Sunny side down – a rather Grey Eigg. October 2016.

Date: Saturday/Sunday 8th/9th October 2016
Distance: 7.7 + 15km
Ascent: 500 + 350m

A nice looking weekend in the offing, albeit a little swithering about cloud cover.

Leaving Fort William at 0600 we were not sure whether to chase sunshine and head north, or risk a bit of cloud and head west for the Small Isles.

Turned left for Mallaig and the Small Isles ferry. The Calmac Summer timetable comes to a close the 23rd October and after that the Small Isles are effectively out of reach until the 31st March next year.

We fancied a return to Eigg as it’s now 4 years since our last visit. The Saturday Small Isles runs both go round the houses, first Rum-Canna-Muck-Eigg and then Eigg-Muck-Canna-Rum.

The early ferry takes 5 hours to Eigg, but we enjoy these trips for views and wildlife.

The day started grey and overcast, with a forecast to brighten by early afternoon. The hills were all clear so there was ample opportunity to identify distant peaks while enjoying the Small Isles and Skye more locally.

Ladhar Bheinn and Sgurr Coire Coinnichean

Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Cioch Mor:

Lots of deer on the east side of Rum at Kilmory, lots of places to look at on Rum for us.

Rum – Bloodstone Hill and Fionchra:

The skies remained grey round to Eigg, spotted a Minke Whale surfacing between Canna and Muck.

An Sgurr from ferry:

As the Loch Nevis was berthing at Eigg we spotted an otter swimming near the jetty despite a fair number of people around. With the ferry’s approach it swam away across the bay.

Packed the insulating gear away and started up the path to An Sgurr. There are colour daubed paths around the island, always nice if you’re navigating through people’s fields and properties.

The path is reasonable heading straight for the prow of An Sgurr.

Approaching An Sgurr:

The path then parallels the ridge for 500m on its north side before a weakness in the crags allows ascent.

Under An Sgurr:

An easy bimble up onto the Sgurr – a lovely complex little ridge.

High ground of the Sgurr:

As we approached the summit a large bird flew about 30m to my right…a Golden Eagle which proceeded to circle around in an unusually bold manner for a Goldie.

Golden Eagle:


Eventually the eagle decided to sail off to the NW and we got to the top of An Sgurr.

Irritatingly there remained a confluent area of cloud above us. Even worse was the fact that there was an obvious border to the cloud about 50 miles NE with blue sky beyond. It looked as though the hills north of Glen Shiel were having a lovely sunny day. Irksome.

The Sgurr has a slightly obstructed view of Rum – we were planning to continue to our previous camp site on Beinn Tighe.

Rum from An Sgurr:

After an hour or so on the Sgurr we wandered off towards Beinn Tighe. The Sgurr ridge is a rather complex arrangement of bobbles and crags with lots of lochans. A claggy traverse would not be simple.

There were trout moving around in the pools. With some unusual splashing around in different pools I assume they were spawning.

An Sgurr from traverse to Beinn Tighe:

There’s some excellent walking on top of the old lava flow with some very unusual geology to distract you.

Walking on a lava flow:

An Sgurr:

Igneous pavements:

Beannan Breaca – nearing Beinn Tighe:

Dropped off Beannan Breaca to the NW end of Loch Beinn Tighe and pickedup some water before a steep climb up to Beinn Tighe.

MV Loch Nevis was on the clockwise run round the Small Isles heading for Canna and Rum.

MV Loch Nevis and Muck:

As I got to the summit of Beinn Tighe what looked like the same Goldie whisked past about 20m away. It headed back towards the Sgurr.

Departing Goldie:

Pitched the tent in what was quite a brisk, cool breeze. There are a couple of flat, if heathery pitches on the summit.

Scarp on Beinn Tighe:

A gap in theclouds to the SW heralded the first sunshine of the day.

Rum:

The sun hit the gap and we got about 20 minutes of sunshine before a lower cloud band consumed the setting sun.

