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First Cuillin bagged (officially) - Blaven

First Cuillin bagged (officially) - Blaven

Postby J888ohn » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:53 am

Route description: Blà Bheinn (Blaven)

Munros included on this walk: Blà Bheinn

Date walked: 20/04/2016

Time taken: 5.3 hours

Distance: 9.25 km

Ascent: 863m

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I've been in the Cuillins before. I was at uni in my early 20s and was unaware of what a Munro was, nevermind the obsession I now have with bagging them! I remember a group of us came up to Skye and we hiked up to the In Pin, watched people climb it then turned left and walked along the ridge before dropping back down through another valley to Glen Brittle. I'm sure I must've summitted something but as I can't remember I've never ticked it off.

Going on 15 years later and I've finally managed to get back to Skye, this time on a family holiday so was advised / warned beforehand by the wife that I was getting one hill walking day. Fortunately I did not have to pick what day there and then so much studying of the weather forecasts made me choose Wednesday, reputedly the best day of the week weather wise. Yet again the weather forecasters and I fell out as you will see from the pics and what I was presented with today :roll:

Also an issue was Mountain Mutt as the Wife (also known as Manda :wink: ) was wanting to come with me too and we didn't want to dump him on my parents for the day. Bit of research through the Walk Reports and it looked like Blaven was the best option for him. How little did we know how much of a Mountain Mutt he is and how good he is at finding paths!

We set off early from our cottage in Portnalong and headed down the road to Elgol. Nearly missed the car park as there is only a small green sign pointing to it. We set off bang on 8.30am along the excellent path along the side of the Allt na Dunaiche. We'd been at the Fairy Pools on Tuesday and this was like a mini version with a few nice waterfalls, clear pools of water and water rushing through a narrow gorge. Most of Blaven was under cloud but it was swirling about teasing us with views.

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Wife and I in the way of the view

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One of the waterfalls

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Cloud breaks to reveal more

The path crossed the Allt and started to climb up Coire Uaigneich. This was where the rock and scree started which would be what we walked on all the way to the summit. Fortunately there were few sheep about so Mountain Mutt was off lead as I wouldn't have liked getting dragged up this by him. I think we were lucky with that as most of the sheep were down at the farms due to lambing. The walk up here was straightforward but we were heading towards the low cloud. As we got into the coire basin we got some views back to the Red Cuillins and across to Loch Slapin.

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The Red Cuillin

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Loch Slapin under the cloud

At this point the path becomes a bit muddled amongst the rocks, scree and grass (at least it is when you are going uphill, easy to spot coming down). The GPS was sending us north westish up the rocks and scree and we could see a path that seemed to go to a low point in the Bealach between Blaven and Fionna-choire. We decided to follow the GPS and that was where the fun started. :lol: Mountain Mutt was tearing ahead, bounding up the rocks and scree like he was a Border Collie / Mountain Goat crossbreed. We found it hard to pick a path here so half followed him and half followed the GPS and the path marked on my maps. It was steep, loose, challenging terrain with an on / off path and we ended up in the mist going through a narrow scree filled gully.

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Manda on the way up

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Mountain Mutt guiding the way

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Manda negotiating the gully with Mountain Mutt looking down

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Mountain Mutt having a Lion King moment....

The slope and the terrain didn't ease until we were at about 800m when the slopes opened out slightly and the mist broke for a short time. Again Mountain Mutt was leading the way, picking out the path amongst the jumble of rocks, scree and now snow. We started to get some nice views through the huge gashes in the rocks.

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One of the pinnacles through a gash in the rock

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Best view of the day

It was pretty straightforward walking here until we got to a point about 100m below the summit. Our way was barred by a jumble of pinnacles and huge rocks. Mountain Mutt clambered up a bit to the left and headed along the top of what looked like a narrow ridge which appeared to be a bit dodgy so we called him back as we fancied a route to the right over a large rock that had got jammed in a gap. I went first and even with my lanky legs I was hands and knees to get up. Manda threw me her pack then asked how we were getting the dog up. I encouraged him to jump but he got no purchase on the rock and slid back, to Manda, who grabbed the handle on his harness (we have one specially designed for hiking which has a handle on the back for lifting / hurling him over or up stuff) and before I knew it I had a 23kg collie hurtling towards me! :shock: He landed fine then Manda climbed up. From here it was a short, steep hike to the summit which was enclosed in the mist.

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The only view from the summit

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Family summit pose

Quick pause for lunch but the wind picked up and the temp dropped so we didn't hang about for long. We decided to try to get to the south summit as we thought this would be an easier decent. As we moved south we had to cross a really narrow piece of ridge that was piled with snow. We gingerly crossed it and through the mist saw the route appeared to be very narrow and rocky. Not knowing this route and doubting if we could safely get Mountain Mutt along it (I remembered reading a Walk Report where dogs had to stay on the south summit) we retraced our steps to the north summit to descent the way we had ascended. In hindsight it was lucky we'd decided to ascend that way as we would've struggled to reach the true summit and bag the Munro otherwise.

Shortly after descending my left knee decided to pack in for some reason and I was left to hobble the majority of the way down which was not fun when there was all the rocks and scree to negotiate. Again Mountain Mutt was leading the way and it turned out the narrow ridge he had picked before he was unceremoniously hurled up the rock was exactly where the path was. :roll: :lol: Moral of the story, trust the dog!!!!!

The mist had lifted higher and the advantage of me hobbling and needing breaks was I was able to get some better pics of the route.

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Turns out there is a path most of the way which once we were on it in descent it was obvious but still slippy with scree and steep. Even once we had returned to the basin of the coire and looked up it still wasn't obvious where the path was despite us having just been on it.

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Red Cuillin from coire basin on descent

SImple case of following the same path along the Allt to the car park now. The mist didn't fully clear Blaven all day but we did get a better view of the rocky pinnacles on the way down.

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Manda had decided on the way down she wanted coffee and a cake on the way home so we stopped at the Blue Shed Cafe in Torrin which is hard to miss and got lovely strong coffee and tasty cake. I'd recommend it as an excellent place for a post-hike reward. :thumbup: It also has a cracking view across the loch to Blaven which I forgot to take a photo of......

So back to my issues with the weather forecasters. Thursday the weather was predicted to turn worse but by 1pm I was presented with this.......

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View over Portnalong to the Cuillins 21/04/16

A few sweary words were muttered but that's the breaks us hill walkers get. Perhaps to say sorry I was presented with this amazing photo opportunity on the way home from dinner that evening.

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Moon rise over the Cuillins and Loch Harport
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Re: First Cuillin bagged (officially) - Blaven

Postby ancancha » Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:23 am

Ah the view that got away, sigh.
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Re: First Cuillin bagged (officially) - Blaven

Postby Jaxter » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:23 am

Ah post hike rewards, I love them. You can eat as much as you I've without having to worry :lol:

Glad you at least got some views, and it looks like a cracking day out. :clap: now you have an excuse to go back and do it again in better weather :lol: :wink:
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Re: First Cuillin bagged (officially) - Blaven

Postby Mal Grey » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:49 am

Excellent, great report of a magnificent mountain. Shame about the view, its arguably the best from any Munro!
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Re: First Cuillin bagged (officially) - Blaven

Postby The Rodmiester » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:30 am

Nice one and that reminds me I have to go back and see the views I missed, just like you. So much to do so little time. Great hill on a fabulous island.
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