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Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Another Skye-walker! New year escapism


Postby Jaxter » Fri Jan 06, 2017 3:22 pm

Route description: Bla Bheinn (Blaven)

Munros included on this walk: Bla Bheinn

Grahams included on this walk: Beinn Dearg Mhor (Sligachan)

Date walked: 01/01/2017

Time taken: 16.1 hours

Distance: 33 km

Ascent: 2578m

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A few days off at the start of the year gave me the opportunity to get away before the onslaught of work. Initially I'd thought to head back to the seemingly familiar territory of Assynt and Sutherland but then...why not try something new? :D I'd only ever had a few trips to Skye, more work than pleasure other than a camping trip with my family when I was about 12. Of course no serious walking had been done then, but a walk up into one of the Corries had whetted my appetite for more. And hey...how often is there a good forecast for Skye? :wink:

Did a wee video too


Sunday 1st January
I was in bed for the Bells and asleep soon after before being rudely awakened by a 5am alarm... I was away around 6 and heading for Skyyye! :D Being New Year's Day, there was nothing on the roads as most of Scotland was either still drinking or passed out... :lol:

The weather was nice but very cold and very windy. Fortunately the BP petrol station at Fort William was open! Heading for Kintail the road felt slightly icy as it gained height over the Glen Garry viewpoint but driving through Glen Shiel its own weather system was pelting doon with rain! Eventually I could see Kyle of Lochalsh and the Skye Bridge ahead.

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Everything looked amazing; the sea was blue and the sun was shining. Driving along I passed through towns and villages and eventually reached Sligachan. I got out the car for a photo but the weather had other ideas and chose that moment to start violently raining. Hey ho... at least I wasn't the happy couple on the bridge posing for a romantic new year picture. I Have to admit I laughed.

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I continued on my way, eventually heading down Glen Brittle…

Looking back down Loch Harport
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…and reaching the car park for the fairy pools. It was fairly full but not overflowing. The clouds, however, were overflowing!


Route: fairy pools and Coire na Creiche
Date: 01/01/17
Distance: 8 km
360m ascent
Time: 2 hours

Waiting out this particular shower, I grabbed map and waterproofs and headed down the obvious path. The views ahead of Bruach na Frithe were impressive and the fairy pools were very pretty. I managed to spot the underwater arch although climbing down to photograph it looked somewhat irreversible... :shock:

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Looking back
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I decided to follow the WH circuit and carried on before meeting the path coming down from Coire na Creiche and turning left.

Views back were awesome
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Here it became a bog trot and although I was trying to be very careful not to get wet feet on day one I could feel a small amount of dampness as I sunk halfway up my shin in bog! :lol: Thankful for waterproof trousers and gaiters I eventually reached bealach a Mhaim where the going became easier and I was able to head back to the car park (which had now overflowed up and down the road) before the rain started again!

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Looking down Glen Brittle
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However it was a gorgeous evening and I decided to continue down Glen Brittle in search of a camp spot.
Not too shabby…
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One presented itself and I settled down in my tent with a book and promptly nodded off :lol: I can only have been asleep about an hour but it was 4.30 and pretty much dark when I woke :roll:

I was cosy in my sleeping bag so I chilled out and admired the view for a while. I had an early dinner of vegetable curry and then lay outside admiring the hundreds of stars and the complete silence. I could only remember about 3 constellations so I started making them up... :lol: I was starting to nod off again so I retreated inside the tent and was asleep by about 7!



Monday 2nd January
I woke up around 4 but managed to drift off again before my alarm roused me at 7. I was so cosy that I snoozed it a couple of times before eating some breakfast and packing things up. After freshening up I headed up the road heading for Sligachan, the starting point for today's walk. It was very cold and a lot of the single track road was very icy which woke me up very quickly :shock: :lol:

Reaching a high point, signal returned to my phone and I caught up on about 18 hours worth of communications. James Bond informed me the northern lights would be visible tonight...excited I asked where might be good to see them before he burst my bubble by saying it was last night. If only I'd poked my head out the door at 4am :(

Reaching Sligachan, i parked behind the only other car and looked up at today's targets....or at least where they should have been. Today's weather was never supposed to be amazing but rain and clag were hardly an encouraging start... :/

During a brief break in between showers I got out and began kitting up. I started chatting to the guy in front of me who was supposed to be heading up the Cuillin but was waiting on pals and seemed more tempted by the drive home :lol:

Route: Beinn Dearg Mor from Sligachan
Date: 02/01/17
Distance: 10 km
882m ascent
Time: 6 hours

No excuses left, I headed off across the bridge and up the path. It was very boggy underfoot but it wasn't raining all the time. I got some lovely views back the way and even ahead semi-cleared from time to time.

