The clouds were hovering just over Raasay when we got up, and down on the higher hills. The forecast was for the clouds to lift, but with showery rain, with the better weather being further north. We needed to be off the hill early enough to pack up to leave the next day, and the forecast for lifting cloud encouraged us to go for one medium hill, the Storr, rather than two smaller ones.
The clouds were still on the higher hills as we headed north through Portree, and the Storr itself was in the clouds as we parked in the small loop layby at NG495510. The Old Man of Storr was visible below the clouds and a couple of cars and a mini-bus pulled into the layby to allow their occupants to take photos of the Old Man as we were booting and loading up, but they didn’t stay long. We headed through the gate onto a boggy track, which we soon left to head slightly north of west over equally boggy ground. When we started to climb the bogginess eased, but it was still damp and rough as we bent slightly left to make our way through rocky outcrops to ascend Bealach Mor, all the time getting inviting and good views of SI-057, Ben Dearg to the south. We had to remind ourselves that that wasn’t our target. A narrow path through heather aided the final ascent to the ridge line. An intermittent path runs along the ridge line, and there now followed a very pleasant ridge walk as we headed north with good views along the ridge and towards Raasay and the mainland beyond, with the Cuillins to the south. Around Bealach Beag we noticed rain bearing cloud approaching rapidly from the south, so it was on with waterproofs and rucksack covers. We ploughed up the steep final ascent in rain with poor visibility, but as we approached the summit the clouds were swirling round the tatty trig point and the rain was easing.
Yet again it was windy at the summit, and since this was the busiest summit we had been on all week, we headed slightly further north away from the trig point to get out of the wind. The true summit is bare ground near the trig point, but we were on a pleasant sheep trimmed grassy area away from the cliff edge with plenty of room for HF. There was to be no further rain, though some occasional clouds skimmed the ridge. Despite being the highest hill of the week, Caroline managed just one 2m FM contact. Martyn only got 6 contacts on 5MHz before handing HF over to Caroline who had a good run of 17 contacts. We swapped again and Martyn made 10 contacts on 14MHz to make his log more respectable. There seemed to be some life on 10m so Caroline tried it, but managed just one contact. As we were about to pack up Martyn noticed a spot for Rod M0JLA on 5MHz, and we quickly put the links back in for him to make only the second S2S of the week. Rod said he’d listened for Caroline on 10m with no success, but did she want to try 7MHz: somewhere around 7.118? Yes, please, so link back out, and a little tuning around found Rod close to 7.118, with quite a lot of QRM, but contact was made – an S2S as the final SOTA QSO of the week.
Sheep on The Storr
Stations and contrast between sun & clouds on The Storr
The Storr trig & view south
We had another treat to come as we descended. We were enjoying the fine ridge views as the clouds were now well above the hills, when Martyn spotted a large bird of prey being mobbed by what looked to be a herring gull. The relative sizes of the birds suggested that this had to be an eagle, but we didn’t get a clear enough view to be sure or to tell if it was a golden or sea eagle: both are known to be in that area. The large bird headed away from us towards Ben Dearg and the gull headed back towards the cliffs, presumably having seen off the predator. We found a slightly better more direct path through the outcrops on the descent, but no better path across the boggy base!
We then headed into Portree to find our final day fish and chips. There were a lot of tourists in the town enjoying what was now a very pleasant evening, together with gulls trying to steal chips, but we headed back to the cottage to enjoy ours in peace.