Hecla from Loch Sgioport. May 2015.

Date: Saturday 30th May 2015
Distance: 16km
Ascent: 840m

The sunny evening had clouded in when we got up from the tent at Rubha nan Teampaill to catch our ferry from An t-Ob.

Happily our destination to the south looked sunnier so we packed up to park in the ferry queue at about 0800.

Cloudy Rubha an Teampaill:

As usual we spent the ferry trip looking for wildlife – sadly not a single dolphin or whale was seen on any of our ferry rides so far this year. Plenty of gannets and other distractions though.

With a decent forecast we were heading towards South Uist to ascend Hecla – a hill that had caught our attention on 2 previous visits to Beinn Mhor.

Took the road round the north-west side of N Uist to visit the RSPB reserve at Balranald to look for corncrakes – heard a few but none seen this time.

Did see 3 short-eared owls hunting along the roadside though.

Short-eared owl:

The forecast was for a nice day with a light breeze on the Saturday, deteriorating to a strong westerly with heavy rain into the evening. We thought that Loch Sgioport might make for both a sheltered pitch site and a decent approach to Hecla.

Parked at the road end and took the marked track round the loch heading to Caolas Mor. There are ruins along the foreshore and we identified a decent pitch site for later.

Loch Sgiopoirt:

A few miniature ponies were grazing here – including a very small foal.

Pony and foal:

Foal:

Might fit in a 38L rucksack:

Followed the track to Caolas Mor and then cross country past Loch Bein to ascend steeply up Maol Martaig.

The northern half of Skye is visible as you pass loch Bein.

MacLeod’s Tables:

The onward route crosses Maol Martaig, Beinn na h-Aire and Beinn Scalabhat:

A bit of weaving upwards on grassy rakes takes you up onto Maol Martaig and gets views out to sea, and the only marginally less watery environment that constitutes the Uists.

Pools above, pools below:

As so often at this time of year we had an irritated escort.

Golden plover:

The ascent of the north-south part of the ridge is rather bobbly and lacking in straight lines. Once the corner at NF 839 349 is reached the east-west approach to the 564m top is a grassy ramp.

Grassy ascent ridge:

As always our eyes are drawn to the Small isles.

Distant Rum:

Rum (and Canna):

An easy amble to the summit to shelter out of the cool breeze and enjoy the views.

To the north is an aquascape.

North across Benbecula:

North Uist hills and on to Harris:

To the west St Kilda and Boreray were easily seen.

Distant Boreray, Stac Lee and Stac an Armine:

To the South-east we could see some white hills. Ladhar Bheinn was identifiable. Was a bit surprised to be able to make out Ben Nevis at 150km away though.

150km distant Ben Nevis:

Beinn Mhor and Beinn Coiradail look rather tasty. Indeed the coastal are to the east of here looks like a fine place to explore – just need the time and the weather.

Beinn Coiradail and Beinn Mhor:

Headed back by the ascent route, enjoying the views equally in descent.

Hecla, Beinn Coiradail and Beinn Mhor:

The Cuillin:

Descended off NW from the bealach between Beinn na h-Aire and Maol Martaig – an ATV track runs from here on a more direct route back to Loch Sgioport.

Beinn na h-Aire:

Picked up the camping gear from the car and wandered back to camp at NF 828 382 – proved to be a well sheltered spot although the white noise of heavy rain in the tent did make for a less than solid night’s sleep.

Allak at Loch Sgiopoirt:

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