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Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset


Postby dogplodder » Fri Jan 10, 2020 8:42 pm

Route description: The Sgùrr of Eigg

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: An Sgùrr (Eigg)

Date walked: 23/09/2019

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 8 km

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Our friend Crawford spent his first seven years of life on Eigg and loved it. So when we first visited in 2016 we knew we were in for a treat and weren't disappointed. I didn't climb An Sgurr, "the ever present Squrr, a strange volcanic plug, a single rock towering and dominating the island from almost every angle", (Crawford's words) mainly because I knew my other half wouldn't much enjoy doing that and wanted to find something we could do together. We walked to the abandoned settlement of Grulin instead.

But the startling image of it stuck in my mind and I knew one day I'd have to go back. I saw a chance in the three days camping we had booked at Camusdarach in July with son Doug and family. With the youngest now five there's not much they won't do and the deal was we'd take the ferry over on the day that allows enough time to climb the Sgurr and get back on the ferry to Mallaig. :D

Sadly that wasn't to be. My 92 year old uncle died and the funeral was on the day we would be going. So I was at my uncle's funeral, while the family had good weather on Eigg and reached the top of the Sgurr.

Family at An Sgurr summit in July
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Nothing daunted Pete and I rebooked our camping slot for late September and hoped the weather would play ball. It was our young dog's first boat trip but we didn't think the Calmac ferry would give any problems. Except that the usual ferry was out of service and it was a smaller chartered boat, which had to be boarded via a boat alongside, with a slightly awkward step across which Keira didn't like the look of and had to be bodily bundled over. Not the best start but she settled once on board and took the journey well. To disembark I got myself in position early so we were first off, which she managed with a bit of coaxing. :eh:

Her first boat trip
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This time our plan was to head for the Sgurr with Pete walking as far as he felt like then returning to the cafe at the pier while Keira and I kept going. Crawford's description goes on "Like a cat, she would sit upright inspecting those who were arriving and leaving the pier with a slightly threatening air, from Grulin she would be ready to pounce while from Howlin, on the north, laid out in her full length wanting just to be left alone to purr herself to sleep."

Crouching cat from the pier
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Cloud heavier than expected from forecast
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The first part of our route was the same as last time, going through the gate and up to the houses that appear in so many photos.

2016 with Jack and Tess
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2019 with Keira (and same jacket)
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A small cairn marks where the path leaves the track and heads over the moor towards the Sgurr.

Path for Sgurr off track to the right
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The path was narrow and muddy in places but easy to follow. I kept Keira on the lead until reassured by a walker coming down there were no sheep about. She has so far shown no interest in sheep but you can never be sure with a young dog.

Isle of Muck
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Black cloud wasn't quite what my weather app had said but we were here now and I was still hopeful of views from the top!

Ominous black cloud
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Hills of Knoydart
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When the mud, gradient and wind increased it seemed like a good idea to find some shelter for a lunch break. It's always worth sensing the right tactical moment to suggest a food stop before total rebellion in the ranks breaks out! :o

Keira
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Is there any for me?
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An Sgurr's massive prow up close and personal
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An Sgurr was originally a lava flow from the volcano on Rum, thought to be about 58 million years ago, which followed an old river bed, filling the glen. Being harder then the surrounding basalt the pitchstone lava didn't erode at the same rate and over time was left as an unlikely protuberance on the island - a mile long ridge with its highest point standing proud at 393 metres.

After lunch Keira and I continued along the side of the Sgurr while Pete retraced his steps to the Am Laimhrig cafe where he bought a paper to read along with a cup of tea and flapjack. By this time it was raining steadily so the photos are rather gloomy and the hills of Rum were shrouded in cloud.

From the side of the Sgurr looking NW towards Rum
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The sometimes muddy path traverses the side of the 'couching cat' before turning left and climbing to a narrow groove in the rock giving access to a dip in her reclining back. I had expected a slight scramble at this point but there was none. The interesting bit came later. :eh:

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My 7 year old grandson had said there was a rocky bit to climb on the ridge. This turned out to be a little further to the east, to get on to the crest of the ridge. The wind was much stronger now but we were still gaining some shelter from being below the crest at this point.

Steep bit ahead on left
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The path divided giving a choice of ways up. I started on the first option but the path was steep and fizzled out so I returned to the more established path. This led to a vegetated rocky staircase made more tricky by the steady rain. The rock was greasy and at this point I did use my hands to give stability where it was slippy.

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Isle of Muck
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Lower end of ridge
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On reaching the top of the 'staircase' I was hit by a strong gust of wind which almost had me off my feet. I sat down to take stock. Looking east towards the summit the weather had closed in and I reckoned I wasn't going to see anything. Added to that I wouldn't enjoy walking on exposed uneven ground in the full blast of a now very strong wind. Unusually for me so near to my goal I was thinking of pulling the plug.... Then as if to confirm my thinking a lone figure appeared out of the murk, commenting that it was pretty unpleasant in the wind and cloud and she was on her way down. If I was for turning back would I mind if we stuck together for the descent? The thought of doing it alone was making her nervous. :?

