Date walked: 28/04/2015
Time taken: 7 days
I got up at 0800 hrs after a good sleep and it was another bright but coolish day with a light breeeze. I was away by 0925 hrs and headed into Portree to re-stock supplies. I use a system similar to forces Ration Packs or Rat Packs in that each days food is packed into a large zip lock bag and I make up as many rat packs as I need. I started with 3 full ones and 4 partials. The partial being my Adventure Foods main meal and my breakfasts which are Holland and Barrett flapjacks. I figured I might not get these so had the full 7 days worth. I went into the small Coop in the centre of Portree, stopping for the obligatory harbour photograph.
I managed to get everything I needed here which saved me a walk in the wrong direction to the supermarket on the Uig road. I then went to the outdoor shop for a spare small gas cylinder. Disaster; the delivery had not arrived and I was forced to take a huge one which weighed more than 600g. For someone who takes the bare minimum and agonises over whether to take 50g items this was a shock. However I figured I was better having gas and the difference between the different sizes was about 300g or so. Don't sweat the small stuff ! Easy to say when you are not carrying it. I did comment to the shop assistant that if I bought it I wouldn't need it but if I didn't buy it I would run out in the wilderness. Prophetic words indeed !
I then went to the main square and found a bench in the sun, spread my rat packs out and proceeded to fill them with oatcakes, mars bars, snickers, cereal bars etc, throwing away all the excess packaging into a bin. I must have looked a sight to behold and all of this in front of the local police office. Food sorted, I ate a banana to ward off scurvy and a couple of calorie laden eccles cakes. I then hefted my suddenly heavy sack which also had a 1.5 liter bottle of water and headed out of town. I thought I might struggle getting water between Portree and Peinachorrain and I was right.
I walked along the road until the Aros Centre then went down onto the foreshore and had a pleasant walk until I joined the minor road that leads to Peinachorran. Looking back the Storr still dominated the landscape.
I'm not a great fan of road walking but the guidebook said it was a quiet road. Not today, it was heaving and car after car passed in either direction. I wondered if there was a gala day or something on. I stopped for lunch at the monument at Braes by which time the wind was getting cold and I had to put my jacket back on. I reached the road end about 1400 hrs and managed to get some texts off to loved ones thinking I might get a signal as I was opposite the ferry terminal to Raasay. I also tended to a couple of hotspots on each foot before setting off along the track to Sligachan.
This was better, back in the wilds apart from the busy road at the other side of the loch. It was pleasant walking and I made good progress with the Cullins beginning to look a bit closer.
I had a quick look at the campsite as I walked through but I had always meant to go up Glen Sligachan to wild camp and I did. I stopped at the bridge and took the stock photograph of the Cuillins behind the bridge.
The scenery was great as I walked up the glen but could see no nice grassy spots for camping but I needn't have worried. About 4 km out of Sligachan there were some nice grassy spots near water and the second one I came to was a belter. Really dry, flat grass beside a stream with just enough room for a Trailstar. I pitched up and was soon enjoying a coffee and a welcome seat with legs dangling over the bank. I had a lovely evening sitting between Sgurr nan Gillean and Marsco. Again I had made good progress and was ahead of schedule. My feet felt a bit sore after pounding the road but I knew a nights rest would see them ok in the morning.
I also mused on the differing type of walking encountered. The first few days were out and out hillwalking but this was trekking and that was the pattern that was to continue and thus it became a walk of two halves. Its a funny old game.
Sunday 3 May 2015
I woke up early with the rain lashing down and a howling wind. I turned over and buried myself in my bivy bag and sleeping bag and hoped it might abate in a while. Not a chance.... it continued. I brewed up inside the tent and considered my options
1. head for Camasunary Bothy
2. go on as planned to Elgol or further
3. stay put. I had a nice dry pitch and plenty of food.
Option 3 was never really an option and I figured that the rain drumming on the tent was probably not as bad as it sounded inside. To test this theory I took my toilet bag for a walk. It was bad but not as bad as feared and I was going to be walking low level. I got organised and was away by about 0925 hrs which was not bad considering I had put my head down hoping the weather would change.
Initially the track up to the watershed was very wet with streams coming downhill along the path towards me but I plodded on, comfortable in my Paramo gear. After the watershed the paths were better and there were far fewer streams coming from the side, so the path was subsequently much drier.
