An Cliseam (Clisham)

An Cliseam and Mulla bho Dheas

Hillwalking route up Clisham in Harris

A fairly short circular route aiming up Clisham, the highest point in the Outer Hebrides. With more descent than ascent, this is a downhill-runner's delight !

Route outline


An Cliseam (Clisham)

Ascent 825m (2700ft)
Distance 8km (5m)
Time 3:20hr
Start Loch a' Mhorghain
Grid Ref : NB156052
Finish Bun Abhainn Eadarra
Grid Ref : NB131043
easy hard
easy hard
easy hard
ok fab

Clisham is a rugged mountain and the highest peak in the Western Isles, rising above the coastline of Harris. Aiming up from the moorland to the south of Clisham, this circular route takes in the skyline between Clisham and Mulla bho Dheas. Although much of the terrain is pathless, with a fair amount on boulders and rock, the route is relatively straightforward.

Route map

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Route description

1. Getting to Loch a' Mhorghain

On the way to Clisham

On the way to Clisham

In the Outer Hebrides, the A859 travels through Harris and Lewis from Levenburgh to Tarbert and on to Stornoway. The Uig ferry from Skye arrives in the island at Tarbert.

A few miles north of Tarbet, the A859 turns north-east and climbs to just under 200m above sea-level by Loch na Ciste. Between this loch and Loch a' Mhorghain is a long lay-by (which used to be part of the old road) and the route begins from close to here.

The route ends at Bun Abhainn Eadarra, around 4km south-west of the start point, so ideally a bike could be left here or other transport arrangements should be made for the return back up the road.

2. An Cliseam

Approaching An Cliseam's summit

Approaching An Cliseam's summit

From the lay-by, walk along the road for a short distance westwards towards Loch a'Mhorghain. On the north side of the road you should see a fence-line, leave the road at this point and sticking to the east side of the fence, a route can be picked out heading northwards up steep tussocky ground and through heather.

After climbing around 150m, the slope easies and grass cover with occasional wet bog gives pleasant terrain to bound over. Ahead the ground rises again as the lower slopes of Clisham's south-eastern shoulder is met.

At around the 500m contour , terrain becomes rougher climbing ground strewn with boulders and stones. Some short routes on grass can be found, but inevitably effort will be required to leap over rocks and across boulderfields. The ascent steepens as the route turns more northwards then north-west with a path being picked up to follow between the rocks onwards to Clisham's summit crest.

After twisting between or bounding over the summit's rocky slabs, the huge cairn encircling a trig point is reached. Clisham's summit rests above a substantial drop to north and its commanding position gives vast views on clear days.

3. Mulla bho Dheas

Looking to Mulla bho Dheas from Clisham

Looking to Mulla bho Dheas from Clisham

From Clisham's summit cairn and trig point, head north-west for a bit, then turn westwards, and drop down from the rocky crest onto more grass-covered ground.

Heading down grassy slopes with some rocks and a few boulderfields, a faint path is picked up to reach the narrow bealach between Clisham and Mulla bho Dheas. Climb out of the bealach and up to a minor bump, An t-Islean.

Ahead is the eastern ridge of Mulla-Fo-Dheas, on which some easy scrambling can be enjoyed if sticking to a steep direct line up the crest. The path however turns slightly to the north of the crest and climbs under the steepest rocks on grassy ground. The gradient is more gentle with the path eventually topping out slightly to the north of Mulla bho Dheas's summit where there is a decent sized cairn, though much smaller than that on Clisham.

4. Descent Bun Abhainn Eadarra

Looking back up from the path by the Abhainn Thorabraidh

Looking back up from the path by the Abhainn Thorabraidh

Turn south from Mulla bho Dheas's summit cairn and begin to descend over boulders, rocks and grass. There's no obvious path to follow, but terrain becomes more runnable as height is quickly lost.

Lower down, heather is bounded over and the remnants of an old fence-line is crossed shortly before the Abhainn Thorabraidh is reached. On the south side of this burn, a rough path is picked up and followed southwards to the houses at Bun Abhainn Eadarra, where once a whaling station operated with only the red bricks of a chimney and some concrete platforms still surviving.

Route profile »

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