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The night before whilst we were sat in the bar watching the weather forecast a gloomy mood had come over us. Here we were at last, on the Island of Skye, with breathtaking scenery everywhere we looked, debating whether or not to go for our planned walk tomorrow morning. I know that the forecast was poor, but I couldn’t believe the malaise that had taken over. I simply had to put my foot down to ensure that everything went ahead as expected.
Well, the morning came and it was heavily overcast with clouds down to 1,000 feet, but at least it wasn’t raining. Anyway we set off north past Sligachan and made the loop down Glen Brittle where the clouds started to disappear and some degree of hope crept into our minds. John drove through the plantation and into a small picnic site where we proceeded to change for our walk and where we became the picnic meal for the swarm of midges that had descended upon us. Our patience was tested to the full and this was best shown by Mark (who incidentally was under the weather) when in a fit of temper he threw both his trainers at his rucksack in a vein attempt to finish off a few of them. Needless to say we didn’t hang around and quickly set off down the hill towards the corner of the plantation. Then, there in front of us was this amazing view. We stood there in awe looking at the jagged skyline that for the most part was clear of cloud and bathed in sunshine. This first view alone was worth the effort of getting there and if I didn’t see anything else I told myself that I’d have been satisfied with this view alone.
We were now eager and so having waded across a small stream we set off on the gradual climb to the bealach at 1,400 feet. We couldn’t believe it; the weather was improving the higher we climbed. Mark was starting to feel better and Paul being the timid sort that he is announced that he wasn’t going to climb the hill (he was scared of the exposure that he may have encounted) and instead would sit near the bottom of the ridge and watch our progress. Therefore it was the four of us, Mark, Mike, John and myself who set off up the ridge. There were plenty of steep sections and given that altitude was gained at quite a rate the views improved even more. Towards the top of the ridge the terrain became exceptionally rocky which offered a good choice of routes from rough terrain to quality scrambling. For a while I tried the scrambling and successfully managed to cut a finger on the razor sharp gabro. The scrambling made for slow progress and as we still had visibility and I didn’t want to risk missing the summit views if the weather changed for the worse I reverted to the quicker route, caught up the other three and all four of us topped out at the same time.
It was absolutely stunning, the sun was shining and the views were stupendous ranging from the main ridge, to Blaven, to the Isles of Muck and Rum, to Am Bastier and Glamaig (which was towering above Sligachan). I cannot ever recall feeling so privileged to be on the summit of a mountain. To think that there had been so much apathy last night and that the rest of the clan had been dismissing this walk and even suggesting that we catch an early ferry to the mainland. The only exception to this euphoria seemed to be John who didn’t appear to have any appreciation of the environment that he was in. He never ceases to amaze me. We had only been on the top for a couple of minutes when John’s mobile phone rang. It was Paul, he had watched us climb all the way up the ridge and now he sounded a little disappointed over the fact that he hadn’t tried to climb this Munro. Paul stated that he was going to walk down to the Sligachan Hotel for a pint or two and would see us later. This wasn’t the only phone call that was made from this summit. Ever since Stu first went hill walking he has wanted to go climbing in the Cullins. It seemed to be too much of an opportunity to miss not to ring him up and share the remarkable views we could see and our feeling of joy that we had over our situation. Given the fact that Stu had unfortunately missed out on this part of the Scotland trip as a result of his new and greater responsibilities to his baby daughter Hanah our actions were a little selfish and cruel. It did however give us a damn good laugh at the time. The only other folk at the top of this hill were a couple from Balckburn. We had a good chat with them and they were good enough to take our team picture prior to starting their descent some ten minutes before us.
We had a ferry to catch and so wouldn’t be in a position to extend the walk that much. However I fancied a scramble onto the intermediary top Sgurr Fionn Choire and relished the exposed scrambling that took me onto this minute rock pinnacle. After a little uncertainty Mark followed me to the top where we had the most amazing view of the Bastier Tooth. Mike was waiting a hundred yards down the path and John had sodded off on his decent before Mark and I started to make our reluctant way downhill. In no time at all we had caught up with Mike and would be with John by the time we reached the prominent shoulder in front of us. At this point we had a choice to make, one way was to the pub and the other back to the car. Mark and John went back to the car and guess what? Mike and myself took the slightly longer route back to the Sligachan Hotel. The walk back to the pub followed a small stream which gradually gained in size the further downstream we went. Mike was totally taken in with the rapids and waterfalls that seemed to appear around every corner. I think that this stream reminded him of home to some degree.
Sligachan Hotel was just what the doctor ordered. Paul had already sunk three points by the time we arrived and now it was our turn to join in the fun. Eventually when Mark and John arrived having been for a detour to the beach they had just enough time for a pint before we all had to leave for the journey to Armadale. Armadale pier was like being somewhere exotic, listening to the piper and waiting in the sunshine for the Mallaig ferry to arrive.
Simply an amazing day that had everything and Skye had been all and more than we had hoped for.