About 1230 hrs or so I arrived at Camasunary and chatted to a guy building a cairn near the house. He said he was a friend of the owner but I suspected he was the owner. We had a nice chat and I walked over to the old bothy to have lunch out of the weather. The bothy was empty and in reasonable condition. After lunch I walked past the new bothy which is not yet complete but it looks pretty good.
The bay in which Camasunary is situated is absolutely gorgeous but it is suffering from marine pollution. There were tons (literally) of rubbish washed up from the sea. Plastic fish boxes, ropes and buoys and anything plastic that had ever fallen or been thrown overboard, There must be something in the way the local tides and currents act and
rubbish from a large sea area is finding its way onto a relatively small land area. It's a real shame and diminishes the natural beauty of the bay. It does indicate the huge problem of marine pollution. Judging from comments in the bothy book folk were not too bothered but I felt it took the edge off a wonderful place.
As I walked towards Elgol along the path I met a young German couple going to the bothy and we chatted. The girl explained why so many Germans come here when they have plenty of scenic places at home. Apparently in Germany there are so many restrictions it becomes difficult and she compared it to Scotland with its freedoms and right to roam. Ah. Another reason to be grateful.
The path along the loch side gets pretty narrow with scary drops. It's never really difficult but not a good place to have a right good stumble. The stunning views across Loch Scavaig were blanketed under cloud but still impressive. I'll need to come back on a good day. I scurried along and arrived at Elgol at 1515 hrs. Still too early to stop and the shop etc was shut so I carried on over to Glasnakille and along the track towards Kilmarie.
I was getting a bit weary and footsore as I approached KIlmarie and decided to try and find a camp spot near Dun Ringill . I camped on the foreshore near where a stream is shown on the map. The grass wasn't the best and in midgie season it would be hell but it sufficed for the night and at that point beggars couldn't be choosers.
I had a look at Dun Ringill further along the coast which was impressive. The white building in the photograph is Kilmarie House once owned by Iain Anderson of Jethro Tull. A lovely looking house and grounds.
I saw and killed my first ticks that night. Uuugh !
Monday 4 May 2015
I woke up about 0500 ish and the weather was foul, windy with heavy rain. I turned over and tried to ignore it but gave up and got up at 0535 hrs. Initially I tried to get organised outside the tent but the rain became torrential and drove me back under. I was away by 0630 hrs and walked past Kilmarie then along the road for a short distance before walking up the boggy path next to woods that went round towards the head of Loch Slapin. I passed the first of three forced clearances sites for that day at the ruins of Keppoch. The path went over the hill and into more woods before coming out on the road near the head of Loch Slapin and a car park for Blabheinn. I galloped round the road and arrived at the first house in Torrin at about 0840 hrs. As I passed an outdoor centre, some folk were loading cars. The next thing a guy I used to work with came out and we recognised each other. What a co-incidence. They had hired the whole outdoor centre for one of the parties 30th birthday. What are the chances of that ? Me being at the right place and him being in the garden, astronomical if you ask me. Anyway we had a good chat about old times and I headed up the hill past the Blue Shed Cafe. As luck would have it, I was too early as it didn't open till 1030 hrs. A shame I was looking forward to a decent coffee.
I carried on round the road for a short distance past a quarry then onto a side road which turned into a track for Suisnish, the second of the cleared villages for today. It was easy walking on a gradually rising track and I raced along.
I was at Suisnish for about 1030 hrs where sheep where still occupying the abandoned village 162 years after they took over.
There were plenty of ruins but not as many as at Boreraig where I arrived 50 minutes later after a nice coastal section.
Boreraig was huge with a large number of ruined buildings, some still with door lintels intact. It was a large green area behind a nice bay and must have been a lovely place to live in. I dare say if it had survived it would have a proper road by now but it too was part of the infamous clearance of 1853. The Scottish Census of 1851 said that 22 households lived there and comprised approximately 120 men, women and children. Some of them emigrated but ships were plagued with disease and many died en route.
It is a very sobering place thinking of the human suffering and misery, but a lovely spot on a nice day as it was by now with the sun shining and the wind down a tad.
I passed quite a few walkers as I went up the hill pass before topping out at a cairn and getting my first view of Broadford Bay in the distance.
