Dont mention the Cullin
by Storehighintransit » Mon May 04, 2015 11:33 pm
Date walked: 25/04/20156 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Day 1 – Gatwick to Glen Coe
We rose at 5.30 am. In the rush my other half got a blister walking to the train station.
There were good omens also, a picturesque descent into Edinburgh. This was my second visit to the Scottish Highlands. My first had been via a McEwans fuelled overnighter on the Caledonian Sleeper. Sarah had never been before and my constant yearning to return had sold the idea to her.
We picked up our vehicle which was also our accommodation for the week and stocked up with food. The great spring heatwave of 2015 had ended the day before our arrival and a North-westerly arctic front was moving in.
Destination Glen Coe. I wanted Sarah to see a gem on the first day.
The road to nowhere -This little known photo spot shows the Red Peak of the Great Herdsman of Etive – Stob Dearg, Buachaille Etive Mor
A wee hill to start us off:
We parked up and joined the West Highland Way at the devils staircase. Even out of season the WHW is vibrant with hikers from the Low Countries and Scandinavia. At the top of the Staircase we turned west to get to the peak of Stob Mhic Martuin. We were already feeling the benefit of the extra base layers and accessories we had invested in.
On a longer day I would have worked further along the ridge to get a perfect viewing spot into the 3 Sisters.
Self timer blooper
Chilling in the car park
As the afternoon drew in we headed down to the Red Squirrel camp site. We were torn between wild camping and an official camp site. My opinion is that the ethos of wild camping in Scotland is based around being on foot and I know this particular area has been a bit over-camped in recent years. As we were in a ruddy great tank, campsites were more applicable to us.
At first the Red Squirrel seemed a bit pricey but nestled between several beautiful hills along a rocky stream it was a lovely spot.
Day 2 – Onward to Skye
The journey to Glen Coe may be a classic but through Glenshiel and Kintail was positively intimidating. There is a massiveness to these 2 ridges. Since my first visit I have long wondered what lies North of the Great Glen. Now I can confirm - Ruggedness and majesty.
The blizzards and sleet were coming in sideways as we arrived at the walking hub of Sligachan and we capitulated in taking a room for the night.
We were very impressed. The family that have run the hotel for generations still look after it with enormous pride and attention. Good food, warm comfortable surroundings and 300 malt whiskies in the Seumas bar.
Day 3 – Another wee hill.
I woke up at dawn with the sun streaming in. I almost made it out of the door without waking Sarah and promised to be back for breakfast. This was going to be a short window but there was a hill back across the Island I wanted to have a pop at, Sgurr na Coinnich.
As any barman will tell you – never underestimate the small guy. And Sgurr na Coinnich is packing enough short-mans-syndrome to trouble a few Munros outside the Highlands and Islands kebab shop on a Friday night.
Theres a great single track road off the A87 that takes you to the car park at the base of the hill.
In haste I started zig-zagging up the South-East face. Sgurr na Coinnich translates into the ‘Peak of Moss’ and it was indeed a mossy slog, huffing puffing and cursing my way up.
The steep ascent was rewarded with rapid height gain. I made it to the sub peak of Beinn Bhuidhe, The remaining 300 metres was thick with snow so I snapped some of the excellent views across Loch Alsh and the Sound of Sleat.
I zoomed off and made it back just in time for eggs, bacon and a vicious new weather front.
We holed up for a few more hours by the fire in the lounge of the Hotel. At one point 2 girls stumbled though the door. They had been up Glamaig …. in a blizzard…..wearing sports wear. They were both national level rugby players and one had also represented Scotland in the boxing ring. However, even lassies this tough were lucky to have made it through.
We pushed on with our camping mission and headed to Glen Brittle. The campsite was getting lashed by a storm. We later found out that the campsites of Skye are deliberately exposed to blow away the midges in summer. We headed back up the glen to a car park we had seen sheltered by a plantation where it began to snow.
Sarahs first attempt at haggis and tatties went down a storm with a terrific pot noodle entrée. Hot red wine from the stove saw us through until bed time.
