Geograph Blog ::

Bolsa via Bunnahabhain and Beinn Thrasda, Islay

By Becky Williamson

This was another of the many walks I've walked through on the map many times, and which I've done parts of several times. I'd been checking the forecast all week and the day I chose to do it in reality dawned bright with cumulus clouds dotted promisingly across the sky.

I started from Bunnahbhain, walking down to the deer gate NR4173 : Deer Fence at Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson and then to the Margadale River, which is one of my favourite views on Islay. NR4173 : Margadale River and the Sound of Islay, Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson The walk up to Rubh' a' Mhail lighthouse is one I have done several times; it is always boggy and I was expecting horrendous conditions after all the rainfall of recent months. Either it wasn't that bad or I'm just getting used to walking very slowly, testing each footstep with my stick before commiting to it! It's blanket bog all the way up to the lighthouse and for a time the sun went in NR4275 : The Sound of Islay from north of Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson and it started hailstoning. Worryingly, I looked to the northwest, from where the grey clouds scuttled across the sky. Hmmmmm. I hoped the forecast was going to turn out right and it would clear later in the day.

The quad bike track to the lighthouse is pretty clear most of the way, but if all else fails, you can follow the telegraph poles. NR4275 : Track to Rubh' a' Mhail Lighthouse, Islay by Becky Williamson There are several fords across the path - the Uisge Fear Fian NR4276 : Ford Across Uisge Fear Fian, Islay by Becky Williamson and Geal Uisge (White Water) NR4276 : Ford Across Geal Uisge, Islay by Becky Williamson being the two I encountered before turning up by the waterfall on the Geal Uisge NR4276 : Waterfall on Geal Uisge, Islay by Becky Williamson.

I wanted to climb Beinn Thrasda (Gaelic for either 'Horizontal' or 'Diagonal' Mountain) as I'd not done so before and it meant tackling a 'green' square. This meant following deer tracks at best, and making your own tracks at worst NR4176 : Blanket Bog ascending Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson. Beinn Thrasda is situated north-east of Sgarbh Breac (Speckled Cormorant) NR4177 : Geal Uisge and Sgarbh Breac, Islay by Becky Williamson. I followed Geal Uisge more or less to its source NR4177 : Geal Uisge flowing down Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson and then headed directly up Beinn Thrasda. NR4177 : Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson.

By the time I reached the summit, the sun was blazing down, creating a whole spectrum of glorious hues and casting diamonds on the ocean. There was barely a breath of wind at the summit either and I took photos in all directions NR4177 : Towards Colonsay from summit of Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson, NR4177 : Towards Jura from summit of Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4177 : Towards Sgarbh Breac from summit of Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson before gradually and carefully descending the steep slopes on the west of the mountain. I'm not good at heights and, to make it worse, it was very slippery underfoot and I nearly fell a few times. NR4077 : Descending Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson Scary or not, I couldn't help stopping to take photos of the glorious vista before me. I had not seen Bagh an Da Dhoruis from this angle before NR4178 : Bagh an Da Dhoruis from Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson and the sandy beach beckoned me and had to be resisted - another day maybe!

I was looking constantly for the ruin of Bolsa (Old Norse for 'farm'). I had not been able to see it even from the summit using binoculars. Where was it? Why couldn't I see it? NR4077 : Beneath Sgarbh Breac, Islay by Becky Williamson Behind me I could see the scree adorned slopes of Beinn Thrasda NR4177 : Looking back to Beinn Thrasda, Islay by Becky Williamson and then gradually the lower slopes of Sgarbh Breac were behind me too NR3977 : Blanket Bog east of Bolsa, Islay by Becky Williamson, but still no Bolsa ahead of me. I reached an old boundary line, marked by iron posts NR3977 : Old Boundary near Bolsa, Islay by Becky Williamson and there was still no sign of my destination.

Not until I was virtually upon it, did I catch my first glimpse of this old farm NR3877 : The ruin of Bolsa and Mala Bholsa, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3877 : The ruin of Bolsa, Islay by Becky Williamson. At last! I was so excited. It was 13:50 when I reached the ruin and sat down with my lunch, watched only by the occasional Red Deer. In 1542 this land was apparently granted to Hector MacLean on the basis that it had once belonged to his grandfather. Since 1878 it has been a ruin. It was like a summer's day NR3877 : The ruin of Bolsa, Islay by Becky Williamson here right at the north of Islay and I relished the tranquility and solitude for a while before checking the map and heading back south-east.

I was heading for Gleann nam Meirleach (Valley of the Robbers) through which the Allt Mor flows NR3877 : Division in the Allt Mor, Islay by Becky Williamson, NR3877 : Allt Mor, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR3877 : Allt Mor, Islay by Becky Williamson. This was new territory for me and I was delighted to see my first spring migrant, a Red Admiral butterfly. 'From whence camest thou, oh tiny creature? I wish you well.' It flew along the shallow banks of the burn NR3977 : Allt Mor and Sgarbh Breac, Islay by Becky Williamson and disappeared before I had time to photograph it.

Before long I was at Dubh Loch (Black Loch) NR3977 : Allt Mor and Dubh Loch, Islay by Becky Williamson and I negotiated my way across deep bog round the loch's northern side NR3977 : Dubh Loch, Islay by Becky Williamson and then entered the glen proper NR3976 : Gleann nam Mèirleach, Islay by Becky Williamsonand NR3976 : Gleann nam Mèirleach, Islay by Becky Williamson. Glen of the Robber. I wonder how it got its name. I hope I find someone who can tell me. Before long I could see both west NR3976 : Gleann nam Mèirleach, Islay by Becky Williamson and east NR3976 : Gleann nam Mèirleach, Islay by Becky Williamson from the same viewpoint.

Wanting to return to Loch Mhurchaidh, I took a brief detour for a final stop NR3975 : Loch Mhurchaidh, Islay by Becky Williamson before the last leg of my walk. I'd intended to follow the Allt Bhachlaigh to the coast and then head south back to the car, but ahead of me a decent quad bike track ascended Shun Bheinn, marking a way I'd never trod before. NR4075 : Quad Bike Track near Sgarbh Breac, Islay by Becky Williamson I followed the track, which led perilously close to the summit of the hill NR4074 : Shun Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson, but with weary legs, it was not hard to resist the temptation for another (uphill) detour. I trudged on, startling a small herd of Red Deer within a few feet of me.

Soon I was back in familiar territory, looking back to Shun Bheinn NR4074 : Shun Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson and forward to the gate in the deer fence near the reservoir NR4073 : Deer Fence near Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson. The path is more solid now and I crossed the bridge over the Abhainn Araig NR4173 : Bridge over Abhainn Araig, Islay by Becky Williamson and walked wearily back to where I'd started 6 and a half hours before NR4173 : Track to 'car park', Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson. A walk worth repeating!


Loading map...
Marker only shows grid square

When
Wed, 7 Mar 2012 at 14:14
Grid Square
geotagged! NR3877
Chosen Photo

blog comments powered by Disqus
You are not logged in login | register
please donate