I then went past the old marble quarry with the circular remains of a winding wheel that pulled trains up the track. That track, now beautifully smooth with fine gravel provided a great surface for weary legs and feet to gallop the last few miles into Broadford. The track eventually runs parallel to the road before joining the road 900 meters from Broadford . I should have taken a photograph of that sign because when I arrived at the 30 mph signs at 1340 hrs the sign saying Broadford was missing and I carried on down into the village and to the seafront.
After a change of clothes and a wash in the toilets and a cappuccino at the gift shop, I felt like a new man as I waited for the bus home. Another great trip.
I am grateful to Paul and Helen for producing an excellent guidebook and to others who have posted on this forum, all of which helped to inspire me to go on this route and to plan and complete it. That's why I have produced my version, in case it can help someone else plan their trip. As I said earlier on its a walk of two halves. The first half pure hillwalking and the second pure trekking. There is a wee bit of road walking to link up some tracks but not much and nothing to put off even the most tarmac hating of people. The Trotternish Ridge is fantastic as was the ridge leading to Portree. The walk from Peinachorrain to Elgol is great too. The stretch after that passes and is next to a lot of houses and farms which makes camping, toileting and hydrating a bit more problematic but is still very enjoyable.
I was lucky enough with the weather and got some good days although there was always a fair wee breeze, perfect trekking weather you might say. I never got to see the Cuillins close up in their majesty but to be fair I did see them in their full glory from a distance, so I would say that's fair enough.
A great walk which I thoroughly recommend. I'm now reading the Hill of the Red Fox which I recommend not just as a gripping read but it mentions all the places you will travel through which makes it even more interesting.
Skye Trail 2015 Gear
This is for the ultra keen .
I know I like to read about gear choices others have made, so if this interests you please read. Any suggestions to improve my choices will be gratefully received. I'm getting quite satisfied with my kit and my food but am always tweaking to make life easier and more comfortable out there, whilst trying to reduce pack weight.
Rucksac Montane Grand Tour 55 + pouches 1300g
Liner Exped 74g
Bus/train bag; poly bag with food drink valuables
PLB 68g Ocean Signal RecueME1
Raidlight water bottle 95g
Sawyers Mini Filter / cleaner / bags 82g
Walking poles - Black Diamond Trail
Mobile 147g / Lifeventure case 34g
Maps/case/guide book/ Pod Sac 60g
Notepad and pen
Compass / GPS / spare batteries
Glasses / wipe
First Aid Kit 167g
Multi tool Leatherman Style 23g
Camera Panasonic Lumix 152g / Aquapak waterproof pouch
Head torch Black Diamond 20g plus 2 x PX28L batteries @ 10g each
Paramo Pasco jacket 669g
Paramo Velez Adventure Trousers 398g
Buffs x 2 @ 35g each
Baselayer top Paramo Cambia
Baselayer top Paramo Mountain Vent 356g
shorts TNF 204g
Paramo Cambia Boxers
socks Bridgedale trekker
Gloves thin silk 27g
Boots Anatom Q2
Gaiters Paramo short
Waterproof gloves Trekmates Dry Classic 82g
Regatta hat 62g
Mont Bell Duvet Jacket 174g
Montane Prism Pants 322g
Rab T shirt
Paramo cambia boxers
Sleeping / tent
MLD Trailstar 544g inc cord
MSR blizzard x 4 132g
Titanium Vs x 8 92g
PHD Sleeping bag 718g
Thermarest 383 g
Bag cover Terra Nova Moonlight 180g
Pee bottle - small
Thermarest seat 190g
Tent light Niteize 20g inc 2 x CR2016
Stove Primus Express 86g
Stove bag 10g
Gas (C250 cannister 365g full)
Titanium pot - Evernew ECA252R 0.9L 108g
mug GSI Cascadian 69g
spoon/scourer/jcloth/Matches/sparkie/ disposable lighter/Water bag/plastic knife
Lighter - Primus inc nozzle 68g
bag for food
Midge repellant (Smidge decanted into small tub)/hood
Repair kit - tenacious tape/cable ties/ cord/spare batteries/spare pole baskets and tips/field repair buckles 180g
Washing kit - soap/toothpaste and brush + interdental stick/ micro fibre towel 107g
Toilet bag - paper/hand gel/vaseline
Poly bags for rubbish
Monocular - Viking 6 x 16 56g
Inov8 water shoes 390g
Considered but not taken
Hat Tilley 90g (summer)
tecknet power pack 201g
Terra Nova Laser Competition 1009g
Neoprene face mask
Fire Starting kit
Spare torch LED lenser K1 7g + spare AG3 batteries x 4
Rab Generator Vest 236g
Bahco Laplander Folding Saw 190g
