Report from Denise McLellan and Peter Dinnage
Peter Dinnage writes, ‘When the opportunity arose to join the trip, I thought, why not? I am in my 2nd year of RHSoc membership, and it was about time I found out who others were rather than just reading their logs on hill bagging websites. How else am I going to get to islands without ferry access?’
This trip followed on from one the previous year using the same skipper on a RIB that could take 12 plus crew. In the end there were 10 of us. Josh, the Ullapool Seascape skipper of RIB Selkie, knew the islands very well and the best place to put us ashore and to pick us up, taking into account tides. He was ably assisted by Carlos, a Spaniard who loves boats.
12 Islands on the first day seemed a challenge but the RIB moved between the Islands quickly and we were soon up and down and onto the next one.
As Charlie Scott says, there wasn’t much hanging around on the summits.
Jim Bloomer says: Delighted that we got almost no rain on the islands despite a fairly wet forecast and leaden skies.
Each Island was different, as was the means of getting on and off them. Carn Deas and Carn Iar were connected at low tide but required an easy scramble down and up on wet rocks. Route-finding on all the islands was straightforward forward and none was particularly difficult or overgrown, although most did not have paths. Only three, (Tanera Mor, Eilian Mullargrach and Isle Martin) had any sort of jetty and low water meant that for us a vertical ladder ascent was needed.
Amazingly, Josh gave some of us a short piggyback ride to stop us getting wet feet to the beach on the Isle of Ristol!
Peter Hastie says: the way everyone helped each other get on and off the boat made for real camaraderie…. supported by Josh and Carlos’ excellent teamwork and professionalism. The group really gelled. Liz Hastie added that she felt very supported on the transfers.
Ascertaining the exact high point on some of the tops was an interesting exercise as different methods were deployed on those with a few points of potential- with Jim and Richard using an Abney Level on some.
On the first day we didn't get above 87 metres, but overall did 668m of ascent with all the tumps. After getting quite wet initially from spray and rain, we had dried off by the time we returned to Ullapool at 18:00, definitely feeling like we had had a strenuous workout!
Day 2 only took us to 4 Islands starting with Gruinard Island, but this was to be a 3 Hump Day. Different and away from the other Summer Isles, it also had good views over the mainland mountains. Tim Hawkes thought Gruinard was the ‘best’ island by far. The Island had seen some of the land burnt earlier in the year, which made the ascent easier underfoot and the vegetation is starting to recover. A large Cairn at the top and the 'Air Stone' lower down show that visitors do get to Gruinard despite its ‘Anthrax’ past.
Priest Island (Charlie’s favourite) followed with 3 hills to visit on this RSPB reserve, but resident Sea Eagles did not put in an appearance. Richard McLellan was sorry to have missed the OS bolt on Priest Island, though.
Tanera Mor was next stop and is the only inhabited island, with much building work ongoing and new tracks. Whilst we were allowed access to all three hills, and only saw vehicles and others from afar, it was not a warm welcome. Josh had, however, been in prior contact to make sure we could do the hills.
Isle Martin was our final call and has houses and, at last, an easy landing by jetty, though no one was there during our visit. We did 610m of ascent that day including all the tumps.
Steve Jones concluded: the best bit was the company of like-minded people and the freedom to wander uninhabited islands. (The worst was wet bracken & midges in a few spots). 6 of us did all the hills, some just did the SIBs (i.e., the island high points) and some just landed and enjoyed the fantastic nature, especially Leanne Jones.
In other comments, Liz Hastie said, crushing barnacles on landing seems to leave clothes smelling curiously of fish; everything become salty too. and Charlie suggests that if names were written on people’s foreheads, he might not forget them! Denise said, although a RIB is more exposed to the elements and less sociable, it’s fast and can get you to landing places which a tender or bigger boat cannot. Peter Dinnage added, it seemed strange going up remote hills with others rather than being the only person for miles around but good to have company, nevertheless.
16 SIBs, 3 Humps and 21 tumps was a great, albeit challenging achievement over the two days. A big thank you to Steve Gillions and Jim Bloomer for organising the trip and for everyone else for being good company for the two days.
The last words to Peter D- Would I go on another RHSoc organised trip? The answer is a definite Yes!
Denise McLellan and Peter Dinnage