Bothy trip to Skye

Day 1 Sligachan – Camasunary

Day 2 Roundtrip to Loch Coruisk

Day 3 Camasunary – Elgol

Day 1

Sligachan – Camasunary

18 March 2011

13.2 km/214 m/05:30 hrs

Since my last multi-day walk four weeks ago, the weather had not been very kind – especially last weekend when winter had returned with blizzards and full snow cover down to low level. In the meantime I had done some easy walks from the Walkhighlands Website:

25 February 2011 – Three Lochs Circuit, South Loch Ness
03 March 2011 – Meall a’ Bhuachaille and Creagan Gorm
11 March 2011 – Inverfarigaig and The Falls of Foyers

But these were only day walks, and as the TGO Challenge is less than two months away now (and I really need to build up my fitness for that), I was very keen to do a longer walk with a backpack. Because of the snow situation, the Eastern and Central Highlands were out of the question, and after comparing several weather forecasts and checking out webcams, I decided to go to Skye. At least the glens would be free of snow!

On Friday morning, I took the bus to Sligachan, where I arrived at 12:15 in the pouring rain. I was thinking about having a pint in the Sligachan Inn first, hoping the rain would stop eventually, but unfortunately the pub is still closed for winter. The hotel is already open, and at the reception I was told the pub wouldn’t re-open until Easter, but I could have a drink in the hotel. As I wasn’t that desperate, I decided to get going and set off into the rain.

But half an hour later, the rain stopped, the sun came out and within minutes it felt quite warm.

Marsco in the sunshine.

Looking back to Sligachan.

Sgùrr na h-Uamha, Sgùrr Beag and Sgùrr nan Gillean.

The first glimpse of Blàbheinn.

At this junction the right fork leads up to the pass over Druim Hain and then down to Loch Coruisk, the left one goes along Glen Sligachan and leads to Camasunary.

Clach Glas and Blàbheinn.

Looking back to Sgùrr nan Gillean, Pinnacle Ridge on the right hand side.

Approaching Loch na Creitheach.

Ruadh Stac with Marsco behind.

Loch na Creitheach, Ruadh Stac and Marsco in the background.

Camasunary Bay with the Isles of Rùm and Eigg on the horizon.

“Signpost” on a derelict farm building.

The Croft at Camasunary.

At 18:00 I arrived at the bothy and had a look around inside.

There was no one inside, but in the main room I was “greeted” by a strong smell of urine that came from the adjoining bedroom… A sleeping bag and some clothes indicated another visitor, and in the other main room at the back, I made an even more unpleasant discovery. A lot of rubbish was lying about, and the table was covered with food in various states of decomposition.

Rotten food.

This was actually the first time I felt reluctant to stay in a bothy, not only because of the “hygiene”, but also because I felt uncomfortable at the thought of meeting the inhabitant sometime in the evening. Unfortunately I had no choice because I had not brought a tent (otherwise I would have probably moved on).

So I made my bed in one of the empty bedrooms and started to cook my dinner in the front room. About an hour later, I saw two people with headtorches approaching the bothy. One of them was the inhabitant of the other room, after spending the day in Broadford he had met another walker who was also heading to Camasunary. The two of them had got a lift to Kilmarie, from where they had walked over the pass Am Màm to the bay.

It turned out he had been living in the bothy for several weeks, which is not what bothies are for, but it wouldn’t have been so bad had he taken his rubbish out! Anyway, as the two of them had collected some firewood on their way, we soon had a good fire going (I had only brought some coal and “Instant Fire Logs” because I am not very good at making a fire) and the evening wasn’t as bad as I had suspected… But I didn’t hang around too long and went to bed at 22:00.

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Day 2

Day 2 Roundtrip to Loch Coruisk

19 March 2011

11.4 km/660 m/07:00 hrs

The next morning, I forded the Camasunary River about 100 metres upstream from the bothy.

Looking back to the bothy.

The weather was drizzly and very windy, as I walked on the coastal path around Sgùrr na Stri.

I had walked this path before, but never in this direction. According to the Explorer Map, the path leads to the right just before the little “hill” on the headland in the photo above. But when I got to this point, the path clearly went left around the hill, and there was no evidence of a path leading up to the right. So I followed the path to the left, which turned out to be a bad idea as I was soon confronted with some steep rock slabs.

I managed to find a way around them, climbing high above the rocks, but I think next time I will just follow the map, path visible on the ground or not!

Looking back to the slabs.

Approaching Loch nan Leachd.

The “Bad Step” – I remember reading recommendations of avoiding this by climbing high above it, looking at the terrain above I would certainly not recommend this…

After climbing on top of these rocks…

… the rock on the left has to be ascended (which should be easy for people with longer legs than me), and then it’s a bit of shuffling along the ledge, holding onto a crack in the rock at about eye level.

It’s best not to fall into the water ;), but at least there are no rocks below, so it would just be a case of getting very cold and wet…

About halfway, there is a little platform to relax and recover from the ordeal, from there it’s an easy way down the other side.

