Today I'm taking you on a virtual tour to the neighbouring island of Jura. Niall Colthart was kind enough to sent me ten breathtaking images of a trip he made yesterday up the Paps of Jura. In between the pictures you can find Niall's comments. Niall: The initial intention was to see how far up the highest Pap, Beinn an Oir (the mountain of gold) I could get my bike as the ground here is fairly dry at the moment. When I arrived at Port Askaig the cloud was completely covering the Paps and I seriously considered plan B which was a cycle out to Bholsa. The forecast was for an improvement so I decided to head over anyway and was glad I did. It worked in complete reverse to my last trip to Beinn Caolais earlier in the year when it was clear right until ten minutes from the summit when it clouded over, this time it cleared as I went.
With a few detours I headed for a part of the hill normally hidden from view on Islay which is the ridge on the north side of Beinn an Oir. This ridge ascends in a gradual sweep around Loch an Oir with the only steep bit the final few hundred feet. Having ditched the bike earlier with a view to making a circular route, and after a bite to eat and some photoâ€™s on the summit I descended down the right hand scree gully. This gully is fairly steep, especially the entrance and is full of loose scree for its full length. It is a dramatic spot with cliffs rising sheer on either side, the Garbh Lochanns at the bottom and the best aspect of Beinn Caolais (the hill of the narrows) ahead. After that it was a quick trip back to the bike and an easy and fast run down the track to the ferry.
Hydro Dam at Inver
On the way up I spoke to one of the workers at the new hydro dam which is being built on Inver Estate. Although cosmetic work is still being carried out on the dam it is due to be handed over on Monday and will be producing electricity shortly afterwards. The water levels in the Glenastle Lochs (the two lochs will become one large loch as the glen is flooded) are still very low and there was still a normal flow of water down the river system. Following handover and as part of the tidy up phase of the project the road which has been put in to facilitate the laying of the large water pipes will be completely reinstated to its natural pre-contract state. Continue reading....
This pic was taken after a detour round Loch an Oir. Not many people ever see this side
of this hill as it is the longest route which is a shame.
Beinn and Oir with Loch an Oir and Rhuval on Islay in the distance. You can just make out
Sgriabh na Caileach (the old womans scrape)
Beinn a Caolais with Islay behind, MacArthurs head on the left, loch Indaal in the middle ground.
This is of the entire north end of Jura right up to Scarba.
Loch Tarbert can be seen almost cutting it in half. The mainland of Kintyre is on the right,
the Ross of Mull is on the left.
Descent route into the scree gully.
Beinn an Oir. The scree gully is the right hand light coloured line from the summit.
The loch is the Garbh Lochanns (the rough lochs)
Beinn a Caolais from Garbh Lochans
Sgriob na Caileach
This shot above is taken standing in the Sgriob na Caileach. Translated this means the old womanâ€™s scrape or the crones scrape. The parallel marks run from Beinn an Oir to the Sea and the old stories tell that a witch had managed to capture a fisherman and was holding him captive. By some deception he managed to escape and had gotten a head start on her before she noticed. The marks are made by her heels as she chased him unsuccessfully to his boat.
Another story told about the Caileach is that every Samhain (the old celtic festival that is now Halloween) she used to wash her cloak in the Corryvrekan. When she removed the cloak from its boiling waters the cloak was a pure brilliant white. She then proceeded to lay the cloak across the land which took the form of a blanket of snow. After this had been complete she stalked the land thumping her stick into the ground at any sign of growth or greenery!!
I'd like to thank Niall Colthart for providing the text and the beautiful images.