Teileasbhal - 697m
Sron Scourst - 491m
Thursday 22nd July 2010
Weather/Conditions: At last the cloud and rain lifted from the Hebrides - the most beautiful day. A little chillier on top but over all, warm and sunny, magnificent views out to the sea and mainly dry conditions underfoot.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 12km / 950m / 5h
It might have been the prospect of the end of the holiday that propelled me into action. And even though I spent the morning of the 22nd coughing up phlegm (no change from previous days), the weather was as good as it would ever be and we were going south to Harris.
Dad and Steve dropped me off on the North Harris road beneath the mountains. The original plan was to start at sea level, at the head of Loch Mhiabhaig, but a parking space at a higher elevation saw me heading off earlier than planned. A beautifully clear day, I thought I could see St. Kilda (indeed I could) and the ocean scenery was so beautiful. Trudging up the lower slopes it was great having good scenery from the beginning.
Over the hillside, my main target Uisgneabhal Mor came into view. It's 'only' a Graham at 729m, but it's a big big hill and climbs straight out the sea. An Cliseam is even bigger, craggier and I could see last year's route up it's southern slopes. Today's sunshine couldn't have been more different than that rain-drenched climb last July.
The initial kilometres to the hill required walking through heather and grasses. Bog was lacking a little since the weather had become so dry and only once I'd crossed all this could I get onto the south ridge of the hill itself. Once on this, it was a superb gradual climb towards the summit. I was in the grips of a bad cold and had a hacking cough, but on the other hand I had never felt better. The landscape was so invigorating and with blue skies to the horizon and the prize of the summit still ahead, I felt so content sucking up every corner of this panorama. I'd spent little of this Western Isles holiday on the hills (previous big plans really turned to nil...) but now I couldn't have been happier. Now my thoughts turned to the days and peaks I'd missed, for now I was here in the mountains, I wished to stay.
Uisgneabhal Mor followed a short trudge up it's west ridge to the sound of passing jets, and for the first time I could see a 360 panorama of the Western Isles at my feet. What a joy to be up here on the top of everything with this location and this weather... I had a feeling ('deep inside'?) that this was was turning into one of those days, one so magnificent it ranks among the best in your life.
Teileasbhal and Sron Scourst
Teileasbhal offered a little scrambling on big blocks (the rock here is super grippy, like the most course sandpaper you have felt) and it was a quick ascent up to it's summit. I was glad to be on this peak, for from below it looks jagged and reticent compared against Uisgneabhal Mor.
But by now I was tiring more than I was used to, and harbouring a cold, An Cliseam as planned was now out the window. Instead I thought I could do Sron Scourst instead to complete all Tops of the Uisgneabhal area.
It was a good plan and I headed west, traversing some slopes then on a ridge towards this spectacular peak. Beyond the broad eastern slopes, it's west side drops monumentally one thousand feet to the valley below. I just had to see this, so when I finally gained the summit I had a good peek over the west face and enjoyed the thrill of being above this enormous drop.
I pulled back to the summit and got on my way down, picking my way down the southern slopes to a small building, almost bothy-like, though kept locked up. Concerning the sandpaper-like rock, I earned nearly 10 scars on descent as I stumbled past a rock. The wee knifes just sliced like butter - tread with caution here. A fall would look horrific.
From the locked up building, a walk back to the road remained, although I was doing it in perfect time and I simply relaxed. Back at the road, there was no sign of anyone so I walked around the coast to my starting point, just at the very moment the car pulled. A meal in Tarbet awaited. Brilliant.
(0.00) 11.40am B887
(1.25) 1.05pm Uisgneabhal Mor
(1.50) 1.30pm Teileasbhal
(2.25) 2.05pm Teileasbhal (left)
(3.25) 3.05pm Sron Scourst
(5.00) 4.40pm Miabhaig