Hills: Healabhal Mhor and Healabhal Bheag (MacLeod's Tables)
Date: Friday 7th July 2017
Company: Just myself
Distance: 14km, Ascent: 750m
Time: 5Hrs 40Mins

On Friday morning, the cloud was down below the Cuillin summits, and the forecast was not great, so I decided to stay relatively low. An ascent of MacLeod's Tables had been on my wish list for a number of years. I decided today was the day to ascend them. I therefore drove to Orbost, a few kilometres south of Dunvegan, where I parked up at Orbost Farm.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

From the farm car park, I walked circa one mile back along the road before entering through a gate to reach the track beyond. I followed the track for a couple of hundred metres before leaving it to head in the general direction of Healabhal Mhor via trackless, wet terrain.

Healabhal Bheag and Healabhal Mhor:

En-route to Healabhal Mhor, I spotted numerous cattle ahead so I took a bit of a diversion to avoid them. Despite visiting Skye numerous times previously, I can only recall visiting nearby Dunvegan once previously.


MacLeods' Tables reminded me a little of Hallival on the Isle of Rum.

Heading for Healabhal Mhor:

On approaching the Osdale River, I climbed over a gate, crossed the river (which is pretty-much just a burn) and then began the ascent of Healabhal Mhor.

Healabhal Mhor from just beyond the Osdale River:

Despite its name, Healabhal Mhor is lower than its neighbour Healabhal Bheag.

Looking across to Healabhal Bheag during ascent of Healabhal Mhor:

The ascent of Healabhal Mhor was straight-forward with all bands of rock easily bypassed. Healabhal Mhor has several bands of red sandstone.

Ascending Healabhal Mhor:

Ascending Healabhal Mhor:

During the ascent I passed lots of bog cotton, bog asphodel and tormentil as well as milkwort and butterwort which are now past there best. Summer is progressing!


Ascending Healabhal Mhor:

As I gained more and more height, the views east to Loch Bracadale and beyond got better and better. On a good day, these views would be outstanding. Alas, the Cuillin were still capped in cloud.

Looking across Loch Bracadale towards the capped in cloud Cuillin:

Loch Dunvegan:

On reaching the top of the table, I crossed about a football pitch length of fairly flat grass to reach the summit. I first visited the cairn and then the featureless grassy summit mound a short distance away.

At the summit of Healabhal Mhor:

I was surprised to get such fantastic views of the Outer Hebrides from the summit. Beinn Mhor on South Uist was easily identified as was Eabhal and the Lees on North Uist. All great hills. Despite having already ascended all the Marilyns on the Uists, I really should make the effort to go back there. The Uists are awesome.

Beinn Mhor, South Uist, from the summit of Healabhal Mhor (zoom):

From the summit of Healabhal Mhor, I commenced my descent towards An Sgurran.

Descent route:

Looking aross to Healabhal Bheag:

In an attempt to avoid unnecessary ascent and descent, I made my way between the unnamed top and Beinn a' Chapuill.

Looking back to Healabhal Mhor:

While my route did potentially avoid 40m of unnecessary ascent, it took me through a maze of bog and peat hags and also meant I had to climb over a barbed-wire fence.

Healabhal Bheag:

View towards South Uist (zoom):

The ascent of Healabhal Bheag was steep but not difficult. During the ascent I passed a number of sheep.

Dunvegan and sheep during steep ascent of Healabhal Bheag:

The ascent of Healabhal Bheag took less time than expected. As I approached the top, I met two other walkers who advised, "not far to go now". On reaching the table, I made my way across to the trig point and then proceeded at least a hundred metres beyond to reach the featureless summit.

At the trig point on Healabhal Bheag:

View from the summit of Healabhal Bheag:

Rum from the summit of Healabhal Bheag (zoom):

View from the summit of Healabhal Bheag:

After taking a number of photos from the summit, I made my way back to the trig point and then across to a stone shelter.

Summit and trig point from the stone shelter:

Healabhal Mhor, Loch Dunvegan and Dunvegan:

From the shelter I followed a track leading down the NE ridge. However, the track ended abruptly above what appeared to be a steep drop. I therefore backtracked a short distance and followed an eroded track downhill.

On reaching flat ground and looking back, I was glad that I didn't stick to the NE ridge and try to make my way down a vertical crag. Be careful if doing this one in the mist not to head straight down.

Looking back at Healabhal Bheag's steep crag:

As I continued back towards the car, the cloud began to lift such that the tops of the Cuillin were now visible.

Cuillin (zoom):

I took a number of photos during the walk out as the cloud lifted and visibility further improved.

Looking across Loch Bracadale towards the Red and Black Cuillin:

Looking back at Healabhal Bheag during descent:

During the walk out I met three more walkers who were doing an out-and-back to/from Healabhal Bheag. It was nice to stop for a chat.

View towards the Cuillin during descent:

View towards the Cuillin during descent:

During the final kilometre out, I passed several Stonechat.


There is some impressive coastline around this part of Skye.

Nice view across Loch Bracadale:

View towards Rum:

Despite following the track back towards Orbost, I am not sure if I took the best route during the final few hundred metres. I ended up crossing a stile into someone's garden. I couldn't see a suitable alternative and the stile was hopefully there to be used by walkers.

These are quality wee hills but the terrain is rough.

On visiting Dunvegan post walk, I spotted a Hot Food van in the car park so thought I would have a burger. I was pleasantly surprised to find this Hot Food van doesn't sell burgers, it sells seafood. I had delicious langoustines in hot garlic butter with bread and salad for only £5! Definitely worth visiting this wee van if in the area.

Somewhere not to visit afterwards is the Sligachan Hotel. They have the cheek to now charge £1 per hour to use the wifi in the bar even if you are eating and drinking there. Must be the most expensive wifi in Scotland at £24 per day.