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Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)


Postby Klaasloopt » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:34 pm

Munros included on this walk: Am Basteir, Bruach na Frithe, Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr nan Gillean

Corbetts included on this walk: Ben Loyal, Clisham, Cul Beag

Grahams included on this walk: Ben Mor Coigach, Hartaval, Sgurr an Fhidhleir, The Storr, Tiorga Mor, Uisgneabhal Mor

Sub 2000' hills included on this walk: Suainabhal (Lewis)

Date walked: 02/04/1997

Time taken: 120 hours

Distance: 340 km

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Strathy Point counterclockwise to Skye

Reading old logs or diairies shows how much improvisation and hit and miss these Scottish adventures of mine contain. And lots of useful detail too. The log can exaggerate, the color slides correct that. Pat Barker's quote: "Why scribble away? It's claiming immunity. First person narrators cannot die. As long as you can tell your story, you're safe".

img1996_006.jpg
Camp in front of Ben Loyal


1997
The year before I started at Cape Wrath and liked starting ad the edge of the world a lot. I picked Strathy Point for my 1997 walk. April 2 at Strathy Lighthouse was windy, wet and cold. So much, in fact, that a sat in the bus shelter stupified for a while before concluding that I couldn't NOT walk. +1 degrees and sleet is easily the worst weather. Snow flurries. I kept to the coastal cliffs as far as Bettyhill before turning inland. I slept in an empty caravan the first night, offered to me by a B&B owner who was not yet open for the season.

Loyal and Hale Bopp
In the afternoon of april 5 I left my rucksack at the foot of Ben Loyal and climbed it. Freezing cold and buffetting wind, but did I enjoy that. The land looked very bright reddish brown. I wasn't feeling very fit though. The night was clear and I woke from the cold. I looked outside and saw the mountain. And I saw the comet. I couldn't believe the magic of that moment. Hale Bopp had arrived.
During the following days weather worsened and I got a bug in the intestines. Near Achnanclach bothy at (grid ref) it snowed. I hid inside, but got cold. I walked the 'moine path', and 'moine' means 'undulating bleakness' in Gaelic, I just know it. There's a Moine Mor in the Carngorms which looks fabulous under snow. This moine was not elevated and not under hard snow and therefore quite a slog. The route I sketched bended round Ben Hope, in the hope of climbing it. I didn't. The diary entry of that night reads: "this is foolishness. Let's never ever walk round a mountain again". At this Reay Forest camping spot I got quite ill, and therefore the next day didn't feel like Foinaven, and the pictures I took show a wet and windy Strath Dionard. I walked from the bealach under Meall Horn out to the road at Achfary and off for Ullapool.
Still the plan was to go counterclockwise along the coast, hop over to the Hebrides and repeat the same movement over there. Then hop over to Skye and walk its backbone to finish, of course, in the Cuillin. After recuperating with friends in Ullapool, I picked up the line of the route at Cul Beag and climbed Beinn Mor Coigach and the Fiddler the next day. Beautiful viewpoint, Ben Mor Coigach is. Good deal!

img1996_009.jpg
View north from Cul Beag (Cul Mor and Suilven in view)


img1996_018.jpg
View south from Ben More Coigach to An Teallach


1997part1.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts




Lewis
I took the ferry across to Stornoway. Fine weather. The width of the island of Lewis is bridged by the Pentland Road, an old road. It took me to Breascleithe on the other coast. I camped near the Callanish standing stones. Wonderful. I carried a flask of whisky this walk (and books, and lyrics), so I sat inside the circle for a long time in the evening, chatting with another visitor. Next day I walked a couple of miles and got picked up by the mailbus. Got out near a powerstation. From there I cut northwest to a little hill called Suainaval, little under 500m high. It is a wheathered thuggish hill, and I enjoyed climbing it. Rough, with lots of boulders, dykes and stuff. I camped near Uig Sands and the next day was Sunday, and very grey and moody as local christian belief seems to like it.

img1996_011.jpg
View northwest from Suainabhal with Uig Sands


1997part2.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



To Harris
This bit of the route looked ideal beforehand: a glen (Raonasdail) straight south, with hills on both sides to be climbed at will. But no, the weather didn't allow any fun, even waiting inside the tent was no option. Saw a white hare. This stretch ended at Kinlochresort after 16 miles. In the morning I walked on to Sron Ulladale and camped furtheron. "Such a great offer of superb camping spots on green patches inside meanders I cannot decline". Next morning the skies were grey still, but looked like clearing. At 17.30 I left for Tirga Mor. A quick ascent, driven by doubts about the weather, but great views at the grey lot all around. Lots of moss on the summit, and a broken clay tablet reading 'Jesus loves you'. I have a picture of it (where?), very eerie find. Descent in mist. A mysterious island this is.

