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Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:27 pm
by Graeme D
One from the 2009 archives this one....

This was my second time on Skye, having been up for the last time in with two colleagues in July 2008 when I had my first Cuillin experiences on Bruach na Frithe, but the monsoon conditions cut short our stay and the only other thing we managed to fit in was a soggy low-level circular walk from Elgol along Loch Scavaig to Camasunary before heading back over to the road and speed marching back to Elgol.

This time I was with my wife, picking her up on the stroke of 5 o’clock after work on the Friday and heading up to the Sligachan campsite. She was looking forward to her first visit to Skye but was less enthralled at the prospect of a couple of nights in a tent, a prospect that she became even less happy about as we struggled to get the tent up in a howling gale.

Finally, however, the tent was safely erected and thoroughly pegged, and we were enjoying dinner and a few drinks in the Slig before retiring under canvas.

In the morning, the wind had abated but the cloud level was still low and there was no sign of the iconic view of Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Basteir from the campsite. After a quick brew and bacon rolls, we headed back down the road to Broadford and onto the road over to Torrin.

Bla Bheinn from the Broadford-Torrin road

We parked up in car park beyond the bend in the road around the head of Loch Slapin, where there were already a couple of cars parked. Things seem to be brightening up as we set off on the path and it’s not long before we are both shedding a layer or two. The path climbs steadily up the north side of the Allt na Dunaiche and into Coire Uaigneich and the views soon open up behind us over Loch Slapin and the hills around its head.

Not long out of the car park and onto the path

Coire Uaigneich - some steep scrambling ahead

Hills around Loch Slapin from the edge of the coire

As we begin to climb steeply up the stone gully, the views open up down into the great clefts to our right, but they are largely shrouded in mist, and as we approach the lip of the gully, a fine drizzle begins to fall. We shelter for a while against the side of one of the huge buttresses and eventually the drizzle stops.

Looking across to Clach Glas

Debbie in the stone gully

Once over the lip, it’s a straightforward and fairly gradual ascent up to the summit and trig point on the edge of the cliffs. My wife had been in great anticipation of the views across to the main Cuillin ridge but there was nothing much to be seen. We sat for a while and had a bite to eat while we chatted to a couple of English girls who had been at the summit when we pulled in. They said that they tried to get up to the Highlands two or three times a year – I think they said they were from somewhere in Yorkshire.

After half an hour or so, there was still little sign of things clearing up so we took a wander over to the South Top. I’d read about there being a dodgy scramble over a ledge to get there, but it wasn’t too bad, although in pouring rain I could see why it might cause some issues if you were uncomfortable with sloping ledges.

Back at the true summit, the two girls were still there but they soon decided that they’d waited long enough and headed back down the way we had come up. We had plenty of time so decided to sit still and chill out for a while to see what would transpire. After another half hour or so we were rewarded when the sun broke through and the cloud base lifted enough to reveal the full ridge across the vast gulf of Strath na Creitheach and Loch Coruisk.

Looks like it was worth the wait!

The whole ridge clearing

Glen Sligachan - northern end of the ridge to the left, Marsco across Ruadh Stac to the right

Don't lean back or it's the quick way down!

As if by some sort of magic, a mini horde soon appeared behind us and the summit got quite busy. I remember one fairly rotund English bloke standing near me and commenting that there was nothing quite like this in the Lakes, where he normally walked and climbed. He then proceeded to point over towards Sgurr nan Gillean and exclaim “I don’t know what the f**k that is, but it looks f**king evil!” - the last of the mountain poets!

We probably sat there for a good couple of hours before heading back down to the car and back to HQ at the Slig. Our well deserved dinner and post-dinner drinks were somewhat spoiled when one of the bar staff came round and said that a ceilidh was about to start and if we wanted to stay, we’d have to pay (I think it was a tenner each she said!), so as Debbie had only had the one beer, we decided to head to Portree to sample the delights of a Saturday night in the Big Smoke, before returning to the tent for an early night ahead of the planned assault on Sgurr na Banachdaich the following day.

A cracking day with our patience well rewarded. How those English girls would have kicked themselves!

And the moral of the story?

Bla Bheinn - good things come to those who wait! :D

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Re: Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:10 pm
by kevsbald
Excellent report G. I'm hoping to do it from the S ridge.
The views are cracking by the looks of it.

Re: Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:13 pm
by Graeme D
Yep, I'd like to do it again via the south ridge at some point in the future. 8)

Re: Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:20 pm
by Alan S
Great report again Graeme 8)
I always get jealous when i see the views from this as i got hee haw but it still goes down as my best walk.
Glad you got the views after waiting we sat for nearly an hour but it only got worse.
If you dont mind here's a few shots of my day which looked like it was going to be perfect
bla bheinn 1.JPG

Then at the top

Cheers alan

Re: Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2010 9:37 am
by Graeme D
That's a real choker Alan. Setting off in conditions like that, you'd feel like you'd won the lottery, only to get to the top and find you'd lost your ticket! Glad it still goes down as one of your best walks though, and it's a perfect excuse to do it again some day! 8)

Re: Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 1:59 pm
by AndrewP
Graeme, do you have any pics towards Sgurr na Stri?
On the day we climbed it, we were thinking of Blaven, but realised we'd see absolutely nothing (well, the inside of a clag bottle), so decided to stay below the cloud.*
Great views of Glen Sligachan.
I must get back there... some day.

* In fact, when you said "Like a pint of Guinness", I thought you meant it was going to be all frothy (claggy, cloudy, etc) on top.

Re: Bla Bheinn - a bit like a pint of Guinness

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:55 pm
by JasonWolf
Im planning on doing this route soon, so thanks for the pics and description.