Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Ben Hiant's Southwest Shoulder - 1

Yesterday we enjoyed snow, hail, sleet and everything in between. Today dawned as it intended to continue, perfect conditions in which to climb into the hills to the southwest of Ben Hiant.

We walked down to the mouth of the Choiremhuilinn burn, crossed it by the footbridge, and then climbed up onto the grassy area in the centre of this picture, the site of the clachan of Choirehmuilinn, cleared in 1828. The snowy summit of Ben Hiant is visible and, slightly to its right, the notch which was our objective for the day.

With the air so clear, the higher we climbed the more superb the views became. This is the first time in some weeks that we've had a day like this, so it was wonderful to be high in the hills to enjoy it.

In this picture, we looked across Mingary Castle towards the hill called Maol Buidhe and the steep cliffs of Sron Bheag at the far end of Ormsaigbeg. The low outline of the island of Coll lies along the horizon.

The Ben Hiant ridge ends steeply, falling away into the sea just by....

....the Maclean's Nose fish farm, visible at bottom right of this picture. This view looks down the Sound of Mull, with Tobermory Bay on Mull at right, the entrance to Loch Sunart at left and, in the distance, the snowy peaks of Beinn Tallaidh (towards the left) and Ben More (towrds the right).

Throughout the walk we were watched by herds of red deer. This one was made up almost entirely of stags, most of which still had their antlers, though we found one antler which had already been shed.

As we climbed, the patches of snow became more extensive and deeper. Lying snow isn't a common commodity here, and this patch was up to 6" deep in places, exactly the sort of place.... expects to find common lizards. We saw four in all, and they had obviously emerged from their winter hibernation to find a sheltered spot in which to bask in the sun but, when disturbed, tried to dash away across the snow - where they suffered sudden and rather catastrophic drops in temperature.

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