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Friday, 15 May 2015

Glen Sligachan 8-5-2015

Friday May 8th was the last day of our week on the Isle of Skye and also the day we did our longest walk. It was also the best day weather wise with near wall to wall sunshine from the off. This walk was a straight there and back covering about 12 miles following a good easy path through the Glen to Druim Hain that has great panorama views of the Cuillins, Loch Coruisk, Loch na Creitheach and out to the Sea of Hebrides and in this fine weather it was a joy.
We started from the Sligachan Hotel and followed the path as it winds it's way up the Glen following the River Sligachan a short distance below the path. It has a real wild mountainous feel to it with the jagged peaks of the Black Cuillins on one side and the more rounded tops of the Red Cuillins on the other. The Black Cuillins still had patches of snow on them letting us know that winter still has a small grip on this part of the UK. There was also a Golden Eagle or two soaring about at different times of the day which gave the place  a real sence of wilderness.
Start from the Sligachan Hotel
I went to the summit of Sgurr Hain
Leaving the Hotel Sligachan behind
Patches of snow lingers on the Black Cuillins
Off through the Glen with the pointed summit of Sgurr Hain in the far distance
Looking back down the Glen
Following the good path
Golden Eagle keeping an eye on us
As well as watching the Eagles and listening to the Cuckoo's that seemed to follow us all day, we were also keeping an eye on some more adventurous mountaineers as they kept coming into view high up on the jagged peaks until they eventually topped out. What a view they must of had and also some adventure as they made there way across the edges. Pretty damn cool :-)
On top of the world
On top of the world
We made our way ever more into the Glen as the river went off to the right deep into the Black Cuillins where I guess that is where the source is, as we passed two small Lochs just before we came to a junction of two paths. We were to follow the one that headed up towards are intended target while the other path headed off towards Loch an Achan & Loch na Creitheach. Jills face at this point was a picture as she didn't realise that we were to go up, and up!! Not high or awkward, just unexpected, although I sort on knew as I had the map but didn't say too much, we could of took the other path but we were both glad we didn't. :-)
Heading off up towards Sgurr Hain
The other path went under Blabheinn to the two lochs
Looking back on our route while Jill looks down :-)
Kissing Rocks :-)
The hotel is down there somewhere
False summit's, don't you just love em! :-) Thinking we were getting to the plateau of Druim Hain, It gave us our first view of Loch na Creitheach as we took another rest before the last pull up.
Looking down on Loch na Creitheach
As we nearing the plateau of Druim Hain a couple of girls passed us and gave us the opportunity to get a photo without resorting to the selfie. We had a little chat and they were on a walking holiday and had done Ben Nevis but didn't make the summit due to the snow and also one walk that I had wanted to do but due to the bad weather didn't manage it, the Quairing.
A view of  Sgurr Nan Gillean where we watched the guys topped out earlier in the day. Looks an interesting way up the knife edge
On Druim Nain
We found a good place to sit out of the wind, not a strong wind but enough to feel a chill while sitting and admiring the views. I decided to go for a wander and took myself up to Sgurr Hain for some good summit views. A bit of a scramble that reminded me of Y Lliwedd of the Snowdon Horseshoe in Wales. Quite an easy scramble to the top but with dramatic drops into Loch na Creitheach below. Another good summit plateau with excellent views of the Cuillin ridgeline and beyond. A great day in fact to be out in the mountains.
Panoramic view of the Black Cuillins from Sgurr Hain
Panoramic views of the Red Cuillins from Sgurr Hain
On my way up Sgurr Hain
Admiring the views from the summit

Summit of Sgurr Hain
Summit view of Loch na Creitheach
View down to Jill and also way down the Glen to the Hotel
Summit view of Jill :-)
Summit view down to Loch Coruisk, the lower Loch

