Day 2 Skye – A wander onto Garbh Bheinn via the coastal path  nearly! Eagles, Herons, crazy seals and the “Mad Burn”.

I was staying at the Coruisk hut in the Isle of Skye and I decided to camp nearby with the weekend meet with the Moray Mountaineering Club. There were 14 turned up for the meet all came in by boat apart from Sue who walked in from the Sligachan with two bags, brave lassie.

I had arrived earlier with Ray on the Bella Jane from Elgol and had a great day on the lovely mountain Sgur Na Stri that is so much lower than the more famous Munros but still a grand mountain and well worth the visit. The Skye Munros that had a smattering of snow on the tops  that I felt may cause problems on the ridge along with a wind that was still bitter.

Fun at the start of the day on the Coastal path the tide was in

What a place to wake up to, I watched the Heron fish in the loch and the seals hunt fish in the changing tide. In the morning there was a bit of a wind blowing but most of the group decided to climb the Dubhs a classic scramble/ rock climb that starts from sea – level and climbs to the top of Sgurr Dubh Beag.  Myself, Ray, Bob and Fiona decided try to get to the far end of the ridge by Garbh- Bheinn and see how strong the wind was on the open ridge. It was a reasonable start we let the others get sorted as most were away by 0900. They had a busy day planned.

I felt tired and had a restless night probably due to the emotion of yesterday climbing a hill that I was involved in a big aircraft crash in 1982 and its memories. I was a bit stiff as even though it was a short 5 hour day the terrain is hard on a battered body and I felt very stiff. The great words of Jake ”  you feel like a tin man” were so true to me and even Ray was feeling the same. Anyway we we followed the Coastal path by the famous “Mad Burn” and as the tide was in had a bit of a scramble above the sea!  This was a bit of a shock at the beginning of the day, but it is far easier when the tide is out and you wander along the shore. The seals were about and watching us and we saw an Eagle soar above us coming out of the wild Coire above that looked grey and threatening.

The views are wild with the loch and the sea with the little boats coming in to the jetty most of the day. Those that visit this place must be amazed at what they see and though few spend long a few hours it is amazing how wild it is.  This great hollow that is Coruisk is certainly the heart of the Cuillins and it has a special atmosphere that many have commented on this is wildness and there are few paths here.   How long will it remain like this I wonder but it is great that many enjoy it and it is looked after? Sadly the shore is covered in flotsam, plastic bottles are everywhere as is other detritus what a mess we are making of the world the sea, beaches and coast. No one seems to answer how do we clear it up for the future generations?

The Mad Burn in easy weather which can also cause problems in spate (what a great name Mad Burn ) and I have seen this in spate when the burn becomes a torrent and crossing it is unassailable.

From here there is a tricky bit of route finding through big cliffs and buttress onto the far ridge and onto Garbh Beinn. This is a journey on its own and takes a while. I have only been this way on a few occasions and at night and in poor weather it is a tricky area.

Great fun but hard work

Myself and Ray were feeling the effects of the hard walking yesterday and as we hit the main ridge after 4 hours of hard graft we were only at 600 metres! The ridge has lots of loose scree and it was not easy walking. The wind was gusting and we decided to take it easy as it would take us about 3 hours to get back down. My knees and hernia were hurting  so  Ray and I stopped before the final ridge and descended the steep loose scree, taking care.

I felt every bone jarring minute on the way down and both myself and Ray broke our walking poles, which added to the pain. Bob and Fiona they  carried on to the summit of Garbh – Bheinn they are a lot younger  and we wished them well as we descended slowly. We stopped regularly, we could see the Islands now Rum and Eigg and a place that we visited last year when more snow fell than in the past 30 years. Out of the wind in the sun it was magic and we had a few stops just to drink it in.

At last on the ridge

The route down was tricky and we had to use guile, you cannot rush in that terrain and thank goodness it was dry and we were soon out of the wind. Broken cliffs guard the way as do huge slabs that come down to the shore. Yet we enjoyed it I was amazed by how little we knew of this area as we were often on the main ridge from Glen Brittle. We reached the shore as the tide was out just before the “Mad Burn” and could walk along the shore, though it was thick with sea weed and that saved a half an hour at least. We were soon back at the bothy and had a brew and some soup before the others drifted back throughout the evening.   Most had climbed up to the top of the Dubhs but not done the famous abseil in the wind, they took the traverse path to the ridge. They then descended into the wild Corrie and all had a superb but tiring day.  Jake and Joe continued on onto the Munros Sgur Dubh Mor and Sgurr Nan Eag enjoying snow on the ledges and in the wind making it a tricky adventure. From here they had a descent back to the hut getting in about 2300 a big day in anyone’s book.    The rest were back earlier for one it was her first adventure on rock and what an introduction as Ellen from Australia would say “a big day and not what she expected”.

The hut was busy and I left when all had returned safely of the hill it was nearly midnight to enjoy my book and I hoped a night’s sleep would help ease the body. The hinds were at the tents grazing as tame as could be; they showed no fear of humans and hardly moved as I passed them into my tent to finish my book.

The hut and a fire on

My hands were raw as I had a wash the Skye Gabbro rips the hands and they were sore as the cold water hits them. It was great back in the tent a bit of wind and no rain and a crescent moon on the black peaks.

This is some place to be with the great peaks above and in the good weather with freinds this is a place that is so special.





About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Book, Bothies, Friends, Gear, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Views Mountaineering, Weather, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day 2 Skye – A wander onto Garbh Bheinn via the coastal path  nearly! Eagles, Herons, crazy seals and the “Mad Burn”.

  1. Al Todd says:

    I once got stuck camping outside the hut following really heavy overnight rain which made the Mad Burn raging Mad and the Coruisk river impassable. I was due to meet friends in Glen Brittle so decided to head up to the head of the Loch and cross over the main ridge. In heavy rain and low cloud the main ridge is a frightening place to be on your own! Several hours later a very chastised, wet and hard lesson learnt person emerged from the cloud and made my way to the campsite.
    I’ve been on the ridge many times since but the various lessons learnt that day have never left me (not least carrying a fishing rod over the ridge is not sensible…!)
    The ridge is a very dangerous place to be in bad weather!


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