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Grinning and bearing it on Beinn Mhor & Hecla

Grinning and bearing it on Beinn Mhor & Hecla


Postby denfinella » Fri Sep 13, 2019 1:30 pm

Route description: Beinn Mhor and Hecla, South Uist

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Mhor (Uist)

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Beinn Corradail (South Uist), Thacla or Hecla (South Uist)

Date walked: 12/07/2019

Time taken: 9 hours

Distance: 19 km

Ascent: 1210m

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During our week on the Uists we'd had plans for one big walk: Beinn Mhor, Beinn Choradail and Hecla. After a succession of rubbish weather days we were running out of time - though we'd gotten to know the island's museums pretty well! But things were looking up: our final (full) day on the islands had a reasonable forecast for a dry day and a highish cloud base, though still no sunshine forecast.


Beinn Mhor & Hecla.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



There was still cloud on the hills around Lochmaddy at breakfast time, so we took our time getting to the start. We were just putting on walking boots when a man came out of the house across the road for a chat. He warned us that South Uist ticks had a particularly bad reputation, and that he had a pacemaker fitted as a result of a past encounter. With these words ringing in our ears, we set off into the bogs... wearing shorts of course. :shock:

1.jpg


The track doesn't last long, but a faint path continued across the moor. It was rather boggy, with a few tricky swamps to negotiate. Slightly alarmingly, my partner found a tick crawling him within about 100 metres of leaving the track :shock: We came very close to a pair of short eared owls which gave us quite a fright when they suddenly took off from their hidden location. Red throated divers on one of the lochans:

2.jpg


Fortunately the boggy stretch only lasts half a mile before the base of Beinn Mhor's ridge is gained. Happily the faint path continues:

3.jpg


4.jpg


Slowly but surely we were nearing the cloud base, which was sitting at about 300 metres - well below the summits. :( Into the mist:

5.jpg


An inversion hadn't been forecast so hopes for a summit view were low. But miraculously, just as we arrived on the narrow part of the north ridge...

6.jpg


The cloud was coming and going as we continued along the ridge - which has a faint path and no technical difficulties:

7.jpg


Summit cliffs:

8.jpg


Cairn:

9.jpg


Magical views from the north ridge:

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Looking south:

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The sea visible for just a second:

12.jpg


Happy that we'd seen a snapshot of the terrain, we headed back along to the north ridge - the cloud descending again as we went. The descent east to Bealach Heileasdail was fairly steep and pathless - and awkwardly-orientated rock bands making navigation a bit tricky in the mist. The typical terrain was like this:

13.jpg


We happened upon a few ghostly figures in the fog. First, a majestic red deer was revealed:

14.jpg


The next ghostly figure turned out to be a sheep :lol:

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Bealach Heileasdail - another confusing place in the fog:

16.jpg


Next up was Beinn Choradail - miserable for us as a fine drizzle was now falling. Oh, well, grin and bear it! Getting to the base of the cliffs took longer than expected, but eventually they loomed large ahead:

17.jpg


These were avoided on steepish ground to the right, where I nearly stepped on a hen harrier, which flew off too quickly for the camera to come out. A couple of false summits before the real one was reached. Definitely no views from the northern cliffs today:

18.jpg


Descent to the next bealach is by way of a steepish gully - fairly straightforward to find the top of.

19.jpg


Below the gully the hillside still looked very steep, falling away into the mist, but the gradient soon relented. The bealach a mile later was just below the cloud base (hello views!) and gave us the first proper views of Loch Coradail:

20.jpg


A steep but short ascent took us back into the cloud on Hecla's west ridge, with the drizzle thankfully stopping. More ghostly shapes appeared, including several golden plover:

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Hecla has an interesting, rocky summit:

22.jpg


Arriving at the summit there was just a hint of brightness above, but alas it didn't come to anything more than that. So we had to be content with the views from Beinn Mhor. Back to the bealach, and we could see the long walk out to the west:

23.jpg


The next mile to the Glendorchay River is mostly a traverse, avoiding bog to the right and steeper hillside to the left. Fortunately the "river" is small and easy to hop across:

24.jpg


Tough, tussocky ground to negotiate for the next two miles before the outward path is regained... just in time for the boggiest section from the morning :lol:

Not the best day weatherwise, but some summit views are better than none, and interesting wildlife. A fantastic ridge on Beinn Mhor, and we didn't see another soul all day. And we didn't find any ticks during the usual check later that evening! 8)

Uists 2019
<< Wednesday: Flodaigh seals
>> Next day: Berneray
Last edited by denfinella on Thu Oct 03, 2019 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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denfinella
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Posts: 1116
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Location: Edinburgh

Re: Grinning and bearing it on Beinn Mhor & Hecla

Postby litljortindan » Sun Sep 15, 2019 12:15 pm

Beinn Mhor looking very fine in its sea of cloud.
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litljortindan
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Re: Grinning and bearing it on Beinn Mhor & Hecla

Postby Sgurr » Sun Sep 15, 2019 1:54 pm

We have visited 3 times for 3 hills (though almost had to climb Beinn Mhor before cutting across to Chorradail the 2nd time) and finding good weather for them seems very elusive. Got soaked the first time, in clag the 2nd and only on the third were we able to see where we were going. Is the bog really only 1/2 a mile?...It seemed to go on for ever. Well done to you for doing this rather gruelling trip in one go. Loved the summit shots of Beinn Mhor, so much better than ours of drowned rats in the summit shelter.
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Sgurr
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Posts: 4304
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Location: Fife

Re: Grinning and bearing it on Beinn Mhor & Hecla

Postby denfinella » Sun Sep 15, 2019 2:40 pm

litljortindan wrote:Beinn Mhor looking very fine in its sea of cloud.


Aye, unlike the rest of the day! :lol:

Sgurr wrote:We have visited 3 times for 3 hills (though almost had to climb Beinn Mhor before cutting across to Chorradail the 2nd time) and finding good weather for them seems very elusive. Got soaked the first time, in clag the 2nd and only on the third were we able to see where we were going. Is the bog really only 1/2 a mile?...It seemed to go on for ever. Well done to you for doing this rather gruelling trip in one go. Loved the summit shots of Beinn Mhor, so much better than ours of drowned rats in the summit shelter.


Third time lucky then! Yes, the bog does seem to go on forever but I had a look on the OS map and it's only about half a mile between the end of the track and the foot of the ridge. The summit views were a nice surprise and got our hopes up for views later in the day, but we paid for it by having to endure persistent drizzle on the following summit...

Will hopefully get the chance to try them again in better weather, but the Uists are a long way away and there's so much more of Scotland to see...
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denfinella
Wanderer
 
Posts: 1116
Munros:66   Corbetts:34
Grahams:23   Donalds:16
Sub 2000:61   Hewitts:14
Wainwrights:6   Islands:45
Joined: Mar 19, 2012
Location: Edinburgh

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