Lindsay Boyd's Trip Reports

.

Section 17 - The Islands

Hallival and Askival, Rum
Hallival and Askival, Rum
Sunset, Isle of Harris
Sunset, Isle of Harris
Sound of Sleat
Sound of Sleat
Inaccessible Pinnacle
Inaccessible Pinnacle

This section refers to the hills and mountains of the Scottish Islands and includes Arran, Harris, Jura, Mull, Rum, Skye and South Uist. They cover the Corbetts, Grahams and Munros that I have climbed in these areas since 2003. The Sub 2000 Marilyns for this area are split into three sections. They are Skye, Rum, Mull and nearby Islands, Jura, Islay, Arran and nearby Islands and Western Isles.


Section 17 - Index

Corbetts Grahams Munros
Ainshval Beinn a'Chaolais Am Basteir
Askival Beinn Dearg Mhor - Broadford Ben More
Beinn an Oir Beinn Dearg Mhor - Sligachan Bla Bheinn
Beinn Tarsuinn Beinn Fhada Bruach na Frithe
Caisteal Abhail Beinn Mhor Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh
Cir Mhor Beinn na Caillich - Broadford Sgurr Alasdair
Clisham Beinn na Caillich- Kylerhea Sgurr a'Mhadaidh
Dun da Ghaoithe Beinn Shiantaidh Sgurr Dearg (Inaccessible Pinnacle)
Garbh-bheinn Beinn Talaidh Sgurr Dubh Mor
Goatfell Belig Sgurr Mhic Choinnich
Sgurr Mhairi, Glamaig Ben Aslak Sgurr na Banachdich
  Ben Buie Sgurr nan Eag
  Corra-bheinn Sgurr nan Gillean
  Creach Beinn  
  Cruachan Dearg  
  Cruach Choireadail  
  Hartaval  
  Marsco  
  Mullach Buidhe  
  Oreval  
  Sgurr Dearg  
  Sgurr na Coinnich  
  The Storr  
  Tirga Mor  
  Trollaval  
  Uisgnaval Mor  


Section 17 - Trip Reports

Askival, Ainshval and Trollaval

18 April 2015

slide show - Kinloch to Askival

slide show Askival to Ainshval

Map - OS Landranger 39. Time taken 11.5 hours. Distance - 15.75 kilometres. Ascent - 1685 metres.

We had arranged for an early self-service breakfast at our accommodation, Ivy Cottage, Kinloch, to enable us to set off for a traverse of the Rum Cuillin at 7am. With dinner being served at 7.30pm this gave us just over 12 hours to complete the walk.

It was a beautiful sunny morning with a touch of frost as we walked round the outskirts of Kinloch Castle to join the path that ran up the west side of the Allt Slugan a’Choilich. This was the same route I had taken the previous afternoon to ascend the Hump, Barkeval so it was obviously still wet and boggy in places. The hydro dam and water intake was passed then it was the rusty deer fence with the missing gate. At an old dam we crossed the Allt Slugan a’Choilich then took the path, which later became quite eroded, up the side of a tributary and to the col south of a small knoll. Beyond we climbed Cnapan Breaca over a mixture of gravel and stones to reach the foot of the Hallival’s north-west Ridge. Higher up this ridge we moved to the left to avoid the cliffs then worked our way through some bands of rock. There were several Manx Sheerwater burrows here and at other points along the route to Ainshval.

At the summit of Hallival, a Graham Top, we took a break sitting in the sun looking at the route ahead as well as the views across to the Isles of Eigg and Skye and towards the mainland. The descent was a bit tricky with lots of rock to contend with so this slowed us down. Eventually we attained the col with Askival where a path led up a narrow ridge. After a bit of height gain the pinnacle was reached and bypassed to the east where there were traces of a path through the rocks and boulders then onto the summit of Askival, marked by a trig point surrounded by a circular cairn.

Leaving the summit of this Corbett involved descending south across scree and stones then crossing some boulders to reach the west ridge below the crags. After a long descent we arrived at the Bealach an Oir where there were views down Glen Dibidil to Dibidil Bothy.

The route up the Graham, Trollaval, was initially across some grassy vegetation before arriving at the rocks and boulders. These were worked through or round to gain the East Top but this wasn’t the highest point. An exposed area of rock was crossed including some scrambling to reach Trollaval’s West Top. After several minutes here taking in the awesome views we returned to the East Top, collected our sacks which we had left nearby, and descended south. Occasionally there were traces of a path but on this section of the walk it mainly involved finding your own route through the boulder strewn ridge to reach Bealach an Fhuarain.

Our next target was the Corbett, Ainshval. Keeping to the ridge involved some serious scrambling so we headed right and climbed through boulders and scree to the west of the rock. The ridge was later gained and followed briefly before leaving it and continuing on a path up its east side avoiding the difficulties on the crest. Higher up the path wasn’t as obvious as there appeared to be several different routes towards the top. An area of scree was reached but we managed to avoid it and regained the ridge a few metres from the summit cairn.

In the sunny conditions there were again some fine views so we sat there enjoying the fantastic scenery and spotting several military vessels involved in a military exercise. As mentioned earlier dinner had been arranged for 7.30pm so reluctantly we left the summit and returned by the upward route to the Bealach an Fhuarain. Here we made a slight descent east before traversing below Trollaval, crossing a few rocks, to reach the Bealach an Oir. From this bealach we walked round the head of Atlantic Corrie and below Askival and Hallival. There were several small boulder fields to cross but despite these obstacles we tried to maintain the same height and made it across to the Bealach Bairc-mheall. We then located the path below Cnapan Breaca before following it back to Kinloch arriving at our accommodation with just under an hour to spare.

The next day (Sunday) we caught the ferry back to Mallaig, via the Island of Canna. A very pleasant sail in sunny and calm conditions.

previous ascent

Askival Corbett third ascent 812 metres
Ainshval Corbett third ascent 781 metres
Trollaval Graham second ascent 702 metres

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Sgurr Mhairi, Glamaig

19 March 2015

slide show

Map - Harveys Skye Cuillin Time taken - 2.75 hours. Distance - 6.5 kilometres. Ascent - 830 metres.

With a cloudy day forecasted my walking companions decided they needed a rest day. This wasn’t on my agenda so I decided to pop over to Skye and re-ascend the Corbett, Sgurr Mhairi. On my previous visits to this hill I climbed it from near the Sligachan Hotel then up through the scree so on this occasion I planned an easterly approach which appeared easier and also allowed me to take in the Graham Top.

I parked in the lay-by on the west side of the A87 just south of the Moll junction and the Sconser Golf Course then walked a short distance south along the main road to a gate in the stock fence. The ground on the other side of the gate was rather muddy having been churned up by cattle. Beyond this area I crossed some wet and boggy ground where there were traces of a walker’s path on the south side of the fence. The gradient later increased and it was a steep climb through the heather following the now more obvious path. There was lots of rusty wire lying around waiting to trip up walkers!

The path passed to the south of some cliffs then eased as I crossed a grassy and mossy area which led to a gully full of loose stones and boulders. The winter’s rain and snow appeared to have made conditions worse so I opted to climb through the rocks on the north side. Above this obstacle more grass and moss was reached as I continued to follow the line of old fence posts. Some rocky ground was then encountered before arriving at the summit of the Graham Top, An Coileach, marked by a cairn.

It was rather windy so I didn’t linger here and descended south-west over rock and grass to reach the col with Sgurr Mhairi then commenced its ascent on a path, mainly through grass, still following the fence posts. As I was about to leave this line of posts to head for the summit cairn the area was engulfed in cloud. On reaching the cairn I found a bit of shelter from the wind and waited a while to see if the cloud would lift. It didn’t although I briefly saw Loch Sligachan and Sconser.

The return was by the upward route although at the gully I descended through the rocks on the south side. While on the final section of the steep descent through the heather I spotted, just off the fence line, what I later discovered to be a Highland cow lying on its side. I went to investigate. Sadly it appeared to have recently died while calving. On reaching my car the rest of the herd, which had been nearby when I set out, had been removed from the hillside. There was no croft house or farm nearby to advise the owner of the cow’s demise.

previous ascent

Sgurr Mhairi Corbett third ascent 775 metres

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Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Dearg Mhor

20 February 2015

slide show

Map - Harveys Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 7.75 kilometres. Ascent - 875 metres.

This was my Graham Bagging friend’s final day on Skye with only Beinn na Caillich and Beinn Dearg Mhor left to climb on the Island. Not the easiest set of hills to ascend so after looking at the options we decided on an easterly approach with a return over Beinn Dearg Bheag or a descent into Srath Beag.

I drove to Old Corry, accessed along a single track road from the A87 just north-west of Broadford, and parked on an area of rough ground just north of the Allt a’Choire. We then walked the short distance to the turning circle beside Coire chat-achan where planks of wood were used to cross a water filled ditch. This led to a rather wet path that ran through mainly dead vegetation then up the north side of an un-named stream where we encountered the first of several snow showers. As height was gained there was some snow cover with lots of boulders. Initially we tried to avoid them using what may have been paths through heather but latterly there was no option but cross the boulders where any gaps were filled with soft snow.

The gradient eased and the ascent was now easier as we walked round the head of Coire Fearchair to reach the large summit cairn. As we arrived the wind picked up and it started to snow. Despite the size of the cairn there was very little shelter from these conditions as the wind and snow swirled around. The nearby trig point was lost to view and after a while sitting out these conditions we started to make plans to get off the hill. At this point the sun began to appear through the cloud and the trig point was once again visible. A few minutes later the snow ceased although there was still plenty of spindrift around.

We managed to take a few photos before visiting the trig point then descended west across some stony ground to reach the col with Beinn Dearg Mhor. From here we climbed its east ridge where any rocks were easily avoided. The summit cairn was reached and here we stopped to take on some food and discuss the descent route. As we prepared to leave the top another snow shower crossed the area.

The way off was down Beinn Dearg Mhor’s west face crossing more snow covered boulders. The ground steepened so we headed north-west still across boulders but also areas of scree and heather which made the descent a bit easier. Further downhill and below the snow line we were able to revert to a westerly bearing and eventually reached the wet and rough path in Srath Beag which was followed south to Torrin where we had left a car.

previous ascent

Beinn na Caillich Graham second ascent 732 metres
Beinn Dearg Mhor Graham second ascent 709 metres

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Belig

17 February 2015

slide show

Map - Harveys Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 4.75 hours. Distance - 7.25 kilometres. Ascent - 695 metres.

During the previous couple of days while driving round the head of Loch Slapin on the Isle of Skye I looked at the possibility of climbing the Graham, Belig, by its south-east ridge which appeared to narrow and steepen high up. However with a covering of snow it maybe wasn’t the best time of year to tackle this route so we settled for a northerly approach.

We left my car in the parking area on the east side of the A87 just north of Eas a’Bhradain then walked south along the side of the road through a rocky embankment. Beyond, we left the road, crossed some rather wet ground consisting of heather, dead grass and some boulders to reach the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort. Once over this stream we headed for Coire na Selig passing above the gorge of the Eas a’Chalt having decided not to ascend Belig’s north ridge due to the windy conditions.

It was gusty in the coire and on a couple of occasions the wind brought me to a halt which wasn’t very encouraging for the higher sections of the route. The gradient increased and the terrain turned rockier before reaching Bealach na Beiste where there were views across to Sgurr nan Each as the cloud base lowered. The ascent of Belig’s north-east ridge was over rocks and scree with patches of snow. Higher up there was a large bank of snow but the ground was clear on its north side. Later the ridge narrowed and an old stone dyke was followed to the summit cairn.

The wind hadn’t been too strong on this section of the ridge but was gusty on the summit so with limited views we left the top and descended the north ridge. The going was fairly easy over stony ground and some snow patches. Well down the ridge the gradient increased and an area of boulders had to be worked through to reach Coire Choinnich. It was then the case of aiming for the starting point through heather and over some wet ground to reach the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort. After an easy crossing the main road was reached followed by short hike along the side of the road back to the car.

previous ascent

Belig Graham third ascent 702 metres

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Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich

16 February 2015

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 5.25 hours. Distance - 7.5 kilometres. Ascent - 805 metres.

Bealach Udal on the single track road to Kylerhea, Isle of Skye, was the starting point for the ascent of the Grahams, Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich. Here there was space to leave a vehicle on the east side of the road bridge.

We made the short walk east to the highest point on the road before leaving it and commencing the ascent of Sgurr na Coinnich. The cloud was well down the hill which reminded me of my previous visit to these hills in March 2011 when the cloud was down to road level. We came across what appeared to be a walker’s path and followed it. This took us across some wet ground to a tributary of the Allt Mor. The path led to the foot of a gully where the gradient increased and the path seemed to disappear. Keeping to the east side of this stream we climbed through heather and some boulders before the gradient eased.

The snow that commenced just as we set off was now quite heavy with the heather and rocks covered by fresh snow. In limited visibility we climbed to the small lochan then over a few undulations to reach Sgurr na Coinnich’s summit trig point and cairn, where it was windy and still snowing.

After a short discussion it was decided to continue to Beinn na Caillich so after taking a bearing we descended to Bealach nam Mulachag. The snow on this side of the hill had drifted and there were some icy patches but the ice was avoidable. At some point on the descent it had stopped snowing but there was no improvement in the visibility.

From the Bealach nam Mulachag we commenced the ascent of Beinn na Caillich and from what we could see it looked rather awkward with lots of rock and snow. Keeping to the left we managed to avoid most of the rock and as the gradient eased the cloud suddenly broke to reveal the villages of Kyleakin and Kyle of Lochalsh as well as the Skye Bridge. A few minutes later we could see down the other side of the hill to Glenelg Bay. After taking a few photographs we continued up the snow covered slope to Beinn na Caillich’s summit cairn. Here we found some shelter to take in the views of the surrounding snow covered hills while some cloud floated around.

After spending some time taking in the views we descended by the ascent route and re-climbed Sgurr na Coinnich. Unfortunately on reaching its summit for the second time we were back in the cloud so headed back to my car by the upward route.

previous ascent

Sgurr na Coinnich Graham third ascent 739 metres
Beinn na Caillich Graham thrid ascent 733 metres

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Ben Aslak

27 February 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 2.5 hours. Distance - 4.75 kilometres. Ascent - 340 metres.

My walking partner wanted a short walk prior to heading home so we decided on the Graham, Ben Aslak. The start of this walk was reached by leaving the A87 Broadford to Kyleakin Road and driving up the single track road in Glen Arroch. Just before the high point at the Bealach Udal there was parking for a single vehicle beside a stone bridge. In the summer months it would be possible to access this parking area from Kylerhea to the east using the Glenelg Ferry.

We walked east along the road for a few metres then followed the access road to a small telecommunications tower. Beyond the route was pathless as we climbed over the east shoulder of Beinn Bheag before crossing a small stream then aiming for a lochan and a gap in the cliffs. Once up this grassy gully Ben Aslak’s highest point was to the south-west but I also wanted to visit the East Top so headed passed another lochan as it began to snow.

On reaching the East Top as well as snowing it was a bit breezy so we sought a bit of shelter to let the snow shower pass. Once the snow became lighter we returned to the small lochan and climbed to Ben Aslak’s summit cairn.

With only a few brief breaks in the cloud there was little point in hanging around so we descended to the gully and returned to the Bealach Udal by the upward route.

previous ascent

Ben Aslak Graham third ascent 610 metres

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Marsco

26 February 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 32. Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 835 metres.

The start of this walk was the same as earlier in the week when we ascended the Graham, Beinn Dearg Mhor, the new car park on the A87 just east of Sligachan. From there we crossed the bridge over the Allt Daraich, then through a gate which gave access to the Right of Way to Loch Coruisk. Heavy overnight rain meant the streams and the River Sligachan were running high. The path was wet in places and there was some flooding in the Glen.

After following the Right of Way for around three kilometres we reached the Allt na Measarroch which appeared crossable but the result would probably have meant wet feet. However we planned to leave the Right of Way at this point and followed a wet and muddy path above the north then north-east side of the Allt na Measarroch and into Coire Dubh Measarroch. Higher up we looked for a crossing place but it wasn’t until the stream split, just below Mam a’Phobuill, where we located a suitable point.

From there we commenced the ascent of Marsco by its north face initially across short wet vegetation. However the gradient gradually increased and it became quite steep with some wet rocks to work round. Beyond these rocks the now grassy ridge narrowed. It was windy here so we tried to obtain some shelter by staying just below the ridge line on the lee side. Eventually the small summit cairn came into view as did the narrow south-east ridge.

On reaching the cairn we had a discussion whether to return by the ascent route or attempt the south-east ridge. We opted for the latter and crossed the short narrow section of the ridge without incident as it was less windy here than on the north ridge. At the col with the South-East Top my walking partner commenced the descent to Mam a’Phobuill while I went out to Marsco’s South-East Top to consider whether to continue to the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Ruadh Stac. After a bit of thought I opted to leave it for another day, returned to the col and also commenced the descent to Mam a’Phobuill.

The path initially disappeared amongst small landslips but it wasn’t difficult to relocate as there were lots of old metal fence posts marking the route. On reaching Mam a’Phobuill we descended into Coire Dubh Measarroch and returned to Sligachan by the outward route. It was noticeable that the stream levels had dropped by this time.

previous ascent

Marsco Graham third ascent 736 metres

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The Storr and Hartaval

25 February 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 23. Time taken - 5 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 930 metres.

The Storr and Hartaval are the most northerly Grahams on the Isle of Skye and on this visit I wanted to climb them from the high point on the Quiraing Road to the north. However with the forecast for strong winds I opted for the standard approach route which saw me parking in the official car park just off the A855 to the south-east of The Storr.

Immediately to the north of the car park there were several signs regarding logging operations and once through the gate and onto the path, which was muddy in places, with small pieces of bark and branches, we observed that the trees had all been removed. Despite the mess caused by the timber operations the advantage on this sunny but windy morning was the views of the cliffs and pinnacles virtually from the start. Previously you had to clear the forest before there were any reasonable views.

Once beyond the forest the paths were eroded but we were soon walking round the north side of the Old Man of Storr and the west side of The Needle. We decided on a short break here as higher up we didn’t expect to find any shelter from the strong wind.

