Barone Hill - 162m
Kerryfearn Hill - 137m
Barmore Hill - 143m
Blackpark Hill - 143m

Monday 4th July 2011

Weather/Conditions: High cloud, temperate weather evening light. The underfoot conditions were very hard going - as typical of many Bute Tops.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 15.0km / 300m / 2h 35m
Accompanying: Alone

Barone Hill (or The Barony) is one of the nicest hills in Bute. The central section of Bute by Loch Fad has five Tops, and all of them are on thick, rough ground. The hills are low-lying and I climbed four on this trip. I hadn't anticipated how hard the ground would be, which turned out to be true for most of Bute's 30m Tops.

I left Ardbeg in the evening with enough light to see me across these hills. I cycled into Rothesay and back out toward Loch Fad. You can cycle the majority of the way to Barone Hill, up 100 of it's 162 metres. I sweated up a steep forestry track which opened out onto a small moor enclosed by heather-covered rocky tops. I dropped the bike and continued on foot up a vague track to a dry stone wall which marched over the contours to the summit trig point.

This region of Bute has some of the most interesting underfoot conditions, especially on Barone Hill. Brown heather, green grass, gorse bush and the hard bedrock merge to ground akin to the north of Scotland. After the bog-slog of Windy Hill the day before, this was welcome, but short lived.

Soon, heather was clawing my my ankles. I navigated among gorse bushes across 'Craw Hill' and continued to Kerryfearn - a minor prominence but one Top on my list. I linked the thin grasses and bedrock upward. There was nothing to mark the top but relief that for a moment I was out of the thick ground. I'd also stumbled into a cow/bull with calves on the way - enough of a sight to make me retrace my steps through the gorse maze and find another route out.

The rough ground continued across to Barmore Hill. By now I was ticking tops. The pleasure was diminished by the sheer rough-going - much harsher than most Munros. Few walk these areas and vegetation grows thick. Fences abound. Blackpark Hill was in much the same vein and I fought the tugging, dragging grasses every last inch back to the bike.

The ideal trip in this area would be to climb Barone Hill itself. Park by Loch Fad (if possible), walk up the forestry track and climb by the dry stone wall to the summit. The other hills just don't match Barone in quality. I was happy just to get back to my bike and enjoy all the downhills into Rothesay.

I was tired enough to go back to the accommodation. Then I found out over the phone the place was empty - parents were out. I didn't want to go back to an empty house, so why not one more? I was tired, but Birgidale Hill look possible on the map - I could cycle down the West Island Way to within 150m of the top.

And so I did that next and arrived home way later than planned!


Barone Hill 360°
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 6.25pm Ardbeg
(0.30) 6.55pm Bike drop-off
(0.40) 7.05pm Barone Hill
(1.40) 8.05pm Barmore Hill
(2.20) 8.45pm Bike pick-up
(2.35) c. 9.00pm Rothesay (en route to Birgidale Hill)

Written: 2011-10-09