img1996_013.jpg
View from Ullaval south across the Sound of Harris


On april 15 the skies were blue in the morning so I quickly ran for it. Steep Ullaval at 10.30, and I spent one hour on the summit. Views all around and very far away. Down and up and over Uisgnaval Mor just after four o' clock. Camped on a bealach under Mulla Fo Deas (all spelling on the Walkhighlands OS map is different than on my 1990's map). I ate a lot. The diary claims "100 grams per minute". In my diairies are discriptions of all meals. Some of them are horrible and most of them are big. All kinds of stuff one finds in very small shops are tried out.

Over to Skye
Next day finished the Clisham Horseshoe, ate the very last food (mackerel in mustard sauce) on the summit, had trouble with a bad step on the ridge, the knees had had enough. A lift down to Tarbert. Fish'n'chips, a whole spunge cake and later tea in the First Fruits Tearoom. Daydreams of a hot shower on Skye. Walked some 230 km, but haven't been above 800 metres yet, I wrote.

Arriving on Skye my diary is filled with plans for a route round the back of the Cuillin, into Harta Corrie. Apparently the Cuillin cast their reputation ahead, because there's still the whole ridge to Portree ahead. After buying food in Uig and sending a book and a map off by post, a German couple takes me exactly to where I want: Kilmaluag. From there Sligachan is just due south. The landscape here looks too green, with, compared to Harris, way too many people in it. (Boy, was I a grumpy fellow). Walked 'through' the needley landscape near Quiraing, and walked on for 9 hours along the ridgetops to Bealach a'Chuirn, the bealach north of The Storr. "What kind of weather is it? Yes, I wondered too". Strange, still weather, shards of mist, a grey ceiling.

After The Storr I seem no longer interested and flee to Portree to the launderette. Again a lift by a German. How convenient. In Sligachan pitched on a small field, the big field being closed, and a free hot bath in the Hotel. Later on good conversations and good ale, the conversations aimed at getting information on how difficult the Cuillin are. I am a bit intimidated by their reputation.

1997part3.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts



No problem once you're past the airy bit
April 19 I get up at 6 and off by 7 (wow!). I walk down Glen Sligachan and take pictures of shapeshifting Gillean every few minutes "for some or other project". Haha. At ten o'clock I pitch the tent in Harta Corrie, behind Sgurr nan Gillean, on a beautiful spot. Three quarters of an hour later I'm off to Gillean, nervous. I know nothing. I compare the woefully unclear 1:25.000 map with the rock I see. Reality is even more unclear than the map. Up on the Bealach na Lice I go west first, to Bruach na Frithe. The rest of the ridge gives a guide book view, stark blue sky, black rock. After a chat, on to Am Bhasteir. A bad step keeps me busy for half an hour. Suddenly I just go, feel the holds, and... no problem at all. Two men are coming from Gillean. They have waited for four years for weather like this, they complain, upon which remark I try to look as clueless a tourist as I can. I ask them how difficult the west ridge is. "there's a path all the way up, crampon scratches and polished rock" they claim. And "no problem once you're past the airy bit". Yeah. What is airy in their book?? Holland is airy too!

Then I just do. No thinking. Sticking to the velcro rock. Up a chimney, across the airy bit and suddenly I am on top. Woa!! Really enjoyed that! I sat for an hour, writing, eating and reading in the sun. Down by the tourist route and up Sgurr Beag, purist. Sunbathing some more and quite late back at the tent. (six years later I would get my share of rain on Skye, don't worry)

img1996_014.jpg
Harta Corrie below Sgurr nan Gillean
img1996_015.jpg
Airy bit (rotate clockwise please...)
img1996_016.jpg
Sgurr nan Gillean from the south
img1996_017.jpg
Sunbathing on the Cuillin Ridge!


