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Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel

Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel


Postby thomsok » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:22 pm

Munros included on this walk: Sgurr a'Mhadaidh

Date walked: 06/08/2015

Time taken: 5.5 hours

Distance: 8 km

Ascent: 900m

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As part of a family holiday on Skye, it had been my intention to get away for at least one day on the Cuillins it had been over five years since my last visit. The forecast for the week was very mixed with a lot of cloud cover predicted and a storm forecast for early on in the week.
The second half of the week looked a bit more settled and plumped for the Thursday looking like the best chance of getting out.
Got up early and sure enough the weather had improved, it was clear (at sea level), calm but still a bit of cloud cover on the hills, packed up my stuff and set off for Glen Brittle from the Dunvegan area where we had been staying.
On the drive over it did appear that the cloud cover was lower than I was hoping for, but the Sun was starting to break through and I had my fingers crossed for it burning off!
On arrival at the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel, it seemed very quiet, there was someone sleeping in the car parked next to me and thought they might be looking to get on the hills too. Got my boots on, bag packed and checked the map/route. With time approaching 7:45am and cloud still a bit on the low side (maybe around 300 - 400m) decided to set off anyway and see how it developed on the way in.
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Looking upstream from the Youth Hostel, plenty of low cloud!

Its a great, well made path from the road up onto the moor following the route of the Allt a Choire Ghreadaidh on its South Side. Very little breeze down here so there were a few midges buzzing around necessitating a smart pace to keep them away.
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Looking back towards the Youth Hostel, cloud lifting above the hills across Glen Brittle!

The path makes for easy walking and very quickly Glen Brittle and the Youth Hostel disappeared behind me.
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Looking back down towards Loch Brittle, looking bright with blue sky!

The path and burn level out for a short spell giving a welcome chance to recover after the first pull of the walk, the next steeper section coming into view.
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Looking up into Coire a' Ghreadaidh, well made path here but looking very cloudy up ahead!

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Looking brighter across to the Glen Brittle forest now, cloud lifting?

The gradient picks up again as the water tumbles down from Coire a Ghreadiadh. Just below the falls I took the opportunity to cross over the burn on to its North side and scramble up loose gravel.
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First major water obstacle, but luckily still easy to get across without getting feet wet!

Looking up towards the ridge, cloud was still quite low perhaps around 500 - 600m, the much hoped for breakthrough was not materialising yet. Using my binoculars, scanned back along the path to see if there were any other walkers coming along behind me, but no sign of any!
Took the opportunity here to get the map out again and orientate myself as best as possible. The plan was to look for the burns coming down from An Dorus and follow it to the bottom.
The terrain flattens out and is quite wet/boggy for the next 0.5 km or so, bit of a job to pick my way across without getting feet really wet, all the time kept looking skyward hoping for a break in the clouds. Keeping my eye out for the burn/stream coming down from the NE corner I headed across the ground and found a faint path heading up on the West side of the water. Quite a nice waterfall falling into a pool with a dramatic rock looking like it could collapse into the water at anytime. Above this point the grass gave way now to rock slab and scree.
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High in Core a' Ghreadaidh, the grass gives way to slab rock and scree!

For the first time the cloud lifted and got my first view of the gully leading up to An Dorus, this gave a confidence boost as it confirmed that I was indeed on the right route (the doubts always creep in when you are on your own and you can't see a thing!), crossed over the burn and made a beeline towards the foot of the An Dorus gully!
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First glimpse up to An Dorus, very noticeable step in the ridge, relieved to see it!

As I approached the foot of the gully it got stonier, with a lot of loose rock and scree. Found a good size stone to sit on and decided to take a break before the real ascent began, was still getting glimpses of An Dorus and a few bits of the ridge above me, at one point I thought I could hear voices or laughing up above me. Listened out for anything else but heard nothing - may have been my imagination!
After a bite to eat and a drink, checked the map again and used the binoculars to scan the gully up to the ridge, there was a defined route/path up the gully which was easily seen. Sorted out my stuff and began the climb, the going was fairly straightforward, the scree was loose in places but progress was good. Made a couple of brief stops on my way up, certainly got the heart and muscles working as height was gained quickly and with a bit of extra effort to counter the occasional slide/scree giving way underfoot (not quite one step forward and two steps back!).
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Looking down the An Dorus gully!

As I approached the top of the gully the sides closed in and the incline steepened, although not raining the rock and scree was quite damp and slippy in places so advisable to place feet carefully. The last bit up to An Dorus required a little bit of scrambling until the top was reached and a slightly misty view down to Loch Coruisk offered a nice reward.
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Looking through the An Dorus gully and a tantalising glimpse of Loch Coruisk!

