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Cuillin the Second

Cuillin the Second

Postby dbogosian » Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:33 pm

Route description: Bruach na Frithe

Munros included on this walk: Bruach na Frithe

Date walked: 30/05/2018

Time taken: 7 hours

Distance: 13.5 km

Ascent: 940m

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With weather continuing to be crystal clear, and with one Cuillin already in the bag (see https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=82186), it was time to attempt a second. As it turned out, Bruach na Frithe was a bit easier than Sgurr na Banachdich, and the views even better. All in all, this was the best walk I did on Skye (and that's saying something, given that I was there for 10 days!).

One great feature of this walk is the perpetually changing perspective on the various peaks, which seem to transform themselves almost with every 100 m of distance gained. At first, the classic 3-peak view from Sligachan shows off Sgurr nan Gillean (prominent peak on left) and Am Basteir (jagged, toothy peak in the middle), while Bruach na Frithe is hidden by the minor peak on the right.
Northern end of the Black Cuillin, from start of walk

The first part of the walk is a lengthy slog up a gentle slope following the banks of a sizable stream. Looking back, the early morning light silhouettes the profiles of the Red Cuillin and glints off the water. The path is broad and easily followed, and the slope is very gentle.
Red Cuillin in silhouette

The stream flows through a series of cascades, often into beautiful pools that are shimmering and sparkling with that characteristic green colour.
Lovely pool

As you move southwest, your perspective changes, and soon you realize that instead of the monolithic peak you once saw, Sgurr nan Gillean actually is composed of three crags, each one higher than the previous. And with that "minor" hill now off to the side, you get the first clear view of Bruach na Frithe.
The three teeth of Sgurr nan Gillean (left)

Bruach na Frithe (right), in view at last

The path eventually leaves the stream and the valley, and heads up towards the Fionn Choire, a valley encircled on three sides by peaks, from which the Cuillin ridge will eventually be accessed. Here the slope picks up and the path gets fainter by degrees. There are quite a few cairns, though, to help one navigate. As you go higher, the summit draws ever nearer and the grassy slopes give way to lots of broken rocky scree. All in all, the scree and the slope were not as brutal as those on Sgurr nan Banachdich. And some of those rocks can be pretty amazing (see photo)! :o
Towards the Fionn Choire

Summit getting nearer

Modern art: is that a Brancusi, or a Henry Moore???

After some heavy pulling, you draw up to a bealach, Bealach nan Lice according to the OS. You realize in your weariness that the summit off to your right is your destination, and is now not very far above you at all. In other words, you're almost there! There were a few patches of snow remaining on this next-to-last day of May.
Bruach na Frithe

But nothing can prepare you for the sheer euphoria of reaching the ridge, and having your first peer over the top to the other side. The vista is nothing short of magnificent and literally breathtaking. Dare I admit in public that it brought tears to my eyes? :roll: I'll just shut up and let the pictures convince you.
Blaven from the bealach

Glamaig from the bealach

L to R: Am Basteir, Sgurr nan Gillean (further back), and Blaven (in distance), from the bealach

The last bit to the summit is easy enough and just like that, I could claim Munro #10. :D
The obligatory summit photo; one of us is clearly the worse for wear.

The views from the summit are even better than those from the bealach, encompassing the entire Cuillin ridge, peak after peak after peak in all their dramatic splendor. Nevertheless, the impact of the view from the bealach was like a bucket of water over the head, a moment never to be forgotten and to be relished forever.
Cuillin ridge towards the south

In Pinn (on right, behind Sgurr na Banachdich)

View east, with Gillean on left and Blaven in distance.

Am Basteir (left) and Gillean (right)

The WH route recommended doing a little detour on the way back to take in the top of Sgurr a Basteir, a minor top but one with a nice narrow ridge and great dropoffs on either side, and one that affords terrific views back towards the nearest two Munros. Once again, the perspective is so different and you see them as you've never seen them before. The jagged edge of Am Basteir looks so sinister, and the tripartite fangs of Gillean look ever so threatening. The blackness of the rock contributes to the wicked feel of the place. This detour was excellent and not to be missed.
Am Basteir; what a profile!!!

Sgurr nan Gillean; another awesome profile

We retraced our way back the same way we had come up, thinking all the way down of that lovely stream that rippled through its pools as we were ascending. Couldn't wait to get our legs into that crystalline water! The ultimate reward for tired feet.
The river, at last

Happiness! Next time, we'll bring swimsuits.

Emerald green water

In summation, this was a superlative walk, and easily one of my most memorable (I'd say tied for first place). It's longer than Banachdich in distance, but the difficulty of the scree and steepness of the slope is perhaps a tad bit more manageable and not as punishing. The rewards at the top, though, more thank make for the pain and suffering of getting up. Even if, like me, you are not inclined to tempt fate and clamber along the sheer rock faces of the neighboring peaks, just getting this one Munro is an accomplishment to be cherished one's whole life through.
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Posts: 56
Munros:10   Corbetts:1
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Joined: Apr 22, 2015
Location: Glendale, California, USA

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