Skye Trail days 1-3

For the last 3 days I have been on the Isle of Skye with my friends from Uni, Dan and Phil, who are walking the Skye trail to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, so give if you can.  I managed to persuade them to do a few days scrambling as a side to the route, but I think they got more than what they expected.

The Skye trail runs from the south to the north of the Isle of Skye starting in Broadford and heading up the east coast to Rubha Hunish in the north.

Day 1: On Saturday we left Fort William about mid-morning for the drive north.  I then left Dan and Phil to loiter by the side of the road while I drove to Torrin to leave the car where we were camping for the first night and cycled the 7km back to them.  After hiding my bike we set off south towards the coast along a good path.  A few hours later we arrived at a ruined village with great views across to the mainland and the Islands of Rum and Eigg.  With the sun now shining we headed round the coast and then north towards Torrin where we met the road and with just a few km to the car and camp at the base of BlaBheinn, 20km in total.

Dan in his usual pose

Dan and Phil

Day 2: On Sunday we made a detour to head over the mountain of BlaBheinn via a scramble to end up at Camasunary bothy on the other side.  The weather was looking good for the day so we decided to go for the longer, harder scramble of the Clach Glas traverse up to the summit.  This scramble is along a thin ridge that takes you up to the summit of Clach Glas and then down the other side before heading up to the summit of BlaBheinn.

After I had moved my car down the road and cycled the 5km back to Dan and Phil we set off.  It is a bit of a slog up to about 600m to the start of the scramble but we got there in good time.  We then had an introduction to Skye ridge scrambling over Sgurr nan Each and to the start of the traverse where we roped up.  We head along the rigde with some very good sections of climbing and down climbing with quite a lot of exposure all the way, before gaining the summit of Clach Glas known as the ‘Imposter’ and the ‘Mattahorn of the UK’.  Phil was starting to find his climbing legs again and we started to head down the other side with some very exposed down climbing sections.  A few hours later we were at the end of the ridge all a bit tired and glad that the snow shower had missed us.  All we had to do now was to ascend the 5 meter wall and then the 18 meter chimney to join the normal walking route up to the summit of BlaBheinn.  There we topped out at about 5pm for Phil’s first Munro and had the casual stroll down the south ridge to the bay of Camasunary and the bothy with great views out to the Cullin ridge and the western isles.

Day 3: Yesterday we awoke from the bothy all a bit stiff and tired, but with another long day ahead we left by 8am.  We walked around the coast, over the Bad Step scramble (where a slip will take you into the sea) in to the Loch Coruisk basin to set up the tent and leave the camping kit for later.  We then headed along the shores of Loch Coruisk to the base of the Dubh Slabs, a real classic and one I had wanted to do for a while.  With 700m of slab scrambling ahead of us to the summit of Sgurr Dubh Beag we set off.

With a few harder sections at the start the going was a bit slower but with the sun still shining and the rough rock to grip we headed up.  After the steeper sections it was then a case of pick your own line over the slabs, which we did at quite a pace towards the summit.  With every one getting tired we were nearly there with one final crack in the slab to climb and after 3 hours of scrambling we reached the windy summit.  I had heard of a 30 meter abseil off the back of the summit, so with a 50 metre rope I went to have a look hoping they had got their distances wrong.  With a final challenge off ab’ing off I headed down to find 2 metres of rope on the floor, great (23m ab’).  Then Dan and Phil came down and we were all on the ground with a tricky decent back to Loch Coruisk down scree and steep grass, which I wouldn’t recommend.

Once we reached the Loch I headed off at a pace as I had to walk the 4km back round the coast to the bothy then another 4km back to the car to drive back to Fort William for a meeting with Maximum Adventure on Tuesday.  I finally got to my car at 8.30pm after 12.5 hours on the trail.  Only to find the chip shop that had been keeping me going had shut in Broadford.

Today is a rest day for me but Dan and Phil have a 10km walk up Glen Sligachan to the campsite, so a semi rest day for them.  I will then meet them Wednesday morning for the second half to the Skye Trail north along the Trotternish ridge.

So far we are going well with only a few sore joints and muscles.  With 2 long days Wednesday and Thursday it will be a real test of the legs to finish with a shorter day on Friday.  Next update will be on Saturday.

Start of day 3

The Dubh slabs on the left

Phil on the ab 'I thought this was supposed to be a walk!'

Dan on the ab' with blue sky!

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