Thursday, 30 May 2013

Isle of Eigg and new Berghaus Freeflow rucksack, May'13

Inversion from Moruisg with Berghaus Dart, 1993
My first 'proper' rucksack was bought way back in the early 90's. A Berghaus Dart, 35 litre, black and purple - very 'in' colours then ! This sack was a trusty companion for many years, only when it became very worn and faded was it consigned to the back of the cupboard and brought out occasionally on back-up.

Over the years since, I've gone through several rucksacks, but the old Berghaus Dart will have a special place as it was associated with my first round of Munros. Roll the clocks forward to 2013 and we've got several rucksacks now, some for clients - backpacking and day sacks, some for different days for me on the hills. However, I didn't have a regular day sack for when I'm out on my own and not leading clients. Berghaus to the rescue ! Berghaus asked me to test their new Freeflow 25 litre sack.

The view from our rented cottage
With this year's winter (hopefully) behind us, my partner, dog and myself headed to the Isle of Eigg for a bit of work and some exploring. We'd never been here before, we've been to Skye, Rum, Outer Hebrides and so on, but the smaller Inner Hebrides have been left behind until now. The population of this island (at around 100) is quite large considering the island's size, so there's quite a bit going on, far more than neighbouring Rum. There's a café/bar/restaurant, a well stocked shop and bike-hire at the pier, a hostel just around the bay, a very contemporary restaurant, yurts, a museum, several b&b's and lots more further up the island.

An Sgurr, and a dog with no vertigo !
On the first full day there, I wanted to get up An Sgurr - the prominent volcanic plug that towers above the pier. Although it looks quite daunting, yet its summit is only 394m above sea-level. Gear stuffed into the new Berghaus Freeflow sack and early off to explore. An obvious marked path leads from one of the tracks directly uphill. It meanders around the north side of the buttress and gets onto the ridge around 500m west of the summit. The views are excellent all around ! Back down for lunch at the café, then I did the route again early evening, this time running - 45 mins up and down from the pier !

An Sgurr from Sgurr na Fharaidh on Beinn Bhuidhe
The next day saw us head north to Lageorna and up the other elevated land on the isle - Beinn Bhuidhe and it's summit Sgurr an Fharaidh. This is a surprising walk, not unlike the Trotternish Ridge on Skye, albeit on a smaller scale. The drops are impressive, quite vertigo inducing in the strong wind I was competing against. And the views simply breath-taking ! I descended to the 'Singing Sands' for a last view back to Rum before returning to Lageorna.

On An Sgurr's summit with Berghaus Freeflow
The Berghaus Freeflow did well. It's very comfortable and the vented back system worked well and adjusted easily. The pack is light and didn't rub or chaff (unlike some other sacks I own !). We were in some very strong winds and some occasional abrupt heavy showers - everything inside the sack stayed dry and that's without using the rain-cover that tucks away neatly at the bottom of the sack. I really like the expandable side pockets - they're well hidden when not in use. I'm not sure about the light-coloured straps - I guess I'm a traditionalist and like them black, but that's the only gripe (if you can call it that) that I have. Overall, I really like this pack and we'll be enjoying quite a few more days together ! You can find out more about this excellent rucksack on the Berghaus website.

There's some photos of the trip posted on our Flickr page.

We stayed in Shore Cottage, which was lovely and located a short walk along from the pier, café and shop.

The two hill days that I did are detailed on a page on our website, which also includes information on accommodation, eating out, activities and much more that is available on the island.