Thursday, a friend and I had planned on hiking in Cape Mabou; the weather in the morning was indeterminate, mostly cloudy but with some hints of sun; since it wasn’t raining, we decided to go. The Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain) Trail, part of the extensive trail system maintained by the Cape Mabou Trail Club, first ascends from the Mabou Post Road Trail Head outside Mabou Coal Mines to the summit of Beinn Alasdair Bhain (Fair Alistair’s Mountain), from which the look-off offers fantastic views. This initial part of the trail is short, a mere 1.1 km (0.7 mi), but the climb is steady and, at least for me, not easy. Fortunately, plenty of fine views entice one to stop and catch one’s breath, as I all too frequently need to do, during the ascent. The photos on this page were taken at such stops.
Photo #1 was taken at the first 90° left turn on the ascent; given all the recent rains, the often dry rill that crosses the trail there was unusually full, with enough water flowing to even make the small waterfall seen in this photo. In years past, the ascent to this corner was through a beautiful spruce forest on a trail sporting a needly, spongy tread and offering fine aromas lovely to inhale; now, alas, the spruce bark beetle has laid waste to this forest, leaving a mess of broken and dead trees along its sides, although opening up some views that were previously hidden and, having destroyed the canopy, allowing sunlight to regularly reach the trail, which is now showing signs of grass and brush growth along its sides.
The remaining photos on this page were taken from one of the open areas along the trail as it crosses a spur whose south slope has been cleared by an old landslide. Photo #2 looks down towards the eastern part of MacDonalds Glen where a blast of sun has brought the fall colours to life. MacDonalds Glen Road, which itself offers a fine Cape Mabou hike, can be glimpsed to the right of the house in the upper right of the photo (partially obscured by the terrain); the house in the centre is on a driveway off MacDonalds Glen Road.
Photo #3 looks at the western part of MacDonalds Glen, where the capricious sun has illuminated the hardwoods on the left side of Mill Brook, leaving the rest of the scene in the shade. The small pond in the foreground is typical of the area’s karst terrain, formed by mildly acidic water acting on the underlying gypsum rocks found all over MacDonalds Glen. Mill Brook is joined further downstream by MacDonalds Glen Brook and the two flow into the Gulf through Finlay Point Harbour.
Photo #4 looks a bit east of south towards the Cape Mabou Highlands that rise above MacDonalds Glen Road. The interesting double humps in the centre and right with the col between them is a landmark in the area. Again, the capricious sun is lighting up only a selected part of the terrain, but enough that one can see that the colours have come a long way since the start of the Celtic Colours festival. Hard to overlook too are all of the dead spruce whose ghostly ashen shadows are found everywhere evergreen stands are located.
Photo #5 looks southeast along the valley through which the Cul Na Beinne (Beyond the Mountain) Trail, also known as MacKinnons Brook Lane, runs. The meadow at the left of photo #4 can be seen here at the far right of the photo. Unfortunately, the sun was very sparing of its light in this view, but the great beauty of the Cape Mabou Highlands comes through all the same. It is also clear that the fall colours have arrived in force across these beautiful mountains, all unnamed so far as I am aware.