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As Good as Introductions Get - The Cuillins

PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 5:00 pm
by andygunn23
As Good as Introductions Get – The Cuillins

Having promised Eilish, the girlfriend (or “living with partner” as she seems to enjoy), that I would spend the weekend with her, I of course tempted the weather Gods into something remarkable. This weekend was firmly blocked off – which effectively meant; no adventuring across the length and breadth of country with the boys to walk up some hills – fair enough. Thankfully, as I am writing this Walk Report I found a rather large loophole in that commitment.

One of the first things I do on a Monday morning (not (in case my employer stumbles across this)) at work is check the next weeks worth of weather. Also inevitably, it nearly always shows the following weekend as great, and rarely lives up to that promise.

On the week commencing the 17th June 2019, as each day went passed the forecast held its suggestion of high pressure and glorious sunshine. In parallel my suggestions of what we could do in this “ring-fenced” weekend shifted more and more towards being at least 3000ft above sea level. Romantic.

By Wednesday I had approval for us to spend some time in the hills, subject to… “nothing scrambly, scary or with too much scree”. I think the three Horns of Alligin has had a lasting impact… :crazy:

No scramble? No scary? No Scree? Skye it is. 8)

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It wasn’t instantly “lets go to the Cuillins”, but anytime I looked at the map of clear weather it seemed wrong not to.

Friday night we stayed in Inverness, arriving just in time to catch Love Island – sorry... This worked excellently in breaking up the arduous drive from Aberdeen, which others have rightly commented on other Walk Reports, could be much worse! Still, attempting the drive in one sitting is brutal. Since this trips I have worked out camping at Drumnadrochit makes the perfect halfway house to Skye.

On Saturday we reached the brilliantly recommended Glenbrittle campsite got the tent up and were ready ready to head off towards Bruach na Frithe by noon. After dealing with those less competent. Actually, that is too much of an understatement… those that frankly shouldn’t own a driving licence, in and around the Fairy Pools we reached the start and set off walking bang on 13:00.

Three chaps with Pinnacle Ridge just in the clouds
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The weather was always forecast to clear as the day progressed and we were in no particular rush, me even less so. I was frankly in complete awe at the scenery, astonishing. To think I’ve spent 25 of 26 years living in Scotland and this was my first visit. It is like a different planet.

I think I may run out of positive adjectives for this report
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As we were walking along the path on route to Coire na Circe we got more and more glimpse of the ridge and some of the sensational scrambling and climbing opportunities. I tried not to point out too many off these features to avoid making the very apprehensive Eilish return to the car. Having never been, but spending countless hours glued to guidebooks, online and maps I recognised a surprising amount of the main features (at least I think I did... as long as you say it confidently :lol:)

Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean and Bhaseir Tooth
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By the time we reached Coire na Circe and were ready to cross the stream we began to get a great view into Fionn Choire and the optional scramble up / down the northwest ridge. I had only very loosely suggested the northwest ridge and was 100% happy to ascend and descent via Fionn Choire.

Fionn Choire on the left and the ridge on the right
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In Fionn Choire, all the views hiding
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We made good progress towards Bealach nan Lice, with a few occasional comments about the amount of scree. If only Eilish knew what Sunday held in stock… Sgurr na Banachdaich – I’ll save that for another report… :shock:

Nearly at the Bealach
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Upon reaching Bealach nan Lice our outlooks couldn’t have been further apart. The views were exactly what I expected, and I mean that in the best way possible, I expected a lot. Quite easily some of the best scenery I have ever seen.

Eilish on the other hand did not enjoy the exposure, the scale of Bhastier Tooth looming over us, the stupendous views towards Loch Coruisk or mainly the gradual rise along the scree towards the summit of Bruach na Frithe.

Instead…
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Convinced she’d hunker down and take shelter from the non-existent wind, hanging on for dear life at the bealach I was advised / sternly told to head towards the summit.

View towards the summit
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After what felt like an eternity of persuasion, and probably using up all my stockpiled brownie points I managed to get some movement, and once again we were on route to the summit. Obviously, I was never going to leave Eilish at the bealach alone, even in this weather, but knowing we were so close and the views from the summit towards the South would be even better than at the Bealach, it became a bit of a beg rather than persuasion.

The route from the bealach to the summit was admittedly a bit unstable underfoot, potentially better towards the crest of the ridge but at this present time that was so far out of the question. We carried on slowly, with frequent swear words and occasional near breakdowns. But we carried on, and that was the main thing.

Looking back
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Reaching the summit was a relief. I had zeros doubts that we could do it, but a few that we would. Now we had no option but to get down.

Summit views
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Both our first Skye Munros
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I found it surprising how quiet the hills were, given how good the weather was and how busy the roads were – not at all a bad thing. Maybe getting anywhere near the ridge is far removed from the intention of the average tourist to Skye. Plus, if it’s all about Instagram the Fairy Pools and Old Man of Storr will do fine for most!

Saying the hills were quiet, that was until you looked towards the Inaccessible Pinnacle... It seemed to have a constant flow of people on the summit.

The In Pinn
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The In Pinn still gives me the fear, but that is a worry for another day.

After a good 20ish minutes at the summit Eilish suggested we could take the scramble down the northwest ridge as it “couldn’t be worse than the scree”. Positively surprised I didn’t want to dwell on the decision too long, so we set off down.

Heading down
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As we slowly made our way down the ridge the last remaining cloud shifted slowly from the south end of the ridge and made the views even better.

Looking south
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Gully
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Confident as anything
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Looking back at what we just scrambled down
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In Pinn (and people at the top if you click and zoom) Image

In this weather, how could anyone not enjoy this???
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Remarkable how any plant life survives up here
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During the initial section of descent, I was a bit like an excited dog; shooting off ahead, coming back and going ahead again – trying all the different routes. There wasn’t any real challenging scrambling (subjectively) but still great fun – I felt like a big kid.

I am confident Eilish was also having a great time, although she did admit after the initial excitement, she was beginning to get bored and just wanted to be back at the car… Pushing the old comfort zone can be mentally exhausting.

View upwards
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My favourite photo from the day
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Scree patch clearly visible left. 100% go for the scramble
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Once off the main section of scramble the route back to the main path at Coire na Circe was easy going but as always, with tired legs and a hungry belly it felt like far longer than the walk in. By now it was just after 17:30 and the thought of fish in chips in Portree was particularly appealing.

One of the many waterfalls in Allt Dearg Mor
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I was very tempted for a quick swim but the desire for fish and chips overruled on this occasion – with hindsight a swim would always be the better option.

Some zoomed shots of the ridge previously hidden in the clouds
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As far as introductions go, I struggle to imagine this going much better. Even with a long drive, temperamental weather and crazy amounts of tourists, in the grand scheme of things Skye really is just on my doorstep and I can’t wait to explore more of these impressive hills (and in the 3 months it's taken me to type this out, I have :wink:).

10/10 to Eilish for overcoming some of her fears and pushing the comfort zone, I am confident in the end she thoroughly enjoyed herself, and I am (relatively) confident I could convince her to do this walk again, maybe in reverse. :clap:

Thanks as always for reading / checking out the pictures!

Re: As Good as Introductions Get - The Cuillins

PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 6:07 pm
by maxie23
Cracking report mate, love the pictures.

Well done Eilish.

Regards.

Robert