Posted: Thursday, 22 December 2005
During the first part of my stay here, I have covered a lot of mileage on foot in the island. That is actually how I built up my fairly large collection of pictures. My favourite area is broadly Loch Langabhat [Note: pronounce BH as V]. I first clapped eyes on it in December last year, when I walked up the 4½ mile track from Ath Linne (Aline), just off the Harris border. The views in reverse, down Loch Seaforth, are quite spectacular.
Loch Langabhat is an 8 mile long body of water, which stretches from Glen Langadale in Harris to the slopes of Roineabhal near Balallan. Its southern end is set amidst the dramatic mountain scenery of North Harris, surrounded by giants such as Stulabhal (a mere 579 metres or 1900 feet high), Mullach an Langa (611 m / 2000 feet) and Teileasbhal (697 metres / 2300 feet). Its northern end is under the shadow of Roineabhal. The waters from the loch, at that point about 130 feet above sealevel, flow down to the sea near Linsiadar through a series of channels to the Grimersta River. It is possible to walk from the B8011 Garynahine - Uig road, from a gate about half a mile west of the Bernera (B8059) junction. There is a reasonable track, until you reach the stepping stones to a shooting hut, which sits in the middle of the river. You can't reach the hut if the river is in spate, obviously. When the track peters out, you have to make your own way, using an Ordnance Survey Landranger or (preferable) Explorer map. Further passage is only possible if the stepping stones across the outflow of Loch Easa an Ghil is possible. As stated above, if waterlevels in the loch are high, you cannot proceed. I had a scary experience half a mile south of there this spring.
It was a warm, sunny day. I was enjoying the slight winds and the sound of the water bubbling through its channel when I became aware of a novel sound. A swishing noise appeared to come from the water. As I looked on, a whirling circle moved through the water to the land and suddenly the heather on shore started to thrash about savagely. The dustdevil quickly moved off, over the nearby hill. I was barely 30 feet away from it.
The journey along the shore of the river is uneventful, but if you want to go to Balallan, you do need to cross it. This is only possible at Eilean Mor, close to Loch Langabhat. And although the river levels were low at the time, I had huge trouble fording both rivers. You need to circle Roineabhal, which towers above, in order to reach civilisation at Balallan. The most spectacular route will show the view below, which answers the question why this district is called Lochs.
Another track comes close to the loch from Bogha Ghlas, on Loch Seaforth side. At Bealach na h-Uamha, the path branches. The southern branch leads to the Langadale River under Mullach an Langa. You can ford it, which is not difficult. The riverbed is fairly smooth. The other branch leads steeply down to the Langadale River under Stulabhal. The ford here is more difficult to negotiate, as the river bottom is covered in stones. A steep path leads up to the pass under Stulabhal. Last March, I was going downhill when I came across a mouse. It was sitting in the path. Although it flitted into grass, I was able to approach it and even touch it.
From the pass under Stulabhal, it is possible to climb Stulabhal (which I haven't tried, it's very, very steep and craggy) and Rapaire, to the northwest. I reached the summit of the latter hill in the teeth of a force 9 gale. It was mid April and cold, but it was a fantastic experience. Rapaire stands 1500 feet high, and on the day, the clouds were racing along not far overhead. A shower came up from the Atlantic and passed me barely half a mile away. The towering crags of Mullach bho Dheas & Thuath rear up to the southeast. A white hare lolloped away when I explored further northeast. If you decide to venture out there, please be careful: the hill ends on a 1,000 feet high cliff above Loch Langabhat. The trail continues to Loch Bhoisimid and Miabhaig (Harris). There is a route from Kinloch Reasort to this point, but it will require some good orienteering, although it's only 3 miles away.
Across the valley, Mullach an Langa can also be climbed from the head of Glen Scaladale. From its summit, you can proceed south to Mullach bho Thuath (North End), Mullach bho Dheas (South End), An t-Isean and Clisham. A massive expedition, which needs a good head for heights, confidence in scrambling and long daylight hours.
So far this post (if you're still reading at this stage), I've stuck to the eastern shore. The western shore is equally impressive, if more difficult to access. You need to start from the B8011 near Sgealiscro Lodge, and follow the stalking tracks towards Loch Coire Geurad. You can walk right up to Loch Langabhat, 4 miles from the road, where you'll be rewarded with great views up and down the loch.
There are hardly any defined tracks on the ground, and what is marked on the map may not be in evidence on the ground. Follow the map, your eyes and your feet.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 13:18
thank you for posting the photos and information. Very interesting.
caroline from new hampshire, USA