Saturday 13 April 2019

Sgurr na Banachdaich (Black Cuillin) to Tir na nOg

A beautiful day for Rafe's final walk...

Sgurr nan Gobhar above Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh at the start of the walk (Glenbrittle Youth Hostel)

It's quite a while since we've climbed any Munros - the last one was Ben Vorlich in October 2017. Rafie was already 12 years old - a veteran Scooby Munroist with about 150 Munros under his paws. Little did we know that it would be his last under his own steam...

Jim - the path beside Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh near the start of the walk

So we set off from Glenbrittle Youth Hostel with him nestling in his little green box in the top of my rucksack, with the Black Cuillin dark against the very bluest of blue skies.

We had picked today's walk, partly as it was a shorter walk, to ease us back into hill-walking and partly due to a good forecast for Skye. Sgurr na Banachdaich sits just about in the middle of the Cuillin Ridge and is considered to be the easiest of the Cuillin Munro's (according to our guidebook anyway).

The views over the Western Ocean were a bonus. A good place to say goodbye to our longtime canine companion...

Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh

It was easy walking up the good path, initially alongside Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh - we kept a watch out for a grassy trod across the moor - obvious if you were looking for it, but none of the other walkers (we could see, strung out across the hillside) took it - everyone else stuck to the burn-side path.

Looking back towards Glen Brittle, Truagh Mheall and Beinn Staic

We struck out directly towards Coir' an Eich, a dark and gloomy target, still in deep shadow - the route was easy, a gentle ascent across a grassy hillside - the mountains getting closer by the minute - we were pleasantly surprised that we weren't finding the climbing more strenuous after our long hill-walking break.

Jim - Sgurr Thuilm, Coirie a'Ghreadaidh and An Diallaid with the Cuillin Ridge beyond

We soon rejoined the burn-side path (the burn now being Allt Coir' an Eich) which had made a shorter but much steeper ascent up to Coir' an Eich - we had left a number of other groups of walkers behind! (Thank you Walkhighlands) - we would soon be walking into the dark shadow of the hills

Ascent into Coir' an Eich

The weather forecast had been for blustery winds across the summits - so far we had been sheltered, in the lee of the Black Cuillin. But as we climbed into the shadow of the hills and on into Coir' an Eich the mountain funnelled that wind down towards us - it became increasingly difficult to keep our feet in the stronger gusts. Would we get to the top?

View back (west) from ascent into Coir' an Eich with views to Truagh Mheall and Beinn Staic

There was a young couple just behind us - they gave up and descended back into the glen. 

Jim and I continued.  If it got any worse, we would think again.  We battled up through the wind tunnel - every now and again there was an extra strong gust which left us crouching down and holding onto the ground.  It really was rather windy!

Jim - the scree in Coir' an Eich

But as we neared the top of Coir' an Eich and emerged from the shadow of Sgurr nan Gobhar, the wind stopped! It just dropped off completely - it changed from frigid winter into glorious spring.

Ascent out of Coir' an Eich - with Sgurr nan Gobhar to the south and Truagh Mheall and Beinn Staic to the west

Time for lunch!

Jim - views to Cillin Ridge (Sgurr Ghreadaidh, Sgurr Thormaid and Sgurr na Banachdaich)

Onward and upward - soon topping out on the ridge which joins An Diallaid and Sgurr nan Gobhar to blue sky and black rock - we got our first close up view of the Black Cuillin - stunning.

Jim looks back from the crags of An Diallaid 

An Diallaid - views west

A rough scree path let us up towards the summit crags called Sgurr na Banachdaich - every view was breathtaking...

Jim - ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich

Ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich - views back over An Diollaid

Ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich - views west over Sgurr nan Gobhar

Jim - Sgurr na Banachdaich - views to Bla Bheinn

 Views north east from ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich - Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh

Views east from ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich - Bla Bheinn and Loch Coruisk

Views west over Loch Brittle from ascent of Sgurr na Banachdaich 

Southern half of the Black Cuillin from near Sgurr na Banachdaich summit

It was an easy climb to the summit - once on the summit ridge, it was airy walking, but nothing difficult and definitely nothing technical - it was just staggeringly, harshly beautiful.