Where I was nearly blown over
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She said it would have taken me another 20 minutes to reach the trig point but I probably wouldn't see anything. So given the conditions it wasn't in the end hard to pull the plug on 'the plug' and I was quite happy to leave the sleeping cat unconquered. In any case my grandkids had already done it for me. :lol:

Descending the wet vegetated slope was trickier than going up but once on the lower path and in the lee of the ridge it was fine. It was good to have company for the return and we chatted all the way back about dogs and hills and generally putting the world to rights. Memory not being what it was I should have written it down, but I think her name was Barbara and she came from Dumfries and if she ever reads this (not likely given the time I've taken writing it up) I hope she has got round to climbing her first Munro or at least is planning to! 8)

Walking down through the woods we spotted a familiar figure coming up the road to meet us. It was Pete and although I'd had plenty of time to finish the climb I was glad I'd turned back when I did so he didn't have a long walk over mud to meet me. When we reached the cafe he sat on the bench by the door with Keira while Barbara and I went inside for coffee and excellent chocolate brownie. Cold, wet and bedraggled it was good to get a heat up in that lovely warm place. :D

Am Laimhrig
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Pete and Keira waiting outside while I dried off inside
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Our boat coming in
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Crouching cat still watching
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Annoyingly it had now stopped raining, the cloud had cleared and the sun was out. :-?

Sunny now that we've left
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Back in Mallaig we found a dog friendly cafe up the hill from the pier where we had a great meal of freshly caught haddock and chips. But the real icing on the cake was the sunset the next day from near our campsite at Camusdarach. Initially I went out too early to get the best of it but when I saw the red sky from the tent half an hour later Keira couldn't quite believe her luck she was being offered another walk! :-P

Camusdarach
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The series of images of the sky at different stages of the sinking sun over Eigg and Rum will speak for themselves.

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Zoomed to Eigg
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Half an hour later
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Last edited by dogplodder on Sun Feb 07, 2021 12:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby Jaxter » Fri Jan 10, 2020 10:38 pm

Ooooh wonderful stuff!! And that sunset from Mallaig :clap: 8) Reminds me why I need to go back to Eigg though, it's a wonderful place. You'll have to go back on a nicer day - the views from the top are something else 8)
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby arjh » Fri Jan 10, 2020 11:40 pm

Spectacular sunset photos :)
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Mon Jan 13, 2020 5:33 pm

Jaxter wrote: You'll have to go back on a nicer day - the views from the top are something else 8)


I've seen your photos of camping on the Sgurr..... and see what you mean! :clap:
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby Sunset tripper » Mon Jan 13, 2020 7:53 pm

Great photos especially the sunset. You definitely have to go back on a nice day. I was on the sgurr myself a few years ago on a windy day. Great place :D
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:43 am

arjh wrote:Spectacular sunset photos :)


Mesmerising to watch.
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:04 am

Sunset tripper wrote:Great photos especially the sunset. You definitely have to go back on a nice day. I was on the sgurr myself a few years ago on a windy day. Great place :D


I thought I wouldn't bother but already I'm wanting to go back! :wink:
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby shredder » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:21 am

Spectacular sunset of rich colours. Can't beat the west coast of Scotland! :clap:
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby tweedledog » Sat Jan 18, 2020 10:58 am

Oh my! Envious of that sunset...
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:43 pm

shredder wrote:Spectacular sunset of rich colours. Can't beat the west coast of Scotland! :clap:


You should have seen the one over Inverness one day last week. :D
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:46 pm

tweedledog wrote:Oh my! Envious of that sunset...


I imagine you got a good one over the horse-shoe last week? The skies here have been amazing. :D
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby tweedledog » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:58 pm

dogplodder wrote:
tweedledog wrote:Oh my! Envious of that sunset...


I imagine you got a good one over the horse-shoe last week? The skies here have been amazing. :D


Unfortunately no - nothing but murk and drizzle here. That's the west for you!
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby Huff_n_Puff » Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:36 pm

Magnificent sunset photos ... I've been wanting to get to know the crouching cat for sometime ...
:D
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:55 pm

Huff_n_Puff wrote:Magnificent sunset photos ... I've been wanting to get to know the crouching cat for sometime ...
:D


You'll love it. :D
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Re: Crouching cat unconquered - but what a sunset

Postby dogplodder » Sun Feb 07, 2021 12:37 pm

Pete's phone photo of Keira curled up in tent after her trip to Eigg
IMG_20190923_205423.jpg
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