Rum on a holiday weekend. April 2011.

Date: Friday and Saturday 29th -30th April 2011
Distance: 10km + 19km
Ascent: 1200m + 1200m

The occurrence of a Friday public holiday raised some logistical possibilities – the big one for us was a chance to visit Rum and get back the next day without pre-booking annual leave. All that was needed was for the weather gods to smile on someone’s wedding day. Scouring the forecasts all week suggested that the bride and groom might need a brolly but that we shouldn’t. Game on!

Wasn’t sure as to arrangements for the ferry so turned up early and bought tickets – leisurely morning in Mallaig – coffee, bacon rolls and a pint of prawns followed by a snooze in the sun.

Nice view to the Isles:

Boarded the 1240 ferry and we were off to Rum. An enjoyable sail – a bit more haze than wanted but still great views of the Mainland and Isles.


Mainland and Knoydart:

Point of Sleat and the Cuillin:

Point of Sleat Lighthouse and Sgurr na Stri:



Disembarked and walked the road round Kinloch to pick up the Coire Dubh track at NM 400 997 (I think it starts in the grounds of Kinloch Castle but we didn’t go in for a wander).

The woods are turning for summer – everything is bursting with life.

Speckled Wood:


The track wends its way up into Coire Dubh – quite hot and still at this point. The Skye Cuillin rises up into view but we had a bit of haze on the day:

At Coire Dubh the track heads left up Cnapan Breaca rather than a direct approach to Bealach Bairc-mheall. Once the top is achieved there are cracking views of Hallival and Askival:

Lovely chestnut-red beetle:

Askival and Trollaval from ascent:

The ferry gates made a crashing noise that caught our attention even from here. Watched the Loch Neibhis depart from afar.

Ascending Hallaval we noticed loads of burrows in the grassy slopes – Manx Shearwaters.

We carried on upslope mainly easy ground but some bouldery bits to negotiate – Hazel with Barkeval behind:

The summit of Hallaval afforded nice views to Askival:

And some goats – think these two were yearlings – very inquisitive between bouts of head-butting. The adults over the crest soberly moved off when we came into view.

The descent is steep and rocky – a bit of weaving and scrambling needed here.

We spotted some deer on descent – patted myself on the back for stealthiness.

However, plainly obvious that they knew fine well where we were but didn’t care. Quite a lot of deer on the island seemed pretty bold.

Askival looks “interesting” from here:

Trollaval from Askival ascent:

After a brief ascent Askival becomes serious:

There is a bypass to the left in ascent which avoids the pinnacle (which is a rock climb). We rejoined the ridge early just above the pinnacle allowing some scrambling up the remainder, reasonably hard work in camping packs. I think it’s possible to bypass for longer giving an easier ascent.

Despite breaks we’d found it reasonably hard work getting this far. The sun was dropping giving ever more attractive light.

Oigh-sgeir beyond Trallaval:

Dropped steeply but untechnically down to Beallach an Oir. We had thought about camping here but the forecast bad been for perky easterly winds so we’d targeted the coire below Bealach an Fuarain for this walk. As forecast the windspeed was modest, certainly a bit blowy for a good night’s sleep.

Ainshival from Bealach an Oir:

Legs were feeling a bit heavier as we climbed Trallaval – the first 100m is steep grassy but the top is more rocky scrambling.

Hallaval and Askival:

Achieved the first summit, dropped packs and scrambled over to the highest point over an airy ridge – watching sunset:

Over the summit cone of Trallaval:


Aware of some pressure of time we scurried down to the Bealach an Fhuarain and then west down to a pitch site at NM 373 949 at around 200m below the bealach – no wind and a flat pitch. 🙂

Unfortunately within 30 mins of sundown the tent was jumping about in sharp gusts. Only got worse through the night.

We were entertained through the night by the orchestra of Manx Shearwaters calling – a bit more than a susurration even given our distance from the nests.

A camp high round here would be fascinating. I’m not sure whether I’d sleep well but it would be a great experience.

Hazel slept like a log, I however slept little in the noise of the wind.

Up not long after dawn at 0600. Sunshine just arising:

Made our way back up to the bealach and then joined the escape path to the right – Tollaval from bealach:

Having got back to the bealach we appreciated why there were wind issues overnight – it was hard to stand steadily up here.

Ainshival was the easiest of the Rum Cuillin. A bypass track avoids the rockfin at the base (right or west in ascent) and then continues to bypass the steep rocky crest with an escape path on the left (east).

Hallaval, Askival and the Cuillin:

Mainland and Loch Morar:

Windspeed remained ferocious:

But the views were amazing – Skye Cuillin:


Glen Dibidil:

Ainshival and Askaval from ascent:

Eigg and Sgurr nan Gillean:

South from Rum to Ardnamurchan and Mull:


From Sgurr nan Gillean, given we had a lot of time we dropped west to pick up an easy descent to Papadil Lodge ruins – a bit easier than the descent to Dibidil

The descent is easy enough – steep on tired legs. Papadil Lodge is in a nice setting:

Certainly worthy of a camp here too – the options for a return are mounting up! 8)

From Papadil it is an bobbly coastal walk back to the ferry.

We took it very slow, having a lot of hours. Multiple lounging breaks and wildlife watching was de rigeur.

Green Hairstreak:


First Marsh Orchid of the year:

Dibidil Bothy and Eigg:

Dry grass meant the sounds of Common Lizards fleeing were noticeable all afternoon – only a few spotted though:

Tralaval and Ainshival from Dibidil:

Tralaval from Dibidil:

From Dibidil a decent track round round the coast to Kinloch. Good views and some wildlife overcame tired feet.

This waterfall was recessed back into a wee gorge. Tempting to swim up into the gap.

Askival silhouette:

We eventually crossed the headland above Kinloch – the Cuillin and Kinloch:

We got back with a few hours spare despite our tardiness – so more sloth was indicated. A pleasure to snooze listening to the Eiders and Cuckoos at Kinloch.

Sad to get rebooted for the wander to the pier and back on Loch Neibhis:

A sharp departure (the ferry left 8 mins early) had us steaming for Mallaig with some memorable views.

Hallaval and Askival:



Sleat Lighthouse and Sgurr na Stri:



Tired but happy we disembarked and headed to Stontian to meet my family. What a great trip – somewhere completely new and by the look of the rest of the island, somewhere to revisit too.

The Royal Wedding was well-timed indeed.


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