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Giur-bheinn and Margadale Circular, Islay

By Becky Williamson

Having my daughter home for the Easter holidays, combined with (finally) glorious weather meant that I just couldn't wait to be out. This was a reconnaisance walk for the forthcoming Walk Islay week on which I'd been asked to lead a walk up this modest hill. Being one of my favourite hills and being near one of my favourite ruins, I decided to combine the two and make it into a circular walk. After much research and enquiry, I've recently discovered that 'Gir' is an Islay word for crouching or stooped, the mountain seemingly resembling that position.

We started at our usual spot and walked down the familiar track NR4173 : Track to 'car park', Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson to the forest with the track leading all the way to Balulive. NR4173 : Track to Bunnahabhain Plantation, Islay by Becky Williamson. The track leads across the sturdy bridge across the Abhainn Araig (translation uncertain. NR4173 : Bridge over Abhainn Araig, Bunnahabhain, Islay by Lorna Williamson From here (as well as almost the entire walk) you can see Sgarbh Breac (Speckled Cormorant), a distinctive peak in the area. NR4173 : View from bridge over Abhainn Araig, Islay by Becky Williamson The track leads to a deer fence, thankfully with gate NR4073 : Deer fence and gate on track to Balulive, Islay by Becky Williamson. Looking back you see your last glimpse of the iconic Paps of Jura before you enter the dense conifer plantation. NR4073 : Track through Bunnahabhain Plantation, Islay by Becky Williamson

This was the bit I am never too keen on. I much prefer to be out in the open with vast vistas spread out before me. I don't like the feeling of being enclosed. Also, this was the bit of the walk I felt least certain of; I never know which is the correct ride to meet the deer gate at the western side of the plantation. Miss it and you may have to clamber over the 6 foot high fence. Before making that decision, however, you view Staoisha Eararach from its neighbouring gridsquare NR3972 : Looking towards Staoisha Eararach from track, Islay by Becky Williamson, making it difficult to get anything other than Supplemental status for this feature - it seems gratuitous to walk to the ruin just to get a Geograph, but I can imagine myself just having to do it one day! Before reaching the ruin there is a fork in the road NR3972 : Fork in track at Staoisha Eararach, Islay by Becky Williamson and it is necessary to take the westernmost route to reach the deer gate - I remembered that much! At the next fork we took the southernmost route, leading to views of Loch and Dhudhaich NR3972 : Loch an Dhudhaich, Islay by Becky Williamson. We finally plumped for a forest ride NR3872 : Forest Ride, Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson, which fortuantely led to the deer gate NR3872 : Deer gate at Bunnahabhain Plantation, Islay by Becky Williamson and - yippee! - wide open spaces, with remnants of snow NR3872 : Remnants of snow above Bunnahabhain Plantation, Islay by Becky Williamson. Following the quad bike track leads to the southern end of Loch Gir-bheinn NR3872 : Quad bike track near Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson. We strode off north-eastwards to reach the northern shores of the Loch NR3872 : Loch Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson from where we began our ascent. NR3872 : Looking up to the summit of Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson The views were stunning NR3872 : Loch Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson - it was such a glorious day, if a bit blowy as we reached the dizzy heights of this 'great' mountain.

The wind was quite strong at the summit NR3772 : Summit of Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson so we lingered only long enough to take photos NR3772 : Looking north-west from Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson before descending via the mountain's northern slopes NR3873 : Descending Giùr-bheinn's northern slopes, Islay by Becky Williamson, passing the outlet from Loch Gir-bheinn NR3873 : Moorland and outlet from Loch Giùr-bheinn by Becky Williamson. Looking back our mountain looked much more impressive than it had done on our ascent. NR3873 : Giùr-bheinn from the north-east by Becky Williamson and NR3873 : Looking across moorland to Giùr-bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson. We were walking almost directly north,NR3873 : Boggy moorland west of Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson, crossing the Bealach a' Bhearnain NR3873 : Bealach a' Bhearnain, Islay by Becky Williamson and walking parallel at times to the same plantation we'd walked through earlier. The Paps of Jura kept peering over the tops of the trees. NR3873 : Looking across Bunnahabhain conifer plantation to the Paps of Jura by Becky Williamson. Eventually we reached the westernmost corner of the plantation NR3874 : Corner of Bunnahabhain Plantation, Islay by Becky Williamson and turned the corner. From here we could see the ruins of Margadale, including the ruinous sheep fold which I'd never managed to get to before NR3874 : Conifer Plantation, Margadale, Islay by Becky Williamson. I didn't manage to get to it this time either and had to be content with taking a photo through the deer fence. NR3974 : Ruined sheepfolds at Margadale, Islay by Becky Williamson

We kept moving the goal posts as far as lunch was concerned and I was amazed when we ended up eating it at Margadale, one of my favourite ruins on the island. NR3974 : The ruins at Margadale, Islay by Becky Williamson. We lingered here for a while; it is such a peaceful spot and then continued south-eastwards, following the quad bike track NR3974 : Quad bike track near Margadale, Islay by Becky Williamson and more or less following the river, looking back occasionally to the ruin we'd left behind NR3974 : Looking back to Margadale across boggy moorland, Islay by Becky Williamson.

A bridge I'd never noticed before caught my eye and I went over to investigate. It is actually only two-thirds of a footbridge NR3974 : Two-thirds of a bridge, Margadale River, Islay by Becky Williamson. Following the river further south we soon saw a mysterious wall/bridge NR4074 : Wall across Margadale River, Islay by Becky Williamson. What on earth was the purpose of that? We continued to follow the river NR4074 : Margadale River, Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4074 : Margadale River, Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson. The views eastwards were stunning in the early spring sunshine, across the Sound of Islay to those iconic paps of Jura NR4073 : Quad bike track near Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4073 : Looking across the Paps of Jura from Margadale River, Islay by Becky Williamson. The quad bike track eventually leads to a small bridge NR4073 : Bridge over the Margadale River, Islay by Becky Williamson, past an eastern corner of the plantation NR4073 : An eastern corner of Bunnahabhain plantation, Islay by Becky Williamson and then to the covered reservoir near where we began the walk, about 5 hours previously NR4073 : Covered Reservoir at Bunnahabhain, Islay by Becky Williamson. From here it is a short stroll to another deer fence and gate NR4073 : Deer  Fence and Gate near Reservoir at Bunnahabain, Islay by Becky Williamson and from there, not far to the car.



When
Wed, 3 Apr 2013 at 18:17

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