A trip to the "misty isle" - July 1994
Skye 94 Walks with a Camera
Walks with a Camera © Geoff’s Pages 2011
Departing early on the first day, we stopped in Glencoe, for lunch and a short walk.
Day 1: Journey north
Day 2: South Harris
....is one of the Cuillins - viewed from Sligachan, it's the one in the middle, with the "tooth" sticking out of its right side. We hadn't set out that day to climb it. The weather hadn't been very great, and we had thought about a low-level exploration, perhaps a walk up Glen Sligachan, but it was looking better as we approached, so we took to the hills.
We followed the route above Coire a'Bhasteir, passing beneath the pinnacles of Sgurr nan Gillean, where small patches of snow remained in the deeper hollows. Reaching the main ridge between Sgurr nan Gillean and Am Basteir, we realised that the route to the former was not for us, but Am Basteir looked possible... ...and so it proved. Despite its stark appearance from the col, a distinct route follows the ridge upwards, with just one tricky spot, leading to a fine summit peak.
Day 3: Am Basteir
Day 5: Just lazing
Well, we'd earned it. And unusually for Skye, it was really too hot for anything energetic. So we decided on a Talisker day - firstly, a trip to the distillery where that most distinctive whisky is produced, then a short walk to the sea at Talisker Bay. Oddly enough, the distillery is at Carbost, on the opposite side of the peninsular. The road down Glen Oraid ends about a mile from the shore. Leaving the car, a private road takes one past Talisker House, from where a path follows the stream towards the sea. An amazing variety of plant life flourishes beside the stream,
while, looking back, the superb pinnacle of Preshal Mor stands guardian over the glen. The distance from the road means the bay is pretty quiet, though there were a few sunbathers (not a common sight on Skye). At low tide, the fine rocky sea stack at Talisker Point is accessible with care - but on this occasion, it wasn't, so we didn't. And that was it for our '94 trip. The following day, hotter still, we headed for home, after an excellent few days with some real variety.
We parked near the top of the road from Ballachulish, and set off down the path to the "Meeting of the Three Waters", there taking the path into the Allt Coire Gabhaill (also known as the "Hidden Glen" or "Lost Valley" or something along those lines), an attractive hanging valley surrounded by the Glencoe peaks. Ascending to one of these would have been a fine expedition, but would have meant  arrival at our destination in the wee small hours - so we ate our lunch and returned to the car, refreshed for the remainder of the journey. "We ought to come here again - spend a few days here next time"...
Glencoe Near the Meeting of the Three Waters Allt Coire Gabhaill
The ferry from Uig sails to both Tarbert, Harris and Lochmaddy, North Uist. A trip across the Minch and an exploration of one of the "outer isles" seemed an attractive proposition, and given the complexities of the timetable, this would be the only day of trip when such an expedition was feasible. A couple of coach trips are possible from Tarbert. Designed to cater for day trippers from Skye, one travels to Stornoway, the other to the sights of South Harris. The latter also serves as a service bus - we used it to ride to Plocrapool, a few miles to the south west. Our walking route took us across the moorland to Scadabay. The
landscape in this part of Harris is a fascinating tangle of loch and lochan, moor and crag. There seems to be more water than land, and many of the dark peaty pools have water lilies growing on them in abundance. Here and there the peat was still being dug for domestic purposes - we passed a couple of cutters, aided in their task by a bottle of that which Soctland is famed for. I've heard it said that more heat is generated in the cutting of peat than in its burning. If the calorific content of the whisky is taken into account, I'm sure it must be true. And I've never seen so many empty whisky bottles as on our walk that day.... This was a walk whose highlights were in its early stages - the last part being the long march back along the road to Tarbert (well, we didn't want to miss the ferry!)
Loch Plocrapool Lochan and crags Grosebay Grosebay Peaty pool and water lilies "the one in the middle with the tooth" Lunch break - looking down to Sligachan The pinnacle ridge, Sgurr nan Gillean The Cuillin ridge Am Basteir - we climbed it! Sgurr nan Gillean and (beyond) Bla Bheinn View to Elgol and Sleat
Day 4: The Trotternish Ridge
This walk needs the use of a second car - driving firstly to the end of the walk, below the Storr, we were then driven to the bealach on the Uig - Staffin road. Most people stopping here walk north to the Quiraing - on this occasion, we headed south. Our walk started at 640', and most of the peaks on the ridge are around 2000' - hardly any climbing, it might seem (The Storr is a bit higher, at 2358', but we would not be climbing to its peak). In the event, we did more climbing than I'd ever imagined. Go to Gairloch on the mainland and look across to Skye - the ridge is clearly a serpent! The nature of the Trotternish peninsular means that, on both sides of the ridge, the sea is visible below. To the west lies Uig, and views to Waternish and the outer isles, to the east Rona and Raasay and the north-west highlands. And along the ridge - total
solitude. We didn't see another person from leaving the car, until we rounded the shoulder of land beneath the Storr. There, some way below us, two people had pitched a tent, and one sat outside it, playing a penny whistle. Other than that, just the sheep and the rabbits - and high above, a Golden Eagle. The day was hot, and as we approached the Storr, our drinks were getting low and warm. Then, beside the path, a line of springs, with convenient tiny falls, ideal for refilling water bottles. A mist of condensation formed instantly as the icy water filled the bottles - and no liquid ever tasted so good. We were now on the last stage of the walk - dropping down to the amazing Old Man of Storr and his companion pinnacles and crags, then descending steeply to cross the moor and return to the car, parked by the shore of Loch Leathan. What a great walk it had been.
View to Uig View east to Rona and the NW highlands The northern ridge Watching the eagle The Storr pinnacles The Old Man of Storr Evening light in the Storr The stream, Talisker Talisker Bay Preshal Mor Plant life, Talisker Yellow Flag Iris, Talisker Back to Walks with a Camera Contact Geoff