Uisgneabhal Mor in sunshine….at last. 31st March 2018.

Date: Saturday 31st March 2018
Distance: 20.6km
Ascent: 1160m

Over a few years we’ve visited all of the prominent Harris Hills, many of them a few times now. Indeed, we’ve visited almost all of them on good days other than Uisgneabhal Mor, twice visited on poor days.

We’ve also been wanting to combine Stulabhal to the north with Uisgneabhal Mor which makes a pretty aesthetic loop.

The forecast said it would be breezy and sunny all day. The hills started with a bit of cloud. We swithered as to whether to do the Uisgneabhal Mor walk or consider again tomorrow, and then whether to go up Uisgneabhal Mor first, or at the end.

Decided to head north through Gleann Mhiabhaig first and then return down the Stulabhal/Teileasbhal/Uisgneabhal Mor ridge.

The track north runs 6km north to Loch Bhoisimid, past Sron Scourst and Sron Ard. The Eagle Observatory is a little over 2km up the glen.

Sron Scourst is a towering piece of rock, easily recognised from north or south.

Sron Scourst from approach:

Passed under Sron Scourst, no sign of the eagles as we passed. It’s an easy amble, we were starting to notice bird song again as Spring starts. Nice to hear the Pipits singing again – winter is very quiet.
To our north we saw a juvenile Golden Eagle with its proximal white tail stripe trying to get some lift and rise above the glen.

Sron Scourst from the north:

From the track end at Loch Bhoisimid there’s a path which skirts north of Stulabhal and then onwards across the next glen to Bowglass. This is part of the North Harris Trust path network. A bridge that was under construction at NB 108 133 is now complete.

Bridge in Gleann Stuladail:

Followed the path to the high point where it drops towards Loch Chleistir and cut up Creag Chleistir, the NW ridge of Stulabhal. As we climbed an eagle sailed by – immature Sea Eagle, yet to develop the adult white tail.

Immature Sea Eagle:

Must admit that at this point I was feeling a little gloomy. Oireabhal had in essence been sunny all day while we had been solidly under cloud. Even worse Uisgneabhal Mor had been carrying a hat all day. Still, the day was reasonable so we carried on, trying to pretend the sun was shining on us.

Oireabhal over Sron Ard:

Stulabhal is good for views across Lewis. We could see the Uig hills of Lewis which were intermittently sunny with snow showers blowing through.

Loch Chleistir from Stulabhal ascent:

The summit of Stulabhal was approaching, showers were too – wondered if conditions would deteriorate.

Stulabhal summit:

Got to the summit as the view clagged out in a snow shower. Had a bite to eat and as we did the view cleared a little to show Loch Shiophoirt and Pairc in the distance.

Clouds parting on Stulabhal:

There seemed to be a trend towards the clouds lifting. Teileasbhal and Uisgneabhal Mor were visible and looking dramatic.

Ahead to Uisgneabhal Mor:

Uisgneabhal Mor from Stulabhal:

Headed SSW from Stulabhal to the bealach with Creag Stulabhal and then uphill. We’ve covered this ground before, on that occasion going out along Sron Ard to drop to the glen track.

To the NW we could see the Uig Hills well.

Uig Hills from Creag Stulabhal:

Headed up onto the NW shoulder of Teileasbhal and then stopped for some lunch. We were getting short bursts of sun by this point and although air temps were chilly the sun had real power.

Our target hill was also clear of cloud which was a relief.

Uisgneabhal Mor from approach:

Walking terrain is easy on these ridges – bimbling territory. Stulabhal was clear behind us but there were still perky snow showers across to Uig.

Stulabhal from Teileasbhal ascent:

Heading up Teileasbhal we had a different angle on Sron Scourst.

Sron Scourst and Oireabhal:

Then quite a memorable hour or so. First a Sea Eagle passed up by heading south behind Teileasbhal. Then 2 eagles flew back north, both Golden Eagles. Then we got a display of a total of six Golden Eagles in the sky at the one time.

Not at all sure what was going on. The eagles were flying around in groups, often following each other with occasional stoops and climbs. I think one was juvenile but most looked like adults.

I wonder if the resident pairs size each other up like this, but I had thought they were more territorial and aggressive. Whatever the reasons it was one to remember. Not great for photos though.

Eagles and islands:

Four of six:

We didn’t make much progress while all of that went on so by the time we headed up Teileasbhal it had got quite sunny. There’s a good view north to Loch Langabhat and Stulabhal.

Loch Langabhat from Teileasbhal:

Stulabhal from Teileasbhal:

Across the intervening glen Clisham, particularly Mulla Bho Thuath and Mulla Bho Dheas, had cleared and was sunny too.

Clisham from Teileasbhal:

Sron Scourst is not simply the big rock seen from the glen, but the end of a snaking ridge. Harris geology has produced a few of these Srons.

Oireabhal and Sron Scourst from Teileasbhal:

There’s a steep drop down from Teileasbhal and then a steep climb up Uisgneabhal Mor. The day had cleared to near perfection. Completed our portfolio of Harris Hills on good days with a cracker.

Quite different to our last 2 visits – these views were purely imagined then.

Oireabhal from Uisgneabhal Mor:

Sron Scourst and Uig hills from Uisgneabhal Mor:

A couple of ravens had been nosing around. They took up station on the summit cairn.

Uisgneabhal Mor ravens:

…then with a couple of alarm calls they were off as 2 of the Golden Eagles decided to pop up and fly by.

There’s a decent view south to Ceapabhal (and beyond to North and South uist). At low tide the beaches at Traigh Rosamul and Traigh Scarasta should be quite obvious, but it was near to high tide so they were not too prominent.

South to the beaches:

Traigh Rosamul and Traigh Scarasta:

Still evidence of winter up here, although nothing compared to the mainland.

Ridge of Uisgneabhal Mor:

Torridon over Todun:

We had managed to spend about 3 hours from our lunch spot covering a couple of kilometres. Didn’t really want to head down but eventually decided it had to be done. The ridge heads initially SE towards Sgaoth Aird before heading south.

Todun and Sgaoth Aird from Uisgneabhal Mor:

Interesting to revisit a route done in clag before – the general feel of the walk is familiar, but the views are a revelation.

Todun and Sgaoth Aird from Uisgneabhal Mor descent:

South to Ceapabhal from Uisgneabhal Mor descent:

The ridge flattens out at Creag an Speireig with a view across Loch Brunabhal.

Glen Skeudale round:

We broke off the ridge before Braigh an Fais and then descended to the glen floor to return to the car.

Loch Mhiabhaig:

Brilliant walk – it was great to finally get the views off this one and the eagles were unforgettable.

Next time a visit to the top of Sron Scourst.

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