Isle of Rum: Part II of III
Hills: Barkeval (HuMP), Hallival, Askival (Corbett), Trollaval (Graham), Ainshval (Corbett), 759m top and Sgurr nan Gillean
Date: Saturday 7th May 2011
Company: Myself, Chris and Malcolm
Distance: 25km, Ascent: 1900m
Time: 12Hrs 30Mins (including 30 minutes spent in Dibidil Bothy)
Weather: Very windy, clag, sunshine then thunder and lightning

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

On Saturday morning Chris, Malcolm, Kevin, Dave, Iain, Morag and myself set off together from Kinloch Castle, towards Coire Dubh, to undertake various routes along the Rum Cuillin - the Saturday forecast looked slightly better than the forecast for Sunday.

Visibility was reasonable as far as Coire Dubh however above the coire the hilltops were covered in clag .

Track towards Coire Dubh from Kinloch:

On reaching the end of the path in Coire Dubh, our group split up. Kevin, Iain, Morag and Dave set off for Askival – skirting round Hallival. Myself, Chris and Malcolm headed for Barkeval. The ascent of Barkeval was nice and easy – no scrambling involved, just an ascent up steep grass.

Looking towards Meall Breac from slopes of Barkeval:

After reaching the cairn at the East-end of Barkeval we followed the wide ridge West, for approximately 800m, to reach the summit of Barkeval.

On the wide ridge of Barkeval:

Chris and Malcolm at the summit of Barkeval:

From the summit of Barkeval we traversed back to the East top and then descended to the Bealach Bairc-mheall.

At this point I considered going back to the hostel. My previous traverse of the Rum Cuillin was in clag and I didn’t fancy another traverse with no views . In the end I opted to continue in the hope that the weather would improve.

Looking back to Barkeval from Bealach Bairc-mheall:

Just beyond the bealach we met a group from the Capricorn Mountaineering Club, who were also spending the weekend at Kinloch Castle. We ascended Hallival together which involved a few small sections of easy scrambling.

Malcolm and Chris approaching a clag-covered Hallival:

At the summit of Hallival, the Capricorn group carried on along the ridge while we stopped to allow Malcolm to eat what was probably his third breakfast . The descent from Hallival involved a bit more scrambling – perhaps Grade 2.

Looking back at descent from Halllival:

The Rum Cuillin have hundreds of Manx Shearwater burrows on them – many of these are on Hallival.

Manx Shearwater burrows:

After reaching the bealach we started our ascent of Askival.

Looking back to Hallival from lower slopes of Askival:

We stopped for some time at the Askival Pinnacle while Chris and Malcolm checked it out. However, the better part of valour is discretion and on this occasion the rock was deemed to be too wet and slippery.

Approaching Askival Pinnacle:

After by-passing the pinnacle on its East side we continued to follow the path towards the summit of Askival. As we approached the summit the path became less distinct and we followed slightly different routes to get from the path up onto the actual ridge.

Chris and Malcolm at summit of Askival:

The views from the summit were very disappointing.

We stopped for lunch at the summit and while we passed some time there the clag began to lift . We started to get fleeting glimpses of Eigg and neighbouring hills.

Eigg from summit of Askival:

Ainshval and Trollaval starting to appear through the mist:

During our descent from Askival the clag lifted completely. The descent from Askival is fairly steep but with no difficulties – just follow the path.

Eigg from descent of Askival:

Ainshval and Trollaval from descent of Askival:

Trollaval from Askival:

Ainshval from slopes of Askival:

It was nice to at last get views of what we had covered and what we had yet to do.

Looking back to Hallival and Askival:

Beinn nan Stac looks a really nice top. If I come back to Rum for a third time, Beinn nan Stac will be on my list of things to do.

Beinn nan Stac and Eigg:

Was also nice to get a view of the Skye Cuillin from the Rum Cuillin.

Skye Cuillin from Rum Cuillin:

It wasn’t until reaching the bealach and looking back that I realised how much height we had lost descending to the Bealach an Oir.