Thereafter we followed the path north-east below the cliffs and crossed a barbed wire fence before swinging round and ascending through some rocks and scree into the corrie between the north and north-east ridges. Here there was some snow cover but with the gusting wind we decided it was a bit risky to ascend the snow covered north-east ridge so opted to follow a path that swung round below the cliffs and the north ridge. There were several snow patches to cross but after a short walk northwards we found an area clear of snow and rocks and this permitted us to gain the north ridge.

The wind here was gusting and several times we were brought to a halt. It was here we encountered the first snow shower of the day with the driving snow forcing us to locate our goggles. We continued up the mainly grassy hillside and were surprised how calm it was at the summit trig point which was looking the worse of wear as was the surrounding ground. I had a look at the East Top but the possibility of a gust blowing me off its narrow ridge put me off going out to this Graham Top.

We descended north-west back into the wind and snow showers to reach the Bealach a’Chuirn. From there we commenced the ascent of Hartaval keeping well away from the cliff edge due to the wind. Higher up there was an area of rock and snow to cross before heading into the cloud and to the cairn marking the summit of Hartaval.

It was pointless remaining at the top in these weather conditions so we returned to the Bealach a’Chuirn and out of the cloud. We then worked our way round the west and south faces of The Storr on mainly pathless terrain to the Bealach Beag where we found a bit of shelter for some lunch.

The descent of the gorge was a bit awkward as there had been a small landslip but eventually we reached more level ground. A path crossed the wet vegetation and led to the edge of the forest and the main road. The final section was marshy and a barbed wire fence had to be crossed. Once over it we noticed a sign facing the wrong direction for those on the return route indicating a gate one hundred metres to the south which we hadn’t seen. It was then a short walk north along the road back to the car park and the end of an eventful walk.

previous ascent

The Storr Graham third ascent 719 metres
Hartaval Graham third ascent 668 metres

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Beinn Dearg Mhor

24 February 2014

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 32. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 10.25 kilometres. Ascent - 850 metres.

We parked in the new car park on the A87 just east of the Sligachan Hotel and set off across the bridge over the Allt Daraich to the gate and signage for the Right of Way to Loch Coruisk. After a short walk along this Right of Way we left the path, passed through a kissing gate, and followed a rather wet path, boggy in places, on the west side of the Allt Daraich. A stile was reached and crossed and beyond the ground was fairly flat and therefore wet and marshy.

This took us to the foot of a fairly steep ascent where an eroded path led onto the Druim na Ruaige. It was then a pleasant stroll along this ridge looking across Glen Sligachan to the snow topped Black Cuillin. At the south end of this ridge we changed direction and climbed east on a stony zigzag path to a large cairn on Beinn Dearg. Here after another change of direction we headed along its north ridge before descending to the Bealach Mosgaraidh. This was followed by a steady climb with numerous paths to choose from and some snow patches, which were easily avoided, to reach Beinn Dearg Mhor’s summit cairn.

A cold wind was blowing so after taking a few photos we returned to the Bealach Mosgaraidh where we made the descent into Coire na Sgairde over scree, some large stones and long heather. The underfoot terrain made for slow progress but it was possibly easier than the descent to the Bealach na Sgairde, the route I took on my last visit to Beinn Dearg Mhor. Once into the coire we followed the east side of the Allt Daraich where the ground was wet due to the recent rainfall. Just before the gorge we cut across to the car park as the first heavy rain shower of the day commenced.

previous ascent

Beinn Dearg Mhor Graham third ascent 731 metres

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Marsco

13 June 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - Harveys - Skye: The Cuillin. Time taken - 5.75 hours. Distance - 10.25 kilometres. Ascent - 785 metres.

Sue was intending ascending the Graham, Marsco, one of the hills on the Red Cuillin so Fraser and I decided to join her and with two cars available it was to be a linear walk. Fraser planned a wee twist, a scramble up the north-west ridge, although we didn’t tell Sue that.

A new car park had been constructed just east of the bridges over the Allt Daraich and the River Sligachan so we left a car there before crossing the bridge over the Allt Daraich and following the upgraded path, a Right of Way, towards Glen Sligachan.

Approaching the path to Coire Dubh Measarroch, which gives access to Marsco’s north ridge we advised Sue of our intended route but she didn’t raise any objection. Over an hour after we set out we left the path and began the ascent of the north-west ridge which was easy at first. However the gradient soon increased as we stayed to the north of the gully which is what we had read on-line. Steep grassy slopes, which were a bit slippery as the grass was damp, were encountered as well as some rock but not as much as we were expecting, maybe we should have been closer to the ridge line! One slightly awkward spot was a turn in the ridge but it didn’t cause a serious problem.

The grassy north ridge was reached and we crossed the 655 knoll before making the final ascent to the summit cairn. The narrow section of the south ridge was tackled but it wasn’t difficult and slightly lower down we stopped for lunch although there was a cool breeze blowing. I took several photographs of the surrounding hills including Clach Glas, Bla Bheinn and Sgurr na Stri.

After our break we followed the old metal fence posts into Coire an Laogh, crossed the Allt Mam a’Phobuill and traversed the lower reaches of Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach to the A87 where a car had been left.

Marsco Graham second ascent 736 metres

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Beinn Fhada

27 April 2013

slide show from photographs taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 48. Time taken 6.75 hours. Distance - 11.75 kilometres. Ascent - 1065 metres.

The rest of the group were going to catch the morning ferry back to Oban. I wasn’t ready to leave the Isle of Mull as I still had the Graham, Beinn Fhada, to climb for a second time. The route I had chosen would include the Sub 2000 Marilyn, Beinn a’Ghraig.

It was a pleasant sunny morning when I parked my car on the shore side of the B8035 at the bridge over the Scarisdale River. I then followed its north bank across an open field to reach a wooded ravine where I found a dead lamb which appeared to have recently succumbed. A lone ewe, possibly its mother, was further up the river side. I tried to get a view into the ravine but couldn’t get close to the edge so gave up and headed for the North-East Top of Beinn a’Ghraig. Initially the going was relatively easy but higher up the gradient steepened with long heather and rocks to contend with. The cairn marking the summit of Beinn a’Ghraig, a Sub Highland Five, was reached with good views down to Loch na Keal and Ben More.

After a while at the summit I descended to the col with Beinn a’Ghraig, clambered through a few rocks and made for the cairn marking the summit of this Sub 2000 Marilyn and Highland Five. It was quite windy here so I continued along the ridge before descending through cliffs. At this point I heard what I thought was the flapping of wings from nearby rocks and was a bit concerned that I may have been in the vicinity of a birds nest. Just in case it was a specially protected bird I made a hasty descend to the col with Beinn nan Gabhar but despite looking back using binoculars I never saw anything.

It was then an easy climb to the summit of the Highland Five, Beinn nan Gabhar, before dropping to its col with Beinn Fhada. From here I climbed the north ridge as far as the col with An Cruchan then made the short stroll out to what appeared to be the unmarked highest point of this Sub Highland Five.

On returning to Beinn Fhada’s north ridge it was a steady climb to the cairn marking its summit where I found shelter from the wind for lunch with views across to the snow covered A’Chioch and Ben More. Afterwards I descended the rocky north-west ridge disturbing a couple of ptarmigan before ascending Beinn Fhada’s North-West Top, a Highland Five. The descent was by its north ridge where there were several areas of rock to avoid so it entailed a bit of meandering to find a suitable route. Eventually I reached the south bank of the Scarisdale River and followed it to the B8035.

During this walk in addition to the Mull Hills I had views south to the Paps of Jura, west to the Islands of Coll and Tiree and north to the Rum and Skye Cuillin. It was well worth the effort and I even managed to catch the 1625 ferry to Lochaline on the mainland.

previous ascent

Beinn Fhada Graham second ascent 702 metres

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Corra-bheinn and Cruach Choireadail

26 April 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 48. Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1210 metres.

The start of this walk was Teanga Brideig on the A849 Craignure to Fionnphort Road in Glen More, Isle of Mull. There were some parking spots beside an old section of road next to the old bridge.

In a rain shower we set off along the stalker’s path on the east side of the Allt Teanga Brideig. The path was wet in places but we made good progress to the cairn marking its highpoint before it descended to Glen Clachaig. From this bealach we headed up the west ridge of Cruachan Dearg initially keeping to the lee side due to a strong breeze blowing out of Glen Clachaig. My map didn’t show it but there were lots of boulders on approaching the summit so various routes were chosen to try and locate the easiest ascent. The summit cairn of Cruachan Dearg was eventually reached after encountering a snow shower. The hill is classed as a Graham Top but has the same height as the adjoining Graham, Corra-bheinn. In my opinion Cruachan Dearg is a twin Graham with Corra-bheinn.

It was initially a stony descent to the col, Mam a’Choir Idhir, then a steady climb to Corra-bheinn. Although the upper section appeared rather rocky there were no difficulties and we were soon at the summit trig point. From here we headed north-east before descending steeply over areas of scree to the col, Mam Bhreapadail. A narrower ridge was then climbed to gain the summit of Beinn a’Mheadhoin, a Highland Five.

An easy stroll took us along the east ridge of Beinn a’Mheadhoin before dropping to the col, Mam Choireadail, where the rest of the group headed for the summit of Cruach Choireadail. I wanted to include Cruach Choireadail’s North-East Top, a Sub Highland Five, so I made a steep ascent through some crags to reach a small pile of stones marking its highest point. Despite the wind it was then an easy descent before climbing Cruach Choireadail where I rejoined the other members of the group.

The descent of Cruach Choireadail was back towards the col with the North-East Top then a steady descent searching out the easiest route to reach the A849 at the point where the old road crossed it. We had left a car there earlier that day to avoid any road walking.

Another interesting day on the Isle of Mull.

previous ascent

Corra-bheinn Graham second ascent 704 metres
Cruach Choireadail Graham second ascent 618 metres

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Dun da Ghaoithe

25 April 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 49. Time taken - 7.5 hours. Distance - 16.25 kilometres. Ascent - 1040 metres.

I was staying with a group of friends at Corry House, opposite Fishnish Bay, on the Isle of Mull. When I discovered the location of our accommodation my thought was that I could climb the Corbett, Dun da Ghaoithe, from its back door, which would allow me to bag a couple of Graham Tops en-route.

It surprised me that on the day of the walk four other members of the group were interested in joining me. Maybe the appeal was the opportunity to bag a Sub Highland Five followed by a Highland Five! We set off from the rear of Corry House following the west bank of the Allt Mor Coire nan Eunachair. There were a few gates to pass through but the final one was tied down so we had to climb over it. Here I heard my first cuckoo of 2013.

The first shower of the day soon arrived. Initially it was of rain but quickly turned to sleet then snow and lasted for around ten to fifteen minutes. The helicopter that was flying back and forth across the hillside, probably transferring fish between farms, was grounded for a while.

There were lots of small streams flowing into the Allt Mor Coire nan Eunachair and we followed one of these tributaries towards Beinn Chreagach Mhor firstly visiting its East Top, a sub Highland Five. After locating what appeared to be the highest point we continued to Beinn Chreagach Mhor, a Highland Five, where a cairn marked the highest point.

We left this cairn and traversed round the west side of the East Top as the cloud briefly lowered. A group of lochans was our next target before making the easy ascent of Beinn Mheadhon, a Graham Top. A gradual descent then took us to the col with Beinn Thunicaraidh before climbing to the summit of this hill. A second Graham Top bagged. From this Top it was another easy descent to the foot of the north-west face of Dun da Ghaoithe followed by a steady climb to the large cairn marking the summit of this Corbett.

The ridge round Coire Mor and Coire nan Each took us over the third Graham Top of the day, Mainnir nam Fiadh, with its large cairn and trig point. A communications tower was reached then a vehicle track led to a second tower. Beyond this tower it was a long steady descent by way of a vehicle track to Upper Achnacroish. This track was being upgraded and signs at the gate near Upper Achnacoish indicated that access was restricted during these improvements. However the workmen were friendly enough when we passed although obviously there was no information about the track upgrade on the route we took.

Not long after passing Upper Achnacroish our lift arrived to convey us back to our accommodation.

previous ascent

Dun da Ghaoithe Corbett third ascent 766 metres

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Creach Beinn and Ben Buie

24 April 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 49. Time taken - 8.75 hours. Distance - 16 kilometres. Ascent - 1335 metres.

On my previous ascent of the Grahams, Creach Beinn and Beinn Buie on the Isle of Mull I started from the hamlet of Lochbuie to the south in wet and windy weather. Although it was slightly longer, on this occasion I fancied a northern approach and hoped for better weather with some views.

We left the car in an official car park in Glen More, on the A849 Craignure to Fionnphort Road, north of Loch an Ellen before descending to the north shore of this loch searching for the path shown on the map. There were various trails including all terrain vehicle tracks but nothing that I would construe as a proper path. The ground and vegetation was rather wet after some rain.

Loch an Ellen was passed on its west side. The map indicated the path crossed the Gearr Abhainn, the stream flowing between Lochs Airdeglais and Loch an Ellen, but the water was a bit high to cross and keep the feet dry so we continued south to Loch Airdeglais where a well constructed fisherman’s hut was concealed behind a small knoll.

There was little improvement in the underfoot conditions as we followed the west shore of Loch Airdeglais. At one point a couple of eagles were spotted but they were too high to photograph. At the south end of the loch we crossed a small stream and commenced the ascent of Creach Beinn keeping to the north of a large gully. It was a steady climb over some rough and rocky ground. The gradient later eased and here a few deer were feeding although they soon ran off. We were then confronted by crags but a route to the north of a scree and a rocky gully took us onto the summit area which was fairly flat with a couple of lochans. The highest points were marked by a trig point and cairn.

After a break at the top sheltered from the wind and looking across the Firth of Lorn to Oban we returned to the south end of Loch Airdeglais. On this descent a member of the group spotted a couple of adders curled up together, possibly mating, before one slithered off into the vegetation.

The ascent of Ben Buie was easier than it appeared from Creach Beinn. We managed to avoid the crags and rock before a narrowing gully took us onto the north ridge of Ben Buie. Here the ground was quite stony and rocky as we headed for the summit, firstly visiting its north Top, Cnap nan Gobhar, a Graham Top. A short descent round some boulders was followed by an easy ascent to the summit cairn of Ben Buie where there were some great views. What a difference to my last visit although it was still windy.

On the return we bypassed the summit of the Graham Top before descending to Creag na h-Iolaire where I spotted a leveret which quickly disappeared. The descent of the north ridge continued to Maol Tobar Leac an t-Sagairt before joining the main road which was followed by a short road walk to the car.

A tough walk but a great day out.

previous ascent

Creach Beinn Graham second ascent 698 metres
Ben Buie Graham second ascent 717 metres

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Sgurr Dearg and Beinn Talaidh

23 April 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 49. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1295 metres.

On Sunday 20 April 2013 I was part of a group celebrating a friend’s final Munro, Ben More. During the rest of the week on the Isle of Mull I hoped to climb the Grahams for a second time and get some views as on the first occasion it was mainly wet and windy and I saw very little.

We parked on the bend just west of the ruin at Torness on the A849 Craignure to Fionnphort Road where there was space for a couple of cars. We walked back towards the ruin and once across the cattle grid marking the easterly boundary of a forest, left the road and commenced the ascent of Sgurr Dearg. The underfoot conditions were quite rough as we aimed for and headed into Coire nan Each.

From the Coire we climbed to the col between Beinn Bhearnach and Sgurr Dearg before ascending the latter. It was windy at the summit of Sgurr Dearg but at least there were some views on this visit. After several minutes at the top we returned by the ascent route where two of the group retired for the day as one had already climbed Beinn Talaidh and the other wasn’t a serious Graham Bagger.

Maybe this was a bit lazy but I moved my car further west and parked on the forest track beside a locked gate. We then walked along this track until it ran parallel to a deer fence which we needed to cross. The strands of wire were a quite loose probably caused by walkers clambering over the fence. Once on the other side it was a steep climb of around 250 metres onto Maol nam Fiadh then we followed the edge of Coire Ghaibhre and ascended Beinn Talaidh. Again it was windy on the summit so after a few minutes we returned to the car by the upward route.

previous ascent

Sgurr Dearg Graham second ascent 741 metres
Beinn Talaidh Graham second ascent 761 metres

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Ben More

21 April 2013

slide show

Map - OS Landranger 48. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 9 kiloometres. Ascent - 955 metres.

I had been invited to join Edith and friends at Corry House, north of Fishnish, on the Isle of Mull for the week. The plan was for Edith, on one of these days, to complete her Munros after 30 years of Munro Bagging. With strong winds forecasted for the forthcoming week it appeared that the Sunday (21 April) was to be the least windy.

The start of the ascent was the B8035 on the south shore of Loch na Keal where there was ample parking on the sea side of the single track road opposite the access to Dhiseig. There were some good views up and down Loch na Keal although Ben More and its nearby tops were covered in cloud.

Once we were all geared up we set off along the access road to the house at Dhiseig then followed the sign round its west side. Thereafter height was gained using the rather wet path on the east side of the Abhainn Dhiseig. Higher up we crossed this stream and entered the cloud base as we made for Ben More’s west ridge passing some old pockets of snow.

The exposed west ridge was rather windy and cold and we soon encountered some lying fresh snow which higher up concealed sections of the stony path. On approaching the summit we formed an archway of walking poles which Edith passed under to reach the summit stone, the remnants of the trig point, within the large open cairn.

After a cold and windy champagne celebration it was off back down by the ascent route stopping for a late lunch once we had found some shelter from the wind. The cloud base had lifted slightly but it never cleared the upper reaches of Ben More.

Back at the accommodation the celebrations continued and this included some fine food.

Congratulations Edith on becoming a Munroist.

previous ascent

Ben More Munro seventh ascent 966 metres

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Beinn Dearg Mhor

8 February 2013

slide show

Map - Harveys Skye: The Cuillin Time taken - 6.5 hours. Distance - 11 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

I was staying with a few friends in Plockton so it wasn’t too long a drive to the Sligachan Hotel on the Island of Skye, the planned starting point for the ascent of the Graham, Beinn Dearg Mhor. Just before the Hotel a new car park had been constructed so we used it. Once geared up we crossed the old bridge over the Allt Daraich, passed through a new gate and followed the ‘Right of Way’ towards Glen Sligachan.

