Thursday, 12 January 2006

Gale n

<![CDATA[ As I'm writing this, the worst of Thursday's gale appears to be over. Mind you, a force 9 gale with hurricane force gusts is quite severe. But the previous 2 gales were just as bad. Driving rain, treacherous gusts around buildings in the town, and on exposed routes. Spoke to a visitor in the town this morning who said he was heading for Harris. My response was to be careful in Balallan as it's binday there on a Thursday. Just over a year ago, I was heading down through the village on a bus in the middle of a gale on a Thursday. We had to slow right down and dodge all the bins that had been strewn all over the road.
I am, amongst other things, an amateur weather man and find this severe weather very interesting indeed. I post my observations on an internet site called Metcheck. Anyone can post there, you don't need instruments although it is helpful. So, there I am, relaying observations and readings to everybody in the country (and beyond) that wants to know. Judging by the number of hits on the webcam this week, people are interested in our lively weather. It's not nice to be out and about, it disrupts transport etc.

In the spring of 2005, I went out walking often to Glen Langadale, 3 miles west of the Stornoway - Tarbert road on the Lewis / Harris border. Having forded the Langadale river, I climbed the path which leads west towards Loch Bhoisimid. Instead of carrying on to the loch, I went north, up the slopes of a hill called Rapaire. It's not terribly high, about 1,500 feet, but offers some very good views of the Langadale mountains, as well as Loch Langabhat. On the day, a force 6 southwesterly wind was carrying showers in from the Atlantic. The clouds were scurrying along at about 2,000 feet, not far above my head. It was absolutely stunning to sit in a high place and see the weather passing by, only half a mile away. It's something you can't describe - you have to experience it. The mountain hare that lolloped away on my approached topped the bill.

The image below shows Glen Langadale from Mullach an Langa. Rapaire is the hill to the left of centre. Loch Langabhat lies below to the right.

Glen Langadale has some very nice mountain scenery. I believe the path from Bogha Glas has been improved recently, and there is talk that the bridge across the Langadale River is to be rebuilt. You can access some pretty high mountains from that valley, without too great an exertion. In April 2005, I climbed Teileasbhal, 697 m or 2300 feet above sealevel. You scramble up Gil Slipir - there is supposed to be a path. From the pass below Stulabhal, you can walk up the hill to the left and carry on along a high ridge to Teileasbhal. From Teileasbhal, it should be possible to proceed to the next summit, Uisgneabhal Mor, but that is along a very exposed ridge. Have a look at this sequence of pictures:

Near the summit of Teileasbhal
Looking back along the high ridge
Approaching the summit of Teileasbhal (left). Uisgneabhal to right.
Looking west at Sron Scourst


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