Sgurr Bhogachain, Islay, the hill that really does exist.

Date walked: 11/07/2018

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 14km

Ascent: 370m

For various reasons our "family holiday" turned into just me staying with my mum in Port Ellen, so I could do precisely what I wanted. :lol:
I took a notion to walk up Sgurr Bhogachain, which is a small but distinctive steep pointy hill almost exactly halfway between Glenegedale and Kildalton in a straight line across the moor. The old one inch OS maps and old versions of the 1:50 000 completely missed out this hill showing a large flat area at about 300 metres without the summit ridge which rises sharply to the grand height of 374m. More up to date maps are however correct as far as the contour lines go, but label a nearby small lump as Sgurr Bhogochain which is incorrect.
Anyway it has been a lovely spell of dry weather and a good day to cross a pathless bog. I could have gone via the track from Ardbeg to loch Uigeadail but as it was more likely I would meet cattle on this track I decided to go via Castlehill from the High Road near Glenegedale.

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

Unfortunately there had been rain overnight and the cloud level was about 70 metres - but I had made up my mind so decided it would be good navigation practice with map and compass and I'd get to look at some flowers. This walk is easy enough to navigate in good weather but as it is mainly pathless and boggy it was a good challenge. I had my GPS safely tucked in my bag to make sure I did not cheat. I also smidged up as it looked like a lovely day for the midges.
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bog myrtle, always stick a bit in my hat to keep the midgies away (theoretically) and it smells lovely

I set off with my picnic and my stove at around 10.30am and followed the track checking regularly on the map to make sure I knew where I was. The track was fine until it crossed the burn at 361509 but then it became quite wet and overgrown and I lost it for a while. However then the ruins of Castlehill Farmhouse loomed out of the mist and I went and had a mosey round there. I understand it was abandoned in the 1960s and looks quite sad now.
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the skeletal remains of Castlehill farmhouse looming out of the mist

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Ravens are nesting in the upstairs fireplace

Shortly after the farmhouse I picked up the track again until it stopped quite abruptly in the middle of the moor. However a path continued from the end of the track which seemed to be going in the direction I wanted, so, checking a bearing from time to time, I followed this path until it disappeared again somewhere in the thigh-high wet grass of Gleann a'Ghormlaich..
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some toadstools growing on a turd.

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the track ends rather abruptly

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you go through a fence!

I was quite proud of my navigation as lumps appeared out of the gloom where I was expecting them, and there were traces of path here and there which came and went - most likely animal tracks as I never saw a single human footprint.
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here's a place where some deer have been lying and flattened the grass

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just for a moment I could see the bottom of my target

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matchstick lichen

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the ground is terribly dry

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Crotal, a lichen used for dying wool

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two different kinds of lichen on a rock - with interesting fruiting bodies

As I climbed higher the vegetation underfoot became easier to walk on until I reached the top of Sgurr Bhogoachain a little before 1pm.
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Summit cairn. Someone has carried these stones from nearby scree to place on the heathery top

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oh but hang on a minute - is that one higher? I went to both just in case, but the first one is higher I think

There was a nice breeze on the top so I sat down in a sheltered spot for lunch and suddenly the wind dropped and the midges came out in force. Despite the smidge they were crawling into my hat and down the neck of my shirt, so there was nothing for it but to pick up my sandwich and walk on.
My next target was Beinn Sholum, a couple of km to the south (because you have to have a circular walk). Below Beinn Sholum is the abandoned settlement of Solum, the subject of local legend which is interestingly discussed in the Islay History blog
http://islayhistory.blogspot.com/2012/08/solam-legend-of-plague-village.html gives a summary of the story.
Anyway, I had thought that I would take a bearing direct off the first summit to the second, but the steepness of the slope meant that this was not going to work. So returning to the 310 ring contour at the bottom of the final climb, I took a bearing pretty much due South from there.
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Lower slopes of Beinn Sholum

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This lochan appeared just where I expected it to be, which was reassuring

Up and down a bit took me to the foot of Beinn Sholum after which I just went uphill until I reached the summit trig point, and very nice it was too.
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a small patch of white bell heather just at the summit of Beinn Sholum

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three types of moss on the trig pillar

There was now sufficient breeze to disperse all the midges so I settled down for a brew in the summit shelter, along with a geobar and a nectarine. And then suddenly I was able to see Kintyre! just for a moment there was a break in the cloud and then it went again. Over the ensuing half hour the cloud blew out and in and at last I could see where I wanted to go for the first time today!
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oh my goodness, a sudden view to the south

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view back to Sgurr Bhogachain at last

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bit of mist coming in and out over the wee loch by the summit

Now being able to see the view it was a lovely walk back to the car, although I was just feeling smug at the thigh-high grass place about not having seen any clegs when suddenly I was ambushed by a posse of the evil beasts. I think I murdered more clegs than I got bites, although today I have some itchy lumps on both arms and the back of my neck. Fortunately once I got out of the glen the breeze blew them away.
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there it is again over the glen

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back to Castlehill with its wide views to the Oa and the Rinns

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Looking back at Castlehill with Sgurr Bhogachain sticking up behind, definitely a fixer upper would you think?

So all in all I had a lovely day, was pleased with my navigation skills and happy to get some views as well! And despite the lack of views I took over 100 photos!

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Comments: 1

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User avatar
Location: north yorkshire moors
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: just gimme a cup of tea
Place: Everywhere
Gear: the Map
Ideal day out: waking up in a tent in the middle of nowhere and then doing 2 or 3 munros followed by a hot bath
Ambition: Lots more hills

Munros: 216
Corbetts: 10
Grahams: 3
Wainwrights: 36
Hewitts: 41
Sub 2000: 9

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Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Last visited: Jul 15, 2018
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