Walk: Island clearances on South Uist's Beinn Mhor

South Uist | Tobha Mòr | Full day walk | ★★★

[Clouds clearing on Beinn Mhòr's north ridge]

Beinn Mhòr is the highest summit on the Uists, and part of a rugged group of hills running down the eastern side of South Uist. Rough, pathless terrain belies the hill's relatively low height, with fearsome bog defending against marauding walkers from the road to the west. Successfully tackle all this and the reward is a wonderful north ridge: narrow enough to be exhilarating, yet with no scrambling involved (unless you go looking for it), and no chance of crowds. The second highest summit on the island - Hecla - is included in this circuit, as well as the lower summit of Beinn Coradail which sits in between. The three separate summits result in well over 1,000 metres of ascent, and you'll feel every single metre of it on the tussocky grass, bog and boulders. Potentially superb summit views were affected by pesky hill fog when we visited, but we've left a long photo roll below to give an idea of the typical terrain. Good luck!

[Loch Corodail from the bealach between Beinn Choradail & Hecla]

Route & map

📌 Walk: Island clearances on South Uist's Beinn Mhor ★★★
Start / finish on minor road immediately west of A865 junction, 1 mi south of Tobha Mòr, South Uist, G.R.: NF 767349 ///redeemed.trace.posts
🚌 Bus stops on A865 | 🚗 Layby

▶ 19 km / 12 mi | ▲ 1210 m | ⌚ Full day
Features: △ Beinn Mhòr (620 m, Graham); △ Beinn Choradail (527 m, sub-2000'); △ Hecla (606 m, sub-2000')
Very tough | Track at first, then faint and very boggy path at first towards Beinn Mhòr. Also faint paths on Beinn Mhòr summit ridge and near summit of Hecla. Otherwise pathless, sometimes rough going and boggy areas. Jumping across Glendorchay River is usually straightforward but may be difficult in spate.

Route: Start - Mill Croft - follow track east to end - Maola Breac - Beinn Mhòr - return to 550 metre point on north ridge - Bealach Heileasdail - east-south-east (to avoid crags) then north to Beinn Choradail - descend briefly east then northwest down gully - bealach between Beinn Choradail & Hecla - northeast then east to Hecla - return to bealach - cross Glendorchay River below Maoladh Creag nam Fitheach - due west to rejoin outward route - start

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On our visit

Wildlife: Two short-eared owls lower down, red throated divers and other ducks on lochan near start, red deer on descent from Beinn Mhòr, a few golden plover on Hecla, hen harrier on Beinn Choradail, sheep, frogs.
Weather: Overcast and foggy above 300 metres or lower, except for an unexpected clearance at the summit of Beinn Mhòr. Often dry but a couple of hours of drizzle on Beinn Choradail. Light winds, temperature in low to mid teens at base.

Chronological photo guide

[Early views of Beinn Mhòr]

[Lochan & moorland]

[Red throated divers]

[Looking back from the lower slopes of Beinn Mhòr]

[A faint path aids with the ascent at first]

[Into the mist]

[Fleeting clearance on the north ridge of Beinn Mhòr]

[Beinn Mhòr north ridge]

[Beinn Mhòr summit]

[Beinn Mhòr summit cairn]

[Beinn Mhòr north ridge, seen from the summit]

[Cloud coming and going]

[Looking southeast from Beinn Mhòr summit]

[View east towards Loch Heileasdail and The Minch]

[Typical terrain on descent from Beinn Mhòr]

[Red deer in the mist]

[This one looks more like a sheep...]

[Bealach Heileasdail]

[Crags bar the direct ascent of Beinn Choradail]

[Beinn Choradail summit cairn]

[Western cliffs of Beinn Choradail]

[Descent from Beinn Choradail is initially by a loose gully]

[Loch Corodail below the cloud, from the bealach between Beinn Choradail & Hecla]

[Typical terrain around the bealach]

[Golden plover in the mist]

[Approaching the summit of Hecla]

[Hecla summit cairn]

[Surveying the onward route from the foot of Hecla]

[Landslip below Maoladh Creag nam Fitheach]

[Hopping across the Glendorchay River - only two more, pathless miles left to go!]


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