Birgidale Hill - 123m
Monday 4th July 2011

Weather/Conditions: Nice evening weather - although I rushed to make sure I didn't run out of light! Settled, dry and cool.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 16.4km / 200m / 1h 30m
Accompanying: Alone

This was a last minute hill if there was any. In the afternoon I'd climbed Barone Hill and three Tops surrounding it. The Barony remains one of my favourite Bute hills, but the ground was energy-sapping. I got back to Rothesay and phoned the parents to discover that they were out and that the house was empty. I didn't want to go to an empty house - could I fit in a last top? I checked the map. Birgidale Hill fitted the bill. It's amazing how hidden reserves appear when you want the energy. This was one of those moments.

Birgidale Hill is not a 'hill' as such. It isn't marked on the map as being called a hill - this is the name given to the high point of ground above Birgidale, a small collection of farms beside Loch Quien. It also has a completely different atmosphere to any other area of Bute, and it was the only Top where I felt as if I wasn't on an island, I guess because the expanse of moorland cuts off sea views. It is also a very solitary Top and would be useful if I could climb it sooner rather than later.

I cycled out of Rothesay and turned off the main road onto the West Island Way at Lochend (farm). I guess the loch in question is Loch Ascog. I don't know how I would have approached Birgidale Hill had this not been a signposted, public path. Access was made uncomplicated here and the track is of variable quality. I enjoyed it a lot. Gradually, height is gained and I came out on top of the moor, waiting for a sharp right-turn to take me to Birgidale Hill. A couple of houses are up here, and sheep decorate the driveways. More than a few insisted on being chased down the track and they hadn't learned better by my return journey. I located my right-turn easily and cycled the last distance to Birgidale Hill.

Up here, I saw some kind of bird of prey (?). It took off once and glided away silently. I didn't get any pictures. It landed by the track ahead and this time I knew better: camera out, I cycled forward waiting for it to take off. I don't know what type of bird it is - the photographs are there and if you know, my email address is on my home page. I'd like to know.

Birgidale Hill was so convenient because you can cycle to within 200m of the summit. There is a southern top marked with a trig point and a northern one unmarked by any cairn. My map identified the north top to be two metres higher than the south, but some maps claim they are the same. They look it, too. But I went to both - who knows? (And who cares!?)

The ride home was in building darkness. Steve (brother) phoned me on the way back. He planned to come over to Bute from Glasgow, but this never happened in the end. I got in the door at 10.30pm. It had been a tiring afternoon, but five more Tops were complete. These Bute Tops were hard work!

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) c. 9.00pm Rothesay
(0.45) 9.45pm Birgidale Hill
(1.30) 10.30pm Ardbeg

Written: 2011-11-30