Perfect :-)
We hung about up here for a good 90 minutes or so just soaking up the views, solitude and the sun. Just a great quiet place to be although the Cuckoo was still breaking the silence. I was hoping the golden eagle would put a stop to it but I think he was enjoying the fine sunny weather as much as us to be too bothered with a snack :-)
We made our way down and it seemed to get warmer and warmer as the wind dropped and we ended up in tee shirts for most of the return leg. It also seemed a lot longer on the way back for some reason. We did stop a few times but the last hour just seemed to drag and the hotel seemed to never appear, always going away from us. As we took our time it ended up quite a long day, 9 hours walking, but well worth it. One great thing about the fine sunny day was that we had a great sunset to finish not only the day but a great week. Quite perfect really.
On the winding road back
Looking back on Sgurr Hain
Great wild camp spot
Nine hours later.................
Old road bridge of Sligachan
Sun goes down on another great day

Cheers :-)

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Week On Skye May 2015

Two years ago we had a five day break just outside Plockton in the Scottish Highlands, and had, for the most part, warm sunny weather. We also had a day driving round the Isle of Skye as we had heard and read how great it is, and vowed to return one day for a more detailed look round.
The first week in May 2015 was booked off and we found ourselves a nice little cottage at the end of a single road on the shore of LOCH HARPORT in the tiny village of PORTNALONG. Not a true cottage in the sense of the word, more like an extension of the owners cottage but plenty of room and privacy for two people and a great quiet relaxing position looking out on to the small bay with a few fishing boats moored there.
Portnalong harbour from the cottage
The journey up there on the Saturday went without any problems as we set off in the early hours for a leisurely drive and a couple of rest stops. We had booked on a ferry to take us from MALLAIG  across to Armadale on the Isle of Skye as an alternative from driving the main route. It breaks it up and offers an alternative way of getting there as we'll be driving back over the main Skye Bridge on the way home. The drive through the mountains and small villages makes the long way more relaxing and soon goes. The fine dry weather also helps. We also met a couple of walking buddies, Foz & Chip with his better half in Fort William for a brew as they were on their way home after spending the week walking here and there in blizzards. It may be Spring in the rest of the UK but this is the highlands where Spring & Summer comes and goes with a blink of the eye!!
Loch Leven
Glen Finnan Viaduct
The ferry from Mallaig
The weather on the Sunday was wet and very windy with quite a bite to it, spring had not yet reached Skye and there was still snow on the tops of the mountains. We had a bit of a lazy day but managed to get out for a drive and to pay a visit to DUNVEGAN CASTLE and CORAL BEACH where we watched seals playing in the sea.
When we got back I had a wander over the far side of Loch Harport from the cottage in the early evening and managed to see a couple of deer but they were to quick for me to get a decent photo.
Dunvegan Castle
Coral Beach
Coral Beach Seal
Coral Beach Seals
Wet & windy Coral Beach
Looking down on the harbour and cottage
 Monday was again a bit on the dull side but thankfully no rain, it was still windy and quite cold but we had decided to go for a walk to a place called THE FAIRY POOLS a set of small waterfall along the River Brittle below the CUILLIN MOUNTAINS. We chose to make the walk a bit of a circular to make it last and also spend a bit more time around this very atmospheric place.
Our route just under 5 miles