We soon left this path and followed a less obvious one on the west side of the Allt Daraich but it seemed to disappear as we crossed the wet moorland. On reaching the north-west ridge of Sron a’Bhealain we regained the now eroded path. It was a steep climb to the summit of this knoll where we took a short break sheltered from the cold wind and looking across to our target hills.

The next section of the walk was a gentle stroll along the Druim na Ruaige Ridge where there was a light covering of snow. The gradient later increased as did the snow cover but we still managed to follow the path as it zigzagged to a cairn north of Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach. A short walk along a narrowing snow covered ridge took us to the summit of this Graham Top, which was marked by a cairn, but there were no views as the cloud had lowered and engulfed the hill.

We returned along the ridge then descended to the Bealach Mosgaraidh. This was followed by a fairly steep ascent of Beinn Dearg Mhor on what appeared to be snow covered paths. Higher up the ridge narrowed and the snow concealed gaps between the boulders. The cloud was still down when we reached the summit cairn so we continued out to a small knoll. From here it was a steep descent over frozen boulders and scree making progress slow and awkward.

On reaching the Bealach na Sgairde we descended more scree but on a gentler gradient making progress easier. We were now below the cloud as we followed various tracks, probably animal trails, as we stayed above and to the north of the Allt Bealach na Sgairde. This route eventually led to a bend in the Allt Daraich before we left this stream and crossed wet and boggy ground to the new car park.

previous ascent

Beinn Dearg Mhor Graham second ascent 731 metres

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Beinn Mhor

8 June 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 22. Time taken - 8.75 hours. Distance - 21 kilometres. Ascent - 1210 metres.

I climbed the Graham, Beinn Mhor a few years ago on a day trip from Harris but due to ferry timings it wasn’t possible to include the Sub 2000 Marilyns, Ben Corodale and Hecla, one of Ralph Storer’s 100 Best Routes on Scottish Mountains. On this second visit I was hoping to rectify the matter.

The proposed starting point was just north of Loch Dobhrain on the A865, the road through the Uists and Benbecula. It was single track at this point making parking difficult so we left the car on the access road to Tobha Beag, after consulting the owner of the house opposite. We walked back along the main road and up the vehicle track which by-passed a croft where large polytunnels had been constructed.

Initially good progress was made but it was short lived. When we reached the end of the track the route became a faint, wet and boggy path and was no longer heading in the correct direction. We left it and made our way across more wet and boggy ground, and around some small lochans, searching for the driest areas to place our boots. A couple of Golden Plovers were perturbed by our presence. Once we gained a bit of height, the ground steepened and the underfoot conditions improved. Occasionally we would follow some paths until they were lost in the vegetation.

On reaching the Bealach Carra Dhomhnuill Ghuirm we took a break with views to the west coast of South Uist and north towards Benbecula. Five guys who had been following us passed nearby. After our break we continued the ascent of Beinn Mhor as the cloud lowered and engulfed the ridge, which was rather disappointing. Steady progress was made and we reached the North Top where the ridge narrowed considerably. However there was no problem as paths ran along the top of the ridge or on either side.

The cloud began to break up and we could now see the five guys on the summit. We stopped and spoke to them as they returned along the north ridge. The path passed below the west face of the top before swinging round to the summit trig point, which was surrounded by boulders, and where we had broken views of Loch Aineort.

We took a stroll out to the cairn on Beinn Mhor’s south-east ridge, which appeared higher although the map showed it at least ten metres lower. From the cairn we had more views of Loch Aineort and the hills to the south. We returned to the north ridge where we met an older couple who weren’t sure of their location or if they were on the right hill.

At a suitable point on the north ridge we commenced the rather steep and initially grassy descent towards the Bealach Sheiliosdail. Lower down minor diversions were made to avoid rocky drops. Once at the bealach we had a late lunch and studied the next section of the route to Ben Corodale.

The direct route was rather steep and rocky so we headed right and made a not too difficult ascent by zig zagging our way through the rocks and onto the grassy slopes of the south-east ridge of Ben Corodale where we disturbed more Golden Plovers. It was then an easy ascent to the summit cairn where we had views of the east coast of South Uist and out to the Sea of the Hebrides.

The north face of Ben Corodale was a rock face so we opted to return south for a hundred metres or so until we located a suitable route round its west face before making an easy descent to the bealach with Hecla where the ground was rougher with several dips. Next was the ascent of Hecla. It was a steady climb with lots of exposed rock to walk round to gain the west ridge where the walking was easier. The ridge did narrow and the final section was rocky but again there were no problems except the low cloud which obstructed our view. While at the summit cairn the cloud broke briefly and we saw out towards the Sea of the Hebrides.

It was now time to return to the car. Initially this was back along the west ridge until it started to change direction. We continued west, left the ridge, and descended across a mixture of vegetation with the intention of keeping to the south of Loch Airigh Amhlaidh and the Abhainn Rog. Some red deer were spotted here. The gradient eased and the walking became awkward as we crossed rough ground with a mixture of wet and boggy vegetation. This entailed a few diversions and stream crossings but we made progress, albeit slow, until near the croft we passed earlier in the morning. It became almost impossible, due to the long vegetation and areas of water, to continue so we cut across to the croft and returned to the car by the track used earlier that day. We reached the car just as the rain started and set in for the evening.

previous ascent

Beinn Mhor Graham second ascent 620 metres

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Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich

3 March 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6 hours. Distance - 7.5 kilometres. Ascent - 805 metres.

We were back on Skye, this time on the Kylerhea Peninsula, to climb the Grahams, Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich. The starting point was the Bealach Udal at the top of the pass between Glen Arroch and Kylerhea Glen, where there was space for one vehicle off this single track road.

Unfortunately the cloud base was below the bealach giving limited visibility but Sue, a member of our group, was planning to do the Mountain Leader Training Course and had done some preparatory work the evening before.

We walked down Kylerhea Glen for a few hundred metres before leaving it and climbing over some rough ground onto Sgurr na Coinnich’s south ridge where the cloud was thicker and there was even less to see. Sue navigated up this ridge, through heather and rock, to the small lochan south-west of the summit. From there it was onto the summit trig point.

There was no point in hanging around here as the cloud was unlikely to clear, so we were guided to the Bealach nam Mulachag before climbing through some crags and onto the summit of Beinn na Caillich where we had lunch.

The return was by the ascent route with no improvement in visibility until a few hundred metres from the car when we were able to see the road.

The terrain on this route wasn’t the easiest to navigate through so Sue did well. The others took the opportunity to practice their skills so despite the weather it was a worth while day out. It should be noted that the time taken would be reduced substantially in good visibility.

previous ascent

Sgurr na Coinnich Graham second ascent 739 metres
Beinn na Caillich Graham second ascent 733 metres

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The Storr and Hartaval

1 March 2011

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 23. Time taken 5.25 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1090 metres.

The Trotternish peninsula, on the north end of the Island of Skye, was our destination with a plan to climb the Grahams, The Storr and Hartaval via the Old Man of Storr. On my previous visit in 2003, low cloud prevented me seeing anything of the Old Man so I hoped for some views on this trip.

We drove north from Portree on the A855 and parked in the car park used by visitors to the Old Man of Storr. With low cloud hanging around the tree tops the weather didn’t look very promising as we set off following the path through the forest.

On clearing the forest we had our first view of the Old Man although cloud was floating around its top. However as we approached this massive rock the cloud began to lift. Several photos were taken of the Old Man from various positions before we proceeded north past Needle Rock to a fence topped with barbed wire. Most of us crossed the fence here although one of the party descended into the gully where the barbed wire strand had been removed. Beyond the fence we worked our way round the north side of the cliff face following various paths and animal tracks.

The cloud continued to lift and we had views down to the Old Man and The Sanctuary. More photos were taken before continuing over some rocks and scree onto the grassy summit of The Storr and its trig point. After several minutes in and around the summit we descended to Bealach a’Chuirn with views of the northern cliffs of The Storr and Hartaval. It was a steady climb of the north-west ridge before the gradient eased and we strolled to Hartaval’s summit cairn.

It was rather cold and windy on the top so some of us elected to take lunch in a small sheltered dip above a sheer drop while others preferred the exposure to the weather and sat at the summit cairn. During this break the cloud lowered and our views were curtailed.

Once lunch was over we returned to the Bealach a’Chuirn then cut across the south-west shoulder of The Storr to the Bealach Beag. This was followed by a rocky descent through a gully containing a small stream. At the bottom of the gully a mainly wet and in places boggy path was followed to the A855 at the forest edge. A short road walk took us back to the car but there was no rush as the main road south to Portree was closed until 4pm for road reconstruction.

previous ascent

The Storr Graham second ascent 719 metres
Hartaval Graham second ascent 668 metres

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Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Basteir

18 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - Harvey's Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 7.75 hours Distance - 12 kilometres. Ascent - 980 metres.

This was my final day on Skye with only Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Bastier left to climb so with a forecast for fine weather I was hopeful there would be a successful conclusion to my Cuillin Munro trip.

The tops of the mountains were cloud covered when I arrived at the Mountain Rescue Centre at Sligachan to meet George and his clients. We set off across the A863 Dunvegan Road and followed a path, which was surprisingly dry, to the new footbridge over the Allt Dearg Mor. Once across this bridge the path was followed to the Allt Dearg Beag and up its west side to the Bhasteir Gorge where some rocks were crossed to reach Coire a’Bhasteir.

Here we took a short break before heading up the scree path to Bealach a’Bhasteir. The cloud had lifted from the tops and the sun had made an appearance. From the bealach we commenced the ascent of Sgurr nan Gillean’s west ridge until a chimney had to be negotiated which required being roped up. The start of the climb was on the north side where it was rather cold in the wind but once up the first section we were back in the sun where it was quite warm and sheltered.

Once everyone had climbed the chimney we followed George to Sgurr nan Gillean’s summit cairn where we had some terrific views of the surrounding mountains and sea. While sitting there we were joined by a couple of climbers who had come up the Pinnacle Ridge.

We returned to the Bhealach a’Bhasteir, which involved an abseil, and then commenced the ascent of Am Basteir keeping below the ridge which avoided the ‘Bad Step’ and any rope work. Am Basteir’s summit cairn was reached and again we had some great views. During our ascent of Am Basteir a Coastguard helicopter was operating on Bla Bheinn rescuing an injured walker, which was of interest to George, as he is a member of the Mountain Rescue Team.

We again returned to the Bhealach a’Bhasteir and descended the scree path to below Am Basteir. Here I parted company with the rest of the group who were continuing to Bruach na Frithe and returned to Sligachan by the upward route.

previous ascent Sgurr nan Gillean

previous ascent Am Basteir

Sgurr nan Gillean Munro fifth ascetn 964 metres
Am Basteir Munro fifth ascent 934 metres

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Sgurr a'Mhadaidh, Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh and Sgurr na Banachdich

17 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - Harvey's Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 7 hours. Distance - 10 kilometres. Ascent - 1170 metres.

This was my third day walking on the Black Cuillin with George Yeomans of Guiding on Skye and his clients and today’s target was the three Central Munros.

We met at the Scottish Youth Hostel building in Glen Brittle before setting off east up the path on the south side of the Allt a’Choire Ghreadaidh, passed its waterfall, and into Coire a’Ghreadaidh. We entered the low cloud, that covered the mountains, as we progressed into Coire An Dorus. Prior to reaching An Dorus, a narrow rocky bealach, we dumped our sacks and followed George as he climbed to the summit of the first Munro of the day, Sgurr a’Mhadaidh.

After a few minutes on the summit, with just a few bits of rock and cloud to look at, we returned to collect our sacks before continuing to the top of the An Dorus gap. A short tricky move round a rock saw us commence the ascent of Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh as a few spots of rain fell, but fortunately it didn’t last as that would have made the rock quite slippery.

We just followed the Guide to our second Munro, Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh and onto its South Top, which is a Munro Top. There is little that can be said about this traverse as there were no views and we just worked away along the Cuillin ridge round or over any rocky obstruction with lots of loose rocks.

Next on the ridge was another Munro Top, Sgurr Thormaid and beyond that the ridge was less exposed as we made our way onto the final Munro for the day, Sgurr na Banachdich. After reaching the summit we returned to its col with Sgurr Thormaid and descended west into Coir an Eich. Once lower down we came out of the cloud and followed the path down the side of the Allt Coir’an Eich before returning to Coire Ghreadaidh and the short descent back to the Youth Hostel.

previous ascent Sgurr a'Mhadaidh and Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh

previous ascent Sgurr na Banachdich

Sgurr a'Mhadaidh Munro fifth ascent 918 metres
Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh Munro fifth ascent 973 metres
Sgurr na Banachdich Munro fifth ascent 965 metres

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Sgurr Dearg - Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich

15 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - Harvey's Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 8.25 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 1400 metres.

The Inaccessible Pinnacle, the highest point on Sgurr Dearg, is the Munro that causes the biggest problem for Munro Baggers, unless of course they are climbers. The ascent requires either rock climbing experience or a companion with these skills. This was my fifth ascent of the Inaccessible Pinnacle and the second time I had been to the summit with George Yeomans, of Guiding on Skye.

George was taking a group tackling the Skye Munros over a period of six days. We met up at the Glen Brittle Hut, where the midges were a pest, before setting off up the south side of the Allt Coire na Banachdich, passed its waterfall, before commencing the ascent of Sgurr Dearg’s west ridge. Lower down the weather was reasonable with some good views but as height was gained it started to deteriorate with the cloud lowering. We just followed George up the stony ridge with an occasional brief view.

Once on Sgurr Dearg we deposited our rucksacks and fitted climbing harnesses before scrambling down scree and slab rock to the foot of the east side of the Inaccessible Pinnacle. However there was a delay here as a couple, carrying their packs, were having a few problems on the ascent. We were getting a bit cold hanging around and there were no views other than that of a narrow and exposed piece of rock.

After a long delay George commenced the climb to the midway belay point before two of the group followed. It was then my turn, along with the third member of the group, to climb to the midway point where we were tied in. Finally the fourth group member, who is an indoor climber, made the ascent. The whole exercise was then repeated for the top half of the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Once on the summit we had a group photo before abseiling off the opposite side.

It had taken in excess of two hours to complete this ascent and abseil, due mainly to the delay at the start. Once back at our rucksacks we had a bite to eat before once again descending the slab rock and sree but this time to below An Stac where there had been a rock fall since my last visit.

On reaching Bealach Coire Lagan we again dumped our rucksacks before making an ascent of the Munro, Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, which involved some easy scrambling. Once at the summit cairn we returned to collect our rucksacks, and descended the An Stac screes to Loch Coire Lagan. From here we headed west and out of the cloud as we followed the path passed Loch an Fhir-bhallaich and back to the Glen Brittle Hut.

previous ascent

Sgurr Dearg - Inaccessible Pinnacle. Munro fifth ascent 986 metres
Sgurr Mhic Choinnich Munro sixth ascent 948 metres

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Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Alasdair

14 June 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - Harvey's Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 8.25 hours. Distance - 14 kilometres. Ascent - 1365 metres.

I joined George Yeomans of Guiding on Skye and his four clients to climb these three Cuillin Munros starting from the car park at the foot of Glen Brittle. We walked through the Glen Brittle Camp Site, followed the path towards Coire Lagan later leaving it to head round the foot of Sron na Ciche to reach Coir a’Ghrunnda. The walk through this coire involved some easy scrambling and led to Loch Coir a’Ghrunnda.

We walked round the south side of the loch and climbed to the Bealach a’Garbh-choire where we left our rucksacks before heading out the north ridge of Sgurr nan Eag to its summit cairn. It was a sunny day with some cloud floating around but we still had good views of the Islands of Rum and Eigg, of Gars-bheinn and down to Loch Coruisk.

Once we had taken a few photographs we returned to our rucksacks where we had a bite to eat but didn’t linger long as the midges were out and becoming a nuisance. Led by George, we walked north along the ridge, by-passed Caisteal a’Garbh-choire to the east, before working our way to below Sgurr Dubh Mor. The route involved crossing some loose rocks with a bit of scrambling before we once again left our rucksacks and commenced the final ascent on steeper rock. The small summit cairn was reached and again we had good views of the Black Cuillin and its surrounds.

A few minutes were spent at this summit before we descended back to our rucksacks and then made our way across to and over the Munro Top, Sgurr Dubh an Da Bheinn. The route then took us to the Bealach Coir an Lochain and below the Thearlaich Dubh Gap (TD Gap). After a short section of scree we reached a chimney, and a climb to the highest peak on Skye, Sgurr Alasdair.

From Sgurr Alasdair we descended to the top of the Great Stone Chute which we used to reach Loch Coire Lagan. There was then a path down Coire Lagan to the Glen Brittle Camp Site and the end of a successful day on the Cuillin Munros.

previous ascent

Sgurr nan Eag Munro fifth ascent 924 metres
Sgurr Dubh Mor Munro fifth ascent 944 metres
Sgurr Alasdair Munro seventh ascent 992 metres

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Ben Aslak

3 February 2010

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 33. Time taken - 6.25 hours. Distance - 13.5 kilometres. Ascent - 650 metres.

We headed over to the Island of Skye and the Kylerhea road, which was reached from the A87 west of Kyleakin. The road, which is single track, was covered in snow and ice. The route headed up through Glen Arroch towards the Bealach Udal but we stopped at the bridge where a vehicle track crossed the Allt Mor (Grid Ref. NG7293021789). There wasn’t a lot in the way of parking here so we used the bellmouth as we didn't expect anyone to be accessing the snow covered track that day.

The first part of the walk involved continuing up the Kylerhea road to the Bealach Udal, a distance of over two kilometres. At this bealach we walked to the radio mast following some bootprints, probably from the previous day. Once beyond the end of this short section of mast road we tracked these prints to the east of Beinn Bheag where they headed directly towards Ben Aslak. We continued to it's col with Beinn Bheag, from where we commenced the ascent of Ben Aslak passing a small snow covered lochan. The lying snow was now more compact and in places icy as we ascended a gully and made our way to the eastern summit where we had views of Glenelg, Lochs Alsh and Duich, and the Sound of Sleat.