Way down, seen from the other side.

Sandy beach at Loch nan Leachd.

On my way towards the Scavaig River I found another example for my collection of drowned flip flops (see Shenavall trip report).

Scavaig River.

Loch Coruisk.

Rock slabs above the south end of the loch.

Loch Coruisk.

Looking back to Loch na Cuilce.

Loch a’ Choire Riabhaich.

Eventually I arrived at the highest point of the pass over Druim Hain, marked by several large cairns. It was extremely windy at this point, and the windchill made it feel very cold.

If the weather had been nicer, I would have climbed up to the summit of Sgùrr na Stri from here, and descended to the bothy via the wide corrie on its east side. I had done this last August on a nice warm day with perfect views, but today the tops of the Cuillin ridge were covered in cloud and it was also too windy for my liking.

Glen Sligachan.

If I had followed the path down into the glen, it would have been a long way (in the wrong direction) to join the path leading back to Camasunary. Instead I decided to leave the path by the lochan on the right hand side and descend directly to the north end of Loch na Creitheach.

Loch na Creitheach.

I even found traces of a path, and when I reached the bottom of the glen, I managed to ford the Camasunary River without getting too wet.

I joined the path to Camasunary that I had used the day before, and arrived back at the bothy at 17:00. It had become very busy while I was away, two large groups had arrived (a group of pupils from Portree High School who camped behind the bothy and some students who stayed inside), and also two walkers from Germany who had spent the last few days wading through (and camping in) deep snow in the Strathconon/Achnashellach area!

The evening was quite enjoyable, everyone gathered around the fireplace, one of the students had brought a mandolin (I think) and soon the singing started – and especially the girls from Portree could really sing! 🙂

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Day 3

Day 3 Camasunary – Elgol

20 March 2011

8.6 km/438 m/03:30 hrs

A look out of the window the next morning showed very low cloud, down to about 150 metres. I took my time and left the bothy at 10:20.

I crossed the footbridge near the croft und followed the coastal path to Elgol. The path is very close to the cliff edge in places, and some rocky steps have to be negotiated.

Looking back to Camasunary Bay.

When I reached the wide bay where Glen Scaladal meets the sea, the clouds began to lift.

The path winds its way along the steep hillside.

By now, at least the lower hills around Camasunary Bay were clear of cloud (Sgùrr na Stri on the left).

After about three hours I arrived in Elgol and headed straight to the wonderful tea room 🙂  The Hot Chocolate is highly recommended!

Normally, there is a bus from Elgol to Broadford, but not on a Sunday. So I started to walk along the road, hoping for a lift, but on a Sunday afternoon this road is not very busy, to say the least. After almost half an hour, the first car came along – and drove past!

I kept walking until I turned around a corner and saw… yes, a herd of Highland cattle on the road. They noticed me immediately and looked curiously in my direction – that was enough to make me turn round very quickly and disappear around the corner again. I walked back to the last passing place and waited for another 15 minutes or so, until another car arrived. I almost jumped in front of it and “persuaded” the lady behind the wheel to give me a lift, although she was only going as far as Kilmarie.

After confessing my Highland cattle problem, she explained that at this time of year the cattle get fed, and that’s why they approach people, hoping for food. That didn’t exactly make me feel better, but she was very understanding and offered to take me all the way to Torrin (much further down the road than where she was heading). From there it would be easier to get another lift to Broadford. I was very thankful that she went out of her way to help me, and when she dropped me off by the quarry past Torrin, I realised that I had spoken to Anne of the Misty Isles boat trips, as I could see from the advert on the back of her car 🙂

I had only just put my rucksack back on, when another car arrived and stopped immediately. This time it was a young local woman, together with a friend from Inverness and her little boy on their way to do some shopping in Broadford. A few minutes later I was dropped off at the Broadford Hotel, where I spent the next few hours waiting for the bus to Inverness.

While I was sitting in the cosy pub, with Cider, and a nice meal of Cullen Skink and a Cheeseburger, the weather changed for the worse. The wind was driving the rain horizontally across the road when I walked over to the bus stop.

It was good to be back on Skye again, even if I was only staying in the glens this time. Maybe I will manage to get back in summer and do some walks and scrambles in the Cuillin, but I’ve got so many other plans this year that I’m not sure if I will find the time, but we’ll see…

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2 thoughts on “Bothy trip to Skye

  1. Hi Nic.
    Nice tour & fine pics. Whooaaa – the bothie’s inside looks awful. Must be a nice guy who did this.
    Anyway, thanks for this fine report and once again thanks for your support concerning my trip & your snow report.
    All the best and best regards from Bavaria

    • Hi Anton,

      Many thanks for your comments! Thankfully the state of this bothy is not what you would normally find, it was actually my first unpleasant bothy experience. Don’t let that put you off from future bothy trips in Scotland! 😉

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