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Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - Views to Die For

Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - Views to Die For


Postby jupe1407 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:55 pm

Route description: Sgurr na Stri

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Sgurr na Stri

Date walked: 26/03/2017

Time taken: 27 hours

Distance: 15.5 km

Ascent: 943m

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Is Sgurr na Stri the best viewpoint in Britain?

I first saw a photo of Loch Coruisk from Sgurr na Stri on Facebook about 3 years ago. I can't remember who's shot it was, but it was a stunning sunrise, so I assumed that barring a potentially dangerous night time walk, there must be somewhere near the top of it to camp. The first obvious thing to do was have a look on WalkHighlands for trip reports and sure enough there are excellent descriptions and photos of this very thing from MalkyC, Lenore and WilkieMurray amongst others. Indeed for anyone thinking of doing this, WilkieMurray's video is absolutely brilliant and a real inspiration.

Anyway, preparation. The whole week an advanced weather forecast had promised superb weather pretty much everywhere Saturday to Monday. I duly submitted an annual leave request to get Mon-Tues off and started planning. Initially I wanted to knock off a few munros. But then Sgurr na Stri drifted into my thinking. I checked the tide times (which were perfect), the time of year was ideal with a good forecast, unlikely to be midge issues but still dark enough at night for good starry skies.

The theory was excellent, the practical preparation not so much. I had a few too many Sloe Gins at a friend's 30th party on Friday, which I then tried to sweat out on a 40+ miles on the road bike on Saturday. This actually worked, but as always seems to happen before a hill trip, I had an atrocious sleep, and got up at 3am to force down breakfast before loading up the car and hitting the road to Skye. The stretch from Spean Bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh is wonderful though and with not a breath of wind, there were some lovely early morning views.

Image
Loch Garry

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Loch Cluanie

It was a glorious morning and I was already mindful of climbing through a sheltered corrie with a heavy pack. Unfortunately I had to add further weight to it with a gas canister, bought from the garage at Inverinate, which seemed to be the only place open between Spean Bridge and Kyle of Lochalsh :lol:

My rough time plan had been to arrive at Kilmarie between 10:30 and 11:00am to walk in to Camasunary. I should then arrive at the river crossing at low tide which was around 12:30pm. I arrived at 10:20, and after getting my extremely heavy kit together, headed off along the track to Am Mam. It was very warm, flat calm and I was heating up rapidly on the gentle ascent. However I made decent time and arrived at "that" view quite quickly.

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Camasunary Bay

A quick bite to eat here and a much needed drink and I headed down to the bay, taking the usual track past the old bothy (work doesn't seem to have started on it yet). This below shot of Sgurr na Stri - the ascent route goes up the coire on the right, exiting the small middle bump on the left.

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Sgurr na Stri

I arrived shortly at Abhainn Camas Fhionnairigh at almost the exact time of low tide and crossed easily. You can still see the remnants of the old bridge. From the other side there's a faint path which follows the river before finally gaining height, following one of the trickling streams. The route here is pretty rough and about halfway up I missed the main "path" and followed a much rougher trail that stuck close to the stream. This was extremely hard work with blazing sunshine and no breeze.

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The steepish grassy ascent towards the upper corrie

A huge concern had been water. Having asked the question on WH the day before I was a bit worried. The streams running down were a trickle, and I really felt i'd struggle to carry 3+ litres in addition to everything else. I had however spotted quite a few snow patches from below and resolved to use these if nothing materialised further up the corrie. Eventually, and with huge relief I made it out onto the bealach between Sgurr na Stri and Sgurr Hain, clambering up onto a giant gabbro slab, I got this view.

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Coruisk and the main ridge come into view

Wow. The pain of the ascent was instantly forgotten and I couldn't wait to climb the remaining 170 or so metres. The top of Stri is extremely rough, largely pathless but happily covered in Gabbro slabs which i found helped the ascent greatly. After a few futile attempts to locate a decent pitch for the tent I decided to crack on up to the summit and worry about the accommodation later :lol:

The viewpoint from the summit is just ridiculously beautiful.

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Sgurr na Stri summit

The entire majesty of the Cuillin is laid out before you, cradling Lochs Scavaig and Coruisk, elsewhere there are great views to Rum and the rest of the wee isles, and on the other side is Bla-Bheinn and the red cuillin. I spent an age here trying to take it all in. There is no description I can write here to do it justice, it's just utterly sensational.

It was now time to find a pitch, and indeed I found a decent spot a couple of minutes walk back from the summit. Just enough space for the Vango and soft enough grass to hopefully be able to sleep on. After some extensive faffing around (I'd forgotten I'd detached the inner after a previous camping trip) the tent was eventually up, and it was time for quite possibly the finest coffee I've ever enjoyed.

Image
The pitch

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Coffee with a View

I could now relax properly with everything set up, and went for a wander around the summit area, both taking photos and collecting snow to melt. I hadn't seen anyone else at all since about 5 minutes out of the car park and after a couple of hours had a tremendous sense of isolation, both hugely enjoyable and strangely unnerving at the same time. After some wandering around I needed some food and water. I was feeling the effects of the earlier blazing sunshine, dehydration and now hunger. Freeze dried packet meals aren't great, trying to force down a Pasta sauce meal is not a fun task at the best of times, but I managed most of it, with a creme egg for dessert :lol:

Sunset was now approaching so it was time for more photos.

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Late light on Bla-Bheinn

It was still very mild, and I was thoroughly enjoying exploring the summit area, wandering about taking photos and sitting relaxing drinking coffee. After the sun dropped, the sky turned a series of stunning pinks and purples before darkness began to slowly creep in.

Image
Summit Sunset to Rum

As I sat and watched the colours slowly drain from the sky (I almost forgot to take photos :lol: ), I felt completely at peace. There was no one for miles around, no sound other than a distant waterfall somewhere near the Dubhs Ridge with the very occasional birdsong. It was a truly amazing experience and a real privilege to be there.

There was still quite a lot of light in the sky so I decided to get a couple of hours sleep before venturing out for some night time photos, hopefully with plenty of stars in evidence and if i was really lucky, the northern lights. No joy with the northern lights unfortunately, but crystal clear skies meant plenty of stars.

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Milky Way over the main ridge

It felt a bit eerie being on top of such a remote mountain in near total darkness, but still great fun. Looking out across Loch Scavaig and beyond I could see the winking lights of at least two lighthouses, fishing boats and what looked like a large passenger cruiser. I even managed to very briefly find 4g on the summit ridge where I discovered that Scotland had somehow won a football match.

I was by now absolutely shattered and also needed to save the other camera battery for sunrise, so turned in for the night. Miraculously I slept well, and got up about 10 minutes before sunrise, having snoozed the alarm :lol: I quickly nipped up to the summit to watch the sun come up over the Kintail mountains. It was absolutely wonderful. Annoyingly I forgot to bring grad filters, so this is an HDR version:

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Sunrise over the Kintail mountains

I then turned towards the summit cairn and the ridge, again so immersed was I by the view, I nearly forgot to actually photograph it.

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Sunrise on the summit and the main ridge

I now had to quickly nip back to a spot I'd picked out just beyond my tent for what I felt was the best viewpoint of both lochs and the ridge.

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"That" view

It is without a doubt the finest sight I've ever seen from a hill. My photo doesn't come even close to doing it justice, it's just a wonderful spot.

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Portrait style shot of Coruisk

After a few more shots I desperate needed some coffee and breakfast. Things took an interesting turn when I thought I'd lost my only lighter. After checking almost everywhere (I even took down the tent in case it was still in there), 45 minutes later I found it under the pot lid right beside the stove. I think i possibly swore at this point. Still problem solved and I could at least have some hot food and drink. I went back up to the summit ridge and enjoyed my finest breakfast yet in the warming sun. OK the breakfast tasted dire. Porridge pots are genuinely awful, but a necessary evil in these situations :lol:

It was now time to (very reluctantly) leave for home. After some OCD checking to make sure i had my car keys and wallet, I took a last few photos before starting the descent to the bealach.

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Rum and the other small isles

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Last look at Coruisk

Eventually I made it to the bealach and headed down, finding a better path down the rough one I ascended on, although steep scree with a very heavy backpack made for a challenging few minutes. Eventually I reached the gentler lower slopes, and not paying attention, almost literally walked into a few deer. I got within about 20 metres of them before they wandered off.

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Young Deer

I ambled slowly down to the river, again the heat was absolutely scorching. Amusingly I'd managed to traverse the very boggy lower slopes completed unscathed, only to slip and cake my a**e in mud literally about 10 feet from the stones at the river crossing :lol: More expletives :lol: The river was again at low tide, so I crossed and rested in the shade for a while, before the enjoyable meander across the beach.

Image
The Old Bothy

Unfortunately I still had a bit of ascent to get out of the way, up a rubbly track. Ugh. I downed my remaining water and refilled from the waterfall by the metal bridge, which tasted magnificent. I slowly made my way to the "elbow" in the track, which seemed like a great place to stop for lunch and a final bit of fuel for the remaining couple of miles back to the car.

Image
A last shot of Camasunary Bay

This seemed to help and I eventually got back to the car to my huge relief, pouring the remaining water over my head which was incredibly refreshing, before delving into the boot to demolish a tube of Pringles and a bottle of coke. I had considered staying another day and climbing Bla-Bheinn, but decided to head home and leave that for another day.

So, is Sgurr na Stri the best viewpoint in Britain? I don't know, but it is, by a country mile the best view I've had anywhere. It's hard to convey in words and pictures just how spectacular a situation it is up there, you just have to experience it for yourselves.

(ETA - Changed the Report title as it was almost the same as Lenore's. Sorry!)


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Last edited by jupe1407 on Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby PeteR » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:06 pm

Stunning JP 8)

Confirmation, if confirmation were really required, of the fact that you don't always have to climb the highest hills to get the best of views :clap:
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:14 pm

PeteR wrote:Stunning JP 8)

Confirmation, if confirmation were really required, of the fact that you don't always have to climb the highest hills to get the best of views :clap:


Thanks Pete :D I've been lucky enough to have some cracking views off hills in Torridon, Glencoe etc, but that was something else. I've also had far easier ascents to a lot of munros :lol:
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:26 pm

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Not a lot to say really, magnificent photos, great report, thank you so much for sharing.
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:28 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote::clap: :clap: :clap:

Not a lot to say really, magnificent photos, great report, thank you so much for sharing.


Thanks mate :)
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:45 pm

Stunning, just stunning. Been looking forward to this since you posted your water query.

So regret not climbing Sgurr na Stri at the end of our trip about 2 years back, but my mate had to leave that day. Should have abandoned him! Mind you, it was a tad windier than you had...
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby jupe1407 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:51 pm

Mal Grey wrote:Stunning, just stunning. Been looking forward to this since you posted your water query.

So regret not climbing Sgurr na Stri at the end of our trip about 2 years back, but my mate had to leave that day. Should have abandoned him! Mind you, it was a tad windier than you had...


Thanks Mal :D

It's worth saving for the best of days which is a tricky proposition where Skye's weather is concerned :lol:
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby Mal Grey » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:05 pm

jupe1407 wrote:
Mal Grey wrote:Stunning, just stunning. Been looking forward to this since you posted your water query.

So regret not climbing Sgurr na Stri at the end of our trip about 2 years back, but my mate had to leave that day. Should have abandoned him! Mind you, it was a tad windier than you had...


Thanks Mal :D

It's worth saving for the best of days which is a tricky proposition where Skye's weather is concerned :lol:


Sometimes you get lucky anyway, our time at Camasunary was a bad weather alternative due to strong winds and poor snow conditions, and, between the showers, the weather was wonderful. I still can't believe that the first time I went to Skye, '91 I think, we had 10 days of great weather and climbed all over the Cuillin.
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby basscadet » Tue Mar 28, 2017 2:08 pm

I'm glad the camp was as good as you had expected - looked brilliant :)
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby litljortindan » Tue Mar 28, 2017 3:08 pm

"Best view in Britain" is a can of worms but it would certainly be in my top ten. Great pictures and, for me, great memories brought back by seeing Camasunary again. Thanks!
Been up Sgurr na Stri a few times but it was the first trip that stands out -probably because of the evening light; makes a big difference.
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby cbas104 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:54 pm

Cracking JP - some great photos....I can think of a few stunning view points in Scotland, but this is definitely right up there!! Oh, and btw porridge pots are never a necessary evil in my book - there are many more palatable things to eat on a hill!
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby David-Main » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:03 pm

On my to do list JP , great views and images well done. :clap:
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby CJM Skye » Tue Mar 28, 2017 6:37 pm

Brilliant report and photo's. Been lucky enough to camp there twice in superb weather. Personally I don't think there is a better view. I would encourage anyone thinking about camping there to go for it , just make sure the weather is on your side.
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby dooterbang » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:31 pm

Absolutely amazing! Superb photography, great read :clap:

Been on the list for a while now...

Thanks for posting.
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Re: Summit Camping on Sgurr na Stri - The Stuff of Dreams

Postby Guinessman » Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:54 pm

Fantastic!

The shot of the portrait of Loch coruisk is awesome. :clap:
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