The Isle of Skye possesses an immense range of scenery and walking opportunities abound to suit all abilities and ambitions. The Cuillin Mountains are generally held to be the most spectacular range in the United Kingdom and along with their near neighbors, the Red Hills, appear sufficiently intimidating to keep all but the hardened mountaineer at bay. Appearances can be deceptive however, and this week long trip to Skye will enable fit and moderately experienced hill walkers to reach the summits of two peaks on the famous Cuillin Ridge, the Red Cuillin, and arguably the most attractive of all the Skye Mountains, Bla Bheinn. Skye also has much more to offer than mountains however and with a day off scheduled for mid week, there will also be time to take a look round the Island, perhaps to sample some gentler hill or coastal walking. Skye’s the limit!
Your trip includes 7 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation on Skye and 5 days’ guided walking. There is one free day mid week.
On each of our 5 day walks we will be on the hill for up to 7 to 8 hours (or possibly more, dependant on the pace of the party), mostly walking on mountain and moorland tracks and paths. Mountain routes vary in quality, but are predominantly rough, steep, and can be intermittent, with some walking over unpathed and uneven ground including boulder fields and scree. Considerable time will be spent on high, narrow and sometimes exposed mountain ridges and some straight forward, but exposed scrambling will be necessary on occasion. A head for heights is needed and recent mountain walking or hiking experience will be a definite advantage.
The itinerary below follows our expected programme for the week. Any changes to this will reflect your guide’s judgement as to what is best in the conditions for the group’s safety and overall enjoyment of the holiday.
Day 1 (Saturday): Travel from Edinburgh to Skye
We leave Edinburgh at 9.00 am for the 5 hour drive to our base in Broadford. We will have time to stop en route as we pass through Glen Coe and at Eileen Donan Castle - both stunningly beautiful and much photographed locations. We will arrive on Skye in the late afternoon. In the evening over dinner and a drink, we will have the opportunity to discuss more fully our plans for the week, and your guide will answer any questions you may have about the trip.
Day 2, Sunday: Beinn na Caillich Horseshoe (Mountain of the Old Woman).
Standing only a few kilometres behind Broadford, Beinn na Caillich will have been the first mountain on Skye to catch our attention as we approached the Island over the Skye Bridge yesterday. Its bald, grey, rounded top is surmounted by an enormous cairn under which it is said that a Norse Princess lies buried, so that she could forever face the land of her birth. Our circular route approaches the hills over rough and trackless moorland before climbing steeply up rocky, convex slopes until the summit cairn is reached. From here, and all around the horseshoe of hills which surround Coire Gorm, vistas open up in all directions, but giving especially good views of the rugged Bla Bheinn, our target for later in the week, and the small isles of Canna, Rum and Eigg. The terrain along the ridges here is fairly rough, with some steep scree to be negotiated, and with the final section over rough moorland again, we will return feeling that we have had a good first day’s exercise.
5m/8km, 980m/3200ft, 7 hrs
Day 3, Monday: The Beinn Deargs (The Red Hills).
Our start point today is Sligachan, whose old road bridge provides one of the best known views of the Cuillin.The main bulk of the Cuillin are composed of dark gabbro, which stand in stark contrast to our route today over the red granite of the Red Cuillin.
The path is initially over ‘soft’ moorland, but the going soon gets better (drier!) as we gain height on the long ridge Druim na Ruaige, which leads us to our first summit of this circular walk – Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach (Middle Red Mountain). The going now is straight forward, and there is plenty to entertain us all around – Glamaig is right in front, a cone of punishing scree slopes, and over the glen the Black Cuillin are constantly in view. Beinn Dearg Mhor ( Big Red Mountain ) is reached and our descent is made down a long steep slope of scree, to the moorland below. Wet paths lead us back to Sligachan, accompanied all the time by the gurgling of the Allt Daraich, which fights an uneven battle to drain this section of the moor.
6.5m/10.5km, 875m/2870ft, 7-8hrs
Day 4, Tuesday: Sgurr na Banachdich (Milkmaid’s Peak).
A longer drive today (30/40 minutes) takes us into the lonely and secretive Glen Brittle, the start point for many of the Cuillin climbs. The appearance of our mountain today is markedly different to those we have already climbed this week. Sgurr na Banachdich is in the center of the Cuillin Ridge, and its steep, dark slopes leading to rocky and narrow ridges is a stunning change away from the more rounded shapes we have encountered so far.
