Short Trip to Skye – Glamaig & Hartaval

Sunday 04 August 2013:

Glamaig (6.6 km, 789 m)

Thursday 08 August 2013:

Hartaval (10.6 km, 810 m)

Day 1, Sunday 04 August 2013

Glamaig

6.6 km/789 m/04:15 hrs

Corbett: Glamaig (No. 63)

I had been on holiday since 29th July, and my plan had been to spend around 10 days on Skye. My main goal during that time was to complete the Munros by climbing the Inaccessible Pinnacle. But the weather was awful, and I didn’t see any point in going to Skye if I couldn’t get up into the Cuillins.

So I spent the first few days sitting at home (apart from the walk up Angel’s Peak via its NE ridge), waiting for the weather to improve. Eventually, there was a good forecast for Sunday, and although it didn’t look as if it would be lasting, I just didn’t want to wait any longer, and decided to head to Skye on Sunday morning.

On the way to Glenbrittle I wanted to climb Glamaig, but instead of the “normal” route from Sligachan (my poor knees!), via the longer – and probably more interesting – one from the E, starting from near Sconser.

I parked in a layby near the bridge across the Abhuinn Torra-mhichaig, and immediately noticed several Highland Cattle behind the fence beside the road. Instead of climbing the fence and heading straight towards the hill, I walked up the road until I came to another fence, thinking I would be safe walking around the outside of it, only to find a large gap in the fence a few metres further up… But thankfully, the cattle were all on the other side anyway.

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The ascent from this side is very steep as well, but at least it is not on scree. There is actually a path leading through the heather, just beside the fence posts.

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View back down the ridge.

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Glas Bheinn Mhòr, Belig and Blaven.

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Raasay.

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I was glad when I reached the summit of An Coileach and with it, much easier terrain, but it was very windy (and cold) on the ridge.

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Beinn Dearg Mhór and Bealach na Sgairde.

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Clouds over Beinn na Caillich and (the other) Beinn Dearg Mhòr.

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Approaching the summit.

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Sgùrr nan Gillean dominating the view across Glen Sligachan.

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Beinn Dearg Mhór.

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Raasay.

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Sgùrr Mhairi, the summit of Glamaig.

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Sligachan.

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Sligachan Hotel and Campsite (zoomed).

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Beinn Dearg Mhór and Beinn Dearg Mheadhonach, with Garbh-bheinn and Blaven in the background on the left, and Marsco on the right.

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I had planned to use a different return route, by descending to Bealach na Sgairde and following the Allt Mór Doire Mhic-ùin to the road.

But when I tried to look down to the bealach to assess how steep the slope was, it was so windy that I was almost blown over – the wind seemed to be funnelling through the bealach, and I decided to return the same way.

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Looking back to the summit.

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Sound of Raasay.

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View N towards Portree and The Storr.

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From above I could see where the cows were, and avoiding them, I could take a more direct route, aiming for the bridge and a gate leading to the road.

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After a bar meal at the Sligachan Hotel I drove to the Glenbrittle Campsite, pitched my tent and went to have a shower. While I was queuing, I noticed a little box on the wall – I would need a token!

The shop had already closed by the time I arrived, so I went back to ask my tent neighbours if they could sell me a token for the shower. They didn’t know how much they cost, so I gave them 1 £ (the next morning when I checked in, I found out that they were actually free).

Day 2, Monday 05 August 2013

A very frustrating day 😦

My colleague from work who had offered to take me up the InPin, knew that I was on Skye, but I had not heard from him. I just wanted to get this done and didn’t want to wait any longer (he had said the best time would be May until September, and I felt as if time was running out).

So I packed my rucksack, including my climbing helmet and the money I had saved for this occasion, and headed up Sgùrr Dearg, determined to find someone (just anyone, really!) to take me up my final Munro.

The weather was dry, but soon I entered the low clouds and visibility was down to a few metres. On my way up the screes on the W ridge I noticed a group of four walkers behind me, and when they came closer I recognised one of the Skye guides I had met before, and his three clients on their way to the InPin. I asked him if there was a chance he could take me up, and he made it sound  like a “maybe” (“We’ll see when we get up there”).

At least he had not refused, and so I was very hopeful… The group overtook me at some point, but I knew the way along the ridge very well as I had been up there a few times in the past, sitting on the ridge and (longingly) watching the climbers on the InPin.

