Rum – 2 nights with a Sgurr nan Gillean camp. April 2014.

Date: Saturday to Monday 19th-21st April 2014
Distance: 11.2 + 16.9 + 11km
Ascent: 1600 + 610 + 400m

Easter weekend and in Fort William – a nice wee taster on Sgurr an Utha on the Friday had us ready for the main course. With high pressure holding and a decent forecast we decided to grab the opportunity to head back to Rum.

The forecast had suggested a grey and wet morning in the far NW but arriving in Mallaig things looked dry, if a bit hazy.

Joined a surprisingly small crowd for the 0730 ferry and we were off.

The usual mooching around on the decks of Loch Nevis followed, the weather improving as we sailed.

Rum from ferry

0900 start from Kinloch, taking the Coire Dubh track out to the Rum Cuillin. The track from Kinloch is reasonable, a bit boggy in parts.

H in Coire Dubh:

We headed from Coire Dubh to Cnapan Breaca, a faint path curves from here avoiding rocky ground to join the Hallival ridge at NM 392 966.

There are lots of Manx Shearwater burrows in this area – no chicks calling as we passed.

Hallival and Coire nan Grunnd:

Reached the ridge line and enjoyed the view – clearer and brighter than our last visit. Quite a dramatic sight.

Rum Cuillin from Hallival NW ridge:

Weaved up Hallival – I’m not sure if there is a path. If there is we missed it although no difficulties were encountered.

Arrived at the summit before noon. The air clarity had been improving all the way and the day was near perfect.

Grabbed a seat and enjoyed the sights. Some Manx Shearwater chicks were calling from burrows at the summit as we ate.

Rum Cuillin from Hallival:

The combination of mountains, sea and islands makes Rum truly special. A couple of eagles – sub-adult sea eagles I think – soared around a few km to the east.

Eigg from Hallival:

Ben Nevis was standing out white from Hallival:

The descent from Hallival is rather rocky, slabby and steep. A bit of weaving needed getting down with heavy packs.

Hallival descent:

The Rum Cuilin, like its Skye namesake is mainly up and down rather than along. Distance covered is short while ascent/descent is high. Once down Hallival it’s straight up Askival.

There’s a short narrow grassy ridge and then, if serious scrambling is to be avoided, then a bypass to the left (east) is taken. There’s a path of sorts skirting along on the east side, still steep but with little need for any scrambling.

Hallival from Askival ascent:

Askival north ridge:

H on Askival N ridge:

A party of walkers arrived on Hallival – the Skye Cuillin was behind them.

Walkers on Hallival backed by Sgurr Alasdair:

Got up to the summit of Askival, the high point of the island and a rather superb eyrie. Took another break and drank it all in. One of the advantages of carrying a tent is knowing that time is not crucial.

Over Hallival to Skye:

Sgurr nan Gillean from Askival:

Askival pano small:

Link to larger pano:

Ainshval, Trollaval and Ruinseval:

Over to the mainland we could see along Loch Morar (with An Stac visible) and east to the Ben.

Loch Morar and Ben Nevis:

I’d noticed a goat kid lying on the rocks down off the south side of the summit near some adults. As we sat at the summit an adult sea eagle came up over that side of the hill low to the ridge – I presume taking a pass at the kid. It looped around the summit a few times before heading away.

Sea Eagle:

Back to island spotting.

Muck from Askival, Ben More Mull behind:

Took a descent SSE off Askival – I think we descended a bit too far as we needed to contour back about 300m to the ridge line after a 150m drop.

Spotted some early flowers on the way.

Purple Saxifrage:

Butterwort emerging:

Last time out we nipped up and down Trollaval as the sun was setting (having started on the later arriving Friday ferry). This time we bypassed the rather gnarly little Graham in deference to our winter unfit legs. Dropped down around 70m from Bealach an Oir to cross grassy slopes up to Bealach an Fhuarain, topping up the water supply on the way from an upwelling spring.

H descending from Bealach an Oir:

Nice views down Gleann Dibidil to Eigg and the rather fascinating Beinn nan Stac.

Eigg and Gleann Dibidil:

Askival and Beinn nan Stac:

On the bealach we had a view down to Fiachanis – last time’s windy camp had been down from this bealach.

Bealach an Fhuarain view to Fiachanis:

Trollaval and Bealach an Fhuarain:

Ascent from Bealach an Fhuarain saw us right (west) of the ridge line for 100m and then left (east) on a bypass track to the summit of Ainshval. A winter of sloth was beginning to tell with an absence of spring in the steps.

Eigg from Ainshval ascent:

Unconscionable display of relief at the end of the Ainshval ascent:

Sat and had another bite to eat at the summit – got a fine view of two Golden Eagles on a high speed pursuit of two ravens followed by an aerial dance as corvid reinforcements arrived.

Back on our feet we took the short drop off Ainshval and a 70m reclimb onto the flattish ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean.

