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Metal Guru

Metal Guru

Postby weaselmaster » Sun Oct 01, 2023 8:37 pm

Fionas included on this walk: Beinn Dearg Mhór (Broadford), Beinn na Caillich (Broadford), Biod an Fhithich, Hartaval, The Storr

Date walked: 01/10/2023

Distance: 31 km

Ascent: 2400m

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Come to Skye, they said! Join us at the end of our holiday!
The weather forecast was not looking entirely great for Skye, it had to be said. Thunderstorms and dragons stalked the Cuillin ridge. But I had been walking solo for the last fortnight, so the opportunity to head up and join Craig & Allison was welcome. As usual they'd had rather rough weather in the fortnight they'd been away, with the best day the middle Saturday when they were moving from Cannich to Skye. Typical.

I headed up on Thursday afternoon, various roadworks and stop-start drivers requiring to be negotiated. I arrived at tea time for some of Allison's chilli which was a welcome alternative to Huel. A stormy night indeed, with the wind howling around the eaves and the rain lashing down. Great!

Image40277CC0-F00E-40F2-8553-AE25D1B43C04_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

The cottage was in Borve and I had looked at what we might do from there or thereabouts. Hartaval and The Storr looked like they could be accessed from nearby at Keistle. I looked out the front door - the rain had abated somewhat but the winds were still quite fresh. We drove along the road for a few miles and turned up the single track road for Keistle, parking on a broader bit of track near the end of the public road. Donning waterproofs and the Paramo Alta jacket for teh first time this season, we walked along to the start of a track shown on the map. Here we met old John, who was looking after his son's sheep. He did a double take when he saw we were going up the hills and issued many words of caution. It was lovely to hear his soft Highland accent, pronouncing "Hartaval" as "Harshtabhal". many a time, he said, he'd had to rescue walkers from the Trotternish ridge and revive them with cups of tea. He saw we had "pointy things" meaning ur poles, so reckoned we might be able to cope with the terrible steepness going up Harshtabhal. He had done the West Highland Way and had set off on the old drovers' trail from Kylerrhea to Stirling but had to abandon it as two of the six in his party had come to blows. And you can't share a tent if you\ve come to blows. Then age had caught up with him and he'd had to forego long walks (he was 80). He was quite a character and would have talked for hours. He did suggest some alterations to the route I'd come up with, which we thanked I'm for.

hartavall-storr.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

We took his advice and instead of heading along the valley then turning up at the bealach between Beinn an Righ and Hartaval, we went over Beinn an Righ. Heathery, soggy, misty, yeah the usual. There are crags marked at the SW tail of Hartaval (Sron Dubh) which I'd planned to avoid by heading round to the northwest, but Allison didn't fancy this as there were cattle loose on the hillside. We took a direct approach and found no crags where we were at all - clearly the embellishment of a bored cartographer, in much the same way as "Here be dragons" used to appear on maps. We had to disagree with John about the steepness of the hill - it was all very gentle and easy going. Soon we were at the summit cairn, with lovely views of...clag. It was pretty windy up here and I kept away from the cliff edge as we headed for Bealach a'Chuirn and the climb up to The Storr.

ImageBB483E73-B8AA-4FDE-A6F2-D1FFF2A4814C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image468F09D6-CA81-4143-B7F1-47F496CE4E15_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image85E6D9B5-45EE-4429-B42C-4A848ECC7103_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image23A7287C-902D-4FA7-B9C2-A98498891780_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We were last here a year ago, approached from the other side, and it was nice to avoid the craziness of all the sightseers around the Quiraing. I expected to see some folk up at the summit of the Storr, but there was no one, just the damaged trig column which looks like it's been hit by lightning or that one of the dragons has taken a bite out of it. John's route was to go down over Beinn an Lochain then down towards the road and walk back up the way we'd driven. This looked too much faff, so we stuck to the route I'd planned, essentially heading down the valley to join the old peat track near the houses. We kept high up skirting the sides of the hills to avoid a soggy morass. Wind was strong, blowing waterfalls up the way. Was a reasonable walk out, although the heather tussocks were becoming more challenging before we met with the track. Back to the car in around 6 hours, a bracing day out.

Image6C5F8D98-4FB6-41D3-BD62-9060C3BA1794_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image752DDFEA-09D6-4261-AEB2-5E8F91DB3D89_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageA6DC98FA-B96D-4124-B8A6-E5F9A6FB90E2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

You can see them now! (Hartaval & Storr)
Image8AE0ABEF-394D-4F20-9680-16741962F526_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Dearg
Image8AF6A156-A70D-49B2-9166-21E0D7D06334_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Instead of having to pitch the tent, I had the luxury of a warm house and bed, and a kitchen with proper food. We had to leave the following morning, and I'd planned to do the two Grahams® round at Old Corry. We'd done them last time from Strollamus, and Allison suggested we do the same again to avoid the scree run down from Beinn Dearg Mhor. I decided not to heed her. We drove round to Old Corry - the hilltops obscured by mist, parked at the start of the WH route and set off. Allison decided to make things a little more interesting by going further north than the route suggests, and heading up the edge of Coire Fearchair, which provided both scree and a boulder field to navigate. Eventually we did meet the WH path and after a very long time reached the summit. Old John would have been lost for words about how steep this hill is!

