Four days on the Isle of Rum

Day 1 Kilmory Beach

Day 2 Hallival – Askival – Glen Dibidil

Day 3 Bloodstone Hill – Guirdil – Glen Shellesder

Day 4 Kinloch

Day 1

Kilmory Beach

17 August 2011

16.8 km/463 m/04:00 hrs

An extra day off work and a reasonably good weather window made me decide to have another attempt at the Rum Cuillin Ridge.

During my first visit to Rum in 2009, I had abandoned my traverse when low cloud came rolling in from the sea. Apart from climbing the ridge, it was important to me to see the views from it, so I didn’t see much point in continuing when the visibility was reduced to a few metres. On that day, I had only climbed Barkeval, but then descended to Long Loch and walked back along the Landrover track to Kinloch.

I was really hoping I would be able to traverse the whole ridge this time. After an early start from Inverness, I parked my car in the long stay car park in Mallaig und took the 10:15 ferry to Rum.

My objective for the next day.

After the ferry landed, I used the luggage transport service that is provided for the guests staying at Kinloch Castle, and handed my large rucksack and food bag to one of their staff who was waiting in a van by the pier. Then I walked the 1.5 km to the village, carrying only my daypack. When I checked in at the hostel at the back of the Castle, I found that I had a six bed dorm to myself.

I made my bed, sorted my food in the downstairs kitchen and packed my small rucksack for a short walk, as it was already 12:30 and too late for an attempt at the ridge.

First I walked along the path beside the Kinloch River.

An information board by the gate in the deer fence, where the Landrover track leaves the woods and enters open moorland.

Looking back into Kinloch Glen from the path junction – the southern track leads to Harris, the northern one to Kilmory.

At the junction, I turned right and followed the track into Kilmory Glen, where large herds of deer usually gather around the bay.

I stayed on the track until it ends by Kilmory Lodge, to get a good view from a slightly elevated position.

Kilmory Beach is absolutely stunning and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland 🙂

Then I descended to the beach to explore it a bit further. The Skye Cuillin were in clouds, but it was sunny and warm and I just enjoyed the nice weather and the scenery.

View back to the Rum Cuillin.

Deer are practically everywhere, on the cliffs…

… and on the beach itself.

One last view of the beach and the dunes – I found it really difficult to leave this place!

On the way back, I had a look at the Old Burial Ground.

Returning the same way, I could see Barkeval and Hallival free of cloud – a good sign for tomorrow?

Back at the hostel, I had a quick dinner in the self-catering kitchen and then spent the rest of the evening in the pub. When I took the photo, I was the only guest, but later it became a bit busier!

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Day 2

Hallival – Askival – Glen Dibidil

18 August 2011

18.4 km/1470 m/10:30 hrs

Corbett: Askival (No. 30)

As I had big plans for the day, I was on my way at about 07:45 (which is extremely early for me!). After a short distance through the forest behind the Castle, I followed the path up beside the Allt Slugan a’ Choilich.

Kinloch and Loch Scresort in the morning.

From Coire Dubh, I ascended Cnapan Breaca, then contoured around the 518 m top to arrive on the bealach just before Hallival.

Until now, the visibility had been very good, but as I reached the bealach, the clouds started moving in… a bit of a déjà-vu experience 😦

As it was quite windy on the bealach, I descended a few metres to find some shelter from the wind and sat down to have something to eat – hoping the clouds would have dispersed by the time I finished!

But no such luck, and so I started climbing into the clouds that were covering the top of Hallival.

After an easy climb up a mixture of grass and rocks, I arrived on the summit – and was surprised to have company!

My fellow hillwalker.

The first part of the descent involves scrambling down some large rock bands.

After that, the descent becomes a little bit easier, although it is still steep.

View across the Atlantic Corrie to the Bealach an Oir.

On the bealach between Hallival and Askival, it started to drizzle, which quickly turned into heavy rain. I still managed to get some views down the Atlantic Corrie and into Glen Harris.

At this point, I was still hoping the rain might stop and the clouds would lift, so I carried on along the ridge towards Askival.

Further on, the ridge narrows and culminates in the infamous Askival Pinnacle…

Close-up of the Pinnacle.

In the wet and windy conditions, I didn’t even consider tackling the Pinnacle, but used the bypass path on the left (east) side of the ridge.

I am not sure if I found the correct way back up to the ridge, according to route descriptions it is “not too difficult”, but I found it quite hair-raising in places.

After clambering up a very steep and loose gully, and traversing a narrow, slippery ledge on my hands and knees (there was an overhang above me), I finally made it back on the crest of the ridge, and looking back, I could even see Hallival.

A view of the ridge ahead, Ainshval (l) and Trollaval (r).