We then headed over to Ben Aslak's South-West Top which is reportedly the highest point but that is difficult to tell from looking at them. From here we continued in the same direction and it was initially an easy descent through the snow until we reached some rocks which we had to work round to reach the Bealach na Cruinn-leum. The snow and ground was rather soft here so progress was slow in case we went into the bog.

Once beyond the bealach we stopped for lunch before climbing onto the north ridge of Beinn Dubh a’Bhealaich, bypassing it's summit, and headed out to Beinn na Seamraig. At its summit cairn we had good views of Loch Hourn, Isle Ornsay, Sound of Sleat, the Skye Cuillin and the Islands of Rum and Egg as well as spotting some snow buntings. After taking in these superb views we left this Sub 2000 hill and retraced our steps back to Beinn Dubh a’Bhealaich’s north ridge. This ridge was followed until lower down when some rocky outcrops appeared so we descended north-east to join the vehicle track below Bealach na Cruinn-leum. Progress was now easy on the snow covered track and this took us to the bridge over the Allt Mor and the end of another good hill day.

previous ascent

Ben Aslak Graham second ascent 610 metres

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Beinn Fhada, A'Chioch and Ben More

1 October 2009

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 48. Time taken – 7.25 hours. Distance - 14 kilomters. Ascent - 1275 metres.

The starting point for this walk was the single track B8035 road, that runs along the north shore of Loch na Keal, at Scarisdale River. There is ample parking on the grass beside the sea shore.

It was a sunny morning the first and only day during my weeks stay on the Island of Mull. It was also quite chilly but we soon warmed up once we started walking. We followed a path up the south side of the Scarisdale River before continuing on the path heading for Coire nan Gabhar. Beyond the waterfall we climbed fairly steeply up the north side of Beinn Fhada's long north-west ridge. Initially it was over heather, but higher up there was a fair bit of rock and scree to contend with before we arrived on the ridge just before the 563 Point. There was a cool breeze on the ridge and here we met a couple who had climbed onto the ridge from a different direction and were planning on doing a similar circuit as ourselves.

We walked along the undulating north-west ridge of Beinn Fhada with the roar of the stags coming out of Coire nan Gabhar. Latterly there were a few easy scrambles before we reached Beinn Fhada’s summit cairn. For the first time on Mull we had a summit view including the Grahams, Cruachan Dearg and Corra-bheinn, which we had climbed the previous day and Beinn Talaidh the day before that.

The descent of Beinn Fhada was down some scree avoiding the rocks to the col with A’Chioch. Two chaps and a dog had come up Gleann na Beinne Fada and were now ahead of us. We followed them up A’Chioch’s north ridge which initially involved some easy walking on a wide ridge. Higher up the ridge narrowed and a bit of simple scrambling was required before the summit cairn of the Corbett Top, A’Chioch, was reached.

An eroded path was followed west then south-west to the col with Ben More. Here we spotted some deer in Coir Odhar and heard the roaring of the stags. The initial ascent of Ben More was relatively easy to trace as there was a path just to the south of the ridge line which meant we were sheltered from the cool breeze. There were some spots of rain and the cloud now engulfed Ben More’s summit. As height was gained the route became less obvious with small areas of scree but we continued upwards and kept away from the large boulders on the ridge. Eventually we arrived at the large summit shelter where we spoke to the two chaps with the dog and were later joined by the couple we had met earlier.

We had lunch at the top hoping that the cloud would lift. Unfortunately it didn’t although there were a couple of breaks which allowed me to take a few photos. Several walkers arrived at the shelter having come up the path from Dhiseig as I had done earlier that week. After lunch we descended the path on the west-north-west ridge over some scree before leaving this ridge and crossing more scree and some boulders to Coire nam Fuaran. From here we walked over to An Gearna before descending some fairly steep ground, avoiding the rocks, then over some grassy vegetation to Gleann na Beinn Fada. A very wet and boggy path was followed north-west down the south side of the Abhainn na h-Uamha to the B8035 and a walk of just under a mile along this road to my car.

previous ascent Ben More

Beinn Fhada Graham first ascent 702 metres
Ben More Munro sixth ascent 966 metres

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Cruachan Dearg, Corra-bheinn and Cruach Choireadail

30 September 2009

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 48. Time taken – 7 hours. Distance - 13.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1200 metres.

The Island of Mull Grahams, Corra-bheinn and Cruach Choireadail, are located on the north side of Glen More. We parked on an old section of road at Teanga Brideig (spelling as per OS Map) on a straight section of the A849 single track road, east of the B8035.

From Teanga Brideig we set off north up the wet and in places boggy path on the east side of the Allt Teanga Brideig through very wet overgrown vegetation. Fortunately I was wearing waterproof over-trousers otherwise I would have been soaked. The path led to Sleibhte-coire where the stags were roaring. I was encouraged by a slight improvement in the weather and it was warm work climbing up the path. However I should have known better as the Mull weather is very unpredictable and the cloud lowered and it started to rain. We were engulfed in the cloud before reaching the cairn at the bealach between A'Chioch and Cruachan Dearg.

I had been hoping for some views of Ben More and A'Chioch from the bealach but unfortunately it wasn't the case so we commenced the ascent of Cruachan Dearg. The cloud broke occasionally and we spotted in the corrie below a few of the roaring stags. It was a steady climb to Cruachan Dearg with some rock and scree to be traversed but we eventually reached the summit cairn but as had been the case in the last few days there were no views from the top.

The height of Cruachan Dearg is recorded at 704 metres the same height as my next hill, Corra-bheinn, which is listed as the Graham. There is insufficient drop between these two hills for them to be separate Grahams so they should be twin Grahams. This then beggars the question, as with the twin Corbetts, Sgurr a'Bhac Chaolais and Buidhe Bheinn, whether you need to climb both hills to get the tick. My opinion is both hills need to be climbed.

The descent from Cruachan Dearg was over scree to a col where again we could hear the roaring of deer in the corries. From the col we climbed the north ridge, which was initially relatively easy then became a bit steeper before Corra-bheinn's summit trig point was reached. Having climbed both tops I was now satisfied that I had bagged this Graham.

There were no views from Corra-bheinn so we took a bearing and paced the required distance along the north-east ridge before a steep descent to the col with Beinn a’Mheadhoin disturbing some deer. There were lots of roaring going on around Coir Mor but despite being back out of the cloud we couldn't spot the stags. Part way up the north-west ridge of Beinn a’Mheadhoin, while it was still dry, we stopped for lunch listening to the stags roaring.

After lunch we continued up the ridge, back into the cloud, and onto the summit cairn of Beinn a’Mheadhoin. Again a bearing and some pacing was required before we descended to Mam Choireadail before climbing to the col between Cruach Choireadail's two tops. From the col it was just a short walk to the summit of our second Graham of the day, Cruach Choireadail. Once again there were no views and it was now wet and windy. The weather had not improved as forecasted.

The descent was down the west ridge, across the Uisgeacha Geala, before heading south-west over some rough ground avoiding several large boulders. Although as I said the going was rough it did avoid some road walking as we probably joined the main road around a kilometre from where the car was parked at Teanga Brideig.

Stalking information - Ben More Estate – 01680 300229.

Cruachan Dearg/Corra-bheinn Graham first ascent 704 metres
Cruach Choireadail Graham first ascent 618 metres

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Beinn Talaidh and Sgurr Dearg

29 September 2009

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 49. Time taken – 7.5 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1370 metres.

The starting point for the Grahams, Beinn Talaidh and Sgurr Dearg, was the A849 road through Glen More at grid reference NM642329 where there is a large bend in the road. We parked at the edge of the vehicle track before following it through the forest to the point where it came to the open hillside. A deer fence had to be crossed then some boggy ground before we found grassy areas to ascend this fairly steep hillside. Higher up the terrain was a bit more rocky as we ascended Maol nam Fiadh and onto the curved ridge of Beinn Talaidh.

The weather was supposed to be slightly better today which it was lower down but once on the ridge we were into the cloud with the usual rain and wind. The ridge was followed to Beinn Talaidh's summit cairn and trig point. A few minutes later a couple we had seen earlier arrived on the top.

We took a coffee break trying to shelter behind some rocks and discussed whether it was worth while attempting Sgurr Dearg on this outing as it involved a stream crossing and the burns were in spate. It was decided to continue with our initial plan although if the stream was impassable we would possibly mean a partial re-ascent of Beinn Talaidh.

The descent from Beinn Talaidh was over scree to the col with Beinn Bheag before climbing this hill. It was then a steep descent east avoiding several areas of rock. We were sheltered from the wind and once lower down we emerged out of the cloud and could see the gap in the forest that we were aiming for. Although we had heard a few roaring stags earlier in the day there were now lots of loud roars in and around this glen.

On reaching the gap in the forest we found it to be very wet and boggy with lots of tussocky grass which made for difficult walking. It took a bit of wandering around before we managed to reach the stream which was fairly deep. However a deer fence, with a log and wooden gates below, was spotted downstream so we made a beeline for it. The upper wire strands weren’t in great condition and the fence had obviously been electrified at one time. Fortunately the electric power was off so we used the fence and log to cross the stream.

Once on the other side of the burn we worked our way out of the wet and boggy ground before following some deer tracks that led towards the north-west ridge of Sgurr Dearg, named Beinn Bhearnach where some deer were spotted higher up. Part way up we had lunch before continuing onto the ridge as the rain started, the wind picked up and the cloud lowered. A few deer hinds and a stag appeared out of the cloud but as I tried to ‘stalk’ them to get a reasonable photograph one of the hinds obviously spotted us, barked and they disappeared into the cloud. The ridge, which was rocky in places, was followed to the summit cairn of Sgurr Dearg. Again there were no summit views. Just before reaching the top a couple of ptarmigan flew off.

We headed south towards the col with Beinn Bhearnach and came across an old stone dyke which we could have followed into Coire nan Each. However I didn't know this nor could I see where the dyke went so continued on my bearing before descending into the corrie where we saw more deer and heard the roar of the stags. The descent was then straight forward although there was some long and awkward vegetation to cross as we headed for the edge of the forest before the short walk back along the main road to the vehicle track where I had parked my car.

Stalking Information – Glenforsan Estate – 01680 300674. (Part of Sgurr Dearg is also on Torosay Estate – 01680 812342)

Beinn Talaidh Graham first ascent 761 metres
Sgurr Dearg Graham first ascent 741 metres

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Ben Buie and Creach Beinn

28 September 2009

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 49. Time taken – 7 hours. Distance - 11.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1310 metres.

The Island of Mull Grahams, Ben Buie and Creach Beinn, are located on the south side of Glen More and if climbed together are best approached from Lochbuie, which is a hamlet on the south side of the Island. It was reached along the narrow unclassified road from the single track A849 at Strathcoil.

We parked opposite the telephone kiosk in Lochbuie where there was a single parking space. It was a wet and windy morning when we left the car and headed north over wet and rough ground following a few animal tracks. However we had only been walking for around ten minutes when I realised that I had left my GPS on the roof of my car so I had to return to collect it before starting again.

In addition to the wet and boggy conditions some dead bracken had to be crossed but we used the animal trails to find a route through. We kept to the left of a gully and once above it crossed a couple of streams before the underfoot conditions became a bit easier although the blustery showers continued to blow across the mountainside. Higher up we entered the cloud base and then the mountain became more rocky. There were some patches of scree and rock to cross but we also managed to find some grassy rakes as we wound our way to the summit cairn where it was rather windy.

A bearing was taken and we paced it to Ben Buie’s north and lower top before descending east over a mixture of vegetation and rock. As we descended the cloud started to break and we could see Lochs Airdeglais and an Ellen and the white water flowing down the west face of Creach Beinn. There was the occasional roar from the stags and we spotted some deer above Loch Airdeglais. Due to the amount of rain that had fallen recently we aimed towards the col to avoid any stream crossings. However the stream wasn’t a problem although the col was wet and boggy with some tussocky grass.

Once beyond the stream it was a steep climb up the side of a burn flowing down from Creach Beinn and back into the cloud. We eventually reached a small lochan and the rain, which had ceased for a while, was now heavy and the wind stronger. A more level area was reached before the final climb to Creach Beinn's summit trig point and cairn.

Here we found some shelter from the wind, but not the rain, for a late lunch and set our compasses for the planned descent which was south and later south-west in some very windy conditions. Later we were able to see the road and took what appeared to be the easiest descent route through some rough and wet terrain. On reaching the road it was only a short walk back to the car.

On the drive back along the unclassified road from Lochbuie we stopped to watch some dolphins in Loch Spelve.

Stalking information – Lochbuie Estate owner Jim Corbett on 01680 814214.

Ben Buie Graham first ascent 717 metres
Creach Beinn Graham first ascent 698 metres

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Ben More

27 September 2009

photos taken on walk

Map – OS Landranger 48. Time taken – 3.25 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 960 metres.

I was staying on Mull for a week with a plan to climb its seven Grahams. However the weather forecast for my first day on the Island was for a wet and windy day so I decided on a quick jaunt up the Munro, Ben More. In anycase I was recovering from a fairly bad cold and needed to test out my fitness level before the longer days bagging the Grahams.

The start for the ascent of Ben More was the B8035, which skirted round the south side of Loch na Keal, at the signpost for the house at Dhiseig. There is adequate parking at the the sea shore. I walked up the track to Dhiseig before bypassing it by the signposted route to the west of the house. I then followed a path up the north-east side of the Abhainn Dhiseig which flowed through a gully full of tress including rowans.

I continued up the side of this stream and after half an hour or so entered the cloud base. It had been rather windy with some rain showers but it wasn’t as wild as predicted. In a sheltered area beside some waterfalls I took a coffee break as I wasn’t expecting to find any shelter from the wind higher up.

After my coffee stop I crossed the Abhainn Dhiseig and followed the wet path, which was a mixture of rock, or grass onto the west-north-west ridge of Ben More. It was here that I encountered the full blast of the strong winds, which had been forecasted to gust up to 70mph, but I don’t think it was anywhere near that strength. An obvious path, mainly of loose stones with a few cairns, led to the summit marked by a large circle of small boulders. The trig point no longer exists although if you look closely there is still some metal stanchions which supported the concrete structure.

Well there was no point in hanging around at the summit as the cloud was unlikely to clear so I descended by the upward route. There was some heavier rain on the descent but on returning to my car the cloud base had started to lift slightly. However this was only temporary as the cloud and rain later lowered to engulf the south of the Island.

Surprisingly for a Munro I never met anyone else on my trip up Ben More. Maybe that’s due to the fact that it requires a ferry trip and some forward planning with a reasonable weather forecast

Stalking Information – Ben More Estate – 01680 300229

previous ascent

Ben More Munro fifth ascent 966 metres

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Bruach na Frithe

30 June 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - Harveys Skye Cuillin. Time taken - 8.5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 940 metres.

Dave and Joyce, who reside in the USA, have been coming to Scotland for several years now on vocation and we meet up for a day's Munro Bagging. This year they were taking in the delights of the Island of Skye so it was to be an ascent of a Skye Munro, not the easiest of challenges, although a couple of the Munros are climbable without scrambling skills if the weather is suitable. Dave and Joyce have always been unfortunate on their ascent of the Munros and have never encountered any decent weather. Instead they have had to cope with low cloud, wind, rain and even snow. Hopefully Skye would be different.

We met up at the Sligachan Hotel car park, which is located on the A850 Broadford to Portree Road at the junction with the A863 road to Dunvegan. A short walk along the Dunvegan Road took us to the private road leading to Alltdearg House. We followed this private road to the signposted route round the property and then walked up the path on the north-west bank of the Allt Dearg Mor passed some idyllic waterfalls. The stream was very clear and quite low and the pools of water looked quite inviting as it was a humid morning with flies and clegs being annoying. The summit tops, although clear when he set out, had clouded over so things weren’t looking to promising for my friends to get their first good weather day on Scotland’s mountains.

At Coire na Circe a cairn marked the start of the path into the Fionn Choire which became rougher and less distinct as height was gained. The vegetation became very sparse although sheep and lambs still seemed to find something to nibble at. The area was now just a mass of rock and boulders with lots of erosion especially where the burn had been in spate. Today it was just a trickle of water that was flowing down the corrie. The earlier cloud cover had lifted and things were looking up as we were.

There had been a few walkers headed in the same direction but as we approached the scree for the ascent to Bealach nan Lice some were now headed back down. They told us that the cloud had stated to lift off the south end of the ridge so things were looking good for some clear weather and good views. On reaching Bealach nan Lice there were a few climbers and walkers around and we had grand views of the nearby Bhasteir Tooth and Am Basteir as well as across to Glamaig and down to Loch Sligachan. The south end of the Cullin Ridge was indeed clear.

The next section took us below the Munro Top, Sgurr a’Fionn Choire. As is the case on the Cuillin there were lots of paths but we stuck mainly to the ridge. Other walkers were already there and we were soon joined by a couple of climbers who were traversing the ridge from south to north having set out at 4am. They only had a few tops left and were now thinking about how to get back to their car in Glen Brittle when they finished at the Sligachan Hotel.

We had lunch at the summit and took some photos as the other walkers and climbers had left. The return was by the ascent route and once lower down it was still sunny but quite humid. Dave remarked that for the first time on a Munro there had been no rain or snow. I think they enjoyed the challenge despite the scree and a bit of exposure near the summit.

It was then off to Portree for the evening.

previous ascent

Bruach na Frithe Munro fifth ascent 958 metres

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Mullach Buidhe

11 June 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 69. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 14.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1000 metres.

While my walking companion was off to climb the Corbett, Goatfell, I climbed the sole Arran Graham, Mullach Buidhe. This mountain is also known as Beinn Bharrain but according to my OS Map this refers to the south summit while Mullach Buidhe is the name given to the highest point.

The start of the walk was the hamlet of Pirnmill, on the west coast. I caught the 8am bus from Brodick and was dropped off beside Pirnmill’s Shop/Post Office around an hour later. I walked up the lane to the south of the shop and round the back to a track heading uphill. The track can also be reached from the north side of the shop.

