And a cracking final day it was too.
Ok, it wasn’t the last day, but the forecast was so unanimously crap for my actual last day I decided I was going to make this the last real one and make the most of it.
So, with the alarm duly set for 3am for a dawn raid, I proceeded to ignore it completely when it went off. Stupid idea. I was on holiday. (Plan formulated when under the influence – over 300 whiskies behind the bar at Sligachan Hotel).
As it happened, in a reversal of recent conditions, it was a cloudy start anyway so I didn’t miss anything. By 7 am though things were beginning to clear and only a few wisps of cloud were still clinging to the hills.
Given my vertiginous tendencies and the general consensus that it’s the easiest of the Black Cuillin to conquer from Glen Sligachan, I decided to redo the walk up Bruach na Frithe. I’d done this back on day 2 of the trip, but pesky cloud had hidden any views by the time I’d reached the summit.
As with a lot of Scottish ridges, the only real accessible path on to them eventually hauls you through a desolate enclosed scree filled corrie, in this case Fionn Choire, before depositing you suddenly on an airy ridge over a view that seems to stretch forever, horizontally and vertically.
Although I enjoy walks with ever changing views, there’s something a little bit more exciting about walks like these. Particularly the first time you do them. Knowing, even as you struggle two steps up and slide one step back towards the top, that any second now something staggering is going to appear.
Typically the views are so wide ranging that you simply can’t capture the immediate impact in pixels. Hell you can’t even do that with your eyes. I usually just sit down for a while, drink in as much as I can, and generally feel happy to be alive.
The following couple of shots are from roughly the same point, looking in different directions. They in no way do justice to the scale, but do give an idea of the landscape.
As that last photo indicates, any further progress beyond Bruach na Frithe is a rather more serious proposition than most average hill walkers would wish to undertake.
I had a look, swore quite a bit and had a giddy giggle before returning the way I’d come to spend a bit more time on the small section of ridge I’d made home for the morning.
Passing back past Am Basteir and its tooth, I had a wander out onto Sgurr a Bhasteir, with the corrie I’d ascended on the left, and great views back out over, well, most of Skye, with even the Old Man of Storr clearly visible for a change.
Not sure how long I spent up here in the end, but it was frankly bloody good fun. One day I’ll be back in better light than midday in August can offer. But as recces for future shoots go, it was one of the best….
And so I began the slide back down into Fionn Choire and back the way I’d come.
Apart from occasional duller moments, overhead conditions didn’t look like changing too much, and with a healthy sprinkling of cloud still in evidence, my mind was already beginning to think about what the light was going to be like later in the evening.
It would be unlikely I’d have the energy to climb anything else, and with 9pm sunsets and at least a couple of hours to climb anything it would seriously hamper evening holiday relaxation, but there were still valley views to settle for.
Later, after a couple of pints of refreshment juice and some of the finest stodge the hotel could muster, the thicker of the cloud that had gathered in the afternoon did indeed disappear and the light began to warm up nicely.
I took my leave of the bar and after nipping back to the tent to grab the tripod went for a stroll and a paddle along the River Sligachan.
You don’t need words, just look. It was a gorgeous evening to take back home with me.
And that was that. A wonderful week. The next day was as damp and miserable as forecast, but didn’t spoil anything. I’d been very lucky.
Oh and after my earlier jibe I hardly even mentioned the midges. They were horrific in case you had any doubts.
Those images of Skye I so far consider to be printworthy (from this trip and the last) can be found here. If there are any others you’ve seen and are interested in just let me know.
As always, thanks for reading