Skye 2011


Clach Glas from the summit of Marsco


A day-by-day account of the Club’s visit to Sligachan, Skye, in May/June 2011




Rain, a howling gale, and not a lot of unanimity about when we’re starting or what we’re doing. One group gets away early, with the objective of doing a minor peak near Portree, called Ben Tianavaig. Without knowing this, another group gets away late, with the objective of doing a minor peak near Portree, called …. Ben Tianavaig. The two starting points are on different sides of the mountain and the two groups miss each other at the top by only a few minutes. Nobody else is mad enough to be out on the hill in this hurricane – can’t say I blame them, though Ben Tianavaig, despite its modest height of 413m, is a smashing little summit with steep coastal cliffs and a view across to Raasay.




The weather looks better, though the forecast isn’t too good. The two Richards take a walk up Blaven, while the rest of us tackle Marsco, which dominates the left hand side of the valley behind our cottages. Marsco isn’t a Munro (or even a Corbett) but it looks like a real mountain from below and doesn’t disappoint when you’re up on top. Three intrepid adventurers tackle the steep grass at the front of the mountain, while the remainder take a path up the flank. There’s a super ridge along the top and great views of Blaven, Clach Glas and the Black Cuillins – even the Inpin clears eventually, as Skye gets its first sunshine for a month (or so we’re led to believe). A leisurely stroll back to Sligachan to finish the day. But it wasn’t a leisurely finish for Jan, who, as soon as we returned, hammered it up and down Glamaig in 3 hours, despite all the bogs and scree. Great sport for the rest of us, watching him from the cottage through the binos!




A bright start to the day and a good forecast tempt three of our number into a 7.00am start (ouch!) to do the three Cuillin peaks which dominate SligachanSgurr nan Gillean, Am Basteir and Bruach na Frithe. An ambitious target, duly accomplished in 12 hours, despite having to decline the pleasure of abseiling down the Bhasteir Tooth.


The rest go for a more civilised 10.00am start up the Coir a’Ghrunnda, with the intention of doing Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr nan Eag. However, various delays and descending mist reduce the objective to just Sgurr nan Eag and there’s no view from the top (or from anywhere above the Lochan). On the way back, there’s a lot of helicopter activity in Coire Lagan – obviously a big rescue is in progress. We learn later that four people were hit by a rock fall and, tragically, one of them is dead.




Torrential rain since about 8.00pm last night, driven along by another howling gale. Not a day for any serious outdoor activity. Various visits are made to things such as distilleries, shops, ancient brochs, beaches, Dunvegan Castle etc. Just outside the cottages, the River Sligachan, previously a gentle cascade, has become a raging torrent. Only in the evening do things begin to calm down.




A somewhat better day, though when we get round to Glen Brittle, it doesn’t look half as good as it did at Sligachan. Martin and Lesley have set off up Sgurr na Banachdich before the rest of us, hoping to go on to do the Inpin. Of the ten who arrive behind them, three take a look at the descending mist and decide that a stroll round the Quirang would be a better idea (where they “rescue” an American tourist, apparently lost a short distance from the car park). Then two more turn back after half an hour, preferring the idea of a bike ride. The other five plough on up the wrong path into Coire a’Ghreadaidh before realising that they need to backtrack into Coir’ an Eich. In the end, they get up Banachdich only to be pratted about by the weather which keeps on giving hints of breaks in the cloud without actually delivering – behaviour not unlike that of the average British government. Lesley and Martin get up the Inpin, but nobody sees anything from the ridge – it’s only when we’re on the way back that the clouds break up and it’s a glorious evening. And apparently it’s been sunny all day in Sligachan …..




A few people are already starting the journey back to England (or Wales) and there’s also a few bike trips to be done on Raasay, but most of us make an ascent of Blaven. The intention is to go up the central gully and back down the south-east ridge, but on the approach we learn from a local guide that the gully has suffered a rock fall and is now a moderate rock climb. So it’s up the south ridge and across a scrambly traverse from the south summit to the (higher) north one. Although enjoyable, the route proves a bit difficult to locate in the mist and it’s not a place for the overweight, with a tight squeeze through the rocks above the gully. Fortunately, none of us has eaten too much custard this week (though certain people tried pretty hard). As we descend, the cloud lifts from the summit – typical!!


There’s also other trips today, with two people doing Sgurr a Mhadaidh and Sgurr a’Ghreadaidh and two others doing Sgurr Alasdair via the Great Stone Shoot. So between us, we’ve managed 10 of Skye’s 12 Munros, plus Marsco, the Quirang and Ben Tianavaig – not bad going!