Quiraing to Storr Trotternish traverse – with a wild camp. October 2015.

Date: Saturday/Sunday 17th/18th October 2015
Distance: 19.6 + 10.3km
Ascent: 1750 + 530m

As always the week was spent poring over forecasts. The last 6 weeks have seen one of the best returns for high camping weekends we’ve ever had, the only fly in the ointment being a stubborn refusal to see excellent conditions in the NW over the weekends.

At last the NW looked like serving up a clear, still weekend. The forecasters were still chopping and changing as to where the sunshine would be right up to Friday.

We always have a few plans up our sleeves for quality weekends, we dusted off one we’ve been thinking about for a while.

Parked at the Old Man of Storr car park at 0645 and savoured an excellent pre-dawn with Torridon across the water backlit orange.

The Portree to Flodigarry bus arrived at 0710 and we hopped on for the shuttle up to Flodigarry and the track up into the Quiraing from NG 463 709.

100m up the track is Loch Langaig and a nice reflection.

Loch Langaig:

The sun was rising as we started up the slope into the Quiraing. Although the Storr had been completely clear the Quiraing was wreathed in mist. We were fretting about our views.

Dawn was rather atmospheric.

Dawn:

There are paths through the area and short grassy cover so progress is easy.
A few ravens were flying around with echoing calls.

Misty Quiraing:

At NG 450 699 there is a bifurcation – heading right takes you out to Sron Vourlinn and then up to the summit of Meall na Suiramach. We took the lower path, we’ve visited the summit before and we wanted to revisit The Table instead.

At around NG 451 693 there is a path of sorts heading uphill which winds up the 170m to the Table at 500m (only 40m under the summit but essentially inaccessible from the top).

Ascent to the Table:

The Table is brilliant – a bowling green imprisoned at 500m inside the Quiraing. Fantastic.

The Table:

At this point, due to a deviation from protocol on my part (and the less said the better), I ended up going back down 100m and then reascending. Still, the views had got even better on my return so no harm, no foul. 😉

Mist clearing Quiraing:

Clouds had built in a small inversion around the Quiraing making for a fine sight. 

The Table:


Other than a rotten looking gully there is no way up to the top from the Table, and we preferred to wend our way through the remainder of the Quiraing in any case so we headed down to the path again.

Quiraing from The Table:

To say the geology is unusual is an understatement. We need a day or two around here some time.

The Needle:

The Prison:

The day was shaping up nicely. Air temps were a bit hot for our chosen gear if truth be told.

South from The Quiraing:

Approaching the car park at NG 439 678 we started to pass platoons of tourists and photographers. Lots of happy people, and who could blame them.

A cackling bird sound from above marked our first fieldfare of the migration – followed by many more over the following 24 hours.

Quiraing from car park:

Crossed the road and headed away from the happy crowds towards Bioda Buidhe. A rather low effort Marilyn if you’re that way inclined…..

….not to mention a rather well situated one.

North from Bioda Buidhe ascent:

Cleat:

Bioda Buidhe pano:

To the south Beinn Edra looked like quite a hill for something off list.

Beinn Edra:

Dropped off Bioda Buidhe to Druim na Coille.

Bioda Buidhe:

Around Druim na Coille we were well entertained by two adult Golden Eagles sailing round the cliff lines. Another walker plodded past us unaware (or supremely disinterested) about the raptors passing about 50m off his port bow.

Golden Eagle:

A 320m pull up Beinn Edra – feeling hot in the still sunshine.

North from Beinn Edra ascent:

Sat around at the summit for lunch and surveyed the way ahead. Ups and downs in essence.

South from Beinn Edra:

We hadn’t decided how far to go at this point but we were leaning towards the Sgurr a Mhadaidh Ruaidh area.

The Lochmaddy ferry pulled out of Uig and off towards the hazy west.

Uig and Lochmaddy ferry:

Carried on over a few more bumps in 70-100m increments, not in a hurry and just enjoying the conditions.

