for some reason we forgot to have a unicone :( In order to make it a bit different we went around the coast of Benbecula – apparently it was less hilly, but either way there were some lovely beaches along the way
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After a quick stop at the airport café for some tea and cake (this one had an actual runway and was quite odd to see people walking around in suits :lol: ) gave us enough energy for a quick spin out to Flodda – a wee island off the East coast of Grimsay
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Back on the main road we passed through Grimsay and onto North Uist – The Lees and Eaval looking lovely in the early evening light
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From here the wind was starting to get really annoying and the road seemed endless but eventually we were at the Baleshare turn-off and after a quick spin out to the island….
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….we arrived at Malky’s lovely relatives who very kindly gave us a shower, amazing food and a bed 8)


Barra to N Uist.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



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Friday 2nd August – North Uist to Harris
53.45km
420m ascent
3 hours 5 minutes

We had planned to cycle to Lochmaddy and head home either the previous day or certainly today, but following a check of the weather and much poring over maps we had a better idea! We fortunately thought to check the ferry times to find that they were altered because of the low tides, which actually worked out even better for us. We had had a great sleep and were treated to a huge breakfast before we were allowed to leave which set us up nicely 8)

Finally on our way just before 11 we decided to follow the west coast of North Uist (again for a bit of variety) but we cut over the “Committee road” Rob had recommended to cut out a bit of brutal into the wind-ness
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There were great views as we dropped down towards Solas
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From here we were back into the wind :roll:
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Traditional blackhouse
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Harris in the distance
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Beinn Mhor (North Uist)
2.71km
163m ascent
1 hour 5 minutes

We had plenty of time before the ferry so dumped the bikes and headed up Beinn Mhor (the North Uist one :wink: ) This is the sort of hill that would probably be a bit of a bog-trot after wet weather but the ground was beautifully dry for us and the views back were magic 8)
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Berneray and Harris
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At the summit we could see across the whole of North Uist (apparently largely water!) to the Lees and Eaval
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Summit of Beinn Mhor
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A slightly heathery smash down saw us back at the bikes and heading off towards Berneray, past some wonderful beaches
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Beinn_Mhor_north_uist_.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




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Across the causeway we were on Berneray – we double-checked the ferry times before heading for some food (the Berneray Bistro is highly recommended) and a quick explore of the island
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Berneray and Roinabhal on Harris in the distance 8)
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There’s a handy tap at the Berneray ferry terminal so we were able to replenish water supplies before getting on the ferry – again plenty of cyclists and some familiar faces. The ferry journey was stunning – the weather had got even hotter and we were wishing the suncream wasn’t downstairs on the bike :roll:

Ahead to Harris
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Back to Berneray and North Uist
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Although the distance across the Sound of Harris isn’t that far, the ferry took an hour as it has to take a really wiggly route through shallow water
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Eventually we were on Harris (this had never really seemed like an option at the start :lol: ) and after a quick stop in Leverburgh for an icecream (no unicones sadly :( ) we were off up the big hill which didn’t actually seem so bad :lol:

A slightly drunk Ceapabhal above Northton
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The wind had finally spun around and was behind us as Malky leads the way towards Scarista 8)
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THAT view from the Golf Course 8)
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Another short push of the bikes found us a stunning camp spot above the cliffs with views back to Ceapabhal
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We were relatively early camping so settled in with a hot chocolate before getting dinner on
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Malky catching up with Facebook :roll:
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Looking north to Taransay and the big hills
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Unfortunately the breeze wasn’t quite constant enough to keep the beasties away all the time and we had a few frantic moments as we struggled to get head nets on :lol: But it was worth it for the stunning Harris sunset
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Ceapabhal (my summit camp spot back in April)
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North
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We enjoyed a last hot chocolate as the sun dipped behind Taransay 8)
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Malky contemplates life
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It was time for bed – if possible the next day was to be even hotter :shock: 8)


N Uist to Harris.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




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Saturday – Harris to Tarbert (via Aird Asaig)
33.26km
379m ascent
2 hours 50 minutes

We woke up to another hot tent and although there were bits of breeze again the beasties were always lurking. We had a leisurely start and enjoyed sitting out for breakfast – we were always alert but soon the breeze picked up enough to allow us to enjoy the morning.
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Finally packed up we took our time meandering along the road enjoying the best spots – this was my third trip to Harris this year so I was familiar with the places to stop. As for Malky, well he’s a (Harris) veteran :wink: :lol:
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Across towards Luskentyre and the big hills
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Seilebost and Beinn Dubh
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It seemed a shame to leave the beaches so soon so dumped the bikes and wandered out for an early lunch on Seilebost beach
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We could put off the big hill no longer – this is the one I’d been dreading :lol: Tired legs weren’t massively impressed with the hill over to Tarbert but it wasn’t as bad as it had looked (except for coming around the corner and realising there’s more, over and over again :lol: ) but the views were worth it 8)
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From here it was a glorious descent down into Tarbert….until disaster struck when I hit a rock and got a flat tyre :roll: It had to happen sometime and we’d been remarkably lucky up until now. Malky decided he could patch it…..half an hour and two patches later we just put a new tube on :lol:

