An Cliseam circular

Corbetts: Clisham

Date walked: 22/07/2021

Time taken: 8.3 hours

Distance: 10.5km

Ascent: 995m

The only sunny day on our OH trip was saved for An Cliseam, and we opted for a shortened version of the horseshoe, which would be quite enough for E's knee. He'd been up the year before when filming there, but it was all in clag, and I'd never been able to get to the Outer Hebrides at all before, so this was a treat.

As we set off, heading straight up from the road carpark, the hill was in Paramount mode, and I wondered if we'd get an inversion. Normally when I wonder that, the cloud descends and I walk completely in cloud, or it lifts as I rise. And those are the good days :lol: .

002 An Cliseam ring of cloud

Behind us as we rose, it was looking menacing. This day could go any way...

003 Atmospheric morning

On our way, we discovered a new (to us) flower, the common milkwort - a lovely delicate version of the butterwort, though this photo is a close-up of my fingers cos my phone does that :roll:

004 Common milkwort

Joy of joys, at last, a decent inversion. E remarked on how pleasant Stornoway looks and sounds in these conditions :wink:

007 SW to Sgaoth Aird and friends

For all that the cloud inversion was stunning, I can't get over how incredibly slimy the hill is! Is it like this every summer?

009 The slimiest hill

And those inversion views just kept on coming, new peaks appearing behind us like nanatuks as we rose, while to the south and west it was clear.

012 Over Toduns head to Trotternish

012a Down to the whaling station

012b Sandy beaches south west

012c Trotternish

And after a steep, hot, happy stomp up, the summit shelter cairn came into view.

012e Summit shelter and Uisgneabhal Mor appear

Isn't it satisfying when the day starts with a steep rise to the summit? The hard graft is over and your head switches to relaxed mode - lovely. Also, we had the top to ourselves as we'd started early. On a gorgeous day like this, with Covid restrictions lifted, it was bound to get busy.

015 An Cliseam summit with Skye behind

016 Euan at An Cliseam summit pano

Me at An Cliseam summit

017 Our horseshoe and Uisgneabhal Mòr

018 North to Suainebhal in Lewis Uig hills

018a North Skye tops to the east

018d Stulabhal to the north

Eventually, with our mini-horseshoe route clear as a bell ahead of us, we left the summit and started off again.

020 Descent to Mulla bho Dheas bealach

021 The horseshoe tops

Crowds probably were beginning to build up behind us, but our clouds were hiding them all. This was idyllic! Meanwhile, where the cloud wasn't gathering, the sunlight was doing wonders for the hills in full view.

021b Full-on fluffy

022a Tarbert hills Sgaoth Aird and Giolabhal Glas

022b Loch Langabhat appears

As we approached Mulla bho Dheas, we could just make out the path which skirts the crags round to the right. Seems a bit unnecessary as the crags look ok from here, but knee-conscious I obediently followed the track.

025 Skirting crags on Mulla bho Dheas

From just above the bealach, we could see our lochans below where we intended to drop down. We were beginning to run out of water too, - in fact I think I'd not packed enough because I like my coffee on the hill, and I was beginning to get a taste for E's which he laces with lemon and ginger. So the lochs were a welcome sight, though it would be a while before we reached them.

026 Our corrie lochs and Loch Langabhat

027 East to Loch Seaforth

And now i could see the crags more clearly, I understood the path!

027a Those Mulla bho Dheas crags

030 Looking back to An Cliseam

Looking back to An Cliseam and down to the corrie, coupled with the sunshine, I was getting flashbacks to Rum. Coming off Trollvall, I'd opted to stay high in the corrie, and that was a mistake, so this time I knew I wanted to drop all the way down to the lochans even though it meant rising again, because it hurts a lot less than steep angular walking round a corrie flank. Doh!

Meanwhile, having obediently followed the track, with a bit of winding back at the top, here was the next summit cairn.

031 Mulla bho Dheas cairn

I also realised I was now looking at Beinn Dubh, which I'd had an eye-full of on my 5-mile road walk to get the car two days previously. It was looking a lot prettier in the sun. By now, the cloud was really clearing to the northeast too.

032 Thats Beinn Dubh - from Tues road walk

033 Mulla bho Tuath and Loch Langabhat

As we carried on a raven was laughing at us. Honestly. Non-stop.

035 Laughing raven - Loch Beinisbhal behind

He could see the little obstacle course up ahead which we hadn't yet spotted.

036 Why hes laughing left of centre

Down below us we saw a small herd of deer, so looked forward to maybe meeting them on our descent when the time came. And by now we really were thirsty, so we did want to meet them soon.

037 Deer by Loch nan Eang

038 Lochs nan Eang - Mhisteam - Langabhat

040 Looking back to An Cliseam and Mulla bho Dheas

We'd wondered about carrying on to Mullach an Langa, and decided we'd see how the knee was doing after the next top, Mulla bho Tuath. In the event, it was thirst as much as anything that drove us down. So it was just a matter of picking the least bloomin' painful way possible, which meant going on a little bit to the next bealach and then dropping. Still steep, but avoiding the scree! We could see a couple with a child on Thuath, so we waited for them to come off before heading up there.

041 Redesigning the route

043 Scree to avoid off Tuath

They'd set off to walk the horseshoe anticlockwise, which meant they'd missed the inversion sadly, but the sunshine was clearly making up for it. Everyone was finding the heat hard, but the views were so captivating, and the day so long, it didn't matter. After a chat with them - they'd seen a golden eagle, maybe one of ours from Tuesday, and an ogle at St Kilda in the far distance - on we went, for more views of St Kilda, the Torridons and Assynt.

044 Tuaths lovely top

045 Mullach an Langa and north

046 St Kilda 65 miles away

047 St Kilda zoom

048 Slioch right of centre

049 An Cliseams north face - Slioch beyond

050 Over Ben Mhor - Pairc - to SP - Cul Beag and BMC

051 East over Loch Seaforth to Pairc

052 Todays Rummish tops

And then down to that water, that water, that water :-D

053 Down into the corrie for water

While we were there, we didn't seeany goldies that day, but instead we found a white tailed eagle above us. That'll do!

054 Above us

Tatty big yen!

055 Scruffy WTE

I think itwas we rather than the eagle which startled a dipper. It shot off over the water just as we approached to fill our bottles from the burn.

056 Black dot is departing dipper

Meanwhile, from a distance, those deer were watching us too, and protecting a calf in their midst.

058 Calf right of centre

Down here, we were back in the slime. I'd forgotten about the slime!

059 Slime and colour

And now, as we rose back up to meet our path back to the road, all sign of that superb cloud inversion had gone. Here were the hills in full summer garb.

060 Toddun clear - and Skye - from bealach

064 First sundew of the year

A cracking day, and one I'd originally planned for 2020, made even better in 2021 for having E to share it with. He even said it was his first white tailed eagle.

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Location: was West Sussex, now Ayrshire
Activity: Mountain Walker
Mountain: Ben Mor Coigach
Place: Assynt
Ideal day out: Some memorable wildlife, few if any folk, and a craggy, dramatic view.

Munros: 30
Corbetts: 19
Grahams: 10
Donalds: 6
Wainwrights: 41
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Last visited: Nov 29, 2021
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