Sgùrr nan Gillean

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 57.24832°N / 6.19303°W
Additional Information County: Inner Hebrides
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Toprope, Ice Climbing, Aid Climbing, Big Wall, Mixed, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Elevation: 3163 ft / 964 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Sgurr nan GilleanFrom Am Bastheir (?)
Sgurr Nan Gillean.Pinnacles...
Under Sgurr nan GilleanFrom the South

Sgùrr nan Gillean is one of the most famous peaks of the Cuillin ridge, on the Scottish Isle of Skye. For the visitor, perhaps the most photogenic, its fairy-like striking shape, from the road, is a common postcard.
Donald Bennett, in the introduction of the well-known SMC book "The Munros", makes an allusion to it as the most beautiful Munro. That's saying something !

Let's not repeat here all the chapter about the characteristics and beauties of the Cuillin ridge, and let's focus on our UK's most beautiful mountain, Sgùrr nan Gillean.

The "Peak of the young man", as its etymology means, forms the nothern end of the Cuillins (more precisely NE corner), together with Bruach na Frithe (NO) and Am Bastheir (N).

It is not the highest peak of the Cuillins but amongst the few. As the Cuillin ridge is a bit like a curve, Sgùrr nan Gillean is visible from almost all the rest of the range, forming a prominent sharp pinnache on the north. But it unveils all its majesty as seen from Sligachan and from the eponym Glen Sligachan.

As for the summit views, they are outstanding, with a sharp contrast between the flatness of Glen Sligachan and the rest of Skye on one side, and the army of jagged peaks of the Black Cuillins on the other, many of them well visible given the shape of the Cuillin ridge. The viewpoint is also ideal to admire the Red Cuillins and Blaven.
Panorama of a Mountain Rescue helicopter taking off from SligachanPanorama to the Cuillins and Sgùrr nan Gillean

Getting There

The Northern Cuillin From SligachanClassic view
Northern Cuillin from near SligachanFrom Sligachan Inn
The Northern CuillinFrom the NW
Loch a Choire Riabhaichfrom Loch a'Choire Riabhaich
Isle of Skye, Black Cuilins & Sgurr nan GilleanIn the fog
Sgurr nan Gillean. The...Autumn view

Sligachan, the locality where all trailheads are, is accessible by the A87, via the well known bridge to the Isle of Skye, and via the Loch Lochy junction near Fort William both if we arrive from Glasgow or Edinburgh. From Aberdeen, it is adviseable to go via Inverness.
By public transports, Sligachan is a stop of the autobus going to the Isle of Skye, first after the brige of Kyle of Lochalsh.

View Larger Map

Sgurr nan GilleanPanorama to Sgùrr nan Gillean from Am Bastheir


Sgùrr nan Gillean route drawn on a postcardRoute drawn on a postcard

Sgurr Beag and Sgurr na...The Tourist Route
Descending the Tourist Route...The Tourist Route
Isle of Skye, Black Cuilins from Sgurr nan GilleanSummit view
Sgurr nan GillieanSummit crowd...
Abseiling off the third...Abseiling
The Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr...The Pinnacle Ridge
From near to Sligachan. The...Near the start in Sligachan
Near the end of the Main...Main ridge traverse
Sgurr nan Gillean & Pinnacle RidgeThe Pinnacle Ridge
The Northern Cuillin from BlavenView from Blaven

The most popular route of ascent, misleadingly known as the Tourist Route, follows a path leading south from Sligachan, crossing the stream Allt Dearg Beag (small red burn). The route continues up into a corrie, Coire Rhiabhach. The ascent of the corrie is made of loose screes.
The next part of the ascent to the summit makes all the fame of the mountain, on a narrow and exposed ridge, requiring scrambling abilities (but no climbing equipment requiremed). The pass below is a point where many tourists choose to turn back, not willing to risk. But the gabbro (very abrasive kind of basalt specific to the area) is of excellent quality, very firm, and no difficult spot is encountered. Just beware of wearing your newest clothes, the prominent crystals of the Gabbro will quickly scratch them at the first uncareful movement !
The jagged summit hides a small flat area, just like designed to welcome a little crown. As alerady mentionned, the views are outstanding. A five-stars mountain !

tour cycliste 418468 - powered by Wandermap 
View the map in larger scale

Another very famous route is the Pinnacle Ridge, which is a rock climb that requires rope, harnesses and abseiling on the north ridge. The highest of the pinnacles is known as "The Knights Peak".
The base of the Pinnacle Ridge is reached the same way as the tourist route, but instead of crossing the river, continue up on the right until below the start of the Basteir gorge, and then we cross stream exiting the gorge to reach the base of the lowest pinnacle.

The West Ridge is another alternative route of ascent or descent. It leads from the summit down to the pass separating from Am Basteir. There is a particularly narrow and exposed section about 2/3 of the way down, formed by the remains of a large Gendarme which broke away during the winter of 1986/87. The narrow section can be avoided by a gully, known as Nicholson's Chimney, on the north side of the ridge.
Early morning view of Sgurr...Sea of clouds in early morning

Red tape

Sgurr nan Gillean.Rough terrain !
View from Sgurr Nan Gillean.And sometimes (often...) poor visibility

No particular regulation, but anyone planning to visit this peak should remind that the whole Cuillin ridge in general, is completely different from what we are used to see in Scottish mountains. A good head for heights and scrambling abilities are required almost everywhere.
The Black Cuillins From BlavenBlack Cuillins from Blaven, Sgùrr nan Gillean is the last on the right


The Campsite at Sligachan - Isle of SkyeSligachan campsite

Not much to mention apart from the almost-unavoidable Sligachan hotel, which is also (and above all) a campsite.
Wild-camping is in theory not forbidden, however be aware that pitching a tent in the Cuillins themselves is irrealistic given the nature of the ground. Then, possible places tend to be down in the valley. In this case make sure you choose a place off the beaten track and far enough from Sligachan to avoid possible troubles.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-8 of 8

yatsek - Mar 25, 2010 5:29 pm - Voted 10/10

Rock Type

Gabbro is not granite.


visentin - Mar 26, 2010 3:50 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Rock Type

good point :) However the Skye gabbro is unique and not similar to any other. In many places when I was there it tended to switch gradually to something more like granite, but never very clearly.


yatsek - Mar 26, 2010 3:55 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Rock Type

Looks like a good page anyway. :) I'm not sure but some people may call gabbro 'black granite' or something like that.


selinunte01 - Mar 30, 2010 5:38 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Rock Type

Gabbro is definitively not a granite. Granite consists mainly of quartz (20-60%), alkali feldspar and mica. Gabbro consists of mainly plagioclase, up to 5 % quartz, pyroxene and olivine, thus linking it to the basaltic plutonites. Quartz and feldspar rich gabbros can look similar to dark granites, maybe thats the point!


visentin - Mar 30, 2010 7:38 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Rock Type

ok, ok, ok guys... corrected ! :)


yatsek - Mar 31, 2010 4:52 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Rock Type

I think I'll give you some homework LOL Pop outside the city and compare the rocks on the top (or SE/S side) of Sleza Mtn and those on its NW flank at about 400m. :)


selinunte01 - Mar 31, 2010 7:06 am - Voted 10/10

Re: Rock Type

It is a fantastic page anyway !!! What a wild and rugged landscape ... Cheers, Michael


visentin - Mar 31, 2010 7:54 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Rock Type

Seen the last one ?

Viewing: 1-8 of 8



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Cuillin RidgeMountains & Rocks
Isle of SkyeMountains & Rocks