Hills: An Coileach, Heileasbhal Mor and Carran
Date: Tuesday 7th May 2019
Company: Myself and Ann-Marie
Distance: 11.9km, Ascent: 695m
Time: 5Hrs 10Mins

On Monday afternoon, I met Ann-Marie in Tarbert before driving to Stornoway, the Standing Stones at Callanish and Shawbost beach. On Tuesday morning, we spent just under an hour clearing plastic from the beach before making our way back down to Harris. We initially visited Luskentyre before setting off to ascend my final two South Harris Marilyns, An Coileach and Heileasbhal Mor. We timed our ascent of these hills to reach the summits at low tide to hopefully get great views looking down to Luskentyre.

Luskentyre beach:

We parked in a small car park at the start of a new hydro scheme. We then made use of the hydro scheme track (a bit of a mess) as it was heading generally in the direction we wanted to go.

Click here to see a map of the route undertaken

The hydro scheme track, although not great underfoot, was much better than the terrain beyond.

Ascending via a small hydro scheme track:

I didn't take any photos of the awful terrain. The terrain improved significantly on reaching the start of the ridge heading up An Coileach. It was a pleasure to walk on the Lewisian Gneiss instead of tussocks and hags.

Ascending slopes of An Coileach:

The views back towards Luskentyre were already fairly good but the best views would come later in the day.

Looking back towards Luskentyre during ascent of An Coileach:

We were surprised to stumble upon a nice lady who was having a wee sleep half way up the hill. We stood chatting for around ten minutes mostly about all the fantastic hills in the Outer Hebrides.

Ascending An Coileach:

During the ascent I tried to stick to walking on rock as much as possible.

Looking back:

From a distance, the summit tor of An Coileach looked imposing. There is however an easy way up round the back.

Approaching the rocky summit of An Coileach:

However, before visiting the summit we continued on a few hundred metres to reach the trig point. The summit provides the best views to the west and the trig point provides the best views to the east, so definitely worth visiting both.

View from An Coileach's trig point:

View from An Coileach:

The view from the summit of An Coileach towards Luskentyre is not bad however Carran does block the view somewhat.

View towards Luskentyre from the summit of An Coileach:

I was now in two minds as to whether or not to also ascend Heileasbhal Mor. Looking across to it, it looked interestingly rocky and the descent from An Coileach was similar. We decided to give it a go and managed to pick out a fairly good route in both descent and ascent. If attempting to link these hills together please be aware that they are rocky.

Looking across to rocky Heileasbhal Mor from An Coileach:

It was a relief to reach Bealach na Ciste having successfully negotiated our way down through numerous bands of rock.

At Bealach na Ciste:

The following photo shows the face we descended to reach the bealach. We managed with no hands-on required.

Looking back to An Coileach during ascent of Heileasbhal Mor:

The ascent of Heileasbhal Mor was easier than expected thanks to finding a route through the rocks. The views from the summit were pretty-good but Luskentyre is mostly obscured. During the walk out, we would however also be ascending a hill called Carran which is located right next to the beach. Fingers were crossed for good views from our final hill.

At the summit of Heileasbhal Mor:

At the summit of Heileasbhal Mor:

During the walk from Heileasbhal Mor to Carran, the views got better and better. I would LOVE to visit Taransay; it is high on my wish list.

View towards Taransay and the North Harris hills in descent:

Looking back towards An Coileach and Heileasbhal Mor:

It is fairly impossible to walk in a straight line between these hills. As such, it seemed to take quite a long time to reach Carran.

Heading for Carran:

On reaching the summit of Carran, the views were not great. The viewpoint cairns beyond are however outstanding!

View from beyond the summit of Carran:

View from beyond the summit of Carran:

Luskentyre from Carran:

The view from the summit of Carran definitely rivals the view from Beinn Dhubh which I ascended in 2011.

From the top of Carran, we made a fairly direct descent back towards the car park. The terrain in descent was fairly bad but the views from the summit made it worthwhile.

An incredibly rough couple of hills but well worth doing.