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Dun da Gaoithe - chasing the Iona ferry!

Dun da Gaoithe - chasing the Iona ferry!

Postby bobble_hat_kenny » Sun Sep 12, 2021 9:57 pm

Route description: Dùn da Ghaoithe, near Craignure

Corbetts included on this walk: Dùn da Ghaoithe

Date walked: 08/06/2021

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 15 km

Ascent: 845m

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This was Day 2 of a short hillwalking side-trip as part of a family self-catering holiday in Iona; I'd negotiated permission to absent myself for a couple of days' hillwalking. I got the very early "school ferry" at 06:10 a.m. on the Monday morning, along with a group of rather dazed-looking schoolchildren, and enjoyed a fabulous walk doing Ben More via the A' Chioch ridge in glorious weather - then a slap-up three-course meal at the Tobermory Hotel, followed by a comfortable night in a hotel bed and Full Scottish Breakfast the following morning :D . So far, all had gone swimmingly. However, I hadn't managed to book one of the early slots for breakfast (due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was still necessary to book a timeslot for breakfast at this point in the year :roll: )... the plan for Day 2 on the Tuesday was to tackle Mull's sole Corbett, Dun da Gaoithe, but I'd be starting late now, with a hotel cooked breakfast in my belly to slow me down a little, and the last ferry for Iona leaves Fionnphort at 18:30 and doesn't wait for latecomers :lol: !
Anyway, I made my way down the main road as quickly as I could post-breakfast to the big Craignure car park, and set off as fast as I could manage on the initial road walk to the starting point of the "proper" walk, which is where the Upper Achnacroish farm track leaves the road to the right (when walking south, that is). The track almost immediately forks; the right-hand fork was the one I wanted, as I'd thankfully managed to suss from the map.
WR1 - start of track off the main road with rhododendrons et cetera.jpg

At this stage the weather wasn't bad, but the forecast was for it to cloud over in the early afternoon, so I was keen to try to get up quickly and maybe get some views. Although the initial ascent on the track is surprisingly steep in bits, it's still on a track after all, and I did make fairly rapid initial progress despite that cooked breakfast :lol: ...
The track rises in a series of zigzags towards an initial minor top known as Maol nan Uan, which sports two very prominent radio masts.
WR2 - a wee bit further up the track with radio masts visible now.jpg

It wasn't long before some impressive views were developing of the Sound of Mull, with Duart Castle easily visible on its promontory.
WR3 - view back downhill towards Duart Castle on promontory.jpg

A zoomed shot of Duart Castle, looking impressive from this angle: we visited it with the whole family later in the week, and it's definitely well worth a visit.
WR4 - zoomed view of Duart Castle.jpg

Soon enough I came to a gate at the top end of some forestry to the right of the track; from here, the first radio mast thankfully didn't look much further.
WR5 - looking up from gate to Maol nan Uan with radio masts.jpg

There was a very nice view over the Sound of Mull from up here:
WR6 - nice coastal view from a bit higher up.jpg

I stoated on up the track to its end-point at a second, higher radio mast: this one is inside a fairly formidable fenced-off enclosure. From the back of the fenced-off area, a rather indistinct path heads off westwards towards the Corbett's southern Top, which is a fairly distinct sub-peak known as Mainnir nan Fiadh. Unfortunately it still had its head in the Clag at this point in the day :( ...
WR7 - hazy view of Mainnir nan Fiadh from Maol nan Uan.jpg

Almost at the top of Mainnir nan Fiadh now, and I was still getting a bit of a hazy view back down the glen:
WR8 - another slightly hazy view down glen on ascent of Mainnir nan Fiadh.jpg

Although it's only a Corbett Top and not the main summit (which is a good bit further north along the ridge), Mainnir nan Fiadh sports both a trig point and a big cairn. I stopped here for a bit of lunch (yes, I did still have room for a wee pork pie after that hotel breakfast!! :lol: ).
WR9 - Mainnir nan Fiadh summit cairn and trig point in Clag.jpg

The dreaded Clag was coming and going a bit, but I did get a hazy view back towards the Duart Castle promontory from Mainnir's summit environs:
WR10 - hazy view back towards Duart Castle promontory from Meannir summit.jpg

As I left Mainnir to head northwards along the ridge to the true Corbett summit, the weather gods finally smiled on me, and the cloud base lifted a critical hundred metres or so, with a good view of the ongoing ridge ahead and of Dun da Gaoithe itself. Its Gaelic name is rather poetic, translating as "Fort of the Two Winds".
WR11 - looking towards Dun da Gaoidhe from Meannir - almost Clag free.jpg

There is a reasonable path along this bit of the ridge, and I made fairly rapid progress. The Clag was still coming and going a bit, but I was increasingly hopeful of some summit views after all :) .
WR12 - a bit closer to Dun da Gaoithe but still not completely out the Clag.jpg

It wasn't that much further to Dun da Gaoithe's substantial main summit cairn .. and yes, the Clag lifted completely again for ten minutes or so! A grand view once again of the Duart Castle promontory and of the mainland across the Sound of Mull:
WR13 - at Dun da Gaoithe cairn with an actual summit view over Duart Castle promontory and Craignure Bay.jpg

Looking northwards along the rougher continuing ridge, with a large salmon farm prominent just offshore:
WR14 - looking northwards from Dun da Gaoithe cairn - obvious salmon farm near Craignure.jpg

I had a ferry to catch, though, and the forecast was for the Clag to descend with a vengeance fairly soon now, so I didn't waste time and set off back southwards towards Mainnir nan Fiadh.
WR15 - looking back to Mainnir on return leg.jpg

A bit closer to the Mainnir now, and yep, the cloud base was definitely starting to descend again :? ...
WR16 - a bit closter to Mainnir again and Clag definitely threatening to descend.jpg

By the time I got back to Mainnir's summit cairn and trig point, I couldn't see the nose in front of my face, and I managed to temporarily misplace myself in the Clag on descent, coming down a bit too far southwards into an unpleasant area of greasy boulderfield. Thankfully I resisted the temptation just to set off downhill (which would have taken me far too far south) and I got the GPS and compass out. It wasn't a complicated bearing, thankfully - it is pretty much due east from Mainnir nan Fiadh to the higher of the two radio masts. The ridge undulates a bit and I didn't always feel as though I was definitely going in the right direction - visibility was down to less than a hundred metres by now - but I just trusted the compass and trudged onwards, internally vocalising with "GO EAST!" to the tune of the Pet Shop Boys song, as you do :lol: . All of a sudden, I found the faint path that I'd come up, and promptly stumbled upon the perimeter fence of the higher radio mast: by now the Clag had gotten so thick that the mast itself was barely visible, massive as it is :? !
I now had a track to follow back downhill, however, and the remainder of the descent was straightforward. I'd lost some time in the Clag, however, so I really had to leg it back to the car so as not to be rushing too much for my ferry!
Thankfully however, I got back to the car with time to spare, and I did make it back to Fionnphort to join the rest of the family in Iona.
It's a grand wee hill though, this one, with a shapely ridge, and impressive views even in slightly "iffy" weather like today :) .
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Posts: 366
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