Jim - Southern half of the Black Cuillin from near Sgurr na Banachdaich summit

Sgurr na Banachdaich (Munro 190, 965m) - we had a little wander along the summit ridge, taking in the views and trying to identify summits further along the ridge, north and south - hills we still want to climb...

Jim - Sgurr na Banachdaich summit (Munro 190, 965m)

We had the summit to ourselves.  Time to set Rafie free...

Rafe's final Munro - Sgurr na Banachdaich summit - views to Tir na nOg

Goodbye to our beautiful boy... There was just enough wind to help him fly to Tir na nOg - the Land of the Ever Young.

Views north east from Sgurr na Banachdaich - Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh

A little scrambling practice was in order - we left our rucksacks behind a prominent rock and had a clamber about on the north side of the hill, down into the bealach between Sgurr na Banachdaich and  Sgurr Thormaid and shinnied up some rocks and crags - before deciding that we could be here all day and that time was getting on...

Views back to descent from Sgurr na Banachdaich on Cuillin Ridge

Jim - eyeing up Sgurr Thormaid

Southern half of the Black Cuillin from bealach between Sgurr Thormaid and Sgurr na Banachdaich 

Back on the top of Sgurr na Banachdaich, we retrieved our rucksacks (only looking around the back of ten wrong rocks) and with a final wave (and more than a few tears) to Rafie, we headed down towards Glen Brittle.

Jim - descent from Sgurr na Banachdaich - views west over Sgurr nan Gobhar to Loch Brittle and Loch Eynort

Jim - descent from Sgurr na Banachdaich -
views west over Sgurr nan Gobhar and An Diallaid to Loch Brittle and Loch Eynort

Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh and Sgurr Thormaid from descent from Sgurr na Banachdaich 

Jim - Descent over An Diallaid

We took the same route in descent until we reached the foot of the crags above An Diallaid we chose to stick to the west ridge of An Diallaid and not to descend into the Coir' an Eich - we actually had grass underfoot.

Jim - looking back to An Diallaid, Coir' an Eich and Sgurr na Banachdaich

An Diallaid, Coir' an Eich and Sgurr na Banachdaich above falls on Allt Coir' an Eich

It was a beautiful afternoon - we didn't really want to come down...

More waterfalls on Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh

Beside Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh - looking back to An Diallaid and Sgurr nan Gobhar 

But we were soon back at the car. Coffee and a snack (Vegan soup!) were found just down the road at the Glenbrittle campsite cafe - yum.

Waterfalls on Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh near Glenbrittle Youth Hostel

Strange day - good to be back in he hills, good to be enjoying the glorious Scottish countryside - but...

Beside Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh with views back to Cuillin Ridge at the end of the walk

Route:  Car parking area by Glenbrittle Youth Hostel bridge (NG409225), fp E along southern bank of Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh, at NG418230 (approx) take faint grassy trod ESE across moor towards Coir an Eich, to meet rough path beside Allt Coir an Eich at NG426228 (approx), cointinue into Coir an Eich on rough path and up zigzags through scree to crags at eastern end of An Diallaid, continue SE along ridge keeping cliffs to left to Sgurr na Banachdaich (Munro 190, 965m), continue SE along ridge to Sgurr na Banachdaich, return NE along ridge, keeping cliffs to the right, descend E via An Diallaid ridge to meet path beside Allt Coie an Eich at NG429227 (approx) and return to start via path along Allt Coir an Eich and Allt a'Choire Ghreadaidh

Statistics:  Distance: 9km  Ascent: 1000m  Time Taken: 5 hours 45 minutes

Map:  OS Explorer 411 Skye - Cuillin Hills

Sgurr na Banachdaich

Rafie and Jim - Rafe's 150th Munro - Ben Vorlich (Loch Sloy) - 12/10/2017

No comments:

Post a Comment

Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

Setting off from Glen Feshie - it was chilly - before the sun had a chance to peep over the hills...  Off we go! Jim - Setting off near Auch...