Bit of a wild  day on the tops in Jura but we managed the summit of Beinn an Oir and Colby’s Camp!

A quick turn round at the Hotel

A quick turn round at the Hotel.

It was a bumpy trip over to Jura and the sea was rough but we were there in an hour and the Island was in mist.

with the cloud at about 1000 feet.  I was hoping for views but was more than happy to be in the boat and enjoy the comments of our skipper Nicol MacKinnon is a legend on the Island.

Two characters

Two characters

The ferry is £20 each way and well worth it and our bikes were free and Nicol is so helpful and looked after us, his boat is magic and so comfortable. It was then book in to the Jura Hotel right by the harbour and book a late meal and leave some gear. The staff were so helpful and we were off by 1200. You can camp here on the campsite”the Field” a lovely spot outside the Hotel where everyone is welcome.

Cycle in to the hill saving a few miles of walking.

Cycle in to the hill saving a few miles of walking.

It was a 45 minute cycle to our start for the hill Bab’s had tried this hill before but bad weather had stopped her and she wanted to so all the Paps a big day and this was not really on with our late midday start. It was windy on the cycle in and on way and we got some rain and the mist never moved form the peak. I looked at the weather  earlier but it was a bit wilder than forecast and we would tailor the day to suit? These are not easy hills and care would be needed.

“Jura is the wildest island in the inner Hebrides it is a vast area of rock, scree and blanket bog ( more then I remember) The terrain is without doubt rough ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow,but what a place to visit. We will see how things go?”

The walk in to the Loch an t -siob. An awful wet path worse than the old CIC Hut path on Ben Nevis!

The walk in to the Loch an t -siob. An awful wet path worse than the old CIC Hut path on Ben Nevis! 

“Ankle twisting rock and scree, or knee high grass, heather and bracken and travel can be painfully slow”

Bab’s had said the walk in was wet when she did it last year and it lived up to the mark. It was awful at times the bog was knee-deep mud and lots of hidden holes and add to that a strong wind and rain it was a grind. The route I picked was up the glen and onto the ridge. We had to go this way due to the wind direction as it would be about 40 – 50 mph on the tops. These are hard hills and rain , mist and gusts are not what you need.

The stepping stones.

The stepping stones.

It was heads down and get going, the path was good up to  point very wet and then hidden in deep grass and ferns. I had been up since 0200 and was tired but the weather kept me going. We had some great views down the glen and to the sea but our hills were covered in mist but this is Scotland in July! We eventually reached the loch and crossed the stepping-stones.

Leaving the loch and heading up the hill.

Leaving the loch and heading up the hill.

The stepping stones and the misty hills.

It was a big pull up to the beleach and at just over 1200 feet  we lost the path in the ferns and heavy grass  again it was hard work and the rain pelted down and the wind blew up. We found some shelter at the beleach and put on all our gear it was more like winter now, gloves and hat and both jackets on. We had a think at the beleach and hidden among the boulders we got a bit of shelter. We made a decision to go on and see how it went in the weather.It was tricky route finding and every rock and grass was so slippy but we managed to keep out of the wind and gradually gained height.  A slip here would be serious but we took care and worked our way through each short step. The wind was not that bad near the top and we eventually reached the summit ridge. We heard voices in the mist and there was another couple of walkers on the steep scree  a bit off route! I dropped my camera in the mist and broke it trying to get a photo, it was becoming a costly hill.

Misty summit

Misty summit ridge a poor  photo on my phone.

The summit ridge was okay the wind was not bad now but the mist was heavy and it was great to see the summit at last. Wearing specs is not good in this weather and I kept checking where we were and making notes of our height at each obstacle on the way up. It was to cold at the summit to stop long a quick bit of food and get another bearing and head off. I had planned to go back the same way but it was very steep and slippy and the normal route up seemed a better bet and the wind was easing. I took a bearing and from the summit a great path lead to Colby’s camp  not far away.It was by far the best path of the day more like a road and great to switch off for a few minutes. The concentration had been hard for the last few hours but we still had to get down and I hoped the ground would ease soon?

summit break

Summit break and Babs has her hill at last..

Colbys Camp –

I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the term ‘Colby Camp’ before. There’s an article all about them in  SMCJ 2014.  They are ruins of shelters, windbreaks etc on the summits of hills across the Highlands left by OS parties during the principal triangulation of Britain in the 19th century. Colby and his men lived for weeks on lots of mountains taking bearings to other summits when weather permitted.

There are only records of nine camps where ruins can still be seen. However, there are lots of hills where OS parties are known to have lived for many weeks but where no remains have been recorded. Ben Wyvis, The Storr, Ben More on Mull are just a few such hills.

A ‘Colby’ camp, similar to that at Creach Bheinn (NM85NE 2), is situated beside Jura Primary Triangulation Pillar. It also is situated in the nearest ‘saddle’, but there are no windbreak walls: instead, ‘houses’ were erected, the walls of which can still be seen. They were probably roofed with tarpaulin.

Information from R J Stone to OS, 27 July 1951.

(NR 499 751) On the NE saddle of Beinn an Oir are two rectangular drystone buildings about 210m from the triangulation station. The larger building measures 8.5m by 5.0m with the wall standing up to 1.4m high. A clear, made path runs from the buildings through the scree to the triangulation station; whether it is contemporary with the houses cannot be determined. An irregular, sheltering wall, about 4.0m across, rings the triangulation pillar and is probably of recent construction; along the E side its height of 1.8m obstructs the view from the pillar.

Jura map Corbett

It was a lot better way off from Colby,s camp and we soon hit the main path and enjoyed a reasonable path after a long day of rough wet ground. There was only the odd scree that we worked our way down and soon we were out of the clouds and heading back down. It was still cold and wet but lower down we dried of a bit and then it was a long walk out back onto our muddy path after the loch, which seemed worse but the views of the sea helped as we trudged off.


The path was wetter than ever and I felt it on the way home.  We were very tired by now.

GreAT Views on the way off.

Great Views on the way off.

We arrived eventually back at the bikes and it was a short cycle back and we arrived back at the hotel just after 1900. We had time for a change and a shower in the Hotel then a great meal with great views out to sea. The Hotel even had a drying room and it was so handy for the wet gear. They were so helpful in the Hotel and one of the girls even checked we were safe off the hill, a lovely thought and checked we were home safe. We were still very tired and after the meal I went for a wander along the shore and into the jetty where a Tall Ship the “Flying Dutchman” was in, it is a French sailing boat. I needed to stretch the legs and I was a bit sore after a long day, the old bones were needing a bit of care.  It was now a lovely night and I enjoyed the walk and there was even a piper playing in the field, magical.  The sun was out over the sea but the hills were still covered in mist but what a lovely place to be.

2016 Flying Dutchman July Jura

It was an early night and I had  a room with a bath which I soaked in easing a lot of pain I was tired by now it had been a long day.  We had been up since 0200 and it was taking its toll, it had been some day and the hill though not big by other standards it had been a hard day. What a shame no views from our hill but still an interesting day and a new hill for me a new Corbett at 785 metres a rare occasion but a hard wee hill today.

About heavywhalley.MBE

Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist
This entry was posted in Corbetts, Enviroment, Friends, Gear, Mountain Biking, Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Plants, Recomended books and Guides, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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