ImageDC392B5D-14B2-43AE-A4C4-2B164B079B54_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image4D329503-5F46-464A-8A81-662DC47DB466_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image23CE62D9-7656-4349-9C97-DFDCC9A4DA5B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Trig/shelter from the cairn
Image6A517AA0-682F-48AF-9259-73258E1F92BE_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We climbed the giant cairn, under which the Norwegian princess is said to slumber then sat out of the wind behind the trig/shelter to have lunch. Onwards along the ridgeway towards Beinn Dearg Mhor. As we walked along we saw an eagle pass below us then swoop up above us and fly off to Beinn Dearg Bheag. Moments later a slightly smaller eagle, presumably the female of the pair, also few under us and climbed to sit on a knoll just behind us. Gorgeous to see.

ImageEAE7FD7F-C4EA-42F7-A265-53F075F45DC8_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image565EEBBB-E2A6-49EA-8772-BAA01E9FB490_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

ImageCC022459-8603-4712-9491-E6A001705397_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image568BEE77-FADF-446B-8486-5D36C48992F2_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

We made the top of the second hill then it was time for the scree descent. I'd done this with young relatives back in '16 and had enjoyed a romp down the scree, only to have to run back up as my (then future) daughter in law was freaking out and needed my poles and guidance to get down. Sadly most of the scree has now ended up at the bottom of the run and it's difficult to build up any speed on the decent. Allison took her time but had to agree it wasn't really that bad.

Image41AB8598-D912-4CF0-A995-6DDD1EE8C358_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image088566A5-B936-4E35-84B1-662CB7F44F1C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Onwards round the remainder of the horseshoe, looking back the drop between Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Dearg Mhor looks insignificant. We saw one of the eagles make another fly past before it was time to descend on the reasonably good path and back round towards the road. The WH time guide was 4-6 hours for this circuit and I noticed, rather glumly, that we were just outside the 6 hours. I remember the days when we used to wheech round routes in less than the WH minimum. Age it would seem, as with Old John, has caught up with us.

Image0E207D80-E6FA-4643-9D9F-9EFA3C562252_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Image24498832-9B0F-4ED0-9290-DFD247C35C1B_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

They're clear now!!
Image2A0973CE-D464-4867-9A45-CF06D418178C_1_201_a by Al, on Flickr

Skye's pretty much finished for us, apart from a few pesky Munros, so we would have to look elsewhere for a hill to climb tomorrow. I reckoned we should do Biod an Fhithich, which would be quick and on the way home. Opting to camp at a nearby spot that we often use, we prepared for a wet night, although it stayed dry for us to have our tea with our feet dangling towards the river.

A lot of rain overnight indeed. It was meant to go off for a bit around 9, so I was in no hurry to get up earlier than that. Tiny slugs had invaded the tent. We packed up, me marvelling at how much better the waterproofing on the tent works to repel rain after it's been re-proofed. A short drive along the road to the start of the WH route up Biod an Fhithich. Last twice we've done this the long way from Shiel Bridge campsite - just the quick way up the stalkers path today. No-one else at the parking areas, no-one else on the hills. Third day in a row.

Biod an Fhithich
Image09092BEB-73C2-49F8-870C-A68DF273783A by Al, on Flickr

A well-constructed path underfoot made ascent easy. Reached the bealach, where the wind from the SE caught us. Haven' been up here since we did the CWT. Continued on a path right up to the tiny summit - good views across to the Saddle and over the road to the Sisters. A spot of lunch round the lee side of the cairn then back down the way we'd come. Just over 3 hours, which wasn't as slow as we'd been the day before. A nicer day, driving down the road, than the forecast had led us to believe

Image20452450-8C7C-4160-B360-9785AA5E517D by Al, on Flickr

Image60C24C44-BD31-41D9-AE8E-88357DF1CD7F by Al, on Flickr

ImageD2B6CD48-B6FA-4D1A-B030-04FB34858B65 by Al, on Flickr

Image6C42C6E2-41B9-43D6-AD10-4AFF25CFD26A by Al, on Flickr

Image254726B8-732E-4404-8641-5ACC02FE7110 by Al, on Flickr

Image6D661E89-01CA-4A58-9B13-BDD2263BEAC9 by Al, on Flickr

Image46BC62D0-C965-4470-8089-084386D3F3C0 by Al, on Flickr

When we were coming down the road, the car's mileometer hit 200000 which I suppose means that I have to give it a wash and a clean out... :lol:

Image8C565D39-F65E-4C27-B644-0E4AA704E51B by Al, on Flickr
Posts: 2463
Munros:277   Corbetts:220
Fionas:218   Donalds:75+31
Sub 2000:395   Hewitts:33
Wainwrights:15   Islands:33
Joined: Aug 22, 2012
Location: Greenock

Re: Metal Guru

Postby rockhopper » Tue Oct 03, 2023 8:58 pm

Thanks - very useful report to which to refer back as these hills are on the to-do list albeit for some time in the future (when guaranteed good weather :roll: :wink: ) - cheers :)
User avatar
Posts: 7487
Munros:282   Corbetts:222
Fionas:139   Donalds:89+20
Sub 2000:16   Hewitts:2
Wainwrights:3   Islands:20
Joined: Jun 1, 2009
Location: Glasgow

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