25th April 2012
With the return ferry due mid afternoon it was another early rise.An early rise for a heron in front of the tent also.
I wasn`t sure what to do, a coastal walk or a hill.In the end Bob opted for the beach at Kilmory as this was strictly out of bounds and he`d never managed it in the bad old days under the old rules and ownership.It was cold but more importantly it was dry so I thought I`d take a trip over to the western hills.
We biked together up to the junction at the head of Kinloch Glen before heading off in different directions.
Taking the left hand fork for Harris bound for Orval….
Above pics are from Bob.The road to Harris is pretty good cycling on a hard packed track but Bob reported back that the route down to Kilmory was hard going with lots of soft gravel on top and it would be better walked he said.I left the bike at the bridge at NM 359 993 and followed the path along the side of the river and eventually up to the Bealach a`Bhraigh Bhig.A fair bit of work has obviously been carried out on this section which was a boon as it would have proved a bit of a bogfest otherwise. From the col I had a quick jaunt up Fionchra as I had looked over at it for three nights on the trot whilst camping on Canna a few years back and had liked the cut of it`s jib.
Fionchra seen from Canna over the church on Sanday with a free beltie thrown in bottom right 🙂
Back to the present.It wasn`t a day for hanging around taking photos.Although it was relatively clear there was a gale force wind blowing.Back down to the col before wending my way up the edge of the cliffs towards Orval keeping an eye out for the Orval Pinnacle down below.Just when I thought I must have missed it I happened to glance back and….
I spoke to Graham Little who made the first ascent many years ago.I wish I could remember the whole story but the memory ain`t what it used to be 🙂 Anyway,he took a fall while on the route and broke his hip.I think that would have been enough for me but Graham dusted himself of and carried on to the summit. It`s currently graded E3 5B but I suspect it may well be ungradeable in the normal sense . I`ve never heard of a second ascent anyway 🙂 Apparently Hamish McInnes and Dave Bathgate reached the top by abseiling down the cliff,lassoing the top and climbing across the rope sometime in the seventies.
I took a few pics when I managed to get some respite from the wind behind a boulder.The western cliffs of Orval.
Canna and Sanday with Bloodstone Hill in the foreground.
I didn`t hang around too long at the trig point at the summit of Orval,just enough to take a picture of the murky black
clouds hanging over the Askival and be happy that we had been up there yesterday 🙂
I contoured over to the eastern edge of the plateau and began to drop down to the col between Orval and Ard Nev. I heard what sounded like an RAF jet approaching and quickly whipped out my camera thinking I`d get an eye level view as it crossed the col.It never appeared though,the reason why would become apparent pretty soon.A few minutes later I could hear the roar of the engines again this time really close.Still no jet.I was then dumped flat on my backside by a gust of wind that must have been off the anemometer 🙂
What I`d been hearing was the wind roaring and whipping across the col.It`s the first time in my life I`ve been blown over.I struggled to make headway towards Ard Nev but the wind funnel seemed to be only twenty to thirty yards wide or else I would have had to bale out to the north.
Looking back to Orval from Ard Nev..
From Ard Nev I made a beeline straight down to the east towards the land rover track leaving me a twenty mnute walk back along to my bike at the bridge.I passed a group of about twenty teenagers heading towards Harris on the way and not one of them replied to my cheery “hello”. They looked miserable,no mobile reception probably 🙂
The bike was still there…
A quick whizz downhill to the tent was rudely interrupted when,on flying around a bend, I hit a traffic jam about a mile short of Kilmory.
There ensued a bit of a stand off as the driver and I argued the toss about who should reverse and give way 🙂
Turns out it was a mobile home being delivered to one of the new crofting tenancies on Rum.You can read about the problems they had getting it on site here on their blog….
After the lorry had reversed a mile or so to let me by there were no other major traffic worries on the run back to the tent where it didn`t take long to pack up.
Down to the ferry and made an uneventful Emmylouless crossing back to Mallaig 🙂
Final pic of Bloodstone Hill and the cliffs of Orval on a late summer evening from Canna taken in August 2010.