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Upwards
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Finally out of the bog I was relieved to be going steeply up Druim na Ruaige.... it felt like hard work but reaching the top I was rewarded when I looked back the way.

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There was now snow and ice crunching underfoot but the route was obvious and I crossed a few lumps and bumps marked by nice big cairns as I headed into the mist.
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Soon I was completely in the clag. A big steep slope loomed ahead. There were traces of a path through the snow and some cairns but it was very easy to lose both in the mist. Coming out the top of Beinn Dearg Mdeadhonach I found a cairn. The route description suggests heading 300m further along the ridge to the true summit for even better views. I suspected this would not be the case today, and although I would normally wander over and climb anything just because it was there, I had felt a wee twinge in my knee and decided to save myself.

I was in deeper snow now and the combination of that and the bogs at the start had given me wet feet. Trying not to be cranky and remembering my waterproof socks that were in the car I set about the next task: a slightly soul destroying drop of height. There was a sheer drop to my right which I followed along and it was easy going and vaguely pathed towards the bealach mosgaraidh from here I could vaguely see Beinn Dearg Mor rising steeply ahead. Having a quick munch on half a Bounty, I started zig zagging my way up it.

There was a lot of snow, much of which felt fresh and it was tough going but eventually the ridge narrowed and I found myself on the summit. I couldn't believe it was 'only' a graham! :lol:

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At this point I decided what I'd already been musing over - Glamaig would have to wait for another day. I could feel my knee and it just didn't seem worth pushing it when the weather was poor, especially with better weather days ahead.

I continued along the ridge heading down before reaching a well-placed cairn where I was to go steeply and sharply left. It was described as incredibly steep and it wasn't kidding - I appeared to be about to head over a precipice! At this point things very briefly cleared and I could see the impressive cone of Glamaig towering ahead as well as that it wasn't quite a vertical slope I was headed down :lol:

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I slipped and slid my way down scree and snow, ending up on my backside on a couple of occasions. By the time I Finally reached the bealach I had decided that Grahams were seriously hardcore!

Waving goodbye to a load of clag concealing Glamaig, a mountain for another time, I headed down pathless steepness but at last I was headed out of the gloom.

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I stopped to refill my water bottles before spying a path sloping up onto the ridge ahead where I could see a path descending along it. Despite being a little extra ascent to reach it, I decided that a path was preferable to sliding down pathless scree and tripping over heather :crazy:

The path made for much easier going and I made my descent easily down to the allt Daraich which I made it across without incident, huzzah! :thumbup:

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From here it was a bogtrot which eventually met up with the outward path and led me back to Sligachan….

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…where I was very relieved to change out of my wet boots and socks and take off my waterproofs. Hanging everything up in the car, I sat down to enjoy my sandwiches which I hadn't bothered to stop to eat and half a pot of olives and feta I'd taken out my fridge before leaving home which felt pretty surreal :lol: The other car was still there so I guessed my pal from earlier had gone out after all.

Looking back
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I also discovered that Skye mountain rescue had wifi so I was even able to check in with the world as I ate! :thumbup: I picked Skye-boy's brains about things to do in Portree tomorrow and identified a possible camp spot so after leaving a donation to Skye MR I headed off towards Portree.

I set up my tent over-looking Portree and enjoyed meatballs and pasta, a good book and a chat with my Mum as I had phone signal!



Tuesday 3rd January
I had a good sleep and a bit of a lie in before waiting for a break in the rain to pack up. Reaching Portree, I had a quick stop in the coop for a few Supplies before discovering that both the leisure centre and community centre were closed for the bank holiday. No shower then... :sick: Fortunately the toilets were open so I was able to wash my hair and at least have a bit of a wash with a luxurious warm tap!

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I had a wander around Portree, picked up some new reading material (significantly more than i needed, more proof if any was needed that I should never be allowed in a book shop :lol: ) and discovered that the North Pole was for sale! Well played Skye Estate Agents :lol:

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I was dying for a cup of tea so found a cafe and settled down with Calum's Road and a brew. Soon the aroma of food was too much, so as it was lunchtime I treated myself to a burger. It had the added bonus that I wouldn't need to bother cooking tonight :thumbup:

Refreshed in many ways, I headed back to the car and up the road. I wanted to stop at Aros as I'd investigated it as a concert venue in the past and figured it would be nice to see it for real. They also had a bookshop (oops), phone signal and wifi so I checked out my route and a camp spot.