I followed this track round a couple of bends before a signpost indicated the route over a stile and through a forest. The path wound its way through the trees and some bracken and then up the north side of the Allt Gobhlach. Higher up a deer fence was crossed by means of a stile and a reasonable path continued uphill to above the waterfall. I crossed the stream and walked over some pathless damp ground towards the north ridge of Beinn Bharrain where a curlew rose and became very agitated.

The north ridge of Beinn Bharrain was climbed over a mixture of vegetation and rock before I came across a walker’s path which I followed to the summit of Beinn Bharrain with views down to Kilbrannan Sound and across to the Kintyre peninsula. Although bright and occasionally sunny it was quite cold in the wind so I sought shelter behind the cairn for a coffee break with views across to Goatfell and the Arran Corbetts I had climbed the previous day.

Coffee break over it was a short descent to a col before an easy climb to the trig point and cairn on the summit of Mullach Buidhe. It was now around 11.20am and the next bus from Pirnmill back to Brodick was around 12.30pm. I didn’t think I could make it down to Pirnmill in time so I decided to extent my walk and aim to catch the next bus around 3.30pm. I therefore continued north, round the top of Glas Choirein, and climbed Beinn Bhreac. Here, in addition to the hills already mentioned, I had views of the Paps of Jura, Island of Bute and the Firth of Clyde.

I descended to Meall Donn and then west into Glen Catacol disturbing a few stags during my descent. The stream in the Glen was easily crossed as it was very low and I joined the path on its east side. The path was a bit rough and awkward due to the amount of boulders it contained but improved as I headed further north. I later spotted a grouse flying off and on checking the bracken saw a very young chick which I managed to photograph.

The track eventually took me out onto the main road just south of Catacol. I still had another hour to wait for the bus so I walked along the coastal road, through Catacol and on towards Lochranza. En-route I was bombarded by gulls who obviously had nests or young on the sea shore. On arriving in Lochranza I still had time to spare so I continued through the village to the Distillery at its east end, to await the bus back to Brodick. The bus was a bit late in reaching Brodick as it stopped frequently to pick up walkers but I was still in time to catch the late afternoon ferry back to Ardrossan and the long drive home to the North-East of Scotland.

The time taken, distance walked and height climbed does not include the road walk from Catacol to Lochranza.

Mullach Buidhe Graham first ascent 721 metres

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Caisteal Abhail, Cir Mhor and Beinn Tarsuinn

10 June 2009

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 69. Time taken - 10.5 hours. Distance - 20 kilometres. Ascent - 1750 metres.

The previous day we had crossed to Brodick, on the Island of Arran, by means of the Caledonian Isles Ferry from Ardrossan, with the intention of climbing these three Corbetts. I had been to Arran on three previous occasions. The first time we attempted these mountains from the north but failed to get very high due to the strength of the wind and dropped into Glen Sannox and walked back to Brodick via Glen Rosa. On the subsequent visits I climbed them from south to north with a plan to catch the bus back to the start, successfully the first time, but the second time we missed the bus at the end of the walk and had to hitch a lift back to Brodick. There is a bus service on the island but they only run every few hours to link up with the ferry crossings. On this visit I was going to attempt a north to south traverse as it meant no rush to catch the bus at the end of the walk.

We caught the 8am bus from Brodick and around thirty five minutes later were dropped off at the North Glen Sannox Bridge. There is a large car park here but the area was deserted. We struck off south on an earthen path through high bracken towards Cnocan Donna. The path split here with the option of a more direct route or the one I took which traversed round a gully and rose more gently before they met up for the climb onto Suidhe Fhearghas.

It was sunny with a very light breeze and the midges were out. Some deer were feeding on a ridge to our north and a vole disappeared into a hole. Once on the ridge it was a bit cooler and on occasions strong enough to blow the midges away.

A grassy section of the ridge was walked before the climb to Ceum na Caillich, the Witch’s Step. We climbed to near the summit, traversed to the right and attempted to make a descent into the gully below. The disadvantage of the north approach was that I couldn’t see into the gully and plan a descent route. A few different ways were tried unsuccessfully and at one point I lowered my walking poles over some rocks with the plan to follow but my walking partner wasn’t happy on this route so we backed out. In hindsight I should have gone down to retrieve my poles but I was expecting to wander round another rock and collect them. However this was not the case as we dropped further and further north until an easy route was found into the gully with the midges annoying us every time we stopped to look at the route or if we were too slow. We then climbed the gully to the high point and onto the west side before my poles were spotted. I couldn’t have reached them from the gully and it would have meant going back the way we had come and then dropping down to collect them. I decided against this option, which I regret, and we continued along the ridge, me now poleless.

The path was easily followed to the granite tors and the summit of Caisteal Abhail where we had lunch with views of Ailsa Craig, the Ayrshire Coast, Island of Bute, Firth of Clyde, Loch Fyne, Paps of Jura, Kintyre Peninsula and Northern Ireland. Afterwards we descended towards the bealach with Cir Mhor and came across a spring where a piece of plastic rhone pipe had been placed to make it easier to catch the water. We met a chap climbing Caisteal Abhail having already climbed North Goatfell, Goatfell and Cir Mhor from Sannox.

A path, eroded in places, was followed to the rocky and narrow summit of Cir Mhor. A Royal Navy Rescue Helicopter was training on the summit area and if they had landed I would have asked them to pick up my poles which would have given them something to do as they were just flying between peaks doing some practice.

We left Cir Mhor and headed towards A’Chir before taking the western by-pass route to Bealach na Fhir-bhogha. The route up Beinn Tarsuinn was well worn with a few alternatives some crossing rock, before reaching the summit where we took a break taking in the surrounding views including the route we had covered that day.

The descent was down Beinn Tarsuinn’s south ridge and over the Corbett Top, Beinn Nuis as the Caledonian Isles sailed into Brodick Harbour. The path off Beinn Nuis was quite eroded and we met a couple who were off climbing. The chap was working on path maintenance and we observed his work on our descent. Lower down a boggy section was reached but we were fortunate that recently it had been relatively dry and underfoot conditions were good. A deer fence and stream were crossed before the path followed the north side of the Garbh Allt to Glen Rosa.

The Glen Rosa path was followed to the wild camp site, which looked rather midge invested, and the tarred roads back to Brodick.

previous ascent

Caisteal Abhail Corbett third ascent 859 metres
Cir Mhor Corbett third ascent 799 metres
Beinn Tarsuinn Corbett third ascent 826 metres

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Garbh-bheinn and Belig

21 November 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - Harveys Skye Cuillin Time taken - 6.75 hours. Distance - 8.55 kilometres. Ascent - 1091 metres.

We were staying in Plockton, near Kyle of Lochalsh so it was only a short journey to reach the Island of Skye. With the bridge now being toll free it makes day trips onto Skye from the nearby mainland a lot more economical.

It was Frances's day to choose what hills to climb so she decided upon the Corbett, Garbh-bheinn and the adjoining Graham, Belig. We parked in the lay-by on the A87 Broadford to Sligachan Road just north of the bridge over the Allt Coire nam Bruadaran, which is used regularly by tourists stopping to view the nearby waterfall. The bridge was re-crossed, this time on foot, before we headed over some wet and rather boggy ground to below Druim Eadar Da Choire where we came to a walker's path. As height was gained we had views of the snow capped peaks of Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach and Beinn Dearg Mhor and later the Black Cuillin Ridge. Looking back were views of Loch Ainort and the Islands of Scalpay and Raasay.

It was a reasonably pleasant day for November on the Island of Skye although there was a cold wind to contend with and the odd snow shower. I had never walked in Skye in winter conditions normally leaving these challenging mountains to the finer weather in the summer.

Once over the 489 point the ridge started to narrow and became steeper as we came to the snow line and higher up some patches of ice. We also encountered the occasional snow shower. The last section onto the summit cairn was rather tricky underfoot as it was fairly narrow and covered in snow but we eventually made it. It was well worth the effort with fantastic views of Clach Glas and Bla Bheinn. The Island of Rum, to the west, was also visible.

The initial descent of Garbh-bheinn was also rather awkward over snow and scree searching for the best route off the mountain. Lower down the walking became easier before we reached the Bealach na Beise. It was then a relatively steep climb through rocks and scree to the summit of Belig. In addition to the views already mentioned the west coast mainland mountains and sea lochs were quite prominent as was Loch Slapin to the south and the Island of Eigg to the west.

The descent was down Belig's north ridge where we came across some deer feeding. Lower down there was some wet and boggy ground to traverse as well as the crossing of the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort before returning to the start of the day's walk which had been rather exhilarating in the winter conditions, well at least higher up.

previous ascent Garbh-bheinn

Garbh-bheinn Corbett third ascent 806 metres
Belig Graham second ascent 702 metres

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Dun da Ghaoithe

12 July 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 49. Time taken - 5.5 hours. Distance - 17 kilometres. Ascent - 940 metres.

The weather was to be fine in the far west and I needed to climb this Corbett, the only one on the Island of Mull. It is located just above the ferry port of Craignure, about a three hour walk from the ferry terminal. I thought if I caught the 9.30am Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Oban to Craignure, I should make it back for the return sailing at 5pm. I even thought that if I was really fast I could make the 3pm ferry, but that was a bit ambitious.

It was cloudy when the ferry set sail from Oban, slightly late as it was busy with day trippers. However the sun was shinning on Dun da Ghaoithe although the summit had a touch of cloud. The crossing took around 46 minutes so once I left the ferry at Craignure I walked north on the A849 Tobermory road to the Scallastle River. Just beyond the bridge I followed the track to the farm at Scallastle.

There was no indication of how to progress beyond the farm and I just got the impression that walkers weren’t that welcome. I worked my way round the south side of the farm with the intention of following the River Scallastle but it was rough going and I had to make frequent diversions to avoid Aberdeen Angus cows and their calves, which appeared out of the high vegetation. I didn’t want to get between a cow and its calf hence a bit of meandering was needed.

Once beyond the cattle the next section was across some boggy ground before it became a bit steeper. Unfortunately this area was covered in shoulder high bracken which made for difficult progress. I did try and follow some cattle tracks but it was tough and warm work. I was glad when the gradient eased and I emerged out of the bracken. Thereafter I crossed over to Dun da Ghaoithe’s north-east ridge across a mixture of boggy and rough terrain but once on the ridge walking was easier and I started to make good progress.

On the ascent I was able to watch the ferry travel back and forth between Oban and Craignure and also the ferry that operates between Lochaline on the mainland, across the Sound of Mull, to Fishnish. The final section of the ascent was rather rocky before I reached Dun da Ghaoithe's fairly large summit cairn. A cool breeze was blowing and the summit of Mull’s only Munro, Ben More, was cloud covered.

I continued south and it was an easy downhill section to the bealach before a stony ascent of the Mainnir nam Fiadh Ridge. The trig point and another cairn, which is 12 metres lower, were reached but it was rather cool and windy here. I left this top and descended the east ridge to a radio mast. From here I followed the rough road to another and lower radio mast as the afternoon ferry left Oban for Mull. There was no chance of making the 3pm ferry unless I ran downhill.

I followed the track to the main road near Torosay Castle, walked through their grounds and along a forest track back to Craignure to await the ferry to Oban, while sitting in the sun.

Dun da Ghaoithe Corbett second ascent 766 metres

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Rum Cuillin

26 – 28 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - OS Landranger 39 Time taken –
Day one – 6.5 hours.
Day two – 9.5 hours.
Day three – 1.5 hours.
Distance –
Day one – 10.5 kilometres.
Day two – 26 kilometres.
Day three – 6 kilometres.
Ascent –
Day one – 1260 metres.
Day two – 1120 metres.
Day three – 50 metres.

Several discussions had taken place during 2007 and 2008 as to the best day to travel to Rum to tackle the Cuillin Ridge. The first requirement was for fine weather because on my previous visit the cloud base was down almost to sea level and I never saw anything. The second requirement was that it had to fit into Janice's work and her other commitments. The third was that we could only travel to Rum and back when the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry sailed there and that was only on four days a week. Despite several plans none ever came to fruition.

Finally all three requirements were met and on the morning of Monday 26 May 2008, we set sail from Mallaig via Eigg on the MV Loch Nevis. It was a pleasant sunny and relative calm crossing and we berthed in Loch Scresort on Rum two and a half hours after leaving Mallaig.

From the pier we walked to Kinloch Castle for a quick look at the exterior of the building. There were lots of people lying outside on the grass in the glorious sunny weather. We retraced our steps for a few metres and followed the marked path that headed up the side of the Allt Slugain a’Choilich towards Coire Dubh. As height was gained we had views back to Kinloch and across to the Skye Cuillin. The path was relatively dry but would be a bit boggy in wet conditions.

On reaching Coire Dubh we topped up with water as there wasn’t much flowing down the Allt Slugain a’Choilich and I wasn’t expecting to find any on the ridge. It was then onto the rather breezy Bealach Bairc-mheall before ascending Hallival. Initially there was no problem but higher up it steepened and some easy scrambling was required. From the summit of Hallival we had views of the rest of the ridge and across the sea to Eigg, Muck and the mainland.

A steep descent followed working our way down and round some rocks before easier grassy terrain was reached. The ascent of Askival looked rather intimidating as it was steep, narrow and rocky. Initially we had no problems but on reaching what is known as the Askival Pinnacles we followed the path to the east. However it was rather narrow in places and at times consisted of scree and the route did not always appear obvious. We bypassed the Pinnacles and scrambled up through several rocky areas before eventually coming back onto the ridge and a final short climb to the summit trig point where we had some further fantastic views.

The descent from Askival was also rather tricky and steep but with care we eventually reached the Bealach an Oir. Time was getting on and our pace had been rather slow due to the terrain. I had already pinpointed the Bealach an Oir as a possible overnight camp spot and was pleased to find a trickle of water nearby. We set up camp just below the bealach trying to get out of the rather strong wind but with little success but at least there would be no midges. We cooked our evening meal watching a few deer down in Glen Dibidil. Afterwards it was decided to tackle the Graham Trollaval rather than leaving it till the morning and with a full pack.

The east ridge of Trollaval was gained and climbed. It was rather blustery so some care was needed especially nearer the rocky twin summit. However the effort was well worth while as the sun was still out and we had great views all round. While seated in a sheltered area of the summit we heard the noise of stones falling and spotted some goats below. We sat there for some time taking it the peace, tranquillity and fantastic views before finally calling it a day and returning back to the first summit before descending steeply to the Bealach an Fhuarain. The descent involved scree and avoiding lots of rocks. From the Bealach an Fhurain we traversed below Trollaval to our campsite at the Bealach an Oir.

It was now time to retire for the night and from my open tent I had grand views over the sea to Eigg and Ardnamurchan with its lighthouse in operation.

In the morning it was still a bit windy but from the opposite direction. Once breakfast was over we packed up and retraced our steps to Bealach an Fhurain. Ainshval’s south ridge looked as if it would be a bit of a problem to ascend but as height was gained a path bypassed the actual ridge to the east and the ascent was relatively easy compared to the rest of the Cuillin traverse, although buffeting wind was a problem. From the summit of Ainshval we once again had some fantastic and sunny views and saw the MV Loch Nevis sail into port on the Island of Muck.

The route off Ainshval was down a grassy ridge before a rocky ascent to the 759 Point and then more grass out to Sgurr nan Gillean where we sat for a while taking in some more great views especially to the south and towards the house and Mausoleum at Harris.

We left Sgurr nan Gillean, descended grassy slopes, before reaching more wild and rough terrain as we headed towards Harris. At Harris we saw goats, some resting on rocks on the shore, cattle, deer and ponies. In the sun and sheltered from the wind we had a late lunch before visiting the Mausoleum where members of the family Bulloch were buried. The adjoining house was vacant and the third property was in a dilapidated state and was used as a store.

The rough track out of Harris was followed to its highest point, around 250 metres, before a gradual descent. Before the junction of the path to Kilmory we found a suitable camping area. After setting up camp and eating our evening meal we took the track to Kilmory on the north side of the Island where part of the Autumn Watch on BBC was filmed involving rutting stags. No sign of the stags but lots of hinds, with collars fitted, feeding around the house and hut at Kilmory. There were views from above the cliffs across the sea to the Skye Cuillin and part of the Island of Canna. We wished we had camped in this area but it was too far to return and collect our tents. As we headed back to our campsite the sky turned pink which meant more disappointment that we weren’t back on the north coast.

The third day was bright but cloud was building up and we walked back the few miles to Kinloch. Janice actually left early as she had an appointment on the ferry and a trip to Canna arranged. I took a leisurely stroll back to Kinloch and looked at the Castle. Unfortunately light rain arrived and so did the midges in their thousands. They were early this year, the fine weather must be ideal for breeding. I visited the otter hide on the south side of Loch Scresort but didn’t spot any otters. I also walked to the ruins of the blackhouses at Port na Caraneon. Mid afternoon I caught the ferry back to Mallaig and the end of a very interesting but challenging few days on the Island of Rum with some fantastic weather.

previous ascent of Ainshval and Askival

Askival Corbett second ascent 812 metres
Trollaval Graham first ascent 702 metres
Ainshval Corbett second ascent 781 metres

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Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich

22 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - Landranger 33. Time taken – 3.25 hours. Distance - 6.5 kilometres. Ascent - 720 metres.

My final two Grahams on Skye were located north of the unclassified road that runs from the A87 Kyle of Lochalsh to Broadford Road across Glen Arroch to Kylerhea, where the summer vehicle ferry crosses Kyle Rhea to the mainland near Glenelg.

The Bealach Udal, the highest point on this road, was the starting point for this walk. Immediately west of the access road to a radio mast there was a parking space for a single vehicle and fortunately for me it was empty. From this parking area I crossed the road and commenced the climb of Sgurr na Coinnich. Initially it was across some rough ground, which would have been very boggy if it wasn’t for the recent dry spell, followed by some deep heather. Thereafter underfoot conditions improved as I followed grassy rakes to a small lochan and the summit of Sgurr na Coinnich. A trig point and cairn marked the summit and I had views down to the Skye Bridge, Kyleatkin and Kyle of Lochalsh. Unfortunately the haze prevented me getting any reasonable views of the Skye and Kintail mountains.

