Roineabhal - 460m
Sranndabhal - 211m
Greabhal - 280m
Bleabhal - 398m
Cleit Niosaboist - 158m

Tuesday 22nd July 2014

Weather/Conditions: Good weather all day, good walking conditions, with some high cloud keeping the sun off. Stunning sunset.
Distance/Ascent/Time: Bottom of page
Accompanying: Alone

A mental day's hill bagging if ever there was one, of minimum commitment and maximum fun. And because the hills on Harris are exceptional and yet low in altitude, you're always seeing something new all the time.

I originally planned for the first four only; Todun, Roineabhal, Sranndabhal and Greabhal.


I parked at the high bealach on the road leading to Roghadal. Roineabhal is a mountain I've been aware of for years, primarily for the Lingreabhagh superquarry fiasco. I was aware of it's significance in harbouring an unusual rock type; anorthosite, and that it held this position as a lynch pin for battles between opposing viewpoints and positions, communities and cultures. What a f*** up that would have been had it gone ahead.

It's also a hill I knew about before I was ever walking on the hills. And it was as enjoyable as hoped to have made it here, climbing the boulderfields to the rounded summit dome - a hill of bareness that belies it's height.

To my south, the Uists and associated islands were scattered on the water. North from the summit, the barrenness of the Braigh nam Bagh ranged away. Light shifted on the distance and the bedrock, and curious clouds formed alongside the summit, sucked by the wind before disappearing from view again. Curious and strange. Roineabhal was and is a mountain worth preserving, I'm glad the powers that be had some sense in the final rejection of what would have been a bit of a nail in the coffin for South Harris.


Sranndabhal is a far different little hill to Roineabhal, and it sits directly opposite. It is also entirely overshadowed by Roineabhal. It's by a quirk of the landscape that it managed to make onto my hill list (enough prominence!) and is essentially a wedge of land rising to the south of Roineabhal before a final dip toward the sea. I marched up to the top in the warm sun, took a picture of the cairn and headed straight back the way I came. Some hills are really just that easy going.


I drove straight on for Greabhal, and parked beside Loch Iosal Vassary. A few years ago, Steve and I climbed Greabhals' twin summit, Maodal, leaving the main summit unclimbed. Today I just powered up the side as hard as I could to emerge out at another cairn. Fantastic - another down, another hill gained. But I felt far from finished. It felt like I had a reservoir of energy to burn through, and I'd much rather go until myself, or the day, was done.

Back at the car, I knew that Cleit Niosaboist could be easily tagged on. And then I thought of Bleabhal - a longer hill (at a mere 3kms! But then you're spoiled already on South Harris), but likely doable before it got too late.


Bleabhal presents a far more gentle incline, so you cover a lot of distance to get to any location. I'd parked at Scarasta and headed up through the fields. Over the little top of Meabhal, I reached the summit itself in well under an hour. Descent was highlighted by seeing probably the best broken-wing display I've ever seen a bird do - it lay there in front of me for a long time, almost throwing itself at me as I walked by. Not today, not interested - and yet it persisted. I arrived back at the car and headed onto my sixth and last summit of the day.

Cleit Niosaboist

I think you would be hard pushed to call this a 'hill'. But it is over 100m in prominence, which is the rule I always work by. On legs that were now heavy, it would make an ideal short last top. The light seemed to really mature around this point, unparalleled by most standards. I gained the top, and just hung around, snapping photos, taking in the sunset. What a stunning place. Heading down in golden light, I made my night's accommodation at Horgabost. For some reason, I didn't feel so at home here with the campsite absolutely rammed to the brim; something about the intimacy of the day broken. And yet, lying there in the twilight of a Hebridean dusk, snipe drumming overhead, endorphins coursing through the body, and the breeze rustling in the grasses - you could liken it to somewhat of spiritual experience.

Unfortunately, I also don't recall eating especially well, and I bloody well felt it the following morning.

360° Panoramas

Roineabhal 360°

Braigh nam Bagh from Roineabhal

North Uist from Roineabhal

Sranndabhal 360°

Little Minch from Sranndabhal

North Uist from Sranndabhal

Greabhal 360°

Bleabhal 360°

Braigh nam Bagh, Minch and mainland from Bleabhal

Cleit Niosaboist 360°

Roineabhal, Bleabhal and Ceapabhal from Cleit Niosaboist

Geodha Martainn 360°
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 4.30pm Layby
(0.40) 5.10pm Roineabhal 2.6km / 400m / 1h 20m
(1.20) 5.50pm Layby (again)
(1.32) 6.02pm Sranndabhal 1.2km / 140m / 20m
(1.40) 6.10pm Layby (and again)

(0.00) 6.25pm Layby
(0.18) 6.43pm Greabhal 1.8km / 230m / 30m
(0.30) 6.55pm Layby
(0.00) 7.15pm Layby
(0.50) 8.05pm Bleabhal 5.9km / 400m / 1h 27m
(1.27) 8.42pm Layby

(0.00) 8.50pm Layby
(0.13) 9.03pm Cleit Niosaboist 1.3km / 160m / 30m
(0.23) 9.13pm Cleit Niosaboist (left)
(0.30) 9.20pm Layby

Written: 2016-09-12