The others took a break up on the ridge while I made my way down to the foot of the InPin to wait for them. When they arrived, I listened to the guide’s instructions to his clients and asked him again. This time he said “No”, because I did not have a harness 😦  (I had been hoping he might have a spare one.)

So, once again I sat there watching others climb up, wishing I could do the same. When they had disappeared out of sight, I stayed for a while during which two other pairs of climbers arrived, the first ones only wanted to have a look and then descended the An Stac screes, the second pair went up, but took ages (I met them in the pub at Carbost later that week and they told me they climbed it in four pitches – it is normally done in two).

After I had been up there in the cold wind for one and a half hours, I was freezing, even with an extra layer on, and finally decided to give up. On the way down I took a break at the end of the W ridge, only to notice that I must have lost my sit mat at the foot of the InPin, and also that my bottle of Smidge had been leaking, leaving quite a mess in the front pocket of my rucksack 😡

Day 3, Tuesday 06 August 2013

An abandoned attempt at Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda, the clouds had been low from the start, but when it also started to rain I turned back just before the boulder field because I didn’t fancy climbing the rock slabs up to the loch in these conditions.

Day 4, Wednesday 07 August 2013

The weather looked good for a change, and I had planned the Round of Coire Làgan. I had done this twice before, and was looking forward to the scrambling on one of the most interesting routes in the Cuillin (for non-rock climbers).

But it didn’t go as planned because I couldn’t find the correct route up the Sgumain Stone Shoot, or at least the route seemed a lot harder than I remembered it. A few times I had to turn back and find another way up, and a short rain shower didn’t make things any easier. In the end I tried to find a way up to the left of the boulders, and after more than three hours (!) and a grazed elbow due to a slip on the steep scree I reached the bealach between Sròn na Cìche and Sgùrr Sgumain.

There I sat down for a long break and contemplated what to do. If I was already struggling with this kind of terrain, how would I cope with the much harder scrambling further along the ridge, and besides, at this pace I would probably not manage the whole round anyway. I decided to “escape” to Loch Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda and return along the path I had come up the previous day.

(No summits, and hardly any views to speak of, therefore no photos of these days.)

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Day 5, Thursday 08 August 2013

Hartaval

10.6 km/810 m/04:15 hrs

Graham: Hartaval (No. 18)

Before I drove home, I wanted to do a short and easy walk, and Hartaval seemed the perfect choice on a rather dull and overcast day. In Glenbrittle I picked up a German couple with huge backpacks who wanted a lift to Sligachan, and just after Portree I stopped for two French walkers and dropped them off at the Old Man of Storr car park.

The car park was full and lots of cars were already parked along the verges of the main road, but I was lucky and got the parking space of another driver who left just when I arrived.

The whole forest below The Storr has been felled, and it is not a nice view.

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As usual, the path up to the Old Man of Storr was as busy as a motorway…

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But once I was past the Old Man, it became a lot quieter and I saw only a few walkers after this point.

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Coire Scamadal.

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Cliffs below The Storr.

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View towards Raasay and Kintail, Loch Scamadal bottom left.

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I stayed on the path a little bit too long, and instead of climbing over the 589 m top, I contoured around it.

Hartaval.

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I didn’t want to retrace my steps, and tried to find a way around the steep crags on the W flank of the 589 m top. That was easy to start with as I could follow sheep tracks below the crags, but then my way was blocked and I had to climb up this very steep, loose gully.

I ended up scrambling on my hands and knees, holding on to patches of grass, until I finally made it to safer ground, cursing myself for my poor route choice…

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After that it was easy walking to Bealach a’ Chuirn and up to the summit.

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Hartaval summit cairn.

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View N to Baca Ruadh, and the Quiraing in the background.

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I used almost the same route for the return, apart from the fact that I chose a more direct route over the N ridge of The Storr, gaining and losing more height, but avoiding the crags further N.

It was raining when I got back to the car, and all that was left now was the long drive home.

Although I had done a few walks, this holiday had not been what I had hoped it to be, and I felt disappointed and in low spirits 😦

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6 thoughts on “Short Trip to Skye – Glamaig & Hartaval

  1. How awful to wait so long for a crack at the In Pinn and then not get one 😦

    Glamaig looks pretty horrific really. If I do attempt it, it is going to be the grassy side. Did the path continue up? and are they any difficulties on the craggier section just before you join the ridge-line?

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