Looking back at steep descent of Askival:

Next came my real target of the day as I had not previously ascended Trollaval.

During the ascent we met Kevin who was making his descent – looking as pleased as punch at having ascended this really good Graham and having got some fine views.

Ascent of Trollaval:

The final section leading to the first top and the traverse to the second top involved some quite exposed, harder scrambling.

Scrambling on Trollaval:

Scrambling along the twin tops of Trollaval:

Chris and Malcolm at summit of Trollaval:

Ainshval from summit of Trollaval:

Askival from summit of Trollaval:

I didn’t like the sound of some of the route descriptions for the descent from Trollaval to Bealach an Fhurain – “essential to choose correct line of descent”, etc. I therefore opted to return towards the Bealach an Oir and then skirt round the base of Trollaval to reach the Bealach an Fhurain. I managed to stay quite high traversing just below the Trollaval crags to minimise height loss.

On reaching the Bealach an Fhurain, I was a bit disappointed at having not descended directly – it looked quite straight-forward from below. Chris did however tell of Malcolm opting to slide-down the Moderate slabs on his bum .

Looking back to Trollaval:

Next came the ascent of Ainshval. Malcolm and Chris opted to ascend via every piece of rock they could see – including some Grade 3 and Moderate scrambling. I opted to ascend via the path.

During the ascent, I met Iain, Morag and Dave who had just ascended Ainshval. The ascent of Ainshval is fairly easy – just follow the path through the screes – no need for scrambling.

Ascent of Ainshval:

Eigg from summit of Ainshval:

On reaching the summit, I stopped to have a chat with Tom from Estonia while waiting for Chris and Malcolm to catch-up.

Sgurr nan Gillean and 759m top from summit of Ainshval:

Malcolm and Chris ascending Ainshval via the Moderate ridge:

At the summit of Ainshval, Malcolm wondered if he heard thunder - I didn’t think so.

Looking back to Hallival and Askival from summit of Ainshval:

Sgurr nan Gillean and 759m top:

However, as we continued along the ridge to the 759m top and then to Sgurr nan Gillean we heard more and more rumbles, which were getting louder and louder and the sky was getting darker and darker.

I then made my way quite quickly along to the summit of Sgurr nan Gillean.

At the 759m top with approaching thunder:

Looking along Leic a’Chaisteal ridge towards Ruinsival:

Crags near summit of Sgurr nan Gillean:

On reaching the summit, I was now very uncomfortable with being so high up, carrying walking poles, so far away from the hostel with a thunderstorm rapidly approaching.

Summit of Sgurr nan Gillean:

I didn’t bother looking at the map and just opted to descend as quickly as possible directly to Dibidil. On reflection this was nuts – the descent was dangerously steep down broken crags with bits of hard down-scrambling and down-climbing. Once past the crags the descent was down very steep grass.

Looking back to Sgurr nan Gillean summit from East ridge:

Seriously steep direct descent to Dibidil:

Seriously steep direct descent to Dibidil:

Looking back at direct descent from Sgurr nan Gillean:

My almost lemming-like descent route did get me to Dibidil bothy at least 20 minutes before Chris and Malcolm who opted to descend via the more sensible, but still steep, SSE ridge. Was great to get into the bothy out of the thunder and seriously-heavy rain.

Dibidil bothy must be one of the nicest, cleanest bothies I have been inside. If I had a sleeping bag with me, I would have really liked to stay their overnight instead of walking back to Kinloch Castle.

Outside Dibidil bothy:

After a good feed and signing the bothy book, I waited for Chris and Malcolm to arrive.

Inside Dibidil bothy:

After sitting out the worst of the downpour, we began the very long trek back round the coast to Kinloch Castle. The path round the coast isn’t great – very wet and muddy especially during a thunderstorm. Thankfully we were able to cross the various rivers – which were all in spate with the rain.

About 2.5 hours after leaving the bothy we made it back to Kinloch Castle. Hungry, tired, a bit sore and seriously wet but well-chuffed with the day out .