Another Rum trip – make mine a double. September 2013.

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.

The ponies were grazing the Castle grounds as we wandered by.

With smaller lawnmowers on the lawn.

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.

The track heads out about 4km before Ard Nev, Orval and Fionchra pop into view.

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.

The track snakes easily around the head of Glen Guiridil to the shoulder of Bloodstone Hill.

View back to Fionchra and Orval:

Bloodstone Hill is 120m of ascent from the bealach with Sron an t-Saighdeir – the summit (like much of Rum) is a rutting stand.

Despite the haze the summit of Bloodstone Hill remains as much of a treat as last time – 388m straight down to the sea.

The Cuillin over Guiridil bothy:

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.

The cliffs are impressive and rather rough – no walk along the beach here.

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.

Reached the 179m point and took in the views of sea, Canna and cliffs of Rum.

Time for a confab – with the time at 1600 we had enough time to climb Orval and camp high, or stop where we were. Decided to pitch where we were.

The replacement for Loch Nevis scooted past on the late Saturday run.

Oigh-Sgeir was out in the atmospheric grey:

Cooked tea and had a wander – spotted a pair of adult sea eagles sailing around each other along the Bloodstone cliffline. The flying door shape is fairly unmistakeable.

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.

Dawn arrived – pink rather than glorious. To the south layered views of Muck, Ardnamurchan and Mull were on view with many visited points to see.

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.

Nice light and clearer skies in the morning allowing views N to Bloodstone and Skye:


Link to larger pano

Oigh-Sgeir and Berneray behind:


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.

Headed uphill past a smattering of old shielings and walls to strike up Sron an t-Saighdeir.

Reaching the summit meant spoiling another stag’s boudoir:

The ladies were not impressed – I think we swapped his Barry White for Slayer.

The summit has great views of Orval’s cliffs, Fionchra and Skye.

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.

One sailed right over our heads as the other went around – they continued their game over Orval before disappearing.

The Rum Cuillin is well seen from here.

Dropped down this arm in an easy descent towards Loch Monica above Harris. Eyes drawn to the Rum Cuillin.

Lazy beds at Harris:

More alarm noises brought our attention to more eagles – this time an adult sea eagle seeing off an immature bird.

Being this close we had a wander over to Bullough’s second Mausoleum (he blew up the first one done in white marble after an acquaintance compared it to a set of public lavatories).

I can’t say it compares to Capt Maryon’s monument on Sgurr na Stri, but it isn’t awful.

Some of the goats were grazing here – rather cute from upwind, but smelling like a month old basket of socks from downwind.

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.

Loch Fiachanis is a nice spot in itself with views up Trollaval and Ainshival (and our first camp spot below their Bealach).

We were heading for the ridge from NM 362 944 pictured below on the right.

Back over the loch:

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.

The ridge gives nice views over the loch to Orval.

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.

Loch Fiachanis, Ard Nev and Skye:

Over Schooner Point and Canna to Beinn Mhor (Uist):

Askival, Trollaval and Ainshival:

Ruinsival pano:

Link to larger pano

An Sgurr:

Muck and Mull:

Muck, Mull and Ardnamurchan Point:

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.

The descent is a bit steep on variable terrain (including tussock grass) so took a bit of care and time. Papadil looked tantalisingly close throughout.

Watched a small boy band trio serenading a female grasshopper:

Touchdown at Papadil was a relief:

It was reasonably breezy even here. Thought about tucking in down at the loch outflow, but the reason for being here was the views so pitched on the headland west of the loch.

Got the tent pitched and watched the day end – the Hebridean Princess was on a sunset cruise.

Nallo and sunset:

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.

Up at 0700 – the wind was now brisk. A nice morning nonetheless. Another pinky dawn:

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).

A quick wander round Papadil (a grand spot).

Picked up the Papadil-Dibidil track with some difficulty – it is less used and easy to lose in places. Given that it’s about 90 minutes round to Dibidil (for us anyway).

Dibidil has a stunning setting:

…and midgeaters:

Glen Dibidil pano:

Link to larger pano

The descent into Dibidil is a bit muddy/slidy . We had a break at the allt.

Sgurr nan Gillean:

Aware that we were on a timetable we carried on uphill out of Dibidil turning frequently to savour the views:

As you round the south tip of Rum you get to appreciate the 2-winged shape of Eigg – not apparent from many angles:

About 2km NE of Dibidil is one of the most delightful river pools I’ve seen, complete with a tiny gorge and recessed waterfall:

The track between Dibidil and Kinloch is reasonable although there are quite a lot of soupy areas. In general it takes about 3 hrs. Nice shifting views along the way – Askival and Hallival:

Still a bit more wildlife – a young Common Lizard:

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.

Wandered in to Kinloch at 1445 – 20 minutes ahead of the check-in time for departure. MV Orion arrived at 1455 to whisk us back to Mallaig.

Cloud cover actually built very quickly as we departed……Smug Mode.

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.


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