Start of the Fairy Pools walk
Fairy Pools
Fairy Pools
Fairy Pools
We decided to pay a visit to the beach at Loch Brittle and also Talisker Bay as it was now quite sunny but still windy with a chill in the air. Talisker Bay was the place where we caught sight of our first Golden Eagle and what an amazing sight it was too :-)
Loch Brittle Beach
Loch Brittle beach & campsite
Cloud covered Cuillin Mountains from Glen Brittle beach
Talisker Bay
Talisker Bay
Tuesday started off where Monday had finished, quite clear and sunny but still windy and cold so we decided to have a walk around the bay and visit the lighthouse at ARDTRECK POINT It was quite boggy in some places but offered great views down on the harbour and across to the TABLE MOUNTAINS OF SKYE and also the Cuillins. No deer this time. It is also the place to find DUN ARDTRECK
The harbour and over to Ardtreck Point from the cottage
The remains of Dun Ardtreck
Ardtreck Lighthouse with MacLeods Tables in the background
Looking down on the harbour & cottage's with the Cuillins in the background
The rugged coastline along to Fiskavaig Bay
By the time we got back to the cottage there was light rain in the air and it turned quite heavy through the afternoon. We decided to go for another drive up to Uig to see the FAIRY GLEN,  
where the fairies live :-) and also a place that I really wanted to explore, THE QUIRAING WALK We also drove down the east side of Skye and past the impressive Storr with the OLD MAN OF STORR looking very moody surrounded by cloud and rain. One of the most iconic pieces of rock for rock climbers. Today though was just a looking through the car windows day, unfortuanately.
Fairy Glen
Fairy Glen
The Quiraing
The Quiraing
Old Man of Storr
Old Man of Storr in cloud
Wednesday started off dull, cold and with a bit of rain in the air so after a lazy morning we decided to have a drive over to PLOCKTON and have a walk round, bringing back memories of our visit there in 2013. We parked in DUIRINISH and had a small walk round the coast before heading into Plockton for a bite to eat. And seeing as it was cold and wet we decided to have an ice cream for the shear hell of it, well we are on holiday :-) A really nice area and well worth a visit.
The resident Highland Cattle
Duirinish coastal walk
Duirinish coastal walk
Duirinish coastal walk
Duirinish Village
Plockton Harbour with the sea out
Nice ice-cream
Plockton Harbour & Village
Thursday saw us up early as we were booked on the 10am boat trip out of PORTREE to see a bit of the local wildlife and also to get a different view of the surrounding area. Although the day started off bright, we did encounter hailstones, rain and again it was quite windy. We were hoping to see a Sea Eagle as there are quite a few dotted around the Isle's and they do put on a show when coming down for fish. Unfortueatly we only saw one eagle sat in a tree, probably sheltering from the weather like us, but we saw one and that was good enough for us. we also saw the local colony of Harbour Seals and various sea birds. Although the trip should of lasted about 90 minutes we were out for just over two hours, which was perfect really as the sun decided to show it's face and warm everyone up in the afternoon, great :-)
Cloudy morning in Portree Harbour
The boat is warming up
Rain shower moving across
Rain shower over Portree
A hint of the warm weather coming
Hailstones over Skye
View over to the Storr
The local seals
The local seals
The local seals
Watching the birdie
The local Sea Eagle
Portree Harbour
Portree Harbour
 In the afternoon we decided to go for a walk through the GLEN BRITTLE FOREST on the shore of Loch Eynort. there are a few walks in and around the forest starting at various points and are various lengths. As it was late afternoon when we went we decided to go for the shorter walk that took about two and a half hours and offered great views over the loch and also out to the Sea of the Hebrides. At last the sun had decided to come out and for the first time this week we didn't need hats and waterproofs, indeed jackets were off for most of the walk. It was also where we watched a Golden Eagle have a dogfight with what looked like a couple of hooded crows. We watched them for a good five minute or more and I managed to get a bit of it on film. A great priviledge indeed and a good end to another good day.
Loch Eynort information board
Along the forest track by Loch Eynort
Bench with a view
Mouth of Loch Eynort
Golden Eagle getting mobbed
Clouds over the Cuillin Mountains
Cascading waterfall

Friday was to prove the best day weather wise and also the day we did our long walk, one we had planned to do since the last time we visited two years ago. The walk was along a good easy to follow track that goes right into the heart of the Cuillin Mountains along the fairly flat Glen Sligachan following the River Sligachan.
Setting off along the track to our target, the pointed peak in the far distance
Snow lingers on the black cuiliins
Snow capped peaks of the black cuillins
well laid track leads off to the right
Looking back along the track to a distant Hotel
On the ridge of Drum Hain
Drum Hain
Pano of the Red Cuillins

Pano of the Black Cuillins
Looking back down the valley with the Red Cuillins on the right and the Black Cuillins on the left
Back to the Sligachan Hotel and the car

This great day and indeed a great week was coming to an end and what better way to end it with a great sunset, our first of the week. Although on the whole the weather was a bit on the cool side with a bit of rain, sleet, hailstones and quite windy, it hadn't stopped us doing anything each day. Maybe not as much in the way of mountain walks and exploring lots of nooks and crannies on offer but driving round, visiting some bays and the more sedate low level walks. Watching the Golden Eagles was a highlight and just seeing and driving round this relative small Isle was something we wanted to do for sometime and it didn't disappoint. So much to see and do and so little time to do it, we'll have to come back :-)
Sun going down behind Macleods Table and on a great week

Thanks for looking :-)