An easy roll had us into Tarbert where we had a quick diversion to the toilets to wash our now very mucky hands (and I’d somehow managed to get grease down my legs too :lol: )
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Oooooh….let’s go there
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Sgaoth Aird
10.92km
870m ascent
4 hours 40 minutes

The ferry we had decided to get wasn’t until 21.10 (and was already going to be delayed half an hour) so we decided to cycle a few miles further down the road and go up the Giolabhal Glas horseshoe, a walk I’d been eying up since my first visit 8) Malky hadn’t thought I’d go for it as it was steep and pathless but hey…if I buggered my knee coming off it was only 5km back to the ferry :crazy:

We dumped the bikes near the Huisinish road turnoff and headed steeply up – the ground underfoot was pretty good; a bit heathery in places but enough grass and rocks to make it fine. And after a dry spell any wet sections were easily avoided. We gained height quickly
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We dodged just to the right of these bad boys
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It didn’t take us long to reach the ridge which made the going a little easier and gave us a bit of a breeze 8)
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Clisham and Mulla bho Dheas
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I attacked a big rocky wall before the going got easier and less hands on – it felt good to be on a proper hill :lol:
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Looking across to pointy Sgaoth Iosal, the last peak on the ridge
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Back down the ridge to Loch a Siar
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Uisneabhal Mor down to Huiseabhal Mor
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The first peak – Gillaval Dubh – gave us views of the rest of the horseshoe
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A lovely looking ridge-line
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Down towards East Loch Tarbert
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Look at those cliffs 8)
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A window to Clisham and Uisneabhal Mor
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Views as we climbed towards Giolabhal Glas – the peak the horseshoe is named after (and where the trig sits) but not the highest point
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From Giolabhal Glas we could see Tarbert below as well as out to Scalpay
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Scalpay
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North Skye
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It was an annoyingly big drop between Giolabhal Glas the next peak, Beinn na Teanga
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Past a wee lochan
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The big hills
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Balls… :crazy:
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There was nothing fast about this ascent, although it wasn’t as bad as it looked once we got on with it :lol: Malky took a more straight-ahead approach where I zig-zagged a bit
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Again, the views were worth it 8)
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Looking back 8)
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Ahead to Sgaoth Aird
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Lochannan Lacasdail and Todun
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We had a quick stop at the Bealach Garbh for a very melted chocolate bar before attacking the (almost) final ascent
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Looking back
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This ascent was far more gradual than the previous ones, so it felt like it was going on forever :lol:
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Skye in the distance (not very clear on the wee camera)
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Finally there we discovered that the summit was actually the worst viewpoint and stuck to the edges – Beinn Mhor on South Uist is visible in the distance with Eaval (N Uist) and Roineabhal (S Harris) in front
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Storms brewing over Skye
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Sron na Toistear and Todun
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Loch Seaforth and Pairc
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Closer to the biggies now 8)
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Figured we better visit the summit :lol:
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It was still unbelievably hot 8)
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Sgoath Iosal – the final peak; not strictly necessary but it would be rude not to :wink:
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Clisham
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Looking back
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I couldn’t get over how awesome Clisham looked from here – it had been super hazy when I was up there in April
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From Sgaoth Iosal we could see straight down to the road and out to Pairc
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Some impressive cliffs
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Loch a Siar and the biggies
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Clisham again (sorry!)
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A windfarm (just for you, Fife Flyer :wink: )
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Giolabhal Glas
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Loch a Siar
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“Why don’t you go stand on there” said Malky
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Should probably have given him my camera :lol:
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We followed the nice grassy ridge along as far as we could until we hit the cliff of Sron a’ Sgaoth
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From here we had a lot of height to lose and very little distance to do it in…not great for my knees :roll:
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A combination of slow zigzags and careful route-finding got us down a steep section before Malky picked up a wee traverse which took us across to a better section and down onto the road which climbed so steeply up we were able to drop down onto it at about 100m :clap:

Looking back we could barely believe what we’d come down – dry feet and uninjured knees too :shock:
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It was an easy walk back down the road to the bikes
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Sgaorth Aird.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




