Tag Archives: An Cladach

going lightweight

Entry in the bothy book at An Cladach on Islay:

Mon 5th to Wed 7th Oct 2015

Wasn’t initially thinking of coming here on this trip, but through a creeping sense of inertia yesterday afternoon, and strong winds forecast for today, I thought it would be a good backstop if the ferries weren’t guaranteed to run. Cycled from Bordick last Thursday morning, heading for Cruib, with a planned excursion to Ruantallain if the time allowed. Finally made it to Loch Tarbert after a night camping in ‘the Field’ outside the Jura Hotel at Craighouse, and spent a rather spaced and rambling two hours walking in. I caught a stray bungee cord in the eye as I was setting off to Ardrossan on the train, and have had cloudy vision for the last couple of days! Cruib is in excellent shape, and I was relieved that there is a peat cutting just above the bothy, so I could have a cosy evening by the fire.

I am experimenting with overnight bothy stays with a 35 litre OMM sack, stowing my bike and panniers by the roadside, and taking whatever I can squeeze in beyond the basics. In fact, I coped surprisingly well, despite the lack of fresh milk for my tea, and fried breakfast on the menu, and actually stayed on for a second night instead of heading back to Craighouse to watch the rugby. A fortuitous decision it turned out, as I avoided the carnage inflicted on puffed up England by the marauding Aussies. It also meant that I could spend a more leisurely amount of time at Ruantallain, and do a bit of exploring of the cliffs. The added significance of the afternoon was that this prized bothy ‘tick’ means that to all intents and purposes I have ‘finished’ the full round of Sottish MBA’s, and what I slightly arbitrarily call significant others. There are a few more places I want to visit, ( and a couple of borders day trips to polish off) but I have drawn a satisfactory line, and am happy with that. Spent part of today deciphering some notes, and resolved to try and come out in this direction once a year around this time. It was also lovely to see my sister’s entry of September last, and I have a lot of time for your man asking after the old bothy book so that regulars can revel in times past. (I am officially going to make a smart arsed comment here but can’t help myself) On a past visit to Clennoch for example, I discovered that the ‘Friends’ of the bothy have actually photocopied and laminated a number of the old bothy books, going back to the 90’s at least. Sorry out of the system now. Anyway I should be writing a blog entry, but I thought I’d take some time to jot down something here. I’m not a big fan of writing long entries, but I have been inspired this evening.

In terms of house keeping, I’ve hopefully left enough kindling to dry off the last blocks of peat. There are some rather damp pieces up at the cutting, but I think that’s it for the year. And apologises if the place is a little untidy, I’ve got to rush off in the morning to get the 12.30 ferry from Port Ellon. Normally I would clear out the ash from the fireplace, but I’m loathed to put out the embers tonight. And good luck with the big logs, a happy find on the beach back at the Logain burn.

Also a big thank you to Dave (1 of) MO, and of course the MBA and the estate. This really is a home from home.

Geoff Allan



Photos from the trip…

sunset over Arran from the last ferry of the day

campsite outside the Jura Hotel with the Paps behind


attempt at going light weight

view south over Loch Tarbert to the Paps

peat fire magic


view back to the Paps

an old Laird of the estate

stumbled on these two by accident and quickly made my apologises…

walking back to Cruib, view of Islay on the horizon

back to the hotel just in time for a late Sunday lunch

a quiet evening by the fire at An Cladach

a writers retreat

only partially a set up shot, as I had just about run out of gas by early afternoon on the second day

walking out in the dawn glow

discovered that a ferry left for Oban from Port Arkaig, saving me a pedal south to Port Ellon…happy days

over ambition

Of all the things I’ve learnt about being in the hills over the years, one of the simplest is just don’t try and pack in too much into an itinerary, especially when you don’t have a lot of time to play with. But somehow I got sucked into such a scenario last week when my sister was over from Canada, and we had three days to make good use of a precious car hire.  From the moment she said she was coming over, I thought that perhaps we would be able to make it to Cruib on Jura, which is by far the most logistically difficult place I have yet to visit to complete the full round. Not only that, the place is a new jewel in the MBA crown of island bothies, which was renovated and opened in 2011.  I had become pretty focused on it, and also thought that if I could chivvy her along, perhaps we could sneak in a walk up the coast to the end of Loch Tarbet and look in at Ruantallain, and if the ferry times fell correctly clean up An Cladach on Islay, which is only a few miles down the coast from Port Askaig. My sister was up for it, and we realised that in all the times she’s visited she had yet to take a Calmac ferry, which sealed the deal.  Perhaps a bit relentless? Well funnily enough yes, as it turned out.

Fortunately, one of the other top tips I always take into consideration when hatching some plan or other, is always have a coherent plan b. In this case it was to just leave Jura for another occasion, and spend a couple of days at An Cladach just chilling out. After all it is another idyllic place to spend some loose time, even if you don’t get the weather. So, when it became glaringly obvious that despite getting up at the crack of dawn, there was just no way we were going to get the one o’clock Islay ferry from Kennacraig, a simple decision was made to book on to the next sailing, and hopefully make it in to An Cladach before it got too dark. In the end even that proved a little beyond us. Having parked up and left the car just after 7, the first mile and a half to the coast took us over and hour, and picking a way the final 500 yards along the beach to the bothy took a ridiculous 45 minutes! A serious underestimation of the terrain, especially under the light of a rapidly fading head torch.

Arriving at Port Ellen on Islay

The next day we were up for the dawn, and were really thankful that we hadn’t pushed too hard the previous morning. We spent the day meandering about, combing the beach for wood, and just unwinding from what we realised for both of us, had been a pretty stressful few weeks.

Dawn over the eastern extremities of Jura

An Cladach, with Jura in the background

Waterfall just down from the bothy…

View of the ferry returning to the mainland from the bothy door

Jura in the gloaming

Sun setting on the hills above the beach

Reading by the fire

On the third morning the weather was extremely kind to us, and we made our merry way back to the ferry in good time…

Benefit of being an early riser…

Early morning light on the bothy

Time for a cup of tea

Bothy is really like a wee little hostel

Local blackberries

Some OCD stuff going on here…

Picking a way along the shore on the way back to civilisation

A final look back

Jura ferry heading out across the sound

I will be back…