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Bla Bheinn via the South Ridge

Bla Bheinn via the South Ridge

Postby skye2304 » Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:37 pm

Munros included on this walk: Bla Bheinn

Date walked: 22/02/2006

Time taken: 8 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 1200m

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This outing was somewhat of a first for us. Our first trip to Skye, our first Skye Munro and the first time the sun had shone in Scotland (for us) on a mountain walk (sad, I know…). We had spent several years of weekends, unerringly, wandering in rain and mist – on every outing from Glen Coe to Aviemore. This was the sort of day we had almost given up on!

We had booked a week’s break in a remote cottage, just outside Elgol, in the middle of February. It felt like we had Skye to ourselves. We only saw one other couple out on the hills, for the entire week. In truth, the island was cloud free for the full stay. That week, sold me on Skye. Period. Since then we have been back many times.

Anyway, the walk….

Is the sort of walk that stays in the memory forever. Ok, you are not in amongst the big boys of the Black Cuillin but the views are fantastic and the walk uncomplicated.

After a late start, we parked at a spacious lay-by, where the Camasunary access track meets the main Elgol road (NG 545171). It does not take long to make good time over this stony track, to the foot of Bla Bheinn’s south ridge. The profile of which comes progressively into view the closer you get to Camasunary (by the way, a magical place in itself).
The track along to the foot of the ridge

That's where we are headed for... Bla Bheinn's South Ridge

Watch out for the path that veers off at about NG 523188 by a sharp bend in the track. After a few hundred yards, we left this path (NG 521194) and headed up the beginnings of the ridge. If there is a path, we didn’t find it. In any case, I wasn’t too bothered and there was no doubt as to which way to go.

As you climb stiffly up the ridge, the views unfold across to the Black Cuillin, Camasunary Bay and beyond to the Outer Hebrides. To a Skye novice, this was breath-taking. I had only seen anything like this in the Alps.
Looking back down the ridge towards the sea

As the ridge narrows (though not unduly so), there are one or two easy scrambling bits over small boulders and blocks. This is combined with some awesome glimpses down to Glen Sligachan. The drops here are not to be underestimated. Whilst completely safe, stay well back in snow or ice.
The way I like it! Some easy scrabbling over rocks...

The first summit to be reached is not the true top of Bla Bheinn. I did stop here to catch my breath, soak in the view and take pics. The next stage, to the true summit needs care, down a little bad step and loose rock – this might not be to everyone’s liking. Especially in the snow, in Feb. There is nothing really lost by calling at day from here. Having said that I managed it!
A view from near the top of Bla Bheinn, across to Sgurr nan Gilean

Being somewhat vertiginous (especially as the boys were with me!), I do tend to look twice at these “bad steps” and decide whether it’s worth the risk. In the previous spring, on Devil’s Ridge (Glen Nevis) I decided it wasn’t and turned back! These days, the boys are older; I’m a little bolder and go for it a little more (though not that much more).
Looking across to the Red Cuillin from the South Ridge

I did intend returning to the car via the South-East ridge but I was so enchanted by the views across the bay, I decided to return the same way – down the South ridge. Without doubt, the right choice, it was like walking in an oil painting as the sun slowly set over the Isles. As the light faded, the track back to the car was a welcome, easy stomp.
Sunset over Gars Bheinn (no - I've not photoshop'd the colours!)

This route gets you a Munro, with some of the best views in Skye, on a delightful ridge walk. If you do visit this Island, give this walk an airing. If you can, save it for a clear day!

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Re: Bla Bheinn via the South Ridge

Postby malky_c » Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:32 pm

It's just amazing when you get a day like that on the Cuillin - lovely pictures. Surprisingly little snow though. I remember 2006 as being fairly snowy, suppose it must have come back with a vengeance in March.

I have good memories of that time. I was just working my final week in a rubbish job before moving up to Inverness!
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Re: Bla Bheinn via the South Ridge

Postby Graeme D » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:06 pm

Nice one. Have done Bla Bheinn from shores of Loch Slapin but would definitely devote another day on Skye to doing it this way sometime. Love the sunset shot and the one across to the main ridge! 8)
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Re: Bla Bheinn via the South Ridge

Postby Paul Webster » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:16 pm

Great stuff - did I miss this one? You didn't have Skye to yourselves as I was here somewhere :lol:

Lovely pics - when I climbed Bla Bheinn that way it was on a day so still that the midges drove me mad at the summit. Thankyou!
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Re: Bla Bheinn via the South Ridge

Postby skye2304 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:29 pm

Looking thru the binoculars we could see someone else.... on top of the InPin.
It definitely wasn't me, especially in Winter.... it must have been you Paul !! :D
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