Date: Friday + Saturday 28th-29th March 2013
Distance: 18+12 km
Ascent: 750+650 m
A rather good forecast for the Easter weekend! Up in Fort William and assessing the options – with so many excellent possibilities it was a serious struggle to choose.
Decided on a trip back to Rum for 1 or 2 nights (given a new Sunday service). Driving along the Mallaig road on the Friday morning ogling at beautiful sunny snowy hills a trip fraught with the temptation to stop, get out and walk.
Parked in the seafront car park in Mallaig at 1100, as before a coffee and a pint of prawns in the sunshine filled the 90 minutes wait for the ferry.
Dropped off on Rum we packed away the insulating gear and headed out along the road. Quite warm in the sunshine at that point.
This trip we’d decided to have a look at the west side of the island, taking the track and then path out to Bloodstone Hill.
The path was a bit patchy heading up to the bealach but well-formed thereafter.
Filtered some water from the lochan at the foot of Bloodstone before continuing on the path to the summit.
Bloodstone Hill is a precipitous viewpoint with sheer cliffs and slope dropping 400m to the sea – with good air clarity there were stunning views of Skye, the Uists, Barra, Canna and south to the Treshnish Isles.
Then true sunset was lost to a cloudbank out in the Atlantic……as usual.
Sunset over we cooked our tea and watched as the lighthouses and street lights were switched on.
As the light faded to dark we could identify lighthouses from Coll, Berneray to N. Uist with Oigh-sgeir just out past Canna. Streetlights on Barra, S Uist and Skye.
Sat and watched it all from the tent then retired for a night’s sleep. A chilly night with a stiffer than expected breeze.
Up at 0600 to catch the sun rising from behind Ladhar Bheinn.
Had breakfast and slowly packed things up.
Delighted to spot an adult Sea Eagle circling below us, moving along the coast. Although at a distance the clear views of the bird and its white tail were amongst the best views of a Sea Eagle in flight we’ve had.
Got moving at around 0830 – undecided at this point whether to stay for a 2nd night or catch the 1930 ferry back.
Wandered back downhill to the lochan and procured some more water before heading on.
Ascended the north arm of Sron an t-Saighdair, steep but easy terrain.
The views from the Orval ridge are superb – a sweeping sea vista from the south to the north-west, Skye to the north and the Rum Cuillin to the south-east. Stopped for a while to take it all in.
Proceeded towards the summit of Orval – a Golden Eagle briefly circled between the summit and Ard Nev before heading elsewhere.
There’s a short walk to the summit of Orval a flat, grassy summit – an excellent pitch site. Wandered over to some shelter from the wind and had another prolonged break with an early lunch.
Rum Cuillin from Orval pano:
Link to larger pano
From Orval we dropped east down a steep slope to the bealach with Ard Nev and then sauntered up the grassy ridge to the Ard Nev summit.
It was difficult to know which point of the walk was the best viewpoint but I think Ard Nev edged it – although the sea views were slightly obstructed by Orval the unobstructed view of the Rum Cuillin made up for it. As always future planning for wild camps – this is now high on the list.
In keeping with the theme of the day – we took another long break to take in the vista.
From here we headed south off Ard Nev towards Ard Mheall and Harris. This is an enjoyable descent with a full view of the Rum Cuillin. Wended our way through minor crag bands, warm in the sun at times, cold in the wind.
Rum Cuillin from Ard Mheall pano:
Link to larger pano
Decision time for us – head down to Harris and camp or head back for the late ferry. Decided to head back – the early Sunday ferry would mean Sunday would be a transit day and the snowy hills further east were calling.
We still had rather a lot of time so we simply ambled very slowly back to Kinloch. Quite a pleasant walk.
Arrived back at Kinloch near to sunset – the Eider ducks in the bay were calling with their comical crooning.
Temperatures took a nosedive as we waited for Loch Nevis for the sail back to Mallaig in the dark.
An excellent trip – the islands tend to provide us with our most memorable outings. This one was no exception. A lazy and rather unambitious bimble in keeping with our theme for 2013.