After scrambling up some more wet and slippery rocks…

… I was very relieved to top out right beside the summit trig point.

To avoid the crags on the west ridge of Askival, I descended a bit further left (south) where there is a path of sorts.

When I dropped below cloud level, I could see Beinn nan Stac at the end of Askival’s south ridge, and Glen Dibidil with its bothy near the outflow of the river.

I contoured around the rocky end of Askival’s west ridge to reach the Bealach an Oir.

On the bealach, I sat down to have something to eat and to decide what to do next. It was already 13:30, the ridge so far had taken me much longer than I had planned, I had not enjoyed the scramble up Askival (in fact, I had found it quite scary in these conditions) and I had got no views whatsoever from both summits.

In some route descriptions I had read about an “exposed scramble between the twin summits of Trollaval” and “difficult route finding” in the descent to the Bealach an Fhuarain. As much as I enjoy scrambling, I didn’t really fancy this on wet, slippery rocks. While I was eating my lunch, it started raining heavily again – my decision was made: I would use Glen Dibidil as an escape route and walk back on the coastal path to Kinloch.

Waterfall in Glen Dibidil.

Shortly after 15:00 I arrived at Dibidil Bothy.

After a short rest in the bothy I felt ready for the long walk back.

Looking back to Dibidil.

Eigg, seen from the coastal path.

On my way around the east coast, the weather improved continuously – another good view of Eigg.

Even the clouds over the Skye Cuillin had lifted.

By the time I got back to Kinloch (three hours from the bothy…), the weather was warm and sunny.

Kinloch Castle in the evening sun.

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Day 3

Bloodstone Hill – Guirdil – Glen Shellesder

19 August 2011

22.7 km/1075 m/07:00 hrs

Today I walked along the River Kinloch again, but this time I turned left at the junction and followed the track that leads south to Harris. At Malcolm’s Bridge I left the track and took the footpath that runs along the Abhainn Monadh Mhiltich.

It was dry and sunny, but very windy, so I decided to stay on the path instead of walking over Ard Nev and Orval.

A small herd of Highland Cattle had gathered on the path near Loch a’ Ghille Reamhra and I had to make a detour through tall grass and boggy ground (later that evening I discovered a tick on my shin – in spite of wearing gaiters and long trousers, and I am quite sure this must be where it got me!).

I joined the path again just before the Bealach a’ Bhràigh Bhig and walked through the gap between Fionchra and Orval.

Bloodstone Hill lying ahead.

Looking back to Fionchra and the bealach.

The impressive crags on the west side of Orval.

Glen Guirdil.

Orval and the Bealach an Dubh-bhràigh.

The flat top of Bloodstone Hill is very exposed and I was struggling to stand upright in the wind. Very carefully I walked towards the edge to have a look down to Guirdil Bay and the bothy.

Canna and Sanday.

Instead of retracing my steps to the Bealach an Dubh-bhràigh and descending to the head of Glen Guirdil, I took a shortcut down the eastern slope of Bloodstone Hill, which is quite steep but not too bad.

Guirdil Bothy.

I spent a while in the bothy, having lunch, admiring the decorations and reading the bothy book.

The main room.

After leaving the bothy, I followed the path along the coast and then into Glen Shellesder.

Looking back to Guirdil Bay, the bothy and Bloodstone Hill.

The coast east of Guirdil Bay.

The walk back along Glen Shellesder is not very spectacular, and I couldn’t wait to get back to Kinloch, especially because I had booked dinner at the Castle Bistro 🙂

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Day 4


20 August 2011

0 km/0 m/00:00 hrs

I was going to catch the evening ferry back to Mallaig, and if the weather had been nice, I would have walked to Harris because I haven’t visited this part of Rum yet. But it was raining and the clouds were low, so I just had a look around the village.

Craft Shop.

A wooden sculpture in the village.

I spent some time in the village hall which doubles up as a tea room, serving very nice homemade soup, cakes and hot chocolate.

No improvement in the weather after that…

… so I went back to the hostel and sat in the reading room for a while.

When it was time to leave, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rain had stopped and the sun had come out!

On the way to the pier, I had a look at the campsite.

There are two showers in a wooden hut.

Two mountain bikes are provided free for the use of visitors to the island (one bike had a flat tyre, but there was also a puncture kit available).

I spent so much time exploring the little campsite, that I almost missed the ferry – thankfully another passenger who had also stayed at the hostel asked them to wait for me… 😳

Looking back to the Rum Cuillin.

I was sorry to leave, especially in gorgeous weather like this. I will certainly come back for another attempt at the Cuillin ridge, it is just difficult to get the timing right with the ferry not going every day of the week and the need for a good weather window. But hopefully I will be third time lucky 😉

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6 thoughts on “Four days on the Isle of Rum

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