Sgurr nan Gillean ascent:

Sgurr nan Gillean and Eigg:

The ridge was a bit less grassy and a bit less flat than my memory – went out to the 764m summit and then settled on s flattish patch at NM 378 933. Dropped 60m west to get some water.

Summit from pitch site:

Askival from Sgurr nan Gillean:

Got our tent up and made tea, enjoying the views and the lowering sun.

Tent pitched:

Lowering light:

Enjoying the sunset:

Sunset was lost in cloud over the Hebrides.

Off to bed – a bit more of a slope than usual had us slid to side of the tent inner, but tired enough to be off to sleep. Up at 0200 to look at a cracking night sky and spot the lighthouses and town lights. Ardnamurchan and Oigh-Sgeir bright in the night with street lights from Mallaig and Arisaig to the east.

We could hear the Manx Shearwaters on Askival a few km away – I don’t imagine sleep would be easy camping near this colony.

Up into a chilling breeze to catch dawn at 0600. The sun cresting the horizon on The Saddle.

Sunrise over Kintail:

The warm light visually did not provide any warmth in the breeze.

Warm light on the ridge:

Early light on Gillean:

Cooked up our cocoa and ate our breakfast in the tent. Only a very light breeze meant we could engage in a reprehensibly messy camp strike.

Messy camp:

Packs on again we wandered off to the 759m summit to head for Harris via the Ruinsival ridge.

Bright morning light on the Rum Cuillin:

A quick look down the hill to Papadil – looks close but it is a bit of work to descend to – one for another day.

Papadil from Sgurr nan Gillean:

There’s an easy walk from the 759m summit down to the bealach with Ruinsival.

Fiachanis and Harris from ridge:


On this occasion we took a grassy ramp off the ridge from about the 500m mark – a bit steep but quite workable. Dropped us down into the coire on some deer tracks.

Trollaval from descent:

I think my preference for next time would be to use the whole ridge from NM 362 944 to NM 360 941.

Preferred access ridge to Ruinsival:

Loch Fiachanis is a nice spot – a rather nice camp-site in the offing:

Link to larger pano:

Dropped down to Harris – crossing the bridge at NM 345 955.

Harris approach:

Mausoleum and stags:

Mausoleum over old walls:

We were heading across the island – the forecast had suggested Sunday night would see windier conditions and we thought we deserved a lower camp on the shore. Took the island road north heading for our previous pitch at the foot of Glen Shellesder. This is public transport Rum style – walking along the road.

Rum Cuillin from road:

Rather than the walk along the glen we decided to head up to the Bealach a Bhraigh Bhig between Orval and Fionchra before walking the length of Fionchra towards Guiridil.

The path across Monadh Mhiltich to Bealach a Bhraigh Bhig has had a bit of work done and was easy walking and fast progress. 40 minutes from the bridge at NM 360 994 to Fionchra summit.

Fionchra is a tempting spot to pitch – grassy/mossy with great views. A definite contender for a Saturday night before the 1100 Sunday ferry.

H nearing Fionchra summit:

Fionchra view to Skye:

Canna from Fionchra:

The west ridge of Fionchra runs handily down between Glen Guiridil and Glen Shellesder – and is easier walking than either. Quite a few grazers on the ridge.

Stags and Canna harbour:

Nice view of the Orval cliffs:

Fionchra goat trio:

Guiridil and Canna:

The drop off the ridge was fine, the ground reasonable all the way to the Guiridil track. Headed back to our previous pitch site at the old fort. A great little spot with fine views.

Scarp and Bloodstone Hill:

Bloodstone Hill:

Link to larger pano:

Had about 3 hours of lounging in the surprisingly warm sunshine, listening to the sea. Ate tea and watched the sunset over Canna.

Sunset over Canna:

Oigh-Sgeir lighthouse lit up out the tent door. A nice flat and peaceful night ensued – one snipe heard at one point.

Had a long lie – not up til 0800 and mooched around in the morning sunshine until 1040.

Morning for relaxing:

Mid-morning view of Bloodstone Hill and waterfall:

Decided to return over Sgorishal rather than the glen path, not too difficult terrain with the odd rocky outcrop.

Interesting rocks:

Loch Sgorishal:

A hazier day – Skye only just visible. Sgorishal was noted as another possible Saturday pitch.

Headed down to NM 357 011 to rejoin the track down to the Kilmory road and the hour’s walk to Kinloch. Spring is here and the flowers are emerging.

Dog Violet:

Flowering Gorse (and the scent of coconut):

Bluebells at Kinloch:

Peacock lifting off:

30 minutes on the rocks at the shore at Kinloch and then back to the pier at 1455 for Loch Nevis to appear round the headland.

MV Loch Nevis:

Aboard the ferry we grabbed a couple of burgers to eat and then enjoyed the trip home via Eigg.

Eigg Eiders:

An Sgurr:

Rum and Eigg:

Another great Rum trip, less sad to leave in the knowledge that we had a return planned in under 3 weeks.

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