Our walk starts at the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel and climbs steadily towards Coire an Eich. A steep pull up slopes of scree takes us to the western flank of our mountain, with a further ½ km or so of rough ground to ascend to our highest summit of the week, 3200ft (965 metres). It’s here that we reap the reward of all the hard work. From the small plateau on which we are perched, the airy ridge stretches out in both directions, while 3000ft below our feet is the shimmering form of Loch Coruisk drawing the eye towards the coast and the islands beyond. A truly magnificent spot.
We reverse the outward route back to our transport.
4.5m/7km, 945m/3100ft, 7 hrs
Day 5, Wednesday: Rest Day.
This is your opportunity to enjoy a more relaxing day, to sample some of the area’s other attractions, or to do an easier walk. Your guide will be able to advise you on what’s available.
Day 6, Thursday: Bruach na Frithe (Edge of the Wilderness).
Starting near to Sligachan, we follow the path beside the beautiful Allt Dearg Mor (Big Red Burn) with its many cascades and pools, until we branch off towards Fionn Corrie. A rough path climbs out of the corrie to Bealach nan Lice (Pass of the Slabs). Now views begin to open up to the south and east as we progress up the ridge towards the summit. As with Sgurr na Banachdich there are outstanding views in each direction along the Cuillin Ridge, and here too the views north towards Portree, the Island 's capital, backed by the shattered escarpment of the Trotternish Peninsula are also seen to dramatic effect. There are ample opportunities on this walk for some scrambling, although this is not required to reach the summit. We return by the same route.
8m/13km, 900m/2955ft, 7 hrs
Day 7, Friday: Bla Bheinn (Blue Mountain).
Bla Bheinn has a magnificent presence which first makes itself felt on the approach drive along the road to Elgol. By the time Torrin and Loch Slapin are reached the mountain really does appear as ‘the mighty mass‘, brooding over all. Our route takes us by the Allt na Dunaiche to Coire Uaigneich, huddled under the east face of the mountain. Here we turn steeply up over grass and rock to the east ridge. Views open up of the adjoining and spectacular Clach Glas, another outstanding outlier to the main Cuillin Ridge. The angle eases and the summit is gained, suddenly opening up views over the deep trench of Glen Sligachan, to the main Cuillin Ridge itself. All of our summits for the trip are now in view and here is a good place to linger a while and reflect on the challenges and the successes of the week.
6m/10km, 960m/3150ft, 7 hrs
Day 8, Saturday: Travel to Edinburgh.
We leave Skye to the weekend climbers and walkers, aiming to be on the road by 9.00am. We arrive back in Edinburgh by 3.00pm, and we will be happy to drop guests off at Edinburgh Airport, or in the City Centre.
Your guide for this holiday will be qualified to at least Mountain Leader (ML) standard and will have an intimate knowledge of the area’s mountains. Your guide’s objective will be to ensure the group’s safe enjoyment of the best of the area’s hillwalking routes, depending on weather and any other issues which may give rise to possible departures from the planned itinerary.
Accommodation and Meals
Your holiday includes bed and breakfast accommodation in one Broadford's welcoming and comfortable Guest Houses. We will arrange for evening meals, which are not included in the trip price, to be taken together with the whole group in a local bar or restaurant (budget around £10-£15 per night for dinner). Packed lunches will be provided throughout the week.
This trip is graded as “Challenging”. On each of our day’s walking we will be on the hill for up to 7 or 8 hours, with daily distances of between 5-8 miles (8-13 km) and between 900-9800 metres (2870-3200ft) of ascent in a day. Mountain routes vary in quality, but are predominantly rough, steep, and can be intermittent. Some walking will be over unpathed and uneven ground, including boulder fields and scree. Considerable time will be spent on high, narrow and exposed mountain ridges and some straight forward, but exposed scrambling may be necessary on some of the routes. (‘Scrambling’ involves using your hands as well as feet to climb, and is a cross between walking and climbing.) A head for heights is needed and you should be reasonably fit to get the most out of this holiday. Recent mountain walking or hiking experience will be a definite advantage.
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