Saturday, 24 November 2012


Eaval, lying on the south-east side of North Uist reaches only 347m above sea level so you might think that there's not much to it, but rising like a rocky pyramid straight out of the boggy moorland this hill provides some of the most stunning views in the Outer Hebrides.

Eaval looking across Loch Obasaraigh

Probably the easiest way to get there is to head to the end of the Loch Euphort road before striking out across the moor towards Burabhal. It's not long before you reach probably the trickiest part of the whole walk......a river crossing on stepping stones. If the levels of Loch Obasaraigh are high or there's a high tide then the rocks allowing you to skip across the river can be covered. Today with all the recent rain many were submerged and others very slippy; not helped by otters regularly using these rocks to spraint and pee on, so creating nice, green, slippy patches. I managed to make my way across without any mishaps and continued around the north-east side of the loch. Once around the east side you begin to climb Eaval. My only company on the way out (apart from Rowan the dog) was a heard of Red Deer and a few Rock Pipits. As I reached the upper slopes of Eaval a Golden Eagle came shooting over the summit heading in a stooping glide towards Burabhal and the Lees. Shortly after this I was on the top and what a view you get.

Eaval summit

Looking north from the summit
Looking west

Looking south (Ruabhal is the highest point on Benbecula!)
The Minch from the summit

Two cheese rolls later and a cup of coffee I headed back the way I had come. A Raven was calling in the distance and a Rock Pipit was feeding on the grassy slopes but apart from a couple of Fox Moth larvae it was pretty quiet as it often is out here.

Fox Moth caterpillar
As I got to the east shore of Loch Obasaraigh I noticed some very fresh otter spraints along a small stream, not far from otter prints I'd seen on the sandy shore as I headed up. Rowan the dog went first as we circumnavigated the loch when I heard a "plop" in the loch waters. I noticed a small ripple leading away from me and wondered if I'd just missed an otter. I hung about for a while but nothing showed so continued around the next rocky headland. I glanced behind and there heading quickly through the water in the direction from which we'd come was a large, dog otter. I grabbed my camera and just in time noticed it heading up stream. Unfortunately the camera was on the wrong setting and the otter was wary of me so although I managed to take a couple of shots, he soon spotted me and disappeared once again.

A mile or so later we managed to slide our way back over the stepping stones once again without any mishaps, noting fresh otter spraints on a rock here too. A good walk with some stunning views and classic Hebridean wildlife.

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