Suidhe Bhlain - 123m
Barr Buidhe - 74m
Torr Mor - 149m

Tuesday 5th July 2011

Weather/Conditions: Warm with some wind. Pure summer weather.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 4.3km / 300m / 1h 10m
Accompanying: Alone

I tend to think that the south of Bute is one of it's best areas. It's a rounded peninsula stuck to the bottom, surrounded by sea; a piece of Hebrides stuck to a lowland island (sorry Bute). A place of peace at the end of the world, unlike any other place on the island. This is basalt land, and the tilted strata is beautifully exposed in the tilted shelves northwest of Torr Mor; the strange mounds of cropped grass and scree like the Trotternish of Skye. Dunagoil is the best piece of architecture here and is only more interesting the closer you get.

I climbed three Tops on this day - three more off the list. It was a quick trip, because dad drove me down to this remote corner and was happy to wait and listen to the radio or read while I was away. 'Half an hour', I said as I left (apparently), and I went off for the pointed pap of Suidhe Bhlain - that is, St. Blaine's Seat.

I got to the top in ten minutes, following fields at first and then a steep grassy slope. A trig point crowned the top. The ever-present Arran mountains were instead hiding among the mists, but it was sunny where I stood. I immediately went off for Barr Buidhe, which was the third-lowest Top of my whole trip at a lowly 74 metres. This is a unique place, though, and defies it's height - the Top is so low, and the sea so close, that the roaring waters are right there, just beside you. It's a sharp ridge for being a less than a tenth the height of a Munro and I enjoyed the experience a lot.

I felt like I was back on the Campsies. That rock is basalt, too (don't forget the dolerite) so I noticed similar plants, the way the yellowing grass looks cropped and how ivy (?) wraps around the rocks. I noticed the way the rock crumbles to touch, which is why you can't usually climb on basalt.

You can't usually climb on basalt is what I should have remembered as I climbed down a small rocky prow of crumbling rock. Half way down the rock snapped, I fell a couple of metres grasping the nearest vegetation in vain and earned a couple of long thorns in my palm which sent electric shocks through my hand from then on. I only managed to squeeze them out a couple of days later which in the meantime made any cycling interesting.

Torr Mor followed on: it's maybe the most defined ridge on Bute, and starts at 50m above sea level! The sea was ever present to my right, I spotted a couple of figures walking the coastal path. That came as a surprise when I was caught up in this bubble of pleasant isolation.

Torr Mor followed on shortly after, a little whaleback of a hill, quite easy and very beautiful with the great sea views. The descent wasn't so easy-going: I followed the ridge of Torr Mor northwest on easy ground and cut down toward St. Blane's Church into a battle with miniature crumbling crags, bracken 6-foot-tall and a heat from the sun too warm for comfort. I'd known there was no easy way off, but this was hard!

But even though I'd had a hell of a time getting down, I stumbled over the fence into the ruined church (which is very beautiful) feeling happy with myself and finally near to the car. I'd been away only about an hour but it had felt like much longer. When short Bute hill-days feel so full, it seems a wonder that I can climb several Munros in a day at other times. The small size of these Tops makes the Munros seem enormous in the mind, but that's all it is; just in the mind.

I walked through the chapel back to the car, remembering objects and sights I remembered having come here many years ago. Dad was waiting in the car: "Where have you been? You said you'd take half an hour." Oh, sh*t.

I was sure I'd said an hour, but I was back anyway and no more was said after that.

360° Panoramas

Suidhe Bhlain, 123m

Torr Mor, 149m
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 3.30pm Parking at road end
(0.10) 3.40pm Suidhe Bhlain
(0.23) 3.53pm Barr Buidhe
(0.47) 4.17pm Torr Mor
(1.10) 4.40pm Parking at road end

Written: 2012-01-24