I found a new friend too…
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As I reached Sligachan the Cuillin were missing... :shock: anyone seen them?!

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As I stopped for this photo I met a guy coming out of the MR base who identified me as the "lassie up Glamaig yesterday" ... I supposed my recognisable car probably helped :lol: it turned out he'd ended up on an epic up Am Bastir with my pal from the morning! We had a chat before I continued on my way.

I headed down the Elgol road past Torrin before finding a nice spot at the tip of Loch Slapin. It was raining heavily so I waited for it to calm down before pitching the tent. Climbing inside, instead of being relieved to be safe from the wind and rain, it seemed I hadn't quite worked out the wind direction right, or perhaps it had changed. Either way it was blowing forcefully at the side of my tent :shock:

It was raining heavily outside but I decided I had better change it. Full waterproofs on I went about the difficult task of moving a tent in a howling raining gale. By the time I was finished I had wet feet and I was knackered. However I thought it was slightly better so I hung up waterproofs in the car to dry off. I then had the grand idea that I could drive the car next to the tent in an attempt to shelter it. I’m not sure if it really helped, and I was more than a little worried about getting it stuck, but at least I'd done my best. It was incredibly windy but as I lay curled up in the dry I hoped that the tent would hold up. I certainly wasn't going to be getting any sleep... :crazy:

I spent the next few hours cosied up in my sleeping bag, eating my sandwiches, reading and attempting to loosen off muscles etc in my knee...not the easiest task when in a small enclosed space and worrying about the tent blowing down... :shock: :lol: However when I poked my head out around half 10 the rain had stopped, the sky had cleared and filled with stars and I could see the outline of the mountains around me. It was still very windy and absolutely freezing but it was one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen.



Wednesday 4th January
I must have drifted off at some point as I woke at 4 to slightly less hurricane force winds. The mountains were still there ( I checked) and I nodded off again for a bit more broken sleep. When my alarm went off I hurriedly ate some breakfast and packed up my things. The upshot of the wind was that the tent was completely dry :lol:
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I threw the last few bits into my rucksack - the waterproofs were still a bit damp, hardly surprising given what they'd been subjected to the night before... :lol:

I drove about a mile down the road to the car park, booted up and was ready to go! It was just after 8.30, it was beginning to get light and I could see the mass of Bla Bheinn ahead. It looked completely impregnable :shock:
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Route: Bla Bheinn via Coire Uiagneich
Date: 04/01/17
Distance: 8 km
938m ascent
Time: 5.5 hours

The route was easy for now, the well-made path made for easy walking and climbed steadily upwards. I was beyond excited and had to keep telling myself to slow down; so far my knee was behaving but this would be the first time I had climbed two hills in a week. I was doing the right thing but needed to be careful...

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I could see the telltale glow of a sunrise and stopped to wait but it didn't really materialise.
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The path turned left and started ascending much more steeply into Coire Uaigneich the path became less a path and more a jumble of rocks :lol:
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Finally reaching the rim of Fionna-Coire I could see the lochan to my left and the huge boulder ahead. I checked the map and I was sure this was the right turn but I could see two people ahead of me climbing the back wall of scree and I doubted myself... not wanting to screw up and climb the wrong cliff I discovered I had signal and sent the oracle a message. He confirmed I was right and off I went...
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The path wasn't hugely clear, and there were several variants of it but I made my way to the base of a scree gully. It was steep and I was sliding around as I made my way higher. The path led me along, around and over cliffs, upwards past a huge chasm that would be a very quick route down...

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And finally to the bottom of another gully. Not seeing an alternative I awkwardly clambered my way up it...only to come out the top and realise that the path was an easy stroll around the side.. I always have to make things harder :lol: from here it was a short distance to the summit. I was treated to snow and clag (sad face) gutted...this was supposed to be a perfect forecast and yet the damn Cuillin were hiding again! I sat down to add more layers and enjoy the views in the other direction.

