Having had a week in Skye cancelled last year, we were half expecting the same again this year, but delighted to be able to travel again and enjoy these beautiful islands.
Earlier in the week I had climbed Sgurr Nan Gillean (not as scary as I had expected!), and the weather looked great for Friday - our final day on Skye. My wife is not the biggest fan of heights and exposure, so I felt that Sgùrr na Banachdich would be a good way to end the week. It would be a new munro for me, which is not difficult when you've only completed four (three on Skye)!
We set off early to Glenbrittle to beat any possible crowds. It was an incredible sight to pass the Fairy Pools at 7.30am and not see a single car there! There was a lot of mist around the peaks, but it was sunny at ground level. We were hopeful of the weather improving. We parked up at the Youth Hostel, where another group had already began their ascent.
The first section of path was already impressive, with plenty of waterfalls and beautiful coloured pools. It always surprises me that the crowds swarm to the Fairy Pools, when there are free, quieter alternatives, all around the Cuillins. Maybe it's best they stay that way
Soon the path branches off to the right. If you miss this path, it does look like there is another option further up. We started to gain a bit of height towards Coir' nan Eich. Sgùrr nan Gobhar doesn't look too far away on your right. We thought about scrambling up it, but as we looked back at it later, it looked almost impossible from this angle! By now, the mist had lifted off the peaks. I wasn't getting too excited, as I could see more clouds coming in behind us.
We decided to stick to the Walkhighlands route, and aimed up the grassy slopes towards An Diallaid. There was a thin layer of snow on the ground by this point, which made the going a little bit more difficult. I had promised my wife that this was a 'no hands' climb, but we both conceded a few times on the slippery stones! Still, An Diallaid was quickly reached and we were greeted with a wonderful view of snow covered Sgùrr a Ghreadaidh.
The summit did not seem too far away, so we pressed on. We were unsure if there was a trace of a path up to the summit, as the snow was now a couple of inches deep. We noticed a group of four others not far ahead of us, and decided to follow in the footsteps that they had kindly left for us!
The summit was fast approaching, but not nearly as quickly as the next band of clouds! The view slowly began to disappear in all directions, and the excitement of being at the peak was somewhat eroded by the lack of view and the heavy snow that began to fall.
Glorious sunshine at Glenbrittle beach, but a winter wonderland on the summit!
We had plenty of time, so decided to wait around at the summit to see if the view improved. Every so often we would catch a glimpse, but the mist kept on rolling in. The wife was doing some step aerobics to keep warm, whilst I was pacing up and down the summit, as my poor fingers started to go numb. Then, after about half an hour, the Inn Pinn and Alasdair briefly open up in front of us.
Coriusk made a short cameo
The Stone Chute of Alasdair looking impossible from this angle.
Looking back to Carbost, where we were staying.
Glenbrittle beach, which had been in full sunshine all morning.
Three summits in one!
The clouds rolled in once more and we made our way back down. It was hard to retrace our steps as the fresh snow had partly covered our tracks. About 15 minutes later, all the cloud seemed to lift again and we wished we had stayed just a bit longer.
This time, we descended straight down the scree into the corrie, which seemed like it would have been an easier route on the way up. The pools along the stream looked tempting for a summer dip, but not sure my body could handle it just yet! By now, the car park was completely full and the snow lower down on the hills had completely melted. Another time, I would love to come back to this peak and attempt to tick off its neighbours in the same day. For now, I would highly recommend this walk for anyone who wants an introduction to the Cuillins, but maybe isn't confident with serious scrambling or exposure.
I wish I didn't live so far away from these islands. So long, Skye. You've been amazing as ever.
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Warning Please note that hillwalking when there is snow lying requires an ice-axe, crampons and the knowledge, experience and skill to use them correctly. Summer routes may not be viable or appropriate in winter. See winter information on our skills and safety pages for more information.