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Glas Bheinn's spurs

By Becky Williamson

OK, so I'd just learnt this new term 'spur' and was keen to get as much usage out of it as possible; plus there were several gridsquares I wanted to bag in the area and the forecast for the day looked good. Not having been able to persuade any friends to come a walk with me (they've all grown wise to what that term means!), and knowing I'd be doing a lot of gratuitous walking, I set off solo on what was to be a long day's walk. I'd come prepared with enough food for an army.

Reluctantly I'd curtailed my even more mammoth walk, which was to include a stop at the bothy on the Sound of Islay and changed my starting point from Kynagarry to Storakaig. To be honest, both approaches have become rather tedious to me; I hate to admit it, but there you go. I'd walked from Kynagarry more frequently than Storakaig so decided on the latter on this occasion.

With cloud just swirling round the top of my destination I set off, fully laden and went through the gate just before reaching the gamekeeper's cottage at Storakaig. NR4061 : Storakaig, Islay by Becky Williamson. Cattle, not sheep, surrounded the sheep dip just south of the cottage NR4061 : Sheep Dip, Storakaig, Islay by Becky Williamson. From now it's a case of plodding across boggy moorland NR4060 : Boggy moorland south of Storakaig, Islay by Becky Williamson to the corner of the fence west of Maol a' Bharra NR4060 : Corner of fence near Storakaig, Islay by Becky Williamson. This is the easiest place to cross. Continuing south I reached the Allt Craobhach NR4160 : Allt Craobhach, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4260 : Allt Craobhach, Islay by Becky Williamson (Wooded Burn) which I was to follow as far as the wall between Sgorr nam Faoileann and Glas Bheinn NR4360 : Boundary Wall up Sgorr nam Faoileann, Islay by Becky Williamson. The ground was not as wet as it has been on previous occasions, for which I was grateful and I saw the first of many Green Hairstreak butterflies as I tramped across the moors.

The wall has to be my favourite wall on the island - and that's saying something! Nowadays it seems so redundant, but presumably it once had a purpose, sufficient to warrant workmanship which is seldom seen today and I love thinking about that. Today, however, I viewed the wall with somewhat less exuberance, for I had to use it as a handrail into the next gridsquare and from there, climb to the north-eastern ridge. It looked a steep climb. From the wall's end I looked north NR4359 : Wall between Glas Bheinn and Sgorr nam Faoileann, Islay by Becky Williamson and then south and the route I must take NR4359 : The north-eastern flanks of Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson. This was the only part of the walk that I would do differently; it was a bit too steep for me. It was a short, steep stretch, though and soon I was on the ridge NR4359 : The north-eastern ridge of Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson.

I decided, due to time, not to bother going to the summit itself. I'd been twice before and it would just extend my route unnecessarily. Also, it was very windy. So I paused to view the Sound of Islay and pay my respects to the cairn which, from the valley bottom, sits tantalisingly like a perched Golden Eagle at this northernmost spur NR4359 : Small cairn on northernmost summit of Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson. Then I skirted the head of Gleann Dubh to the middle one of Glas Bheinn's easterly spurs. From here good views are obtained of Coire Liunndrein. NR4358 : Coire Liunndrein, Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson I passed the moorland pool NR4359 : Moorland pool near summit of Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson and NR4359 : Moorland pool on western flanks of Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson and entered the next square from where I took photos south towards Beinn Bheigier NR4458 : Beinn Bheigier from one of Glas Bheinn's easterly spurs by Becky Williamson, north towards Beinn na Caillich and Sgorr nam Faoileann NR4458 : Looking north from one of Glas Bheinn's easterly spurs, Islay by Becky Williamson, south-west towards the Sound of Islay NR4458 : Gleann Coire Liunndreinn, Islay by Becky Williamson and west towards Glas Bheinn NR4458 : Glas Bheinn and the head of Gleann Coire Liunndrein, Islay by Becky Williamson.

With the wind coming from the south-east I was in its full force as I made my way back across the head of Gleann Dubh to the next spur - the one I intended following to its end. From here NR4459 : Glas Bheinn ridge, Islay by Becky Williamson I walked to the summit cairn of Beinn na Caillich, a summit which seems not to be able to make its mind up as to its exact location. The cairn is situated at the 300 m spot height NR4459 : Summit cairn of Beinn na Caillich, Islay by Becky Williamson, rather than the 308 m spot height.

I got the full blast of the wind at the bealach NR4459 : Bealach, Beinn na Caillich, Islay by Becky Williamson so quickly climbed to the next summit, the 'real' Beinn na Caillich which I have named Beinn na Caillich Mr as it is not named on the map, but is bigger than either its eastern or western sister. I paused for lunch in the lee of a welcome crag, from where I could see the ripply Lochan na Caillich NR4459 : Lochan na Caillich, Islay by Becky Williamson and then fought my way to the summit cairn NR4559 : Summit cairn of 'Beinn na Caillich Mòr', Islay by Becky Williamson.

The easiest way down to the valley was to follow the spur where the contour lines are further apart. I passed the small lochan again NR4459 : Lochan na Caillich, Islay by Becky Williamson and entered a new grid square. The views from here are spectacular, across the Sound of Islay to the ubiquitous Paps.NR4560 : Easterly spur of Glas Bheinn with the Sound of Islay by Becky Williamson Looking west, it was easy to match the topography to the map NR4560 : Head of Gleann Choireadail, Islay by Becky Williamson with the U-shaped valley between Glas Bheinn and Sgorr nam Faoileann clearly visible NR4560 : Looking up Gleann Choireadail, Islay by Becky Williamson.

Before the valley bottom, I headed west, wishing I could head instead for the coast, perhaps An Claddach bothy where I have spent many a happy hour. But time was against me, as were energy levels. Staying quite high, I walked through Gleann Choireadail, turning to watch the afternoon ferry wend its way up the Sound to Port Askaig NR4460 : Gleann Choireadail with the Sound of Islay and the Islay ferry by Becky Williamson. Gradually I descended to the many burns which run down into this valley, verdant with Rowan Trees NR4460 : Tributary of Allt Gleann Choireadail, Islay by Becky Williamson. Some of these burns are quite steep-sided and it takes some walking back and forth to find the best way across. Eventually I reached the 'proper' burn Allt Gleann Choireadail NR4460 : Allt Gleann Choireadail, Islay by Becky Williamson and crossed it to the northern side of the valley on the lower flanks of Sgorr nam Faoileann.

I turned for a last look down Gleann Choireadail, perhaps my favourite of Islay's glens NR4360 : Gleann Choireadail, Islay by Becky Williamson, and to bid farewell to the massif of today, Glas Bheinn NR4259 : Across the valley to Glas Bheinn, Islay by Becky Williamson, before trudging onwards, telling myself I'd have another stop at the wall, but not before! The day had turned into a relative scorcher and I had regularly been stopping to either put on or take off layers. As anyone with a camera and heavy rucksack will testify, it's such a faff!

I got ever so slightly 'lost' on my way back. In my eagerness to head north I did so too early instead of following the Allt Craobhach. I thus missed the easiest crossing point of the fence. On the plus side, I noticed a ruin I'd not seen before. This would have to wait for another visit, however. I'd been out for 8 and a half hours and covered 11 miles. My legs were to feel the effect of the walk the next day. As the familiar tree shrouded Storakaig came into view, though, I reflected that it had definitely been worth it.


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When
Thu, 30 May 2013 at 17:37
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geotagged! NR4459

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