Beinn Dhubh - 506m
Beinn Losgaintir - 436m
Ceann Reamhar - 467m

Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Weather/Conditions: Good summer weather. Light cloud enveloping the summit of Tiorga Mor, but very nice apart from that.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 13.9km / 1350m / 4h 35m
Accompanying: Alone

This was my third morning of three days hillwalking on Harris. The day would include a couple of pretty significant hills - namely Beinn Dhubh and Sgaoth Iosal.

Beinn Dhubh must be one of the better-photographed hills in Scotland (yet conversely lies in relative obscurity) as it forms the backdrop for the mega Luskentyre view from Seilebost. I'd had a previous big day, but entirely neglected to give my food enough consideration (i.e. no breakfast!). Thus when I woke up, I didn't have any breakfast on me, and no way of getting it in time.

As I sat in the car, the hot morning sun rising in the east, I had a debate in my head; if I go to Tarbert now, I won't have time to drive back here then do these hills. If I'm going to do what I want to do today, I need to start walking now. So I set off walking with no food in my stomach, and just a pack with some jelly babies. I didn't have so much water either.

I quickly realised that this was a really bad idea. I know some folk that can go walking on no breakfast, but for myself, it just does not work. Pretty soon, I was feeling glazed, tired, weak - you name it. But I persisted anyway. I usually find that once the commitment to climb a hill or mountain is made, I have no issue seeing it through to the top, no matter what it takes to do that.

Even still, when I (finally!) gained the summit trig of Beinn Dhubh, I was in pretty bad form. And yet, now I was here, I just mentally couldn't let the other summit, Ceann Reamhar, away. To my south, Luskentyre presented a stunning sweep of sand, but in some ways it was dwarfed by the greenery of the surrounding hills. There's something curious about the road through Seilebost, as though all the factors of nature come together in perfect balance to give this stonking view of the beach, Beinn Dhubh arching over the top, the sea, and the distant North Harris hills. Partly for this reason alone, I was glad to have gone and walked these hills.

Ceann Reamhar felt like more of the same exhaustion really. When the body has no fuel, it's a hell of an effort to make it move. And I'd really neglected it this morning. This was brutal. It reminded me so much of the previous summer, hot days high on the Mullardoch ridges with the world around stunned frozen by the high-pressure heat. Sluggish motion, the heat sucking the life out of me, knowing that there would be hours to go before I could finish the day and be done with my exhaustion. One year had softened the brutality of pushing my body to it's edge. And this morning brought it all back with a slightly sickening clarity. Wow, I'd forgotten how hard 2013 actually was. Now I'm reminded.

I gained Ceann Reamhar without issue, just a lot of hard work. The descent back to the car was over moorland, with one small rise over a prow to get back to the car. Due to the exhaustion, I had a strange 'wilderness-experience' here, when tiredness triggers a sense of personal isolation, even if misplaced.

In the end I was bloody glad to get back to the car. The round of 10kms was a good one, I should simply have had the foresight to have eaten. You really think I would have learned by now...

I drove into Tarbert where I met mum and dad who had driven down for the day. Here I got stocked up on food and water, gradually feeling human again. Despite a tough morning, it turned out to be a bloody good day.

360° Panoramas

Beinn Dhubh

Ceann Reamhar
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 7.15am Roadside
(1.25) 8.40am Beinn Dhubh
(1.40) 8.55am Beinn Losgaintir
(2.20) 9.35am Ceann Reamhar
(3.25) 10.40am Roadside

Written: 2016-09-13