After catching a breather, scanned the rock for best/easiest scramble up on to the ridge proper, not difficult but a bit of care needed here with the damp conditions but plenty of good hand holds and foot holds. Soon got myself up and out of An Dours and onward to the summit, pretty misty as well, visibility coming and going but got a couple of glimpses of the ridge and climb up to the summit which was a mixture of scrambling and easy climbs.
Soon made it to the top, the mist was swirling around, still calm so at least no wind to contend with, funny thing was it was completely silent and nothing to hear at all really quite eerie!
Made my way back down toward An Dorus where there was a bit of shelter in a circular cairn structure, sat down and got out a snack along with the map. Sitting here for 10-15 mins at one point I thought I could hear rocks being dislodged by boots/walkers coming along the ridge, but it was perhaps just my imagination again.
I must say that I was surprised to be the only person on the hill, OK weather wasn't great, but with it being high Season, with lots of tourists (but perhaps not hill climbers/Munroists) about had been hoping to meet other people out on the hill.
At this point this mist closed in even more and the rain started (so much for the anticipated improvement in the visibility/cloud cover) so dug out my waterproofs and put them on. With the weather deteriorating, the rock being quite damp I decided to call it a day and retreat back down the hill. The climb on to the ridge for Sgurr a Ghreadaidh looked tricky and I was aware that Eag Dubh was also ahead, thought it best to quit while ahead and play it safe.
Scrambled back down into An Dorus and began the descent into the gully which was really quite wet now. Bit more difficult keeping balance going down compared to the ascent, took it easy picking my way down the scree, sliding down every so often.
Once back down at the bottom of the gully it was really raining hard and the ground was very wet so pushed on to get down the track, very little visibility down here as well. Arrived at the top of the waterfall and crossed over before descending down on to the plateau area, starting to dry up a bit now.
Stopped off to admire the waterfalls on the approach to the Youth Hostel, still very quiet round the Hostel as I got back to the car other than for a couple of tourists taking photos of the falls/pools. The only wildlife encountered on the walk was a high altitude Dipper, two Wheater and a Raven. Quick change and headed up to Sligachan for a swifty in Seamus's bar!
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thomsok
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby GillC » Fri Aug 21, 2015 4:45 pm

Fab stuff thomsok, this was our second last hill on Skye and loved it. Mainly because we had some doubts, hearing about using ropes and slippy rock etc,,turned out neither was the case,,so forever be one of my fave Skye days. Nice to get the hill to yourself I think.

Well done, :clap:
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby thomsok » Fri Aug 21, 2015 5:17 pm

Thanks GillC, although the visibility was poor, really enjoyed it, was great to be back out on the hills in Skye they are something else!
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thomsok
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby dav2930 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 7:32 pm

Nice one. Shame about the clag but it's been hard to avoid this year. :(

Ps - ropes are usually used on Mhadaidh only when traversing all four tops (e.g. when doing the complete Cuillin Ridge) - definitely not the weather for that! :wink:
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Aug 21, 2015 11:17 pm

Great read. :clap: :clap:

The laughing you heard from above....

... it was real! The bogies were for sure expecting you'd get lost :D

The Cuillin has been the mainstay of my walking plans this year, but the weather just hasn't encouraged the long drive... :(
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby ancancha » Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:02 am

The water over the slab looks great :clap:
Nice to have seen a dipper, yet to see one of those 8)
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby thomsok » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:24 am

Alteknacker wrote:Great read. :clap: :clap:

The laughing you heard from above....

... it was real! The bogies were for sure expecting you'd get lost :D

The Cuillin has been the mainstay of my walking plans this year, but the weather just hasn't encouraged the long drive... :(


Did think at one point I may get a bit lost/disorientated! You have seen on BBC News site that a day or two after I was here a French tourist was located by the MRT after getting lost in the An Dorus area!

This was my fourth walking trip to Skye over the years and have only seen a view from the top once!
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Re: Solo on Sgurr a'Mhadaidh from the Glen Brittle Youth Hos

Postby thomsok » Mon Aug 24, 2015 11:01 am

ancancha wrote:The water over the slab looks great :clap:
Nice to have seen a dipper, yet to see one of those 8)


Have seen a few 'High Altitude' Dippers over the years on hill burns, they do seem to be very hardy birds, even in the Winter they are one of only a few birds that stay there most of the year round!
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