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I was joined by two guys coming from the ...top. They'd gone the wrong way and said that the ridge across was icy and super dodgy... :shock:


We all sat down for some food and chat and were joined by 2 more people coming up the same route as me. The ridge ahead had started to clear but there was still some obstinate clouds sitting on top of the peaks. Eventually all four guys decided to head back down - they said the cloud was there to stay. But I'm an optimist and I was convinced that this was going to happen....

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And then…. YAY!! :D
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However, by the time it did I had been up there over an hour and it was somewhere in the region of -13. My toes were numb and I was losing my fingers too. Deciding that due to time, ice and wind factors I would descend the same way, off I went. I usually hate an out and back but I think this mountain is special enough for it to be ok! I was also keen to not get blown off a ridge, and it was really windy :shock:

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Whilst sliding down scree I met two people on their way up...which seemed a bit late. They were also wearing jeans and trainers... wtf people?! :shock: It was an easy walk back out but the views were just stunning. It's such an amazing place that you almost need an out and back to take it all in :lol:

Looking back up
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I was back at the car just after 2 which would give me plenty of time for the next stage of my (borrowed) master plan.. but before that I saw a secluded patch of the river, so after dumping my stuff in the car, I headed back up the path with a towel and clean clothes and...quite literally froze my arse off!!

The view back up – what a mountain!!
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But I felt refreshed as I continued down the road to Elgol. I had to stop for a few photos along the way…
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But as I drove down towards the beach I could see why it had been suggested I went here. The sun was setting over the Rum Cuillin, I could see directly into Loch Coirusk and the entire Cuillin ridge was clear and glowing in the setting sun. I walked out to the edge of the rocks and just couldn't stop looking and taking pictures. Unbelievable.

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Eventually it was starting to get dark and I needed to either get on the road or find a camp spot. Going home was never really an option (unless the tent really had blown away the night before :lol: ) so I drove up the road towards Glasnakille and found a wee hill overlooking Elgol with a view of both Cuillin ranges.

It was a beautiful clear night; the stars were twinkling, lighthouses flashing and the moon was reflecting in the sea making Rum just visible. It was very cold but I curled up in my sleeping bag and lay with the tent doors open for hours enjoying the sight. I didn't want to go home!!

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Thursday 5th January
I woke around 4.30 to the buffeting of wind again….it seemed that the wind had picked up earlier than I expected. The sky was still beautifully clear and I dozed for a while. The Vango fortress stood fast and I woke to a beautiful orange glow over the mainland. I made myself some hot chocolate and watched the sun rising.

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It was still very windy…”there’s always a breeze on Skye” was an understatement akin to the Knight in Monty Python losing all his limbs and saying “its only a flesh wound” :lol: Putting the tent away was a bit of a mission but it was blissfully dry at least.

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Route: Camasunary from Kirkibost
Date: 05/01/17
Distance: 9 km
398m ascent
Time: 2.5 hours

In an attempt to put off the drive home, and since the weather was good and my knee felt good, I decided to drive a few miles down the road to Kirkibost and walk to Camasunary Bay. I could visit the bothy and check out the river crossing to see how possible a route up Sgurr na Stri would be from here.

Looking back
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Camasunary
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It was a lovely stroll, the Bell’s bothy was fantastic and I wished I’d had another night so I could stay there, but there’s be another time. It was a great day despite being very very cold so it was a perfect day to be at the beach :lol:

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On my way back I bumped into several people out for a wee wander in the good weather. Two of the less prepared ones asked me if this was the way to the Loch…”err which one?” :shock: turns out they wanted to get to Loch Coirusk :lol:

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Back at the car it was time to go home..  I had a brief stop at Broadford for food before the long long drive. I was very pleased to see a shower :lol: but thinking of selling up and moving to Skye :lol: or at least going back for another holiday :wink:
Last edited by Jaxter on Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:21 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby malky_c » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:50 pm

Quite an adventurous start to the year :D . Not sure how you or the camera managed to stay upright on Beinn Dearg Mor - maybe it was more moisture than wind but it looks quite extreme :lol: .
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby matt_outandabout » Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:06 pm

That looks rather brilliant! You have a couple of really cracking pictures in there too. :clap:
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby jupe1407 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:58 am

It's hard to think of a better way to start a year than that. Well done on that wee epic :D

Skye is an amazing place, I've been about 6 times now and still feel I've barely scratched the surface.
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby Jaxter » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:29 am

malky_c wrote:Quite an adventurous start to the year :D . Not sure how you or the camera managed to stay upright on Beinn Dearg Mor - maybe it was more moisture than wind but it looks quite extreme :lol: .