I descended to the Bealach nam Mulachag before the ascent of Beinn na Caillich. The terrain on this hill was rather different with scree, crags and some grassy and heather vegetation. However the ascent was easier than it looked from Sgurr na Coinnich and I was soon at the summit cairn where I took a break. From this summit I had similar views as described above but this time it included Kyle Rhea where a military ship was headed south and the ferry had set off for the mainland. A couple of ptarmigan were flying around the summit and there was an odd stone there with some letters roughly inscribed thereon but I don't know its significance, if any.

The return was by the ascent route although I didn’t go all the way back to the summit of Sgurr na Coinnich but traversed round the east side at around 680 metres before heading back to the Bealach Udal.

Sgurr na Coinnich Graham first ascent 739 metres
Beinn na Caillich Graham first ascent 733 metres

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Beinn Dearg Mhor and Beinn na Callich

21 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - Harvey's Skye Cuillin. Time taken – 4.75 hours. Distance - 10.5 kilometres. Ascent - 900 metres.

It was a warm and sunny morning when I drove south on the A87 Sligachan to Broadford Road as far as the hamlet of Strollamus. The start of the walk was to be the track south-east of the Allt Strollamus but various Health and Safety warning signs restricted access. I therefore parked in the lay-by immediately south-east of the bridge over the Allt Strollamus.

I climbed over a locked gate on the opposite side of the road, followed the Allt Strollamus to the vehicle track already mentioned, crossed it and walked up the path towards An Slugan. Here pipes for water had been laid probably a few years ago as the vegetation had already started to grow again. On reaching the Allt na Teangaidh I followed this stream to a small water inlet which was obviously the starting point for the underground pipes.

Once beyond the water inlet the going became a bit tougher due to deep heather but I tried to follow animal tracks, some of which were churned up by cattle. I followed this stream to the waterfall, which was a poor specimen due to the dry spell of weather that the west coast of Scotland had experienced for several weeks. I later left this stream and climbed a grassy gully disturbing three deer feeding there. At the top of the gully it was rather rocky but could be avoided or crossed with an easy scramble. As height was gained there were good views over to the mainland, the Skye Bridge and Lochs Carron and Alsh. There was now a welcome breeze which helped to cool me down a bit.

The going was a lot easier now, mainly on grass with lots of stones strewn around. The summit cairn of Beinn Dearg Mhor was reached where I sat looking across to the Red and Black Cuillin, Rum, Eigg and Canna, although it was a bit hazy to the west. While there several jets could be seen high in the sky heading towards the Atlantic although a couple were also going in the opposite direction. That part of Skye is obviously on the flight path but there was no noise just the white jet stream.

After an extended break I left the summit and descended to the bealach with Beinn na Caillich following a walker’s path. However I was soon climbing again although there were more stones to contend with as I walked, firstly to the trig point of Beinn an Caillich, then to a large mass of boulders representing the highest point. From here I looked down into Broadford and out over the Sleat peninsula. In addition to the Skye Bridge and Lochs Carron and Alsh there were the mountains of Kintail, Applecross and Torridon to see and closer the Grahams above Kyle Rhea.

I left the summit of Beinn na Caillich and descended the north-west ridge, which consisted of a mixture of grass, rocks and scree but there were no problems in the descent. I heard voices and saw three figures ascending the north-east ridge of Beinn na Caillich, the only people I saw all day on these hills. I also saw an Eagle just below me but it quickly flew off round behind Cragan Dubh. Four deer spotted me and ran off.

As I lost height the terrain became more heathery and lower down it was fairly long which was a bit of a nuisance until I reached the water inlet passed on the upward route. The rest of the descent was following the route used earlier that day.

Beinn Dearg Mhor Graham first ascent 709 metres
Beinn na Caillich Graham first ascent 732 metres

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Sgurr Dearg (Inaccessible Pinnacle) and Sgurr Mhic Choinnich

20 May 2008

photos taken on walk

Map - Harvey's Skye Cuillin Time taken - 9.25 hours. Distance - 9 kilometres. Ascent - 1125 metres.

I had tried last year to get up the Inaccessible Pinnacle but bad weather prevented this so I made contact with George Yeomans ofGuiding on Skye again and he allowed me to join his SYHA Skye Munro Group who were based at Glen Brittle Youth Hostel.

The start of this walk was Glen Brittle Hut near the foot of Glen Brittle where I met George and his SYHA clients. We set off up the path on the south side of the Allt Coire na Banachdich, passed the Eas Mor waterfall and then the path up the west ridge of Sgurr Dearg. Higher up the path became more rocky as was expected on the Cuillin. Eventually we reached the summit of Sgurr Dearg with views of the Cuillin ridge, north and south. Although sunny there was a cool breeze.

We prepared for the climb by fitting harnesses and were split into two groups. I was in the first group and we descended down pebbled covered rock to the bottom of the Inaccessible Pinnacle. We were roped up and I was teamed with Dave while Jonathan was on his own. George climbed to the midway point and set up the belay before Dave started the climb followed by myself. As I had climbed this route before I didn’t find it too difficult and was aware of the section where we had to step out. Once we reached George we were tied in while Jonathan was taken up to the midway point. The same procedure was followed to reach the summit of the Inaccessible Pinnacle.

Dave then abseiled off, followed by myself and Jonathan and we returned to Sgurr Dearg while Paul, Alan and Nicola got their chance to climb the In Pin.

Afterwards we descended below the In Pin again and continued down more pebbled covered rock avoiding some larger loose boulders to An Stac before leaving our rucksacks. We then commenced the climb of Sgurr Mhic Choinnich. High cloud obliterated any sun and it was a bit chilly at times as George led us to the summit cairn where a few more photos were taken.

The return was back by the ascent route to collect our rucksacks before the descent of the An Stac screes to Loch Coir Lagan where we took another break. Thereafter we followed the path down Coire Lagan and across to Glen Brittle and the end of a successful day and a fourth ascent of the In Pin for me. Dave had four more Munros to climb, hopefully bagging his final three Munros the next day before finishing his Munros on Ben More on Mull.

previous ascent Sgurr Mhic Choinnich

Sgurr Dearg (In Pin) Munro fourth ascent 986 metres
Sgurr Mhic Choinnich Munro fifth ascent 948 metres

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Am Basteir

10 September 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 5.25 hours. Distance - 11 kilometres. Ascent - 880 metres.

I still had two mountains to climb on Skye for another completion of the Munros on the Island and due to bad weather I was unable to climb them the previous week so this was a day visit to the Island to try and summit Am Basteir.

I set off from the car park at the Sligachan Hotel on the main road north from the mainland to Portree. I walked along the path that crossed the Allt Dearg Mor and Allt Dearg Beag by footbridges. This is the path used to access the ‘tourist route’ to Sgurr nan Gillean. Higher up the path spit, one being the 'tourist route' and the other led to Sgurr nan Gillean’s Pinnacle Ridge.

I followed the Pinnacle Ridge route and met a father and son who were intending climbing the Ridge. The father had last climbed this route forty years ago. At the foot of the Pinnacle Ridge and above the Bhasteir Gorge I cut across to Coire a’Bhasteir following traces of a path. Once in the Coire a scree path led to Bealach a'Basteir where it was rather cool and windy.

The next section of this walk needed my full concentration to avoid where possible any basalt rock and to select the ideal route. Initially this was relatively easy but then the ridge became a bit narrower. I was aware there was a couple in front of me with a collie dog.

On approaching the gap in the ridge I could hear the couple who were obviously using a rope to cross this obstacle. The friendly collie dog approached me which was a bit off putting as it was at head height and obviously wanted some attention. At this point I descended to the south over some loose stones, which were a bit of a concern, and down a couple of ledges to a stone filled gully. I climbed this gully and rejoined the route to Am Basteir. It was then only a short walk to the summit cairn with a wee scramble near the summit. Here I met the couple I saw earlier. One guy was from Dundee and was on his penultimate Munro and the other chap, who owned the collie dog, was his guide.

The summit was cloud covered despite the fact that it had occasionally lifted clear of the summit as I ascended the mountain. I sat and ate my lunch at the summit cairn and the cloud tried to lift and gave me glimpses of the Bhasteir Tooth, Sgurr a’Fionn Choire and Sgurr nan Gillean.

I later left the summit and returned to the bealach by the ascent route. I found the descent harder because the gully had lots of loose stones. I eventually reached the bealach and had views into Lota Corrie, Loch Scavaig and the Southern Cuillin Ridge. I then followed the route I had taken in the morning back to the Sligachan Hotel after a successful although tough day.

Am Basteir Munro fifth ascent 934 metres.

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Sgurr nan Eag, Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Alasdair

6 September 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 8.75 hours. Distance - 13 kilometres. Ascent - 1340 metres.

I was again allowed to join a group of walkers led by George Yeomans of Guiding on Skye to climb these mountains. We met at the Youth Hostel in Glen Brittle, where the group were staying, and drove to the end of the public road to a car park beside Glen Brittle Camp Site.

We walked through the camp site and headed up the path leading to Coir' a’Ghrunnda but once again we were soon into the low cloud with limited visibility. The path followed a route to the west of Sron na Ciche before heading into the Coire where large boulders had to be crossed. The boulders were very wet with small streams appearing due to the damp conditions.

The route led to Loch Coir' a’Ghrunnda where we took a short break before climbing onto the ridge north of Sgurr nan Eag. Here it was windy with frequent periods of rain. We thereafter walked up the north ridge of Sgurr nan Eag to its summit cairn but it was wet and windy with no views so there was no point in lingering there so we headed back down Sgurr nan Eag’s north ridge.

George then took us on what he called a bypass route to below the summit of Sgurr Dubh Mor which we then climbed before heading along its west ridge over Sgurr Dubh na Da Bheinn. From here we cut across to the south side of Sgurr Alasdair where we had to rope up before climbing to the summit cairn of Sgurr Alasdair, the highest mountain on Skye.

While at the summit we heard shouts and later some whistling somewhere to the west of Sgurr Alasdair. George responded and shouted that he would be over shortly. He then made contact with a fellow mountain rescue team member to notify him of the situation. He saw us off the summit of Sgurr Alasdair which was horrendously slippy as it mainly consisted of wet basalt. George gave me instructions as to the route to take as I had been on Sgurr Alasdair before but not in such poor weather conditions.

We descended the Great Stone Chute which was hard work for some and others enjoyed the experience. This descent took around 50 minutes and thereafter we headed over to the stream that fed Loch Coire Lagan and followed it to the Loch.

We walked round the north side of the Loch and followed its outflow still on the north side over some large boulders and into Coire Lagan. Lower down the cloud started to lift and we could start to see the route ahead as well as Loch Brittle and the Island of Canna. Further down we met George who had found the couple responsible for the distress signal. Fortunately they had just been lost and had heard our voices and decided to shout for assistance. George had led them off the mountain by a more difficult route.

We eventually reached the Glen Brittle Camp Site and the end of an interesting and challenging day.

previous ascent Sgurr Alasdair

Sgurr an Eag Munro fourth ascent 924 metres
Sgurr Dubh Mor Munro fourth ascent 944 metres
Sgurr Alasdair Munro sixth ascent 993 metres

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Sgurr na Banachdich

5 September 2007

Time taken – 4 hours. Distance - 8 kilometres. Ascent - 955 metres.

I had been given some advice from George Yeomans of Guiding on Skye to climb this mountain from opposite the Youth Hostel in Glen Brittle and up into Coir' an Eich rather than using Coire na Banachdich. George is a member of the local mountain rescue team and told me that lots of accidents occur on the Coir na Banachdich route.

I therefore set off up the path on the south side of the Allt a’Choire Ghreadaidh. The weather was poor with rain and low cloud down to around 120 metres. The streams were in spate due to the amount of recent rainfall so the waterfalls were impressive.

On reaching the Allt Coir' an Eich I followed this stream up into Coir' an Eich. There were traces of a path but higher up there were various paths, some of which may have been animal trails. Due to the thick cloud I could not see where they led so I stuck to what appeared to be the main stream. It led almost onto the ridge where I had been instructed to turn right and then left. The ridge was fairly wide at this point with lots of loose rocks but the walking was relatively easy. I followed it to the point where I had to turn left but this ascent was also fairly easy until the final section where it was windy and the rock was basalt, wet and very slippery. It required a bit of care to reach the summit cairn.

I then about turned and headed back down the ridge using the upward route but on descending into Coir' an Eich I was able to follow some of the paths. The cloud base hadn’t lifted and I encountered another heavy shower as I reached my car in Glen Brittle.

Sgurr na Banachdich Munro fourth ascent 965 metres

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Sgurr a’Mhadaidh and Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh

4 September 2007

Time taken – 6 hours. Distance - 9.5 kilometres. Ascent - 960 metres.

I needed to visit Skye to climb a few of the Cuillin Munros again, and as I had a few days spare before my next booking I decided that this was the opportunity I needed to bag them. However the weather forecast wasn’t good and without reasonable visibility I would find it very difficult to navigate my way along the ridge. I therefore contacted George Yeomans of Guiding on Skye and he agreed to allow me to join his five clients. They had had a successful day the previous day on Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, The Inaccessible Pinnacle and Sgurr na Banachdich in the sun.

We met at the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel where his clients were staying. The weather wasn’t very promising with some light rain, low cloud and a bit of a breeze. From the hostel we walked up the side of the Allt Choire a'Ghreadaidh into Coire a’Ghreadaidh where occasionally we could see the outline of the ridge as the cloud base lifted. It was then into Coire an Dorus with the instruction from George “basalt bad gabbro good”. This was in relation to the main rock formations of the Cuillin but with the wet conditions the basalt was very slippery hence the warning about the rock.

The scree was eventually reached and we climbed to just below the An Dorus Gap where we put on helmets and left our packs. George then led us up onto Sgurr a’Mhadaidh, avoiding the Gap, where a few stones marked the summit. It was raining and windy with no visibility worth mentioning so it was about turn and back to the packs.

We then climbed to the An Dorus Gap and with a few awkward steps onto Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh’s south ridge. Extreme care was required on this ascent due to a lot of basalt making things that bit more awkward. However at all the problem spots George was there to assist and guide us to the summit cairn. The conditions here were similar to the previous Munro so after a few minutes we headed back down the ridge to the An Dorus Gap. On the final drop into the Gorge George roped us down before we descended the scree to a grassy area for lunch.

After lunch in the rain we returned to the Youth Hostel rather wet but with two more Munros under our belts.

Sgurr a'Mhadaidh Munro fourth ascent 918 metres
Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh Munro fourth ascent 973 metres

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Ben Aslak

18 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 1.5 hours. Distance - 5 kilometres. Ascent - 330 metres.

I was due to return home but it was a pleasant morning on Skye so I decided on a quick jaunt up a hill before the long drive home.

I decided on the Graham, Ben Aslak. Access to this mountain was from the Bealach Udal on the road to Kylerhea, where there is a summer only ferry across to the mainland at Glenelg. There was a single parking space just west of the access road to a radio mast.

I walked the short distance to the radio mast and then over heather and some boggy ground, which was relatively dry, to the bealach south-east of Beinn Bheag. From here it was an easy climb, avoiding some rocks, to the summit of Ben Aslak. There were good views of the Cuillin Ridge, Rum and down the Sound of Sleat. I also had views across to Knoydart and Kintail but the mountain tops on the mainland were cloud covered.

The view to Kylerhea and Glenelg were obstructed by the east top of Ben Aslak so I wandered across to this cairn. As well as Glenelg and Kylerhea I had views through the narrows of Kyle Rhea to Loch Alsh.

The return was by the ascent route but it had been an enjoyable short walk with good views and maybe worth another visit sometime.

Ben Aslak Graham second ascent 610 metres

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Garbh-bheinn

17 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 5.25 hours. Distance - 8 kilometres. Ascent - 850 metres.

It was a rather cloudy morning when we drove from our accommodation at Skywalkers Independent Hostel in Portnalong along the A850 Portree to Broadford Road as far as the Allt Coire nam Bruadaran. On the east side of the road just north of the bridge over this river there was a lay-by which is often busy during the holiday season with tourists visiting the Eas a'Bhradain.

We set off up the south-east side of the Allt Coire nam Bruadaran passed the waterfall and across some boggy and heathery ground disturbing some ground nesting birds. Once again the boggy sections weren’t too difficult to traverse after a relative dry spell of weather in the area.

Eventually we reached the Druim Eadar Da Choire ridge where there were traces of a path. The ridge rose to a grassy knoll where we had views of the cloud covered Cuillin ridge. A drop of around 60 metres to a bealach followed and two hinds we had spotted earlier there had disappeared from view.

The cloud was a bit variable sometimes lifting clear of our intended target and then returning so we were hopeful that we would get some views when we reached the summit. A steady climb of around 370 metres commenced up over rock and scree until the summit was within view. However there were still three narrow sections, with steep drops on either side, to traverse before the summit cairn of Garbh-bheinn was reached.

It was time for lunch so we sat on the summit ridge with views down to Loch na Creitheach and Loch Scavaig and out to the Islands of Rum and Soay. The cloud began to clear and we saw climbers on the summit of Clach Ghlas and walkers on Bla Bheinn. It was with some reluctance that we had to leave this summit but a few midges were being a nuisance.

The descent was down the north-east ridge of Garbh-bheinn, fairly steep at first, then over some scree. We came across a small but very mossy knoll and a large area of saxifrage. Bealach na Beiste was reached where we spoke to two walkers, from my home area of Aberdeenshire, going in the opposite direction.

From the bealach we descended north, crossed the Abhainn Ceann Loch Ainort and cut across boggy and heathery ground to the start of the walk on the A850.

Garbh-bheinn Corbett second ascent 806 metres

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Glamaig

16 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Time taken – 3 hours. Distance - 5.5 kilometres. Ascent - 765 metres.

We had returned to Skye after several days on the Outer Hebrides and after settling into our bunkhouse accommodation at Portnalong my client decided that she wanted to climb one of the Skye Corbetts as the weather was fairly settled and it was only mid afternoon. She was also anxious to head off home early on the Monday so I brought the walk forward a day as the other client, who originally requested these walks in Skye, had cancelled.

The start of the walk was the A87 Broadford to Portree Road immediately east of the River Sligachan where there was limited parking. Alternative parking was available at the nearby Sligachan Hotel. We set off across some rough and boggy ground, which fortunately wasn’t too wet due to the recent dry spell experienced on Skye.

