First Outer Hebrides Trip – a windy camping affair. May 2011.

So – sitting in Inverness on the 26th May looking with utter horror at the forecast – prolonged gale force winds and rain…in late May. We’d planned a drive and camp tour of the Hebrides. 🙄

We briefly considered abandoning the plan and mooching round elsewhere but what the hell?

Caught the Ullapool to Stornaway ferry on a reasonable Friday morning – weather broke down an hour out of Stornoway. A dreich drive over Lewis to see Callanish and then turned S to Harris.

The road network on Lewis is excellent – a lot of Euro cash gone in methinks.

Took shelter in the Harris Hotel for the night – miserable conditions outside.

Date: Saturday 28th May 2011
Distance: 18km
Ascent: 1300m

Parked at the estate gates at NB 051 077 and took the track up to Loch Chliostair.

Headed up Lag Garbh on reasonable terrain to join the S ridge of Oireabhal. Squally showers were scudding through.

Orchid – the flowers were a few weeks behind schedule – the poor May has set them back.

Did see a Golden Eagle mastering the high winds on the climb. It had its wings folded nearly completely in to compensate for the extra lift the wind was giving – a new sight.

Squalls piling in:

Tiorga Mor:

SE to the S ridge of Uisgneabhal Mor:

Headed north over Ulabhal to descend on grassy slopes to the north end of Loch Aiseabhat to climb Tiorga.

Ridge to Ulabhal:

Sron Scourst:

Loch Chliostair:

Thankfully we got views of Sron Ulladal.

Continued on to the summit of Tiorga Mor – severe buffeting all the way made waliking a bit tricky.

Did see a group of what I’m sure were Dunlins – something else not seen on a hill before.

From the summit the easiest line was into Lag Glas and then East to the track at the south end of Loch Aiseabhat .

A quick yomp back to the car.

The evening was a bit drier, if breezy so we pitched the tent at Huisinis – a lovely spot.

Date: Sunday 29th May 2011
Distance: 9km
Ascent: 750m

After a dry night we had come within 10 minutes of striking the tent when another squall arrived. Packed up and sat in the car listening to the lashing rain.

On a weekend we’d have probably just gone home but getting out walking was preferable to sitting around so we went for a wander.

In ideal circumstances I’d planned to take the track out past Sron Scourst and Sron Ard to walk back along the ridge from Stulabhal over Uisgneaval Mor. Under the circumstances we simply climbed the hill.
Parked at NB 100 062 and followed the Abhainn Unasta to about 200m and then climbed up to the S ridge of Uisgneabhal Mor.

Got a nice view of a Golden Eagle adult skimming up the ridge twice – came quite close.

Clouds cleared very briefly at the summit.

Reversed route out.

There were views over Loch a Siar in the afternoon.

Date: Monday 30th May 2011
Distance: 5.4km
Ascent: 640m

Parked at NB 173 057. The plan had been to do An Cliseam justice by including the north horseshoe. However a brief weather window meant we wanted to cram in the hill, the drive to South Harris and a crossing to N Uist while the sun was shining. Climbed the hill the easy way.

Quite a pleasant stroll. I’d heard of unpleasant boulder fields at the top but in truth a path took us all the way.

An Cliseam:

Sgaoth Aird:

Strathabhal:

Lochs Shiphort and Langabhat:

Loch a Siar:

Sunny An Cliseam:

Nearly stood on a cuckoo on the descent which hadn’t heard me approach – flew off just as I got the camera out.

The drive to Leverburgh was beautiful – the combination of beaches and hills is amazing.

Horgabost:


Another pleasant ferry ride to Berneray and then a drive around N Uist.
There’s an RSPB reserve at Baile Raghnill where Corncrakes can be heard. One popped up on a rock just as we arrived.

Pitched the tent at the beach at Hosta. Nice pitch – evening views of St Kilda, Boreray and the Hasgeir rocks.

St Kilda:

Hasgeir Eagach:

Eilan Hasgeir:

Date: Monday 31st May 2011
Distance: 13.6km
Ascent: 770m

Up early to strike the tent – our weather window was due to slam shut in the evening.

At last a decent morning.

A nice drive south over Benbecula and onto South Uist. Spotted one short-eared owl over the fields on the way.

We parked at the memorial at NF 767 341. Walked N on the road 500m to pick up the track which peeters out after a km or so. The terrain was a bit marshy but not difficult thereafter.

Beinn Mhor:

Saw another short-eared owl hunting at a distance – looking for snacks like this doubtless – meadow pipit chick:

Beinn Corradail and Thacla:

Ascended Maola Breac and then onwards to the 608m summit. The ridge and clifflines after this come as a pleasant surprise.

N Uist:

Summit ridge:

On to the 620m point and further to the cairn to have lunch identifying bits of Skye and Rum in the distance. Rum and Canna:

Loch Aineort:

Loch Sheileasdail:

A very open panorama – to wide for pictures really but a massive sensation of space.

Beinn Mhor cliffs:

Retraced our route back to the car.

Four-spotted chaser (there was a marked lack of dragonflies and butterflies in both the Isles and Knoydart – they do not seem to have fared well in May.

Used the remainder of the sunny day to look at the beachy West coast.

Headed to Lochmaddy, another inbound storm had us decide to ship back to Skye a day early.

All in all a frustrating trip given how much we had been looking forward to it. A taster only of the Hebrides, all a bit hurried.

Harris looked stunning for me – we’ve already identified a few cottages that we might rent to get a better feel for the place.

We’ll be back 🙂

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