It seems like a long while back when I was on the isle of Rum last with my friends Andy, Jen and Kirsten. In fact it’s just a few weeks. Much has happened since. Anyway, in my last post I wrote about our walk around the coast of Rum, so I thought I’d get up to date, so to speak, with a brief account of a fine walk to the summits of Hallival and Askival in the Rum Cuillin. Incidentally, I’m hoping that Cicerone Press will use the above picture as the cover image for my forthcoming guidebook entitled Walking on Rum and the Small Isles, which will be out next spring.
Anyway, it was the last day of our trip to Rum and as we were catching the 4pm ferry back to Mallaig, we would have enough time to knock off a brace of Cuillin before departure. We’d spent a convivial evening with assorted loonies at the Kinloch Castle bar the previous evening and once the mayhem had become a minority pursuit, Andy and Jen had repaired to one of the castle’s grand if slightly grizzled ‘oak rooms’, while I’d tottered off to my tent early doors. Kirsten went MIA. Hearteningly, everyone seemed reasonably perky the following morning all things considered. So after a large cooked breakfast at the castle we pulled on our boots and headed for the hills. unfortunately after a few hundred yards Kirsten had to give up as the blisters she’d developed walking round the coast were causing her some pain.
Despite having suffered 25% casualties within minutes of setting off, we vowed to soldier on to the summit of Hallival. Up along the Allt Slugan we strode and soon enough we were at the Coire Dubh looking on to the Barkeval bealach; a short steep climb and we were on the saddle with Hallival in our sights.
We continued south-east along the ridge towards the summit of Hallival; from below a band of cliffs – formed of a unique variety of gabbro known as allivalite – which can be seen running around the summit and appear to present something of an obstacle. However, a route through these cliffs can be found without difficulty by keeping to the northwest ridge – not the north ridge as stated in another guidebook, which will remain nameless. Unfortunately, a chap called Graham I met a few times had taken the book’s author at his word and had had engaged in fruitless combat with the north ridge, eventually retiring defeated.
Equipped with a superior guide (ahem) we were able to skip up the NE ridge with no bother and were soon standing by the summit cairn rejoicing in wonderful views across to Eigg, the impressive north ridge of Askival…
…and beyond Askival, the summits of Trollaval, Ainshval and Sgurr nan Gillean shimmered resplendently in the slight haze. Having made good time we thought we might as well leg it up Askival as well. Soon after beginning our descent of the south-east ridge we were met with a steep and rocky section that required a little concentration to negotiate, but it presented no real problems.
Down to the bealach between Hallival and Askival, over a rocky knoll and we strode off in the direction of Askival’s fine north ridge.
The north ridge of Askival is a very fine ridge indeed, though a little scary in murky conditions. However, today we had the benefit of clear conditions as we began the climb up the narrow, airy path along the ridge.
Some hardy souls tackle the summit of Askival via a fruity little scramble straight up the north ridge – good for them! We were content to turn the tricky bit to the east and follow a vague, winding, cairn-marked path to the summit – that was really quite interesting enough.
Fast-moving clouds were whipping in off the sea and it looked like we might lose our visibility, so after a brief pause we headed back down the hill. Back at the bealach, we dropped a short way into the Atlantic Corrie and found some shelter to have our sandwiches. It was then a matter of contouring around the flank of Hallival to regain the Barkeval bealach before retracing our steps back to Kinloch once again.
Once back at the castle, we mooched around a bit before getting a lift to the pier from the lovely Rebecca. Aboard the MV Loch Nevis shortly after, we enjoyed lamb stovies and reflected on another excellent trip to the wonderful isle of Rum. Can’t recommend it enough.