North to Beinn Edra:

Sgurr a Mhadaidh Ruaidh:

It had been a bit hazy, but as the sun swung round the mainland was becoming a bit clearer. I remember being hard-pressed to identify the hills from Trotternish on a previous visit….now so many are well-kent and instantly recognisable.

Torridon over Rona:

Crossing over Creag a Lain we had decided we’d stop on Baca Ruadh – at 639m it should have fairly clear views in most directions other than south. A nice wee spring at NG 469 582 saw to the night’s water supply and then we plodded the last 150m to the summit. A nice flat pitch at the summit saw us happy to stop.

Scarp on Baca Ruadh:

South to Storr and Hartaval:

Sgurr a Mhadaidh Ruaidh:

Got into the insulation and watched the day slip into night over a mug of soup and a couple of meals.

Scarp at sunset:

The sun set over North Uist and there was then a glorious orange glow for an hour as it receded.

Sunset:

Crescent moon and Cuillin:

After a few sips of liquid treat and a selection of chocolates we had a look out at 2100.

The Trotternish Central heaven for fans of the NW Highlands and the islands….we could see Applecross village, Torridon village, Gairloch, Stornoway, Tarbert and Lochmaddy with lighthouses at Rona, Rubha Reidh, Stoer, Eye peninsula.

…a minority pursuit but we found it a great place to stand and gawk.

Had a look out at 0200 but the stars had gone. 

Up at 0745 – no dawn although a gap in the clouds to the south suggested Mull and south were likely in sunshine.

Any disappointment was offset by a great improvement in air clarity which meant we could see the Outer Hebrides from Mingulay to Stornoway, the NW highlands from Foinaven to Mallaig in addition to bits of Mull, Rum, Coll and Tiree. 

A still and mild morning…with no midge.

Hartaval and Cuillin:

North Uist:

Nice to be able to pick out hills on Harris we’ve visited recently.

Todun, Liuthaid and Caiteasal:

…and today’s menu.

The Storr and Hartaval:

Mooched around and enjoyed our cocoa and breakfast.

Scarp, Rona and the mainland:

A pair of adult ravens came to supervise us and inspect our “leave no trace” adherence, hoping to find we’d chucked them a piece or two of our lunch. 😉

Supervisory raven:

Started walking past 10am….no hurry.

Heading to Hartaval:

Ben More on Mull had been visible in the gap between the Cuillin and Bla Bheinn.

Ben More on Mull:

A 170m ascent saw us to the summit of Hartaval. Quite a while since our last visit.

Hartaval cliffs, campsite beyond:

A glimpse of Ben Nevis appeared – nice air clarity.

Ben Nevis past Beinn Sgritheall:

Headed on to ascend the high point of the ridge – The Storr.

Hartaval:

Picked out a few springs at about 550m on the ascent from Bealach Hartaval – already pre-planning a Storr summit camp.

An easy ascent on slightly stiff quads the 200m to the summit. The summit could fit a wild camp Shills Meet on short-cropped flat grassy pitches. Peering over the edge the Old Man of Storr is hard to appreciate.

The Old Man of Storr:

South from the Storr however is an eye-catching view. I wish the sun had been shining as the views from here are superlative. Grey but amazing on the day – and we will return with blue skies and sunshine.

South from The Storr:

Sat for an hour and just enjoyed the views – so many favourite places on view that it’s hard to leave.

Eventually got up to get going…the thought of a 5 hour drive finally intrudes.

Dropped North on easy slopes to around NG 493 550 before dropping to a path in Coire Scamadal which leads round to NG 500 546 and the paths around the Old Man.

Hartaval from The Storr:

A better view of the stack as we pass in descent.

Old Man of Storr:

The forestry which we passed through last time has been harvested with a new all-ability track, forestry mess and new plantation as you descend to the car park.

Interesting to see what it looks like over the next few decades (hopefully).

Astonishingly good walk – would have been great to get sunshine on the Sunday but we still spent the whole weekend split between grinning and gawping. As with all the best walks it goes straight back into the “revisit” folder.

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