A fine few days on the Isle of Mull

 

Beinn Talaidh 2-1

A couple of weekends back we set off for a few days walking on Mull. We were lucky with the weather and managed to do all the walks we hoped to combined with a night at Tomsleibhe bothy and another camped on the shore of Loch na Keal. The experience was book-ended by Calmac fish and chips making this a near perfect weekend excursion.

Thursday afternoon we parked up at Pennygown and walked in to Tomsleibhe through Glen Forsa – a nerve-wracking experience for young Dougal who’s really quite scared of Highland coos. His fear is expressed by barking at them, which in turn causes us to fear for our own safety – luckily the brutes can hardly see you through those long fringes. The bothy was empty so we bagged a sleeping platform before climbing the steep north ridge of Beinn Talaidh. It really is very steep to start with, so much so that I had stiff thighs for a few days after the up and down. There are grand views from the summit, though to the west Ben More and A’ Chioch were under a cap of clag. However, to the east the Dun da Ghoaithe ridge remained cloud free; exactly what we were hoping for on the following day.

After a grand evening in the bothy and a good nights sleep, we set off southeast through the forestry plantation initially on a good track, which petered out to a rough, boggy and tenuous path, but we found a way through before crossing the Abhainn an t-Sratha Bhain and gaing the loooooong west ridge of Dun da Ghoaithe.

166this route up the hill isn’t easy of access, but it makes a fine alternative to traipsing up the dull access track from Achnacroish – the usual route of ascent. Oh, and the views are marvellous. Sgurr Dearg looms to the southeast:

Dun da Ghoaithe 20-1While at the southern end of the Dun da Ghoaithe ridge the lower top of Mainnir nam Fiadh dominates the view:

168

 

Looking back to the summit of Dun da Ghoaithe from Mainnir nam Fiadh:

 

Dun da Ghoaithe 6-1

 

We returned to the bothy by our outward route, the out and back taking six hours. After packing up we headed back down Glen Forsa and were fairly knackered by the time we reached the wee green Corsa. We pootled off to Loch na Keal and pitched the tent where we enjoyed venison burgers and a plastic mug of Chateau Poop du Naff before turning in for a well deserved kip ahead of our planned assault on Ben More the following day.

Continuing our run of great good fortune the next day dawned bright and reasonably clear with clouds scudding over the hill tops from the west. After breakfast we launched ourselves straight up onto the ridge of Beinn Fhada from the south bank of the Scarisdale River. It’s a steepy, but it makes a horseshoe out of the Ben More walk and avoids the boggy ground of Gleann na Beinne Fada. Once the ridge is gained the views are magnificent. Ahead lay Beinn Fhada:

 

Ben More 1-1

 

While across the head of the glen loomed A’ Chioch and Ben More (right)

 

Ben More 11-1

 

Once we’d trotted along the ridge to the bealach between Beinn Fhada and A’  Chioch the onward route looks mighty impressive and ever so slightly daunting:

 

Ben More 12-1

 

In truth there’s no difficulty involved, but it’s not a route I’d fancy in winter with significant snow and ice.

 

Ben More 14-1

 

Once atop A’ Chioch the onward rote to the summit of Ben More involves a slightly airy ridge with a little easy scrambling; though this could be nervy stuff in poor visibility.

 

Ben More 17-1

 

The view back down the ridge to A’ Chioch from the summit of Ben More:

 

 

Ben More 8-1Ben More 10-1From the summit we scurried down the up-and-down route from Dhiseig passing a surprising number of folk of all ages on their way up. Most of them looked like they were looking forward to getting to the top – and I’m sure they wouldn’t be disappointed as the views are cracking.

Once back at the car we sped off to our appointment with the Calmac cafeteria…

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9 responses

  1. Thanks, Dave. It is true that over the course of our many trips to the Hebrides we’ve had more fine weather than it’d be reasonable to expect. Glad to hear that you’ve had good weather on Jura also; have you been out and about? I see there has been a work party at Cruib too.

    Cheers

    P

  2. A fine island that I visited back in 1988 – I think! If only it hadn’t been pishing down and the cloud hadn’t been down at about 50 feet above sea level the whole time I might have had more of an idea what it was like! Another an ever lengthening list of islands I need to visit and revisit 🙂

  3. If I’m remembering rightly, your Scottish island trips have featured quite a lot of wind and rain, Andy? Just to be really annoying I’d have to say that most of the many trips we’ve made to the Hebs over the last 8 years have been characterised by fine weather…

  4. Mull is a mighty fine Island, worth a visit at any time of the year, perfect for exploring in a campervan. I really enjoyed the climb to Ben More via A’ Chioch , did young Dougal tackle this. I would have to tie Reuben to me and drag him up!

  5. Dougsie did indeed tackle A’ Chioch and the airy ridge. He had picked up the scent of a small group of walkers who’d gained the bealach from the glen so any fear of exposure was forgotten in his urgent quest to go and make friends with them as soon as possible!

  6. Hi Pete!

    No Idea how to contact you so I try out this way. I’m from Switzerland and plan several long distance walks all over Scotland from Juli – Oktober 2016 with man and dog. 😉 We read about midges and wonder, how bad they really might be. Specially for the dog. Can you give us an idea when and where they are the worst? Thank you!

    And thank you for your great books!

    Simone

    • Hello Simone

      Thank you for your kind words. Regarding the dreaded midge, they can be really atrocious depending on the time of year, weather conditions and locale. Anywhere with a breeze and you’ll be okay, so on the coast is usually okay. May to September will be the worst. They can be very bad in light precipitation and near areas of standing water. Some of the worst places are on the west coast and in the islands: Skye, Rum and Jura seem to be particularly bad at times. So, the thing to do is to be properly prepared. Over-head midge nets and Avon Skin So Soft spray (it’s actually a moisturiser) are the essentials in my view. Don’t camp next to bogs or standing water. Lighting a fire is also a good way of smoking the nasty little critters out!

      With your dog you also need to be aware of deer ticks. You’ll be familiar with these in Switzerland, so same conditions apply. Some people use an insecticide repellent like Frontline, but I just pull them off Dougal. Having said that, we tend to do most of our walking from autumn through to early spring so you may need to take pre-emptive measures for your dog in the summer. What breed is he/she?

      So, the big question is what walks are you planning?

      All the best

      Pete

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