Date: Saturday-Monday 28th-30th September 2013
Distance: 16.8 + 15.4 + 13km
Ascent: 830 + 1000 + 540m
Late September serves us up with a Friday/Monday public holiday, a 4 day weekend which has given us a few excellent wild camps. High pressure building in suggested this one would also offer some good camping weather.
After a few wee hills at An Gearasdan on Friday we headed for Mallaig to catch the 0730 Saturday sailing to Rum. The Calmac ferry Loch Nevis was in for repairs so our ferry was the MV Orion sea safari boat which made the sailing in only 1hr. Spotted a few dolphins en route.
Arriving at Kinloch at 0830 we had the whole day to fritter away.
The forecast was for grey skies for most of the day, the hills were already clearing when we arrived.
Headed west out of Kinloch on the Kirkton Glen road – a good cycling surface if you’ve got a bike. A yipping noise from the cliffs to the south had us looking for the eagle, eventually spotted a juvenile Golden Eagle sitting on the crags calling for lunch.
There is a faint path crossing Monadh Mhiltich to Bealach a Bhraigh Bhig with some path reconstruction in progress. Flushed a number of snipe across this ground (and elsewhere over the weekend).
From the bealach we ascended Fionchra – only a 90m ascent from the bealach, but affording great views. The day was very hazy – the Skye Cuillin was only just visible. Fionchra does have some nice local views including the cliffs of Orval.
At this point the midge were a bit bothersome in the still air, but only at nuisance levels. We dropped back to the bealach and picked up the Bloodstone Hill path under the Orval cliffs. There are some spiky formations on this cliff, but with the sun behind them they defied photos this time.
We thought about simply downing tools and pitching here again, put we wanted to see some other corners so we carried on – following the cliff-line south-west towards the westernmost tip of Rum.
Descended to cross the Airigh na Maith-innse with old shielings before heading up to A Brideanach. To our left 3 Golden Eagles were soaring over the cliffs at the foot of Orval.
As we were moving items into the tent we noted with some horror that the outer tent was already filled with hundreds of tiny ticks. Given the level of deer infestation on Rum this is probably of little surprise, although we’ve only seen this many on one previous camp in Glen Affric.
The tent inner remained reasonable tick free at least to allow us to get under the duvet.
Off to sleep – up once overnight to look at the show. The haze blunted the lighthouse show a bit, but we were able to spot Ardnamurchan, Berneray (just) and Neist Point over Canna. Mixed cloud blocked a lot of the night sky.
Going back inside I picked up the water bladder to find that the bite valve had been partially nibbled away by a rodent overnight. Thankfully we had a spare.
Spent our normal 2 hours getting up, drinking cocoa and packing up. The weight of the hundreds of hitch-hikers in the tent was not apparent.
Link to larger pano
Packed up there was again a discussion as to a plan for the day – we’d wanted to cut over to Harris, either over the terrain west of Sron an t-Saighdeir or over the hill. Decided to head up the hill given the clear skies.
Followed the cliff line SE over Schooner Point to the foot of the hill. The coast along to Harris is dramatic – something we’ve wanted to see since our ferry journey round the island after our Eigg trip last year.
Sat and had some lunch – identified islands from Mull and Treshnish round to the Western Isles.
We decided to head down the South arm between Sron an t-Saighdeir and Orval. Just as we came over the lip of the 520m summit we saw 2 big birds flying around each other – a pair of juvenile Golden Eagles. They seemed to be playing – with one turning upside down and a partial attempt to lock talons.
I can’t say it compares to Capt Maryon’s monument on Sgurr na Stri, but it isn’t awful.
More discussion here – we’d pondered a summit camp on Sgurr nan Gillean or a camp at Papadil – by this point we favoured the latter due to the wind speed.
That said we were keen to get some more high views and explore a potential route onto the ridge at Ruinsival so we headed from Harris over the raised beach for Loch Fiachanis, crossing the bridge at NM 344 955.
In the event we followed the stream to the E of the ridge proper up grassy strips to cut back onto the ridge about 100m up.
Once in the wind at the summit (and knowing the last forecast we’d seen suggested strengthening overnight) we decided to camp at Papadil. With this in mind we diverted to the summit Ruinsival for the views.
Link to larger pano
What a spot. Air clarity was excellent and we could make out Clisham to the N over Skye.
Aware that we had just over 2 hours to sunset we headed off Ruinsival for Papadil, first to the bealach with Gillean and then SE, then S. This needs a bit of care as the Allt which runs from the bealach has carved in and is surrounded by crags. Safe descent is either on the W side to Inbhir Ghil or picking a decent line SSE to Papadil.
Cooked tea in the breeze and ate in the gloaming. Entered the ticks’ lair to get under the duvet. I wasn’t quite sure if the overnight passengers were being augmented by newcomers or not.
Got up at 2200 to look at the stars – an awesome skyscape with the Milky Way a veritable path across the sky. The lighthouses were all very visible – Ardnamurchan, Coll, Berneray, Oigh-Sgeir.
A cracking amber shooting star tracking across a long arc was an added bonus.
Back to our flappy tunnel tent in the wind – I actually slept fairly well.
As usual getting up and about took a leisurely 2 hours (including a tick removal session for about 20 hitchhikers that were too close and personal).
Glen Dibidil pano:
Link to larger pano
The descent into Dibidil is a bit muddy/slidy . We had a break at the allt.
Calmac hadn’t really made their amended timetable clear – but watching the ferries over the 3 days we’d worked out that the slower Loch a Bhrusta was chugging round on its own timetable for vehicles while Orion was zipping round on the standard timetable for passengers. This prevented major bowel upset at the sight of Loch a Bhrusta arriving at 1400 (1 hour early) and then leaving before we got to Kinloch.
What a trip! Rum has that most unusual conflicting motivations – there’s so much of it we want to go and wander to, while there’s so much that we’d really like to sit down and savour for a few hours/days.
I truly hope this year’s Sunday ferry service continues – our 3 trips this year have all been highlights.