Bothy boots 186g
RAB Duvet jacket 743g
light waterproofs TNF Diad Jacket 241g trousers 250g
Spare gloves TNF 57g
Petzl head torch 115g (can be re-charged from Tecknetpower pack )
Full wash, kit bigger towel
Black Diamond Lantern 134g inc 4 x AAA Coal
Trousers lt grey Columbia 296g
Kindle 166g/ Book / magazine
Pot cosy 37g
Conclusion - Gear
My base weight before food is between 7 and 8 kg depending on the season. I got a Personal Locator Beacon( PLB) this year and it will be used for sailing, canoeing and walking.One push of a button and they come and rescue me. Only to be used in life threatening situations, it is re-assurance for my mum and wife and the thought of lying somewhere with a broken leg for the sake of £200 made me get it. Having read other blogs including Whiteburns I bought a MLD Trailstar. I'm still getting used to it and am considering what to do about an inner for drafts but more important midgies. The Sawyers water filter is used near civilisation or livestock. When in open country with good water I don't bother. It was used a few times on this trip and earned its keep.The thermarest chair is not worth its weight so probably will be dropped. The waterproof gloves are not waterproof and will be replaced. The monocular was rarely used and is struggling to stay. The Primus lighter was temperamental and sometimes didn't light, it's on a shaky peg. The Paramo gear as usual performed excellently. The cold helped, if it had turned warmer they might have had to come off. The Mont Bell Duvet Jacket is superb. It weighs less than a cotton t shirt and really heats you up on a chilly night. Also used to boost sleeping bag on cold nights. I wouldn't walk with it in case the heavy rucksack damaged it. It looks very fragile, but to be honest that's not an issue I'm never cold when walking. My Anatom Q2 boots were bought shortly before the trip after my previous boots failed. It wasn't perfect as they were not broken in with a decent walk. However they were perfect and gave no issues. My feet were dry throughout, even through Glen Sligachan when they were severely tested. The boots are comfortable and light. I'm still not ready to move to trail shoes. I understand the theory and agree with it but still have some reservations. After my previous boots failed I resolved never to buy fabric boots again. My choice is thus trail shoes or back to solid leather boots. So far it's back to leather boots and I'm happy with my choice. Anatom are a Scottish company too and I like buying local.
I did not miss anything I left behind except possibly my kindle which would help fill in the time when I can't sleep. It may make the A team next trip.
Rat Pack in a zip lock bag
H&B Flapjack 432
Coffee x 2 200
Oatcakes x 2 packs @ 350 700
½ primula spreading cheese 150
½ pate (Coop 2 discs) 150
Snickers x 2 @ 248 500
Brunch bar 140
½ choc raisins 385
Fruit oatcakes 215
Go apple slice x 2 340
Yogurt fruit flakes 112
nature valley crunchy bar 192
Sesame Snaps x 2 157
Cuppa soup 155
Adventure Food main meal 600
Hot choc 112
Mars bar 230
2 x 2 packs lotus biscuits 76
SIS Go hydro tabs 2 x 20 tubes around 6 a day. No calories but a nice drink with electrolytes to replace those lost in sweat.
At Portree when re-stocking I picked up Peperami sticks which keep unrefridgerated and which will now be standard. Also Jelly Babies 330kcal per 100g, half a bag a day and Hob Nobs Medley cereal bar 129 kcal per bar Baby Bel cheeses. All of which were very tasty. I ditched the fruit oatcakes and the Sesame Seed bars as being unpalatable.
Re-supply remains an issue. I got all my food no bother at Portree but had to take a larger gas cannister which negated gear choices earlier. Specialist food such as Adventure Foods might be stocked but again what if they run out, They are expensive at around £4.50 but apart from being quick, easy and reasonably tasty they hardly use any gas. Had I been needing to re-supply at smaller places like Elgol, I was onto plums. Remember Sunday opening is still an issue.
I've got this just about right for me. I was eating constantly and got through each days rat pack. I was never hungry and always had something I wanted to eat. I had plenty of energy and my weight was about the same when I got home. On the trail, food is stashed in the side pockets of rucksack and eaten (devoured) as I go. At about 1300 hrs I'll have a stop for oatcakes etc. I rarely brew up during the day unless sheltering in a bothy
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