Wednesday, 10 June 2015

A Walk Round Ben Hiant

The best walks are always those where we set out with a - usually vague - objective and end up doing an unintended and, often, more interesting walk.  So we set out today from the top of the Basin where the road starts to drop towards Camas nan Geall and followed the old track which used to join Camas nan Geall to Kilchoan.

It skirts the lower, northern slopes of Ben Hiant (left) and then cuts across to the north of Beinn na h-Urchrach (right), so we left it, heading for the saddle between the two bens, beyond which lay our objective, another open basin which we had often seen but never visited.

By this time the high cloud which had been obscuring the sun was beginning to be stripped away by the fresh westerly breeze, so patches of thin sunshine ran across the north face of Ben Hiant as we walked below it.  We're no close followers of the map, though we always carry one, with the result that....

....instead of climbing to the basin we found ourselves above it, looking across it to Beinn na h-Urchrach.  So, instead of descending into it, we just kept going, steadily climbing, until we were on the western slope of Ben Hiant....

....and looking along the coastline by Mingary Castle to Kilchoan Bay and, to its right, to the height of Beinn na Seilg.  Despite the sun, the horizon remained mucky, though visibility was good - that's Coll along the horizon, and we could see Tiree, which isn't often visible.

A small group of red deer, five hinds and a stag, appeared on a nearby hill, watched us for a while, and then, surprisingly, came down in our direction.  They'd obviously been disturbed by something more threatening than two walkers, but we didn't see what it was.

By this time there seemed little point in not heading for the summit of Ben Hiant, so we followed the ridge northeastwards, climbing steadily, until we could look down into another of our favourite spots, and the third basin of the day, cupped between Ben Hiant and the lump of Stellachan Dubha. Beyond lay the Sound of Mull, with Tobermory Bay visible, tucked into the Mull coastline.

We stopped just short of the summit, partly because there were two natural rock seats to enjoy, partly because we were in bright sunshine and out of the wind, mostly to enjoy the view across Camas nan Geall and up Loch Sunart, but also because three people were already on the summit, and we didn't want to disturb their enjoyment.

We never reached the summit because the people didn't move, which didn't worry us as we've been there often enough before, instead heading diagonally down the ben's southeast slope to the road, stopping occasionally to enjoy the views to the north, across Loch Mudle to the island of Eigg and, above it, a bank of heavy, low cloud.

An interactive map of this area is available here.

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