The first ever Isle of Harris Mountain Festival gets underway next weekend, celebrating one of the best and least visited upland areas in Scotland.
The festival runs from Saturday 24 September to Saturday 1 October, and much like the hills of Harris themselves it promises to be small, but interesting. The programme of events includes:
- Film nights - Best of Kendal Film Tour 2011; and Triple 5, Tim Emmet and Dave MacLeod having a go at climbing five new extreme routes on five different Hebridean islands in five days.
- A talk from Cameron McNeish.
- Sea kayak taster sessions (there aren't many places better for it).
- Guided walks including a trip into Gleann Ulladail to see Sron Ulladale (Harris), Britain's largest overhanging cliff and to witness the stags in rut (from a safe distance, hopefully). The highlight of the walks programme is the all-day 12-mile hike along the Miabhaig-Bogha Glas path on Saturday 1 October. The North Harris Trust is organising bus pick-ups to and from the walk to encourage as many participants as possible; booking is preferred to ensure everyone has a place on the bus. All guided walks are free, but donations are welcome; any donations received on Saturday 1 October will go to Hebrides Search and Rescue who have agreed to provide marshalling for this event.
For those wanting more of a leg stretch during the festival week there's always the self-styled Harris Five Peaks Challenge. Five of the best Harris hills have been chosen for their location and the stunning views they offer of the island and surrounding seas. These are: An Cliseam (aka Clisham), the highest peak in the Western Isles, Tiorga Mor, Toddun, Beinn Dhubh and Roineabhal. There are many good reasons to climb these hills at any time, but more so during the festival. For this week only, if you stamp an insert from a festival flyer with three out of five markers found at the top of the peaks, you'll be able to claim a free dram at the Harris Hotel, Tarbert. Route information is available on the festival website.
The North Harris Trust is a charity which owns and manages the whole of North Harris on behalf of the community. It aims to build a stronger community and enhance its wonderful wild landscape.