Once at the foot of Glamaig it was a steady slog up grass and scree. There was no relenting in this climb until the summit cairn was reached. Here we had views of Broadford, Portree, Isle of Raasay and to the Outer Hebrides.

Although it took us under two hours to ascend Sgurr Mhairi, the highest point on Glamaig, there was insufficient time to explore this mountain further. There was a cold wind at the summit so we didn’t linger and returned to the car by the ascent route down sections of scree.

Glamaig Corbett second ascent 775 metres

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Outer Hebrides

11 – 16 June 2007

photos taken on walk

Day One

We caught the afternoon Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Uig on Skye to Tarbert on Harris. It was sunny with a light wind so we sat on the outer deck at the stern of the vessel with views of the west side of Skye as we crossed The Minch. The crossing took just over one and a half hours.

Day Two
Time taken - 3 hours. Distance - 5.5 kilometres. Ascent - 650 metres.

Clisham is the only Corbett in the Outer Hebrides and this was my client’s reason for travelling to Harris as she was trying to climb all these mountains.

The starting point was the A859 Tarbert to Stornoway Road at the bridge over the Abhainn Mharaig where there was parking for a few vehicles on the west side of the road. We set off in rain and wind up the side of the stream but the rain soon ceased. We climbed onto the south ridge of Clisham and into low cloud. We heard the alarm call of the golden plover which was to be a common occurrence over the next few days and had a sighting of the bird through the cloud.

On a couple of occasions the cloud briefly broke and we had views of Taransay, Loch a Siar and West Loch Tarbert. The ridge was initially grassy but higher up it became more rocky and narrowed. The summit trig point and walled cairn was very obvious as it almost blocked the ridge.

We sheltered inside the walled cairned for a coffee break before returning to the start by the ascent route.

Day Three
Time taken – 3.5 hours. Distance - 11 kilometres. Ascent - 630 metres.

I had the opportunity to travel to South Uist to climb the only Graham on the Island, Beinn Mhor. I caught the early morning ferry from Leverburgh to Berneray and thereafter headed south to Loch Aineort. From here I followed the North Aineort Road to its end where there is some limited parking at a turning area.

A signpost marked the start of a footpath, which had recently been improved, through a small forest and along the north shore of Loch Aineort. It was sunny with lots of bird noises coming from the sea loch. Further along the path a bridge and style were crossed and it was at this point that the condition of the path deteriorated. However due to a dry spell in the Outer Hebrides the boggy path wasn't a problem. Further along I rounded an inlet where a group of canoeists were camped. The strong north to north-easterly wind was probably preventing them from heading back out to The Minch.

Beyond this inlet I crossed a wide open area of rough and potentially boggy ground before a steep climb to Bealach Crosgard on the south ridge of Beinn Mhor. Here I alarmed several golden plovers who continued to follow me up the ridge.

It was very windy and cold on the ridge but the views made up for any inconvenience. To the south was the Lochboisdale area, Eriskay and beyond that Barra. To the east was the Island of Skye including the distinct Cuillin, and across the Sea of The Hebrides to the Islands of Canna and Rum. To the west was the very flat ground of the machair and beyond that the Atlantic Ocean. It was a steady climb to the summit trig point which was surrounded by a walled cairn. From here the waves could be seen crashing onto the rocky east coast. I now had views to the north of Beinn Corradail and Hecla which I would have liked to include but I had the ferry back to Harris to catch.

The descent was by the upward route and lower down once out of the cold wind it was a very pleasant walk out in the sun.

Day Four
Time taken – 7.25 hours. Distance - 15.5 kilometres. Ascent - 1380 metres.

This was to be the longest day of the week’s trip to the Outer Hebrides, the ascent of the Grahams Tirga Mor and Oreval.

Despite Janice only being on Harris to climb the Corbett Clisham she decided to join me on this Graham outing, probably because of the fine weather. I doubt if she would have bothered if it had been wet and windy.

We drove along the A859, the main road north out of Tarbert before taking the B887 which ends at the beach at Hushnish. This is a single track, winding road and I found a parking space just west of Lochan Beag and east of Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, this accommodation being a wee bit above my standard of living. From here we set off up the track to the dam at Loch Chliostair. It was a sunny but windy day and en-route we saw a hare dart across the track and disappear under a large boulder.

On reaching the dam we crossed to its west side and commenced the ascent of the south east ridge of Tirga Mor which varied from grass to rock and was reasonably steep in sections. On the ascent we frequently looked back across West Loch Tarbert, Loch a Siar and the Sound of Taransay to the white sands of the beaches of West Harris.

The mossy summit trig point, which was surrounded by a walled cairn, was eventually reached and here the views must be one of my Top Five views from any summit in Scotland. In addition to the beaches further south, we had views to North Uist and my previous day’s mountain, Beinn Mhor. To the west was the Atlantic Ocean and St Kilda, to the north was the vast Isle of Lewis and to the east Oreval and Clisham and across the water to the Isle of Skye.

It was a difficult decision to leave this summit, despite the cold wind, but eventually we did and descended to the north end of Loch Aiseabhat. On the descent we could see part of the overhanging cliff of Sron Uladal. A sheep covered a large distance around us in search for her lamb but we never saw it.

From the loch we climbed towards Ulabhal and spotted a lone deer and disturbed more golden plover. On reaching this summit we spoke briefly to a lone walker. The walk continued along the ridge towards Oreval meeting another two pairs of walkers going in the opposite direction. The summit of Oreval had two cairns but it didn’t matter where we stopped as the views again were awesome.

The descent was over Bidigidh to Cleiseabhal where there was a trig point and down some rocky ground to the road opposite Loch nan Caor. From there it was only a kilometre along the road to where we had left the car.

Day Five
Time taken - 3.5 hours. Distance - 7.5 kilometres. Ascent - 735 metres.

There was still a single Graham to be climbed on Harris accessed from the same road as the previous day’s walk but this time only as far as the sea loch, Loch Mhiabhaig. Once again parking was limited on this single track road. From the head of this loch we climbed over rough ground to Uisgnaval Mor’s south-west ridge where we came across a Golden Plover’s nest containing four eggs. Three deer higher up the hill soon disappeared from view.

We disturbed more Golden Plovers as we ascended Uisgnaval Mor’s south-west ridge in the sun and strong wind. The ascent was mainly on grass with the occasional rocky area with the final section along a slight gradient to the cairn perched at the edge of a crag. The views were good, although not as fabulous as day three as it was a bit hazy and we couldn’t see St Kilda.

The return was by the ascent route.

Day Six

After a mainly sunny week, except for day two, it was time to return to Skye. It was a bit cloudy as we left Tarbert on the late morning ferry which arrived in the Uig early afternoon.

Note

Names on the current edition of the Ordnance Survey Maps for the Outer Hebrides are in Gaelic which will be different from previous editions. I have retained the English names for the Corbetts and Grahams to avoid any confusion with reference books.

previous ascent of Clisham

Clisham Corbett second ascent 799 metres
Beinn Mhor Graham first ascent 620 metres
Tirga Mor Graham first ascent 679 metres
Oreval Graham first ascent 662 metres
Uisgnaval Mor Graham first ascent 729 metres

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Bruach na Frithe

9 September 2006

photos taken on walk

Time taken: 6.75 hours. Distance: 13 kilometres. Ascent: 930 metres.

This was the second day of guiding staff and clients from a large Edinburgh firm of solicitors. The previous day we had been on The Saddle via the Forcan Ridge. Initially the plan for the second day was to climb 'The Brothers' in Kintail but I was asked if I would consider going to the Cuillin on Skye instead. Climbing is not within the scope of my business but as Bruach na Frithe is one of the easiest of the Cuillin Munros I agreed to take them there.

We set off from the Sligachan Hotel and walked a short distance along the main road towards Dunvegan before taking the track to Alltdearg House and the path up the side of the Allt Dearg Mor. This path, which heads for Glen Brittle, was subsequently left and we headed into the Fionn Choire which was very rocky and the path intermittent.

It was now fairly windy and on reaching the Bealach na Lice a few of my clients scrambled over Sgurr a' Fionn Choire while the rest of us followed the rocky path on its north side and headed for the summit of Bruach na Frithe. The views from this summit were a bit disappointing as the Munros to the south were cloud covered. However the tops of Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean were clear so at least those that hadn't been up on the Cuillin Ridge before got an idea what the terrain was like.

A sheltered spot was found at the summit for lunch with hazy views towards Portree before we returned to the Bealach na Lice. Here we descended a scree path on the north side of Am Basteir into Coire a'Bhastier and down the west side of the Bhastier Gorge where we crossed large rocks before reaching the grassy terrain. It was now very windy and we were fortunate to be off the ridge.

The final section of this walk was along the path on the north-west side of the Allt Dearg Beag and back to our starting point at the Sligachan Hotel.

Bruach na Frithe Munro fourth ascent 958 metres

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Jura Jaunt

30 April 2005

The previous day was spent making the long journey from my home in the north-east of Scotland by car, two ferries and bus to Craighouse, the main area of habitation, on the Island of Jura, which has a population of only 200. En route I uplifted my weekend walking companions.

Phil, the organiser of the weekend, had made the transport arrangements and booked a cottage in Craighouse. The weather forecast, especially for the Saturday, wasn't looking very great with rain forecast during Saturday morning. However we were hoping that the weather front might arrive later than predicted so we could at least get a dry morning with some views.

We were up early on the Saturday. It was fairly bright with some high cloud and we were transported from Craighouse to the start of the walk by a mini-bus organised by Phil, who wanted to take in all four tops.

We commenced the traverse over the four Paps of Jura at a path on the A846 just over one mile north of the Corran River. I don't know who decides on a road classification but the only road on the Island of Jura, which is single track, is definitely not an 'A' class road.

The tops of all four Paps were shrouded in cloud as we followed a wet and boggy path, which at times disappeared. The terrain was very difficult with ankle deep hollows hidden by dead grass. Some of these holes were filled with water. Progress was slow and we had split up trying to find the path or trying to take what appeared to be the easiest route across the hillside. No wonder the lone deer had to walk away from us instead of running, it was impossible to make speedy progress across this ground.

The path was later picked up again once we reached an old fence and the obvious gap for the gate. The path was followed for a short distance before we commenced the climb to the first pap of the day Corra Bheinn. Although only at a height of 573 metres most walkers avoid this one and only climb the three higher Paps.

The climb to the summit of Corra Bheinn took longer than expected but at least the cloud was clearing from the summits. It was fairly rocky in places and required some diversions to avoid these outcrops.

Once on the summit we returned by our ascent route for a short distance as we had spotted a grassy rake that would take us down to the group of lochans at the Corra Bheinn - Beinn Shiantaidh bealach. This was an easy descent route and once beyond the lochans we stopped for our first break of the day.

The next section was a climb up some scree and onto the summit ridge and finally an easy walk to the summit cairn of Beinn Shiantaidh. The peace and tranquillity of this quiet, beautiful and remote Island was broken when we arrived here. There were over twenty walkers seated around the summit, the majority of whom were members of a Rambler Group. We were fortunate that we had taken the more unused route to this mountain top.

We didn't stay long on the summit and headed off down the west ridge of Beinn Shiantaidh pursued by the Ramblers. On reaching the wide bealach we crossed over to the south side of Beinn an Oir where we picked up a path which headed up Beinn an Oir. Higher up the path turned to the north and followed a grassy rake before a steeper climb onto the north ridge. Here there are two old enclosures used many years ago by the Ordnance Survey. It was then an easy climb to the summit trig point of Beinn an Oir, our third summit of the day.

From the summit of Beinn an Oir we had views of the mountains of Arran, Mull and Arrochar Alps, as well as the Island of Islay and the countryside around Jura. Several photographs were taken before we had our lunch. Fortunately we were almost finished lunch before the first group of Ramblers arrived on the summit and we left them to enjoy the views.

We descended the rocky south ridge of Beinn an Oir and the long drop to the bealach. From here we picked a direct route to the summit of the fourth and final Pap. It was a fairly steep climb but traces of a path slightly to the south avoided most of the scree before we reached the final climb to the summit of Beinn a'Chaolais where once again we had good views. The cloud was getting a bit thicker but we had been very lucky to summit all four Paps of Jura while they were clear of cloud.

The descent was down the south-east side of Beinn a'Chaolais were we met some of the Ramblers taking the easier ascent route. The other half had obviously given up.

On reaching the Beinn a'Chaolais - Beinn Mhearsamail bealach we climbed to the summit of the small knoll Beinn Mhearsamail. We then navigated our way across country to the south side of the Jura Forest disturbing large herds of red deer en-route.

The descent route was wet in places but it was far easier than the so called path we took at the start of the day. On reaching the forest we followed a track to the road. This was followed for two and half kilometres back to our cottage in Craighouse.

During the last mile or so it started to rain but we didn't worry as we had been very lucky weather and scenery wise. It had been an enjoyable day's walking that took us just over ten hours to ascend all four Paps of Jura. However to put this into perspective the annual Paps of Jura hill race which takes in all four Paps, takes around three hours for the fastest runners.

The rest of the weekend was used for relaxation. I went for a long run, others for a walk around Craighouse, and on the Monday morning one of the party went for a visit to the Isle of Jura distillery where they make malt whisky. However both Sunday and Monday saw the Paps of Jura covered in cloud so we really had been fortunate that the weather front was late in coming north on the Saturday and that we had had a very enjoyable weekend in a very quiet and peaceful location in Scotland.

previous ascent Beinn an Oir

Beinn Shiantaidh Graham first ascent 757 metres
Beinn an Oir Corbett second ascent 785 metres
Beinn a'Chaolais Graham first ascent 733 metres

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Red Cuillin

19 December 2004

I was en-route back from a trip to the Outer Hebrides and stopped overnight at the Skyewalker Hostel at Portnalong on the Island of Skye. I was once again the sole occupant of the Hostel, which was very warm and comfortable compared to the cold of the Hostel on Harris.

The following morning it was very cold and frosty as I drove from Portnalong to Sligachan where it was -6 degrees centigrade. It was turning daylight as I set off up Glen Sligachan where the path was covered in ice. A short distance up this Glen I struck out across rough ground and climbed onto the Druim na Ruaige. The snow level was around 200 metres so it wasn't long before I reached it. As I did so the sun was shining pink on the snow clad summit of Sgurr nan Gillean. As I headed further up this ridge the summit of Glamaig also turned pink before changing to natural sunlight.

I was on the wrong side of the hill to catch the early morning sun and it was still very cold as I climbed steeply up this ridge. Once higher up it became an easy walk taking in the views of Sgurr nan Gillean, Garbh-bheinn and Clach Glas. Higher up the wind picked up and the wind chill made it feel a lot colder.

Once I had walked the length of the ridge I climbed to the summit of Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach and into the sunlight. However it wasn't any warmer in the sun and spindrift was blowing about. From this vantage point and the next section of my walk I had great views of the snow clad mainland mountains stretching from Knoydart in the south to beyond Ullapool in the north. There were too many mountain tops visible to name them all. On looking west I had views of the hills of the Outer Hebrides which were also covered in snow and I tried to pick out Clisham which I had climbed a couple of days earlier.

I descended to the Bealach Mosgaraidh and climbed to the summit cairn of Beinn Dearg Mhor. Once again I stopped to take in the views for miles around.

The descent to the Bealach na Sgairde and into Coire Sgairde was rather awkward in scree and soft snow but with a bit of patience and care I reached the Coire and followed the Allt Daraich back to the start. Here another couple of cars had arrived since my departure earlier in the day, but once again I never met or saw anyone on the hills in such an awesome day for hillwalking.

Beinn Dearg Mhor Graham first ascent 731 metres

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Penultimate Corbett

17 December 2004

I had worked my way through the list of Corbetts but had never managed to travel to the Outer Hebrides for its single Corbett on the Island of Harris. I shouldn't have left it so long nor should I have waited until the winter as ferries and busses operate on reduced timetables during these months.

I had cancelled travelling to Tarbert on the Island of Harris the previous week due to forecasts of gale force winds. However the forecast was similar for this week with the possibility of severe gales.

It was with some trepidation that I left my home in Aberdeen early on the Thursday morning to drive to the ferry terminal at Uig on the Island of Skye. As I approached the Skye Bridge reports on the radio indicated that some ferry sailings had been cancelled due to the storms. Unfortunately I had to pay the £4.70 each way at the Skye Bridge as the tolls weren't lifted until the 21st.

Some six hours after leaving home I was driving into the village of Uig when I saw the ferry approaching the pier as it arrived from Lochmaddy in North Uist. At least the ferry was sailing despite the sea looking a bit rough.

Once I boarded the ferry, which wasn't very busy, I noted a fair bit of movement despite the fact that the ferry was tied to the pier. Ten minutes early, the ferry set sail for Tarbert and once we hit the open sea the spray from some of the waves crashed over the vessel. It was interesting trying to spot which wave was coming over the top and it took my mind off the roll of the ship. However the crossing wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I also felt I was abroad as passenger's conversions were in the native Gaelic.

On arrival at Tarbert I found accommodation at the Rockview Bunkhouse and was the sole occupant during my stay there.

The following morning I caught the Stornoway bound bus. Some of the passengers were obviously in the Christmas spirit as they sang along with songs on BBC Radio 2.

On a single stretch of roadway we met a lady driver in a 4 x 4 coming in the opposite direction. Despite several attempts she was incapable of entering the passing place to allow the bus to continue and in the end the bus driver had to get out and park her vehicle in the passing place. This was to the amusement of the bus passengers who were all female. I presume she managed to get out of the passing place once we had moved on.

A couple of kilometres further north I alighted from the bus beside the Abhainn Mharaig. The driver and passengers thought I was mad as there was no habitation nearby and everything was covered in snow. However they did wish me all the best as I left the bus telling me that it was dark at 3.30pm.

I followed the stream across some wet and boggy ground before I headed up onto the south-east ridge of Clisham where the underfoot conditions were a bit drier although not obvious due to the snow cover. As I climbed the ridge the cloud base lowered several times and I was struck by some brief horizontal snow showers.