Sunset Scarp:

Loch Beinn Tighe and An Sgurr:

The sun cast an odd double shadow on the other half of Eigg….not sure what caused that.

Odd double shadow:

Off into the tent for a meal followed by some chocolate and spirits. No stars or aurora this time. We did enjoy the view of Ardnamurchan, Berneray and Oigh Sgeir lighthouses.

Despite the brisk breeze the tent was reasonably quiet and we got a decent night’s sleep, getting up for dawn at 0730.

Pre-dawn Rois Bheinn:

Sunrise:

The cloud had not cleared – there was about a 40 minute gap of sunshine before the sun disappeared again.

Once again a stunner of a day was in the offing for quite a lot of the mainland though.

Scarp and Rum:

H on Beinn Tighe:

The shadow of Eigg was cast out towards Oigh Sgeir lighthouse.

Oigh Sgeir and dawn shadow:

Beinn Tighe is a great spot for the view of Rum.

Rum:

Back to the tent for cocoa and something to eat. As the sun got towards the clouds there were some interesting sunbeams.

Sunbeams:

Struck the tent at about 1000 to wander down to Laig Bay.

Rum morning:

Heading to Cleadale:

There are a few stock fences around as you approach Laig, although there are a few gates. Some tracks, marked on the 1:25000 OS lead down to the farm.

Laig Bay:

An Sgurr from Laig Bay:

Down to Laig Bay – from this direction Beinn nan Stac and Trallval on Rum give a very distinctive double spike in the centre of the profile.

Rum from Laig Bay:

We headed on across to Cleadale and Blar Mor at the foot of the Sgorr an Fharaidh cliffline.

Cleadale:

Skye from Blar Mor:

Rum from Blar Mor:

Weighed up our timings – probably had the time to ascend Sgorr and Fharaidh and drop over An Cruachan to the road, but decided instead to enjoy the views of Skye and Rum now the sun had finally decided to emerge.

Sat around for the better part of an hour enjoying a little warmth before heading back through Cleadale to take the road over to Galmadale and the ferry.

Cliffs of Sgorr an Fharaidh:

Pinnacle over Cleadale:

The weather had finally changed to what we had been hoping the entire weekend would deliver. Lovely autumnal sunshine.

Rum from Cleadale road:

Once the centre of the island is crossed there’s a rather interesting view over to Moidart.

Beinn Resipol from Eigg:

Had 30 minutes to sit at the camping area before heading round to the pier as the ferry arrived. Looking nice with a backdrop of Sgurr na Ciche and Garbh Chioch Mor.

MV Loch Nevis arriving:

Quite a view from the ferry of the looming An Sgurr.

Leaving Eigg:

Cloud was approaching from north and south now, but for a short while we were on a flat calm under blue sky.

Rois Bheinn from MV Loch Nevis:

The Sunday ferry heads out to Muck before turning around for Mallaig, getting in at 1815.

Eigg and Rum:

Coll/Tiree are off to the south – still not visited despite a resolution to do so.

Coll:

Spent the return out on the deck enjoying the views.

Rum over Eigg:

Looking back to Eigg:

As the ferry passes the line along Loch Eilt and Loch Eil Ben Nevis is visible.

Ben Nevis from MV Loch Nevis:

The flat calm had been good for spotting dolphins and porpoises, quite a number of pods had been visible along the way.

Porpoise:

Back to Mallaig at 1815 and in the car for the 4 hour drive home by 1830. Pleasant to have a clear run traffic wise for the drive.

All in all a good trip, must admit that spending a large part of the weekend under cloud while looking back to blue skies was rather stretching my patience though. Nice to revisit Eigg.

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One thought on “Sunny side down – a rather Grey Eigg. October 2016.

  1. Grey but not uninspiring. The area beyond An Sgurr is a but of a gem. If I didn’t have so many other places on my wish list I’d gladly revisit Eigg. A neigbour on Lismore is a native of Eigg and use to tenant the farm the which includes An Sgurr.

    Like

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