Hallival - 722m
Askival - 812m
Trollabhal - 702m
Ainshval - 781m
Barkeval - 591m

Monday 26th June 2017

Weather/Conditions: Great summer conditions. Can't ask for much more. Then an entirely phenomenal best-of-the-year sunset over the Hebrides.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 18.2km / 1750m / 10h 30m
Accompanying: Kate

Kate and I spent two and a half days on the island, a trip she instigated. I was only too happy to go! As we were there, I made it a little goal to get around all the islands hundred metre prominences. The primary goal was (of course) the Rum Cuillin, and on the lunchtime ferry I sat calculating whether we’d have the time for them that very afternoon. Course we did.

After dropping our gear off in the hostel, we headed out to Kinloch Castle then onto the path out the back, into the coire and up to Hallival.

The Rum Cuillin, like on Skye are made of gabbro, but there appears to be far less in the way of basalt intrusions, thus a lot of less opportunity for some real jaw-dropping cliffs. The hills are actually quite rounded and gentle in form; though up close they have just that same hyper-rough, highly textured rock. I could understand why all the routes in the climbing guide were of low grades when every gabbro face is deeply rutted in textures and fissures! Just amazing to observe, and scramble on.

We traversed from Hallival onto Askival, the highest peak of the island. The path bypasses to the left (east) of the ridge, and then climbs back to meet the summit - a logical way to go really, though the direct route looks like it would be more interesting from a climbing stance.

This was my first time on Rum, and it was odd and brilliant to find myself on entirely new hills - not to mention ones I'd read so much about. The sea looked a long way below from the summit of Askival, all views to other land were distant shapes across the water. Such a broad view as well: the Outer Hebrides, Coll and Tiree, all the mainland and Skye.

A long descent took us to Trollabhal, Kate mentioned bypassing this but we were half way up by then: easier to just go over the top. It was worth doing so too: it has two summits separated by a narrow arete. This was also more reminiscent of the Skye Cuillin, just for a moment!

Ainshval was the second big hill of the day; the second and only other Corbett on the island behind Askival. It looks formidable from Trollabhal, but a path winds up among all the cliff and debris. A cairn sits atop its rounded summit. We sat here in the evening light; I calculated whether I could get out to Sgurr nan Gillean. This sharp peak marks the termination of the Rum Cuillin, a bit like its Skye counterpart. I decided that was pushing it too far, but I'll be back to these hills in the future. There’s always next time.

We headed off Ainshval and contoured Glen Dibidil and Atlantic Corrie as the light dimmed. We crested the ridge overlooking Kinloch just before 10pm, at which point the sun slipped out once more and gave us the most intense red liquid sunset I have seen in a long time. Certainly the most dramatic this year, I’ve no doubt about that.

The light show lasted as well, and only intensified further. It made Barkeval a pretty astounding final summit. Originally Kate mentioned she'd sit and wait while I went to the summit, but I killed so much time watching the sun set (and doubtless she did too) that she eventually came over and joined me on top. And then we just had the long walk back down in the dark. On the north flank of Barkeval we heard the Manx Shearwaters crowing in their underground burrows; spooky indeed, but reputedly nothing on the calls they make on their nocturnal flights.

We were back to the hostel after midnight; some food then off to bed. The Rum Cuillin have that unique Hebridean flavour of mountains set against sea as dramatic as almost anywhere on the western seaboard. Skye sits like a gabbro-cored twin just across the water; the western seaboard is laid out in front. And to sit on a high top in the dusk light and cling to the last rays of sun; what more can you ask?

360° Panoramas

Knoydart, Morar & Moidart from the boat (80°)





Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 1.45pm Left hostel
(2.20) 4.05pm Hallival
(3.20) 5.05pm Askival
(4.45) 6.30pm Trollabhal
(5.50) 7.35pm Ainshval
(8.25) 10.10pm Barkeval
(10.30) 12.15am (27th) Hostel

Written: 2017-12-18