Here we drained the last of the (very warm) water before the cycle back to Tarbert – we got as far as the Aird Asaig garage before we stopped for icecream :lol:
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Back in Tarbert we dumped the bikes and covered up as the midges were about every time the breeze dropped
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The ferry was still delayed so we had plenty of time to cook up the last of our noodles and sausage for dinner
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It’s here!
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Owing to an engine fault we were even more delayed which meant we were treated to a wonderful lightshow over Tarbert as we left Harris
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The unfortunate downside of the late-running late ferry was arriving into Uig just before midnight and a three hour drive back to Inverness which got us home in the middle of the night. But I think we would both agree that it was a small price to pay for a fabulous trip 8)

The stats for anyone interested - total cycle distance of 300.77km with 2372m ascent. Probably earned a day off :lol:


Harris to Tarbert.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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Jaxter
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:16 pm

Wow, what an amazing road trip! Shame the weather was so rubbish ;)
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby brpro26 » Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:25 am

That's an epic trip. Certainly the way to do it. My ersehole is sore just reading it. :shock: :clap:
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby Jaxter » Sun Aug 11, 2019 5:50 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Wow, what an amazing road trip! Shame the weather was so rubbish ;)

Cheers! I'll just have to go back for better weather :wink: :lol:


brpro26 wrote:That's an epic trip. Certainly the way to do it. My ersehole is sore just reading it. :shock: :clap:

I think after that many days it just becomes numb :shock: :shock:
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby Sgurr » Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:47 pm

Energetic looking trip with some beautiful pictures.. Must try and source some unicones

Jaxter wrote:Back on Eriskay but it could have been the Mediterranean


That's what the Countryfile forecaster said when he picked a very similar photo from nearby I had posted on the BBC Weather Watcher site. My best achievement with them far....except I think he said Caribbean....and on closer inspection I had left my camera on sunset mode so the pic had gone all pink :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

You probably didn't notice (or anyway it has gone) the small sea smoothed pebble in the cairn on Sgaoth Aird which I carried up there in memory of Ted Jackson , "Tundraboy", Malcy has walked with him. His body was found on a ledge below the summit after a day when his last text to his niece had been "Awful weather, going out anyway." Never met him, but his comments (on another site) were always so encouraging.
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby Jaxter » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:07 am

Sgurr wrote:Energetic looking trip with some beautiful pictures.. Must try and source some unicones

Jaxter wrote:Back on Eriskay but it could have been the Mediterranean


That's what the Countryfile forecaster said when he picked a very similar photo from nearby I had posted on the BBC Weather Watcher site. My best achievement with them far....except I think he said Caribbean....and on closer inspection I had left my camera on sunset mode so the pic had gone all pink :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

You probably didn't notice (or anyway it has gone) the small sea smoothed pebble in the cairn on Sgaoth Aird which I carried up there in memory of Ted Jackson , "Tundraboy", Malcy has walked with him. His body was found on a ledge below the summit after a day when his last text to his niece had been "Awful weather, going out anyway." Never met him, but his comments (on another site) were always so encouraging.

Congratulations on your BBC photo! No-one will ever know - perhaps they thought it was post sunset :wink:
I didn't notice the rock (but then I wasn't looking for it) but I heard about the incident, very sad :(
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby past my sell by date » Sat Aug 17, 2019 2:03 pm

Still got most of the Western Isles to do, but we came to Tarbert with the JMT just after the N. Harris community buyout. Donna was busy in a meeting and I strolled up Giolabhal Glas. There, clear in every detail , shining in the evening sun 66 miles away :shock: - though it looked only 10 - was St. Kilda - I could clearly see Boreray, Hirta, a stack or two and something to the L of Hirta which I guess was Dun - the lovely ring of rocks around Village bay. It was one of those Iconic moments that you remember all your life :D :D :D
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Re: Hitting the Jaxter-pot on the Western Isles

Postby Jaxter » Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:31 am

past my sell by date wrote:Still got most of the Western Isles to do, but we came to Tarbert with the JMT just after the N. Harris community buyout. Donna was busy in a meeting and I strolled up Giolabhal Glas. There, clear in every detail , shining in the evening sun 66 miles away :shock: - though it looked only 10 - was St. Kilda - I could clearly see Boreray, Hirta, a stack or two and something to the L of Hirta which I guess was Dun - the lovely ring of rocks around Village bay. It was one of those Iconic moments that you remember all your life :D :D :D

I don't think it's possible to "do" the western isles :shock: But definitely a special moment - sounds like it wasn't quite as clear as you got but we could easily make out St Kilda even if the camera wouldn't really pick it up convincingly!
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