Last of the summer Rum – Orval camp. September 2014.

Date: Saturday-Sunday 20th-21st September 2014
Distance: 23 + 10.2km
Ascent: 1100 + 90m

In the run up to the weekend forecast had suggested that the north-west Highlands would see the best of Saturday and a good Sunday. By Friday night they had inverted that and suggested the NW would be claggy.

Having already committed by heading up to Mallaig we shrugged and got packed for a trip to Rum.

Calmac’s summer timetable only runs til 26th October so opportunities to visit the Small Isles this year were running out.

The normal ferry MV Loch Nevis is in for its service so like last September the whale-watching boat Orion is used for the passenger run – a bit more bijou than the Calmac ships.

No Calmac bacon roll for breakfast – but the trip is only 60 minutes instead of 90. Rum was looking rather cloudy:

The sunrise was a bit patchy back over Mallaig:

A rainbow over Kinloch greeted us to Rum:

11 hours til sunset – so we wandered off round Kinloch. A nice crop of robins this year:

We fancied heading up Mullach Mor – but took the main track west out of Kinloch rather than the smaller, more tick-ridden wooded path. A bit of a dog-leg adds on some distance though.

The heather is still blooming on Rum and the sun was shining:

Spotted a pair of Golden eagles working the clifflines on the south side of the road:

Having got to NG 371 002 we cut back on the small path to pick a route up Mullach Mor – mixed sandstone strips and grass.

Orval, Ard Nev and Minishal fall behind:

As promised in the forecasts the air had cleared a lot from the week – visibility was reasonable from the summit.

Across to Point of Sleat and the mainland:

Hallival and Barkeval still with hats on:

The Skye Cuillin surprisingly clear:

From the ferry we’d noted Samhnan Insir – a beach east of Kilmory with old ruins. We’d fancied a visit for some time so we headed down Allt Rubha na Moine for this point.

A few stags gathering strength for the rut:

Samhnan Insir:

Wandered round the coast to Kilmory and had some lunch and watched the world go by.

Eventually got up and wandered across the beach to leave. The Skye Cuillin looms large from Kilmory:

We’d had a hankering to camp on Orval for a while and the forecast suggested a clearing evening and a clear morning. This seemed a fine opportunity.

Headed south down Kilmory Glen to pick up the Monadh Mhiltich track. Passed Bullough’s crumbled dam on the way:

The Rum Cuillin were clear at last – a good sign:

A less good situation was water – Rum is fairly dry currently so as the streams were getting low I felt obliged to get the evening’s water at only 250m height, meaning 300m of ascent with it.

Got up to the Bealach a Braigh Bhig – rather hazier than I’d expected out to Canna:

Headed up the steep nose of Orval with views back to Fionchra looking nice:

Quite windy on the summit with a westerly funnelling up from Guirdil – irritatingly Orval had a hat on.

Got the tent up and got occasional glimpses through our little cloud. Rum Cuillin:

Scarp on the summit:

Visited by a Golden Eagle soaring on the brisk wind as the sun was heading down:

Sunset was obscured by mist and then a western cloud bank:

Cooked in the tent in a rather brisk breeze – a rather damp breeze too given the mist. Put our heads down at about 2200 and got up at 0200 for a look-see. Although the wind had dropped we were still in patchy mist. The Milky Way was visible above and there were occasional views of Ardnamuchan lighthouse (and some lights out on S Uist). Too damp for the camera so back to bed.

Up before dawn to brew some cocoa. Still patchy mist and, to cap that, very hazy too.

Atmospheric perhaps.

Got packed up and moving for 0800. It’s about 2.5 hours back to the 1100 ferry and it’s always best to factor in a bit of slack. A really hazy day – Canna was just visible, but Skye had disappeared.

The sun was starting to gain some warmth as we left:

Back down via the ascent route – Orval’s eastern cliffs catching the morning light:

Sun over Loch a Gille Remhra:

Orval’s steep nose:

From the bealach a quick yomp down the path to the main track.

Orval and Fionchra:

Enough time to stroll back to Kinloch. The new bunkhouse is now built, although not furnished. I can see us in there:

Back onto Orion for the trip back. The Sunday service goes to Canna first, a free tourist trip.

Kinloch receding:

Samhnan Insir:


Flat as a millpond we spotted a large number of porpoises and dolphins enroute, along with a distant minke whale. Enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

Eventually raced the MV Coruisk back into Mallaig to disembark:

Conditions not as good as some of our Rum trips – I suspect that Orval may need a revisit with the tent. Rum however was as relaxing as always.

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