Next day Gillean looked very black. I cross Druim nan Ramh (fun) to Coruisk and camped at the outflow, but not at the best spot which was taken by a green quasar tent. Around midday I leave to visit An Garbh Coire. Woa! More mordor than ever. And sharp yellowish rock too. Sgurr Dubh Mor looks incomprehensible from down here, and misty so I turn south and climb Sgurr an Eag and Gars-Bheinn. I feel not at ease. I descend awkwardly, clumsily. I visit the neighbours and we talk about the weather and what hills we were on. Nothing suprising. Twenty posh people pass, coming from the Hebridean Princess with no doubt goldplated taps. "Let's knock three of them on the head, we decide, and sneak aboard and have some lobster and champagne tonight". That night the rain pelting, driving. Very windy. Gothic. In the morning there was a dusting of snow and it looked like winter again. I climb Sguur na Stri, the small one, and later I decide what I am gonna do the last days: "not get tired, not get wet, not get cold". Home.
Last edited by Klaasloopt on Sat Feb 05, 2011 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Klaasloopt
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby monty » Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:48 pm

Hi Klas.....
Thats over 40 miles per day. That is superb. I haven't read the full report but I will comment again once I do. Tremendous distance though. :D
monty
 

Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby mountainstar » Sat Jan 29, 2011 12:19 pm

Top admiration my man! hats off there, that was some trip.
So I see you're from Holland....I met a guy from Holland last year in a hostel, he was sort of backpacking around the Highlands with a massive...and I mean MASSIVE rucksack, no idea about lightweight stuff, his toiletry bag was filled with cans and bottles of this and that, and had several changes of every type of clothing. He told me how he carried tins of food etc on long trips.
He was amazed on how small my rucksack was compared to his....it was about a 1/3rd of the size(I was on a 8 day trip inc tent, which he was not carrying) I spent some time educating him on how I do it, perhaps next time his rucksack will be a bit lighter :)
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby monty » Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:38 pm

Hi Klaasloopt,

I just read you report and its excellent. Not sure about the time of 120hrs when you set of 2nd April and finished on the 19th, however that doesn't matter. Such an epic outdoor adventure in adverse weather conditions then to get great weather on Skye, superb. Jesus certainly loves you :lol: :lol:

What is airy in their book?? Holland is airy too!
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks for posting :D
monty
 

Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby ChrisW » Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:03 pm

Great report and some great pics (not sure about the furry toes though :lol: )
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby ianaird » Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:25 am

Love that route onto Gillean, certainly plenty of exposure..Hoping for a good spell of weather for nice dry rock to complete the traverse this year.
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby Klaasloopt » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:24 am

monty wrote:Hi Klaasloopt,

I just read you report and its excellent. Not sure about the time of 120hrs when you set of 2nd April and finished on the 19th, however that doesn't matter. Such an epic outdoor adventure in adverse weather conditions then to get great weather on Skye, superb. Jesus certainly loves you :lol: :lol:

What is airy in their book?? Holland is airy too!
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Thanks for posting :D


...ehm, yes, I guess the time spent en route is an estimate. I finished on the 22nd, so that makes some 17 days of walking, 7 hours a day (sometimes 5, sometimes 9 or 10), so that would fit the 120hrs mark. And: 340km, 3km/h or slower = 120 hrs.
And Skye, yes, I was kind of embarrassed, such a newbie, and then this kind of weather...

@mountainstar: a too big pack, doesn't every traveller to a foreign country begin that way? I remember hillwalking in jeans. I'm lightweight now (a bivy bag too), but I still carry books and real food instead of sports food. Hope to meet you!
Klaas
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby Klaasloopt » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:32 am

monty wrote:Hi Klas.....
Thats over 40 miles per day. That is superb. I haven't read the full report but I will comment again once I do. Tremendous distance though. :D


How is it 40 miles per day? I'd say about 12-13 miles per day (trouble with the metrics :) . You guys deserve more exact numbers. "old stuff 4, 1998" coming up, has a more exact log. Year by year I was conversed into a munro-bagger, and the 'let's do this, let's go there'-style got a little bit more strict. The only thing very accurate is the route on the map. Not as accurate as a GPS-device, but map+compass navigation means I really know where I've been.
klaas
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby monty » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:10 am

Hi Klas...
No dont worry about the time. When I first looked I thought you done the walk in 5 days/120 hours but it is of no significance :D Its a great report on a great adventure. :D
monty
 

Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby malky_c » Mon Jan 31, 2011 11:09 am

Another great installment :D

The photos have come up quite well, too. Do you use a slide scanner? Need to invest in one myself.
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby Klaasloopt » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:24 pm

malky_c wrote:Another great installment :D

The photos have come up quite well, too. Do you use a slide scanner? Need to invest in one myself.


hi malky, NO, I use a 70 pound (price, not weight :lol: ) Epson scanner, with an inlay to put slides in. It recognizes the slides, the rest is software.
klaas
Last edited by Klaasloopt on Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Old Stuff 3: Loyal, hopping counterclockwise to Skye (1997)

Postby malky_c » Mon Jan 31, 2011 2:49 pm

Sounds interesting - may investigate that. I don't have many slides but I was hoping to scan negatives to get a better result than just putting the photos through the scanner. Some kind of holder would probably help that :)
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