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Handa vs. Clo Mor

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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 10:10   #1
bluesinlondon
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Handa vs. Clo Mor

Hi all,

I'm in the early stages of planning a short trip to the North West in mid May and would really appreciate some advice...

Both Handa and Clo Mor are described as being great for breeding seabirds. Handa appears easier to access, Clo More sounds like it might be a more adventurous day (scenery + hiking + good birds = happy me).

Driving up from Inverness on Friday morning, would it be practical to do Handa that afternoon, then Clo Mor on the Saturday (back to Inverness on Sunday)?

How likely is it that the Cape Wrath ferry/bus will be running - website says weather , demand and 'MOD activity' dependent?

What about the Handa Ferry - how likely is a cancellation due to bad weather?

If you could do only one of these, which would it be?

Would this be the best use of my time in the area?

Any other 'must see' locations?

What's the weather like up there in Mid May? How bad can it get?

Thanks in advance

Rick
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 10:51   #2
Farnboro John
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Originally Posted by bluesinlondon View Post
Hi all,

I'm in the early stages of planning a short trip to the North West in mid May and would really appreciate some advice...

Both Handa and Clo Mor are described as being great for breeding seabirds. Handa appears easier to access, Clo More sounds like it might be a more adventurous day (scenery + hiking + good birds = happy me).

Driving up from Inverness on Friday morning, would it be practical to do Handa that afternoon, then Clo Mor on the Saturday (back to Inverness on Sunday)?

How likely is it that the Cape Wrath ferry/bus will be running - website says weather , demand and 'MOD activity' dependent?

What about the Handa Ferry - how likely is a cancellation due to bad weather?

If you could do only one of these, which would it be?

Would this be the best use of my time in the area?

Any other 'must see' locations?

What's the weather like up there in Mid May? How bad can it get?

Thanks in advance

Rick
It's range activity so you'd have to be very unlucky indeed to find MOD active on a Saturday.

John
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 11:07   #3
delia todd
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Hi Rick

The last ferry across to the Handa is 2pm, the last departure from the island is 16.45. The main seabird colony is across on the far side of the island from the landing point. By the time you've got across to the island and had the talk from the ranger there'll be little more than around 90 minutes left to get to the breeding cliffs and back again.

I've been a couple of times and, really, thoroughly enjoyed the whole day.

Please don't under-estimate the time it takes to cover the mileage on narrow, twisting roads with passing places and wandering sheep and lambs.

May is the perfect time generally, for the weather and for seeing the seabird colonies. Also the midges are generally less troublesome then, than from June to August.

More details on Handa can be found here in The Opus.

To add to the "weather , demand and 'MOD activity' dependent?" at Cape Wrath, could be other commitments for the ferry owner etc, etc. Worth it if you can get there though.
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Old Wednesday 22nd January 2020, 20:06   #4
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I think your itinerary is doable but I do enjoy driving around that area. Not been to Clo Mor but Handa is amazing. The Shorehouse at Tarbet does brilliant seafood as well. We have been there though when the boat has been cancelled. This was at the beginning of May. UK weather is a little unpredictable.

Rich
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Old Thursday 23rd January 2020, 10:06   #5
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If I wanted a wild walk with a bit of birdwatching I would do Clo Mor. If I wanted a leisurely walk with plenty of time available to sit and watch birds for an extended period I would go to Handa.

Handa is a rather more sanitised experience as you have to follow the trail whereas Clo Mor is rough moorland. Annoyingly, the Scottish Wildlife Trust have been rebuilding much of the trail on Handa in recent years and moving it further back from the cliff edge. There are still plenty of places where you can peer over the edge though and the trail itself provides plenty of opportunity to view skuas up close.

The general views of the surrounding coastline are perhaps better from Handa. I wouldn't want to rush either though by trying to squeeze too much into a visit. Both are worthy of a full day.

A leisurely walk around Balnakeil Bay and Fariad Head at Durness can be an enjoyable way to spend a half day with a chance of seeing Great Northern Diver in breeding plumage. Further south, Scourie Bay is very good for Red-throated Diver, which come into the bay pretty much every morning and evening, often very close in below the campsite.

The weather in May can be very variable. In the thirty years I have been visiting the area I have experienced everything from three weeks of continuous sunshine to three weeks of continuous rain with winds up to violent storm force eleven! In reality though the Handa ferry isn't cancelled very often. It runs across a relatively sheltered bit of water with two different landing options depending on wind direction. There are no ferries on Sundays but that shouldn't bother you with your itinerary.
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Old Monday 27th January 2020, 10:18   #6
bluesinlondon
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Thanks!

Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply - really useful. Looks like the weather will make a big difference to my choices, so will head over to general area and see how it goes.
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