Hills: Beinn Mhor (Graham), Ben Corodale (Marilyn), Hecla (Marilyn)
Date: Thursday 19th August 2010
Company: Just me
Time: 8 Hours

For this walk, I parked opposite Loch Dubhrain (parking is very limited). The SMC Corbetts book states, “These hills are by far the most important hills in the Outer Hebrides outwith Harris and Lewis. The round of the three hills in either direction makes a fine excursion with about 1200m of climbing”. I would say 1200m is an under-estimate given all the ups and downs of this route and re-ascent on the way out.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

For the first kilometre of the walk, I followed a land-rover track starting at the North-end of Loch Dubhrain. At the end of this track, I crossed an area of wet boggy ground en-route to the base of Maola Breac. From the outset, Beinn Mhor was capped in cloud/clag. I therefore had two options in mind. Option 1) – ascend Beinn Mhor (if hills remained in cloud) Option 2) – ascend Beinn Mhor, Ben Corodale and Hecla (if cloud-lifted)

Beinn Mhor, capped in cloud:

I found a faint path ascending Maola Bhreac. The ridge from Maola Bhreac is nice and wide.

Approaching start of ridge from ascent of Maola Breac:

Looking back:

Beinn Mhor from Bealach Carra Dhomhnuill Ghuirm:

Looking back to Maola Breac:

The visibility was far worse than my photos suggest. I took a photo each time the clag momentarily cleared.

Ascent of NW ridge:

During the ascent, I passed a sizeable cairn. Not sure why there is such a prominent cairn there.

Cairn on ridge:

Looking towards 608m top:

The ascent from the start to the 608m top is straight-forward.

Stone shelter at 608m top:

From the 608m top, there is a 0.5km ridge leading out to the summit. This ridge has numerous rocky towers and is a bit exposed in places. There is however an easy path that winds its way round the towers, so no need to take hands out of pockets. This path is quite muddy so you do need to take care not to slip.

Ridge towards summit:

Ridge towards summit:

Ridge towards summit:

Approaching summit of Beinn Mhor:

I spent around 15 minutes at the summit, hoping for the clag to clear. It didn't.

Large summit shelter and trig point at summit of Beinn Mhor:

Myself at summit of Beinn Mhor:

Looking back along summit ridge from summit of Beinn Mhor:

From the summit, I returned along the ridge to the 608m top and then descended around 50m in height to the start of the ridge leading to Ben Corodale. As I made my descent the cloud lifted enough to provide a view of the ridge across to Ben Corodale. It looked bumpy but straight-forward so I decided to give going as far as Ben Corodale a go.

Ridge leading to Bealach Hellisdale and Ben Corodale:

Ben Corodale from start of NE ridge:

This ridge could be interesting in the mist. There is however a grassy line which I managed to find and follow to the Bealach Hellisdale. I didn't find the “several short vertical steps” mentioned in the SMC book. I descended with no 'hands-on'.

Ben Corodale:

From the bealach, I wasn't quite sure how best to ascend Ben Corodale. The SMC book only suggests, “the ascent is straight-forward”. I decided to ascend via the grassy diagonal running top-left to middle-right in the next photo. This ascent was steep – no place for a slip or fall.

Ben Corodale from Bealach Hellisdale:

Looking back at descent from Beinn Mhor:

Looking back to Bealach Hellisdale from steep ascent of Ben Corodale:

As I ascended Ben Corodale, I could see that the cloud was still lifting and that Beinn Mhor was now almost free of cloud.

An almost cloud-free Beinn Mhor:

It was nice to reach the Feith-bhealach, as my legs were starting to feel the steep ascent.

Approaching Feith-bhealach of Ben Corodale:

Rubha Hellisdale:

From the summit of Beinn Corodale I followed the SMC advice to look for a scree gully, 50m East of the summit cairn. This scree gully drops between two rock buttresses. I found the scree gully but wasn't sure why this route was advised. Instead, I returned to the summit cairn and continued back for a 100m or so towards Feith-bhealach. From there I walked round on grass onto the ridge leading out to Hecla – no need to drop down between the buttresses.

Hecla from summit of Ben Corodale:

Looking back to rocky summit of Ben Corodale:

The bealach between Ben Corodale and Hecla involves quite a few ups and downs.

Heading towards bealach between Ben Corodale and Hecla:

Looking back to Ben Corodale:

Hecla from small lochan at bealach:

The SMC guide describes the ascent of Hecla as “steep”. I found the ascent really easy compared to the ascent of Ben Corodale, which the book described as “straight-forward”.

Hecla from bealach:

Looking back to Ben Corodale and Beinn Mhor:

I was starting to feel thirsty as I approached Hecla, as I had finished off my water at the summit of Ben Corodale. Still a long walk out to face with no water.

Hecla from summit ridge:

Approaching rocky summit of Hecla:

At the summit of Hecla, I stopped to take a few photos.

Looking North from summit of Hecla:

Nicholson's Leap:

Ben Corodale and Beinn Mhor from summit of Hecla:

Myself at summit of Hecla:

I found the return from Hecla to the starting point to be quite demanding. I descended back to the bealach between Ben Corodale and Hecla. From there I descended Maolaidh Creag Nam Fitheach. I then attempted to skirt round Maola Breac but ended up going over the top of it to re-join the faint path I had used to ascend Maola Breac.

Looking back to Ben Corodale from line of fenceposts:

Looking back to Hecla:

I programmed the end of the land-rover track into my GPS to allow me to walk out the final kilometre on good track.

Hecla, Ben Corodale and Beinn Mhor:

These are a fantastic group of hills. I would strongly recommend doing these hills as a circuit instead of only ascending Beinn Mhor, and returning the same way. However, be prepared for a tough day with lots of ups and downs and lots of pathless terrain. After a quick shower, and a meal in the Lochmaddy Hotel, I headed back out with the family with the intention of finding a beach and watching the sunset. I headed for the beach at Baleshare, where I did some off-road driving to get close to the beach.

Few photos from beach below.

Beinn and Becky at Baleshare beach, North Uist:

Long shadows:

Worm casts on beach:

Looking towards Hecla, Ben Corodale and Beinn Mhor:

Approaching sunset on Baleshare beach:

Approaching sunset on Baleshare beach:

Nice colours: