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Seven Smaller Skye Summits

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:09 am
by weaselmaster
With all this new found freedom from lists it was merely a question of where we should go this week. After a weekend of Munros and scrambles in Glencoe I fancied something more sedate - a wee trip to Skye should fit the bill nicely, concentrating on Marilyns for a change. The weather looked set to break after the long dry & sunny spell we've been having, but not enough to put me off. There were various possibilities of hills to choose from (there are almost 40 sub-2000 Marilyns on Skye) and my only must do's were Macleod's Tables and Ben Tianavaig. So we set off on Thursday later afternoon and had a hassle free journey up, arriving at Sligachan around 8.30. The central camping section is currently being re-seeded and is out of action, which will reduce capacity substantially til the grass grows (with no rain recently this has held up progress). We found a suitable spot and ate a late tea. It felt good to be back on Skye, despite the first signs of midges we've encountered so far this year.

ImageDSCF2492 by Al, on Flickr

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Friday was to be for Healabhal Bheag & Mhor, otherwise known as Macleod's Tables. I'd spotted them last year when walking the Trotternish Ridge and was keen to make closer acquaintance. The morning was hazy, with a white sky but quite warm. We drove up towards Dunvegan, taking a turn off to Orobost and parking at the large parking area on the estate. We walked along the coast, passing a flock of Soay sheep and into some woods, which are partially felled. Good views to the Cuillin Ridge in the distance, though ,arred today by haze. Our first target was another Marilyn, Beinn Bhac-ghlais which was easy enough to incorporate into the round. However, the close-encounters like shape of Beinn na Boineid caught the eye and we decided to head up over that first of all - a steep heathery ascent to a basalt crown. From the summit we could see Bhac-ghlais and Healabhal Bheag beyond.

Tables from the road to Dunvegan
ImageDSCF2493 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2494 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2495 by Al, on Flickr

Soay sheep
ImageDSCF2499 by Al, on Flickr

Misty Cuillin ridge in the distance
ImageDSCF2502 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn na Boinied
ImageDSCF2504 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2505 by Al, on Flickr

Bhac-ghlais & Healabhal Bheag
ImageDSCF2510 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2509 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2511 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2512 by Al, on Flickr

A simple drop down then up heathery slopes brought us to the top of Bhac-ghlais. The prow of Healabhal Bheag loomed towards us from here, not looking much like a table from this angle. Downwards and upwards we wended our way and arrived at the trig point. This was my 700th Marilyn. From here it looks quite far to Healabhal Mhor. However we picked up a path that avoided the scree and crags and made for Beinn na h-Uamha then ascended gentle grassy slopes to the flat top of Mhor. We descended to the north-east, initially taking a line on Osdale farm before dropping to the Osdale River where a herd of cows took an unhealthy interest in our presence - we quickly crossed the river and made for the lower slopes of Beinn Bhuidhe, passing the remains of a hill fort and joining the road for a mile or so back to the car. On the way we passed Skye Eco Bells Glamping - "an off-grid luxury camping experience". Fair enough.

ImageDSCF2516 by Al, on Flickr

Healabhal Bheag
ImageDSCF2517 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150682 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2519 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2522 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2523 by Al, on Flickr

Mhor from Bheag
ImageDSCF2525 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2527 by Al, on Flickr

Marilyn 700
ImageDSCF2528 by Al, on Flickr

Healabhal Mhor
ImageDSCF2531 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2535 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150690 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2538 by Al, on Flickr

Eco Bells
ImageDSCF2539 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150692 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150693 by Al, on Flickr

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We returned to the car with plenty of time left - I fancied a fourth Marilyn up at the top of Duirinish - Biod an Athair. It only looked a couple of km each way from the road end at Galtrigill. It was a wee bit further than I anticipated to drive there - 10 miles, past the Three Chimneys (wonder what their vegan option is :wink: ) to the road end. Parking is a little bit tricky - we left the car at the start of a farm track. We found a farm track that led us through a field of disinterested cows then petered out on the north-eastern flank of Ben Skriaig. From here we crossed the Galtrigill Burn and headed for the summit of Athair. Not much of a hill to look at (from the east anyhow) but once at the top the vista was excellent (although again the haze limited the view). The Little Minch was mirror calm and the isolated hills of North Uist revealed themselves. I noted a perfect little flat spot for a wild camp right at the trig point - that would be a beauty for a fine sunset. The ground falls away steeply to stacks and rocky beaches below. We dropped back down much the same way as we'd ascended, although I managed to find more bogs and barbed wire fences than on the way up :wink: Back along a quiet road to Sligachan which looked rather empty for a Friday evening in mid-May.

