Quiraing

Weds. 26 April ctd: after lunch, we’ll drive round to Flodigarry, and have a walk up the path from Loch Langaig to the Quiraing. More precisely, we’ll walk to the path below the Quiraing – one of us wouldn’t be able to get up there, or back down again (it’s just a bit too exposed)… The route is surprisingly busy: the better-known way from the parking area at the top of the pass is almost always busy, but this path is becoming popular now. Deservedly so – the rock scenery is amazing! There’s nowhere else like it in the UK.

We try to pick out a different route for our return, but the conditions underfoot make it too difficult to recommend – deep spongy moss, thick heather, tussocky grass – it’s really hard work. We’d better follow the others back down to the car.

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Quiraing

27 November: It’s one of the most spectacular landscapes in the British Isles – and the path to the Quiraing from the top of the pass, between Uig and Staffin, is one of the most enjoyable. Its popularity makes the first part of this walk difficult in summer – largely because it’s almost impossible to find anywhere to park. But on a Sunday morning at the end of November, even with such amazingly good weather, there are just six other cars. I’ll meet other walkers along the way, but it is truly quiet here today. The only sound for much of the time is that of the waves breaking on the shore at Staffin, perhaps a mile and a half distant.

The last few times I’ve walked along the path below the Quiraing, I’ve been with others who wouldn’t be persuaded to scramble up into the rocky stronghold, but today I’m alone, so it’s up the steep crumbling slope, behind the needle, through the cleft and onto the table, a remarkable small grassy  plateau completely enclosed by the crags. A couple of young walkers are here (one is a “Staffinite”, according to his companion), enjoying the photographic opportunities, but I get the impression that many, if not most, casual visitors give this part of the walk a miss.

The descent back to the contouring path is possibly more difficult than the ascent, but I’m down again, walking on towards Sròn Vourlinn (yes, we were here in August, on the path from Flodigarry) – and I discover the downside to November exploration. I knew that the early sunset would limit my time up here, but hadn’t thought about the effect of the sun’s low angle – much of the path beyond the Quiraing is in deep cold shade. It’s worth it for the additional views that open out eventually – to the north and west, where Lewis and Harris are prominent across the Minch. Can’t afford to hang about though – I’d better get back… What a great day it’s been!

map

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Sròn Vourlinn

Sron Vourlinn25th August: yesterday, as we walked back from Rubha na h-Aiseig, the shapely peak of Sròn Vourlinn was prominent and dramatic on the skyline ahead. Today, we’ll walk to that peak and look back to Ferry Point…

There’s a fairly straight, level and most enjoyable route to Sròn Vourlinn from the top of the road from Staffin to Uig – unfortunately, everyone else agrees with me, as the first part of the walk is also the route to the much better-known Quiraing. We’ll try to avoid the crowds, and begin the walk on the path from Loch Langaig, down on the main road near Flodigarry (see also “Quiraing – the other way“). The path ascends steadily until it reaches a cairn marking a sharp right turn, in a hollow below black cliffs and startling pinnacles. There are other walkers around – one or two have used our path from Loch Langaig – but when we continue along the ridge to the north, we’ve got the hills to ourselves. The views are tremendous and extensive, from the mainland mountains to the east, through a far-reaching seascape to the hills of the Western Isles. In the middle distance, with Lewis on the horizon, is Rubha na h-Aiseig. To the south, down the Trotternish ridge, the landscape is a tangled confusion of crags, cliffs and pinnacles. Just don’t get too close to that vertical cliff edge!

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