Day 4 – Fairy Pools
This is one of the most photographed spots on Skye and a classic low level walk. The river winds gently up accompanied by a solid path. The water cascades down into the pools against the impressive back-drop of the Coire a Ghreadaidh. One translation of Coire is ‘cauldron’ and this would be a very apt description here.
We extended the walk by going round the cauldron towards the small peak of Am Mam. This gave us solitude and time to appreciate the atmosphere of the glen as a whole. Gaiters and poles were welcome as the bog and patchy snow made the going heavier. Descending across the open moorland was nice way to return.
We packed up the tent and headed to Portree to grab a couple of things from the Inside Out walking shop. The extremely helpful guys recommended to us the excellent Kinloch Campsite at Dunvegan and the Old School Restaurant opposite.
Macleods tables seeing some snow.
The Old School restaurant – Highly recommended.
Day 5 Macleods Maidens
With the hills still seeing regular snow down to a few hundred feet we went on this popular coastal walk.
We left the tent rigged up and got a cab round to Orbost. There were Good views across to Minginish and Rum, if a bit sporadic. There are abandoned crofts along the route which make an ideal shelter for lunch and musing over the former inhabitants of these settlements. If I were to go again I would incorporate the section of coastline between Idrigill point and Ramasig which appears to be the more spectacular approach.
There were no trees however. Perhaps they put up the sign, got high and went home.
Day 6 – A promising forecast
I knelt and prayed.
I was kneeling next to the stove praying the kettle would boil for the breakfast pot noodles before the black wall of water racing across the landscape reached us. Steam was rising from the surface but would it be in vain?
I peeled off the lids in hope. The first drop of sleet hit my face and all seemed lost when tiny bubbles began to appear at the bottom of the kettle. The water went in and I was up into the tent as the storm hit, armed with 2 steaming pot noodles.
After this heavy dawn downpour, the local prophecy ‘It’ll be better tomorrow’ came true at last.
We were heading back to the mainland but had time for a boat trip into Loch Coruisk. An ancient 16000ft volcano that blew up and left the high circular ridge for which Skye is so famous.
Although there was a certain melancholy that the warm dry conditions were returning as we left Skye, 150 miles of snow capped mountains drenched in the lazy afternoon sun was a drive that will live long in the memory. Destination - Inveranan
Day 7 – A Munro at last
We decided to walk up the winding path of Ben Lomond as far as the conditions would allow. I had been up Ben Lomond before but in cloud so the views in the clear conditions were very rewarding as we rose up.
The snow had receded just enough for us to have a crack at the top.
When the conditions are clear I always feel a step-change in atmosphere around the 3000ft mark. Ones internal altimeter begins to twitch and the senses tune in to a slightly higher state of alert. Silence booms and the view crystallizes as the hill becomes a mountain.
by Beaner001 » Tue May 05, 2015 8:55 am
by Alteknacker » Tue May 05, 2015 1:01 pm
At least you didn't have to contend with the wee beasties!
This is definitely the issue with Skye: it's one of the most beautiful places on the planet; but the weather doesn't always play ball! At least you got that wonderful view of the ridge on the last day! I hope your lady wasn't put off!
I'm planning on doing the ridge for the 3rd time in the next couple of months (waiting for high pressure over the highlands!). It is DEFINITELY the finest ridge on the planet!
by dooterbang » Tue May 05, 2015 3:44 pm
So glad you got great views on day 6. Skye is a wondrous Island wich requires numerous return visits.
Well done on getting the views from Ben Lomond, took four attempts for me to get any views.
Is your other half wanting to explore the Highlands more now?
by SAVAGEALICE » Tue May 05, 2015 3:52 pm
by roughwalker » Wed May 06, 2015 12:09 pm
by Storehighintransit » Wed May 06, 2015 12:31 pm
The vehicle was great fun, for the 1st 2 days it was all I took pictures of! there is a company near Peebles that specialises in them.
by jimandandrea » Wed May 06, 2015 5:27 pm