Biod an Athair
ImageP1150694 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150697 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150699 by Al, on Flickr

North Uist in backdrop
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ImageP1150704 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150705 by Al, on Flickr

Route back to Galtrigill
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ImageP1150707 by Al, on Flickr

Sligachan campsite
ImageDSCF2540 by Al, on Flickr

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Saturday was meant to be a day of showers. I decided we'd walk down Glen Sligachan from the campsite and tackle Ruadh Stac, which sits tucked in to the south of Marsco. Cloud was down over the Cuillin Munros, although the Red Cuillin were clear. Again it seemed really quiet - we had left a bit late on account of having our sleep broken by a noisy party in nearby tents who nattered in loud voices til well after 2am - but even so it seemed a bit eerie. Walking past the bulk of Marsco, a hill which has so many guises depending on the angle you view it from, we got our first sight of Ruadh Stac - diminuitive, grassy at the base and reddish stone higher up. Normally a bit of a bog trot to get over after the Allt nam Fraoch Choire but pretty dry today, thankfully. Once onto the rocks there's some fissured quartzite (I think) which provides better footing than the adjacent scree. Up ahead I could see Beinn Hain and beyond that Sgurr na Stri. There's a flattish section then the neck of the hill rises up again. When you almost reach the summit the huge black wall of Clach Glas rises out of nowhere - a superb sight. The top of Bla Bheinn remained under clag for the duration of our visit but Clach Glas and Garbh Beinn were often cloud free. We spend some time on top - I was hankering after continuing on to Sgurr na Stri, but Allison was reluctant to climb that particular summit when clag was down over the Cuillin Ridge and I think she was right - however she's now got herself a summit camp up there when conditions are favourable.

ImageDSCF2541 by Al, on Flickr

Ruadh Stac
ImageDSCF2543 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2544 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150709 by Al, on Flickr

Towards Sgurr na Stri
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ImageDSCF2549 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2550 by Al, on Flickr

The black wall
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ImageDSCF2555 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150713 by Al, on Flickr

We descended back into Glen Sligachan and returned to the campsite. It was now after 4 and the weather looked to be deteriorating. I had hoped to get another hill in today - perhaps Ben Lee direct from the campsite, and tentatively considered that after tea, but the wind got up and the rain came down to scupper that particular plan. It rained quite heavily overnight.

ImageP1150715 by Al, on Flickr

South side of Gillean
ImageDSCF2562 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2565 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150716 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150717 by Al, on Flickr

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For Sunday I decided we'd do Ben Lee and Ben Tianavaig - it seemed best to do Lee from Peigheinn a'Chorrain if we were driving round to Camas Tianavaig anyway, plus it was shorter from that direction. We got the tent down inbetween squally showers and drove round the tiny winding road to Peigheinn a'Chorrain. We parked at the junction of the two roads and set off over the hillside. Ben Lee is one of those hills with numerous false summits and Allison was not especially impressed by it, especially as we would get soaked on a regular basis from the heavy (but thankfully brief) showers. There are a couple of steep heathery sections then gently rising moorland to gain the summit cairn. The heather was festooned with caterpillars - I think Burnet Moth ones? Sometimes you could catch glimpses of ben Tianavaig sitting like a battleship up the road. Glamaig was everpresent with the higher Cuillin under cover. Eventually we made the summit then tracked back to the car. By this time it was 11.30 - we drove up to Camas Tianavaig and found the picnic tables where we had our lunch looking down the Sound of Raasay.

Looking back at the start
ImageP1150718 by Al, on Flickr

Ben Lee
ImageP1150720 by Al, on Flickr

Beinn Tianavaig
ImageP1150721 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150722 by Al, on Flickr

?Burnet Moth caterpillar
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ImageP1150724 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150725 by Al, on Flickr

Summit looking North
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ImageP1150730 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150731 by Al, on Flickr

One of the steeper heathery sections
ImageP1150732 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150733 by Al, on Flickr

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Shedding wet waterproof trousers, we set off along the hill path to Tianavaig, which passes to the left of a house gate and leads easily up the mountain, along McQueens Rock, wich drops to the black rocky beach below. Dun Caan was clear across on Raasay. We continued up Tianavaig, with outcrops and storrs becoming ever more impressive - you'd certainly know this hill belonged to the Trotternish Ridge. We got to the trig point, got some good views north up the Trotternish Ridge then decided to descend the same way we'd gone up, given there was a long drive back home to be undertaken. Fortunately it had stayed dry for this hill, although the wind was cold and scoured at exposed skin. A fine weekend overall, showing that you don't need gabbro and scrambles to enjoy Skye.

On the way to Tianavaig
ImageP1150734 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150735 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2570 by Al, on Flickr

Sound of Raasay
ImageDSCF2572 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2573 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2575 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2577 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2578 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2579 by Al, on Flickr

nearing the summit
ImageDSCF2583 by Al, on Flickr

Dun Caan
ImageDSCF2584 by Al, on Flickr

Heavy cloud over the Cuillin
ImageDSCF2585 by Al, on Flickr

Summit Tianavaig
ImageDSCF2586 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2587 by Al, on Flickr

The Storr
ImageDSCF2588 by Al, on Flickr

ImageDSCF2591 by Al, on Flickr

ImageP1150736 by Al, on Flickr

Re: Seven Smaller Skye Summits

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 11:39 am
by jamesb63
Super well documented report and fab Photos :clap: :clap: :clap:
Cant believe the shot of Sligachan campsite on 12/13th you would be hard pushed
to have got a spot it was packed !!
Skye is a fantastic place it has something to offer weather a walker ,scrambler or climbing
it has it all

Re: Seven Smaller Skye Summits

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 11:49 am
by BobMcBob
Great, informative report, I'm really becoming inspired by the smaller hills. Ruadh Stac is one I keep looking at and am bound to have a go at soon so this was interesting to read.

I had wondered what they were up to at the campsite. I'd glad it's being reseeded and not turned into more ugly hardstanding.

Re: Seven Smaller Skye Summits

PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 7:43 pm
by Mal Grey
Skye has so much more than just the main Cuillin peaks, as this excellent report shows so clearly.