As I neared the summit the cloud lowered again and another snow shower struck reducing visibility considerably. It was an awkward point for this to happen as I was crossing a rocky arête where there was a touch of ice as well as the snow. However just as I approached the summit cairn of Clisham the snow stopped and the cloud cleared. I clambered into the middle of the cairn where the trig point was located and quickly took some photographs before the next snow shower arrived.

I descended the west ridge of Clisham which is fairly rocky and snow covered. The wind was strong here with lots of spindrift. The conditions began to deteriorate as the next snow shower arrived. I reached the bealach but it wasn't appropriate to escape from here so I continued along the corrie ridge and started to ascent Mulla-Fo Dheas. Here the ferocity of the wind increased with spindrift and I presume fresh snow falling although it was impossible to tell the difference. The next twenty minutes or so were very difficult in these conditions. Movement was slow as it was hard at times to stay upright and visibility was poor. However I got to the top of Mulla Fo Dheas and immediately descended its south ridge where I was able to gain some shelter from the wind.

I continued my descent and the cloud cleared and it became less windy. A short time later the sun came out and although it was cold it was pleasant being out in the snow and sun. What a difference an hour made. I was able to have my lunch taking in the surrounding views.

The sunny spell lasted long enough for me to eat lunch, so when the sun disappeared I headed off down the hill crossed the Abhainn Thorabraidh and picked up a very wet and boggy path that led to the B887 at Bun Abhainn Eadarra. I walked along this road until I picked up the Tarbert to Stornoway road and walked the five kilometres back to Tarbert.

I had to wait until lunchtime the following day for the ferry back to Uig on Skye. It was very cold but mainly sunny so the trip back was very pleasant with fantastic views of the snow clad mainland mountains.

Clisham Corbett first ascent 797 metres

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Jura

5 November 2004

My next Corbett expedition was a logistical problem due to its location. It required two ferry crossings with both the ferry operators now working on a winter timetable meaning reduced sailings. I also tried to select reasonable weather but after booking my accommodation the forecast changed and predicted cloudy weather instead of the original sunny spells.

I left my home in Aberdeen early on the 4 November and drove to Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula. Over five hours later I arrived in time to catch the lunchtime, and only ferry of the day from Kennacraig to Port Askaig, on the Island of Islay.

The ferry arrived on Islay just over two hours later and I booked into my accommodation. Port Askaig consists of a couple of houses and a number of other buildings. Major alterations were almost complete on the approach road to the village to cater for the ferry traffic and locals advised me that the pier is due to be upgraded as it is presently in a dilapidated condition.

On looking across the Sound of Islay from Port Askaig, the Island of Jura appeared to be a very brown Island. This I later discovered was its Autumnal colour, due to all the dead grass on the Island. There is no accommodation at Feolin on Jura, which was my final destination. In fact there is only one house there.

The following morning I had a tasty breakfast of Loch Fyne kippers while looking across the Sound of Islay towards the Paps of Jura, which were at this time clear of cloud. The accommodation was also next to the ferry so I only needed to walk outside to catch it.

I caught the 8.30am ferry from Port Askaig to Feolin. This is a privately run ferry which takes about five minutes to cross to Jura. To allow me sufficient time to climb the Corbett I had to catch this ferry as the next schedule crossing wasn't till 9.30am and the last crossing was at 6.30pm. Occasionally there are additional sailings during the day but this is to accommodate lorries coming and going to the distillery on Jura. While on the ferry I spoke briefly with a local chap who takes part in the annual Paps of Jura hill race.

By the time I arrived on Jura the cloud was covering the Paps. I set off northwards on a track that ran close to the shore. There were lots of deer nearby and I got very close to them but they didn't appear to be particularly perturbed by my presence. Further along the coast I saw an otter leaving the sea, but I later read that otters are a common feature on Jura.

Once at Inver Cottage the track went through a wood and along to Cnocbreac. Here I took the track going up onto the open hillside and I had to confront several Highland cows and calves. Just before Lochan Gleann Astaile the track turned north again under Beinn a'Chaolais. Before the track descended to Sloc Brodach I cut across the grassy hillside to the bealach between Beinn a'Chaolais and Beinn an Oir getting very close to a resting stag.

The climb onto Beinn an Oir involved climbing through rocky outcrops and up some scree before I entered the cloud base around 650 metres. The rocks higher up had a very thin covering of moss and with the damp conditions they were slippery. The ridge later narrowed before I reached the trig point which is surrounded by rocks, allowing some shelter from the wind. It rained for a few minutes but fortunately it didn't last.

My return to Feolin was by the ascent route. The cattle were no longer on the track but were surrounding Cnocbreac where it appeared that the farmer had separated the cows from their calves. The cows were very agitated as I negotiated a route round them. Some even started to follow me, which was a bit worrying, but they didn't stray far from where their calves were being kept.

On reaching Feolin the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, I arrived on the previous day, was leaving Port Askaig to return to the mainland. This was to be my ferry home in twenty four hours time. The Jura Ferry had already set sail from Feolin for Port Askaig so I had to wait about forty minutes or so for the next crossing. At least I was back before it was dark and I didn't miss the last ferry.

The following day it was wet and misty. In fact I couldn't even see the Island of Jura so I just had to wait for the afternoon ferry to return me to the mainland and the journey home.

Beinn an Oir Corbett first ascent 785 meters

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Arran

25 - 26 September 2004

Low cloud and rain welcomed us on the Saturday morning to Brodick, but we decided to set off for the Glen Rosa peaks, with the hope that we could probably manage to climb at least one of its Corbetts.

We walked through Brodick, into Glen Rosa and climbed up the path at the side of the Garbh Allt which was in spate. We had to carefully select a crossing point but once safely across we headed up onto Beinn Nuis and then to its adjoining Corbett, Beinn Tarsuinn.

We had been in the cloud for some time but while sitting eating lunch, sheltered behind some boulders, the cloud broke for a few seconds and allowed us a quick view of the surrounding area.

A fairly steep descent to the Bealach an Fhir-bhogha followed where a decision was required. We could either return to Brodick over Beinn a'Chliabhain or continue on this classic ridge traverse. The weather, although windy, was improving with the cloud base lifting, so we decided to continue along the ridge.

The next section of the ridge is for climbers so we followed the path on the west side of the A'Chir ridge before rejoining the ridge further north and climbing to the second Corbett of the day, Cir Mhor.

It was still very windy as we descended through some rocks to another bealach before climbing to the final Corbett of the day, Caisteal Abhail. This is a rocky summit so we were able to find some shelter for a short break to prepare ourselves for the final and probably the toughest section of the ridge.

We walked eastwards along the ridge to a gap known as the 'Witch's Step'. Here extreme care was required as we descended wet rock into the gap and down the gully before being able to climb back up onto the ridge.

Once near the far end of the ridge we descended into Glen Sannox where we heard the first roar of the stags for this season, so the rut had commenced on Arran.

We had hoped to catch the 6.30pm bus in Sannox back to Brodick but we were still on the hillside at this time so we obviously had no chance of making it in time.

On reaching Sannox we started walking along the road towards Brodick with the Firth of Clyde to our left. My walking companion commented that it was like being abroad as it was a lovely evening, the wind had dropped, it was dusk and there was a full moon. While walking along the road we spotted a seal diving about in the water.

The road was very quiet and we were a long way from Brodick with the next bus not due till around 11pm. A few cars did pass but they didn't stop, until a lady in a posh 4 x 4 stopped and gave us a lift back to Brodick. We were very grateful and it was the end of a classic day on the hills.

The following day it was wet and windy and we were reluctant to start but we soon got going, walking through Brodick and its Castle grounds. It was sheltered in the forest but once on the open hillside the conditions were poor. We followed the path and passed other people who were struggling in the wet and windy conditions but they weren't properly equipped for this weather.

Higher up on the path it was a bit more sheltered but as we approached the summit of Goatfell it was very windy and difficult to stay upright as we found and headed for the summit trig point.

There was no point in staying on the summit so we returned by our ascent route. The weather conditions had deteriorated but there were still people heading up towards Goatfell. On reaching the relative shelter of the woods we were able to have our lunch and then head for the ferry and home.

previous ascent

Beinn Tarsuinn Corbett second ascent 826 metres
Cir Mhor Corbett second ascent 799 metres
Caisteal Abhail Corbett second ascent 847 metres
Goatfell Corbett third ascent 874 metres

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Black Cuillin

18 July 2004

I travelled over to Skye to visit a friend and normally when on this island I get good weather. However on this Saturday morning it was windy with the Cuillin ridge covered in cloud.

I left my car beside the Mountain Rescue Post at Sligachan and had only walked a short distance when it started to rain heavily and I had to stop and don waterproof trousers. I headed up the path into Coire Riabhach and by this time the rain was a lot lighter but the Cuillin looked very intimidating with banks of cloud blowing across the ridge. I was on the lee side and was sheltered from the wind as a climbed steeply up the corrie below the Pinnacle Ridge.

I climbed onto the south-east ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean, peak of the young men, and entered the cloud. Navigation isn't too tricky here but care is required as is the case anywhere on the Cuillin ridge. It was windy and I was being buffeted at times. The rock was wet and slippery and some scrambling was involved before reaching the small summit cairn. A couple of times the cloud cleared and I saw a group climbing the adjoining peak of Am Basteir and another party being guided down the west ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean.

I contemplated going down this route as I wanted to climb Am Basteir again but due to the wind I changed my mind and headed back the way I had ascended. Once back to Coire Riabhach it rained heavily all the way back to the car

Sgurr nan Gillean Munro fourth ascent 964 metres

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Rum

14 - 15 May 2004

I had been planning a trip to the Island of Rum for about a year as I wanted to visit the Island in good weather and out with the midge season. I had received reports that, despite the poor weather on the east coast of Scotland, the west coast was enjoying good conditions. This was confirmed by residents at the Independent Hostel at Tulloch, where I stayed overnight en-route to Mallaig.

In the morning the weather at Tulloch consisted of mist and drizzle and these conditions continued as I drove to Mallaig, and on the ferry trip across to Rum.

The ferry was late in arriving at Kinloch on Rum, which was a bit disappointing, as my plan was to traverse the Rum Cuillin during the late afternoon and evening and return to the mainland by the morning ferry the following day.

I pitched my tent at Kinloch and set out for Coire Dubh but before finding the track leading to the Coire I had a conversation with the local schoolteacher, who has a total of five pupils. She was heading, in her Land Rover, to Harris which is on the opposite side of the Island. This was supposed to be a more convenient starting point as it would save me the walk back along the ridge. However you will see this was not the case.

The journey across the Island to Harris was along a very rough track with no views as the cloud was low down. In any case I was too busy holding onto my seat as we bounced along the track.

Harris consists of a house used by "goat ladies" who live there while they carry out their research. You guessed it, on goats. Their house has no electricity and lighting is by gas mantels. Nearby is a Mausoleum built by the Bullough family, who at one time owned the Island.

It was now 5pm and rather late to set off but I thanked my driver and headed south following traces of a path but once above 100 metres I was engulfed by the mist. The faint path ran below Ruinsival and I followed it before I traversed the side of Leac a'Chaisteil and climbed onto its ridge and to the summit of Ainshval. It was rather wet and very windy with poor visibility on the ridge and I was of the opinion that I was likely to be benighted if I continued along the ridge as darkness would arrive early in these conditions.

I made the decision to descend off the ridge to the north-west of Ainshval which was rather tricky as the slab rock was slippery. I traversed round the side of Trallval and into the higher reaches of Glen Harris. From there I crossed over the west ridge of Barkeval and headed for the Priomh-lochs. Underfoot it was very hard going and by the time I reached the lochs it was almost dark. From the lochs I headed for the track to Harris and on approaching it, the mist suddenly cleared, stars appeared and away in the distance I could see the lights of Mallaig. Everything was a lot brighter and I did not need my torch as I was now able to see where I was going.

I followed the track back to Kinloch arriving at my tent at 11.30pm.

The next morning the mist was down to almost sea level again as I set out from my tent at 8.30am for Coire Dubh. The path started from behind Kinloch Castle up Coire Dubh to the Bealach Bairc-mheall and onto the summit of Hallival. The steep descent from Hallival was awkward in places as the rocks were wet and being engulfed by cloud didn't help. At least the drizzle had ceased. The ascent of Askival required care as the pinnacle, which appeared enormous in the mist, had to be avoided. After a few minutes rest at the trig point I headed down to Bealach an Oir. I had decided not to complete the ridge but to return to Kinloch and catch the tea time ferry back to Mallaig. The weather was not conducive to any enjoyment and if I didn't catch this ferry I would have to wait about 46 hours for the next one.

At Bealach an Oir I traversed across to Bealach Bairc-mheall and back down Coire Dubh and out of the cloud which had lifted slightly. I arrived back at Kinloch in plenty of time to catch the ferry, which took over three hours to reach the mainland, as it went via the Island of Canna.

I will have to return to Rum to traverse the whole ridge, but in better weather.

Ainshval Corbett first ascent 781 metres
Askival Corbett first ascent 812 metres

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Ben More

25 March 2004

Janice took me to Mull where we climbed Ben More. The A’Chioch ridge route appeared to be full of snow and probably ice so we opted for the direct route to the summit starting from Dhiseig on the shore of Loch na Keal. Probably the correct decision as the south ridge of Ben More was covered in snow and ice. It was a sunny day and the first occasion in five visits I had seen the mountain, as on previous occasions it was misty, wet and windy. This was Janice’s first ascent and she has now climbed 278 of the 284 Munros.

Ben More Mull fourth ascent 966 metres

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Arran

4 - 5 October 2003

The first weekend in October I had booked to go with a group of Ramblers to spend a weekend in Arran climbing the three Corbetts on the A’Chir ridge. This was my second attempt at bagging these hills as two years ago I was thwarted by strong winds from getting anywhere near the summit tops.

The weather forecast for the weekend didn’t look very promising with strong winds and gales in the north-west, so it looked like a forlorn journey as we crossed from Ardrossan to Brodick on the Friday evening ferry. The talk was of a second failure to reach any of the A’Chir Corbetts and this was enhanced by the noise of the wind buffeting the Hotel during the night.

So after an early breakfast we set off walking through Brodick and up into Glen Rosa. The wind wasn’t as strong as expected but we soon encountered a heavy rain shower. Thankfully it didn’t last too long and we could at least see the route ahead. This took us up onto Beinn Nuis and to the first Corbett, Beinn Tarsuinn where the wind was quite strong.

Three of the party, including myself, decided that the weather wasn’t too bad and we dropped down to Bealach an Fhir-bhogha before commencing a climb up onto the A’Chir ridge. The climbing became rather awkward so we returned towards the bealach before walking along the path on the west side of the ridge which was fairly easy compared to the rock on the A’Chir ridge.

On climbing up onto the second Corbett of the day, Cir Mhor, we encountered another heavy shower with some hail included which stung the exposed parts of the body. We didn’t stay long on the summit of this mountain as the wind was very strong and went down to the bealach where we took a short refreshment break.

The next section was a climb up a curving ridge, known as the ‘Hunter’s Ridge’ to the summit of our final Corbett of the day, Caisteal Abhail. A snow shower welcomed us as we climbed up onto its summit.

We were aware that if we completed the whole ridge we would require transport back to Brodick and had been advised of buses at 4pm and 6.30pm. There was no chance of making the first time but it was possible, if we didn’t linger, that we could catch the later bus. We therefore headed down the ridge awaiting our fate at the ‘Witch’s Step’, which is a gap in the ridge. On arrival at the top of this gap we slowly and carefully negotiated our way down the rock and scree which was wet from the recent snow shower. On reaching the gap we still had to drop down the gully to avoid a climb up over some rocks. Once clear of this hazard we picked up the pace and raced down the ridge with the wind blowing us about and the noise of the stags roaring. At one point a stag crossed the ridge in front of us.

At 6.25pm we reached the main road, well they call it a main road, at North Sannox Bridge, and a few minutes later the bus arrived and conveyed us back to our base in Brodick.

The three of us had an enjoyable and exciting day and another challenge completed.

The following day a few of us walked from Brodick up the track onto Goatfell. It was windy once we reached the corrie and not long after I reached the summit the mountain was engulfed in cloud. A descent back down our route of ascent took us back to Brodick arriving there just as the first rain shower of the day started.

Beinn Tarsuinn Corbett first ascent 826 metres
Cir Mhor Corbett first ascent 799 metres
Caisteal Abhail Corbett first ascent 847 metres
Goatfell Corbett second ascent 874 metres

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Donald's Final Munros

3 - 5 July 2003

I was off to Skye with a friend to climb his last three Munros. On the Thursday we climbed Sgurr Mhic Choinnich via the An Stac screes, went along Collie’s Ledge, over Sgurr Thearlaich and onto Sgurr Alasdair. The return was down The Great Stone Chute. It was initially cloudy but as we got up onto the Ridge the cloud broke and it became warm and sunny. We both had an enjoyable day on one of the hardest sections of the Cuillin Ridge.

Friday saw us up in the Trotternish Hills in the north of the Island but it was rather cloudy.

Saturday arrived and this was the day of Donald’s final Munro. He finished on Bla Bheinn (Blaven). It wasn’t planned, it just happened that at the end of the day he had three Munros in Skye to climb to complete his round. As Bla Bheinn sits on its own and probably because it was easier he plummeted for it.

We were joined by Alan MacDonald from Falkirk who drove all the way up just to be with Donald on his final ascent. It was cloudy higher up although when we reached the summit the cloud cleared slightly to allow for a few photographs. Donald had gone to great expense, well £20, to buy a camera just for a photograph on his final Munro.

Donald climbed the majority of the Munros in a three year period. One year he climbed over 130 of them. He deserves a rest and his wife Jean now has three years of chores lined up for him. After that he may come back to the hills.

Congratulations Donald you deserve your holiday.

The long journey to Skye was worth while for Alan as he is a Munro Bagger having climbed 134 of the 284 Munros. So this was his first experience of the Skye Munros and he says he is coming back for more.

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich Munro fourth ascent 948 metres
Sgurr Alasdair Munro fifth ascent 992 metres
The Storr Graham first ascent 719 metres
Hartaval Graham first ascent 669 metres
Bla Bheinn Munro fifth ascent 928 metres

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