It was pretty mental up there...wedged it into some snow :lol: :lol:



matt_outandabout wrote:That looks rather brilliant! You have a couple of really cracking pictures in there too. :clap:

Thankyou - it was a great 5 days. Even when I thought I might blow away :lol:



jupe1407 wrote:It's hard to think of a better way to start a year than that. Well done on that wee epic :D

Skye is an amazing place, I've been about 6 times now and still feel I've barely scratched the surface.

It's brilliant isn't it!! I feel like it was a bit of an introduction but definitely need to get back there. Thought of you on the Camasunary track - some nutter had cycled in :lol: :lol:
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby BobMcBob » Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:17 pm

What an adventure! I love Skye. Your trip up Beinn Dearg Mor sounds almost exactly like the day I did it back in April :D That descent is no fun whatsoever. I too decided that Glamaig would have to wait, apparently that's not the best side to ascend it from anyway - at least that's the excuse I used.

You got some great photos when the weather played ball too, I especially like the ones from Elgol,. :clap: :clap:
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby Alteknacker » Sun Jan 08, 2017 9:24 pm

Lovely report! I suspect from the number of likes noted already that a lot of us greatly envy you this time in the wilds, typical Skye weather notwithstanding. 10 out of 10 to the tent for surviving the wind!! Gives me a bit more confidence in my Vango .

I guess the clag-bound Cuillin on the first day would be a bit disappointing if one has set one’s heart on a summit, but it certainly makes for some really atmospheric (and representative!) pics – generally there are some great pics here. And you did well to resist any temptation to hit the ridge on your walk to the Fairy Pools: it sure looks seriously enticing – and clag-free!

The views from Bla Bheinn and Sgurr na Stri brought back some very fond memories indeed, as did the walk to Camusunary. In fact it was this selfsame walk that got me back into considering Scotland as a feasible place for recreation after a couple of disastrously wet summer holidays. The views of the Cuillin Ridge from both summits is truly phenomenal. I really hope to get up there again this year.

:clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby Andymac75 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 10:02 pm

Cool ,and atmospheric report from Skye :thumbup:

Never been,but Glamaig is on the to do list .theres a race up and down every year ,and apparently it's an unforgiving ascent .

On one of your photos you appear to be walking on water.#skills :)
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby jupe1407 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:45 pm

Jaxter wrote:
It's brilliant isn't it!! I feel like it was a bit of an introduction but definitely need to get back there. Thought of you on the Camasunary track - some nutter had cycled in :lol: :lol:



I walked it last time, honest :lol:

Still, whoever this guy is, definitely wins:

Camasunary-1.jpg
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby Mal Grey » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:31 pm

Wonderful, I love Skye. And you've barely touched the surface of the opportunities there!
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Re: Another Skye-walker! New year escapism

Postby Jaxter » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:53 pm

BobMcBob wrote:What an adventure! I love Skye. Your trip up Beinn Dearg Mor sounds almost exactly like the day I did it back in April :D That descent is no fun whatsoever. I too decided that Glamaig would have to wait, apparently that's not the best side to ascend it from anyway - at least that's the excuse I used.

You got some great photos when the weather played ball too, I especially like the ones from Elgol,. :clap: :clap:

Thankyou, it was wonderful! I'm with you on Glamaig. And it seemed a shame to climb a great hill in poor weather :wink:



Alteknacker wrote:Lovely report! I suspect from the number of likes noted already that a lot of us greatly envy you this time in the wilds, typical Skye weather notwithstanding. 10 out of 10 to the tent for surviving the wind!! Gives me a bit more confidence in my Vango

It's amazing what they'll stand up to!! I thought I was a goner but the trusty Vango took 2 nights of it and survived intact! :thumbup:



Andymac75 wrote:Cool ,and atmospheric report from Skye :thumbup:

Never been,but Glamaig is on the to do list .theres a race up and down every year ,and apparently it's an unforgiving ascent .

On one of your photos you appear to be walking on water.#skills :)

Someone told me about that hill race - looks absolutely brutal :lol: :lol:



jupe1407 wrote:: Still, whoever this guy is, definitely wins:

Camasunary-1.jpg

Fabulous :lol: :lol:



Mal Grey wrote:Wonderful, I love Skye. And you've barely touched the surface of the opportunities there!

So many reasons to return :D :D :D
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