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Day 59 - 60 "over the sea to Skye"

May 31 2023 – Day 59

Euan set off up a track to the first Munro of the day which was shrouded in mist. This was not what was forecast and as Cr282 made its careful way down the twisting road, all the other hills on the list were similarly hidden from view. This clag would burn off by midday and it was wall to wall blue later in the day. Having failed to repair a damaged section of his new poles, Euan resorted to a borrowed pair which hopefully would not suffer the same fate as the other pairs. Clad in light coloured gear and shorts, his first meeting of the day was a climber who had camped high and was dressed all in black, quilted jacket trousers and gaiters. It must have been quite a sight – two climbers on the same hill in contrasting colours and expecting different weather. When Euan broke through the low cloud, he was in the inversion of all inversions – only peaks showing through a complete blanket of cloud in a spectacular weather effect. The writer urges everyone to view the many amazing images which Euan was able to capture – see his Instagram page. He then enjoyed the fine weather as he went up the steep and rugged final Munro. He cooled off in a small waterfall such was the heat.

The commander had a much gentler but beautiful stroll along Loch Hourn for 5/6k before heading back to the van. His obsession with the cuckoo calls and his belief that one and possibly several of its allies were following Cr282’s travels into every remote glen and parking spot has thankfully diminished. Euan’s quiet dismissal of this theory has also helped. To be fair, he has never mentioned it and probably thought that the commander would get over it if only he pulled himself together. Through comprehensive self-therapy and some online research, the commander has come to terms with their insistent calls morning, noon and night by persuading himself that they are merely marking their territory to any rival birds and have no ulterior motives. He read how poets welcome its call and Times readers compete with one another to be the first to record its call in Spring. It seems, then, the case against the stalking cuckoos is closed. (This is certainly good news for this fetish about cuckoos was becoming tedious and was likely to affect readership numbers. It’s a results driven industry blog writing – The Editor.) On a final cuckoo reference, Euan subsequently saw 2 cuckoos fighting each other and another one in a tree – rare sightings and visual proof of their growing numbers.

Todays 3 Munros

Spidean Mialach – Peak of the Deer

Gleoraich – Roaring

Sgurr Mhaoraich – Peak of the Shellfish

Munro Total – 186

Spidean – pronounced - speetyan - could mean lousy but more likely to be a reference to animals in general and in this case, deer as the neighbouring Gleoraich is as well. One expert’s opinion on Mhaoraich – shellfish is that it refers to fossil shells on its summit but more likely is the peaked and ribbed shape of its top.

The owner of the estate stopped by the van for a chat and he and Euan soon discovered a number of mutual friends in the military. A welcome was extended from him and his wife to visit and use the café which Euan and the commander certainly did. The managing couple at the café and B&B plied them with tea and a slice of excellent cake which they enjoyed as they became immersed in urgent admin using the courtesy WIFI from the estate. Thank you, Lochhourn, its people and its warm welcome. Much appreciated.

Lochhorne Head (at the end of the longest dead-end road in the UK - worth a visit)

A final surprise meeting took place before Cr282 left this idyllic setting. Out of a car next to the van came Neil, an ex-colleague of Euan’s and they exchanged stories of their subsequent careers having first met in early training. As the conversation flowed, it transpired that Neil also knew the commander from secondary school days. Neil was a former pupil of the commanders when he was a teacher of history. More stories were swopped.

As Euan was able to get access to a free shower from the B&B, the commander was entrusted with “prepping” dinner – the commander is very much a novice cook but likes the culinary terms. Euan’s shower was thankfully quick, so the real cooking of dinner was left in more capable hands. The commander, meanwhile, poured a couple of speciality beers from that brewer – this one was called after the famous rock singer from the 1960’s onwards who morphed into a larger cabaret singer in a white sequined jumpsuit. Enough clues. Aufwederzein.

June 1 2023 - Day 60

Euan left Kinloch Hourn at 7.30 ready for a 24k walk to Arnisdale over a ridge and through some glens in what was a different start to the day. The weather would remain fair throughout the day as he completed one Munro before leaving the mainland for Skye.

1 Munro – Total Munros – 187

Beinn Sgrithall. – Scree Hill

Arnisdale from Beinn Sgrithall

Since sgriol means scree and this mountain has long stone shoots down its slopes to Loch Hourn, it’s not difficult to understand how it got its name. The loch merges with the Sound of Sleat and today both bodies of water were mirrors of blue and spectacular mountain images. After completing the Munro, Euan had a stiff 10-mile cycle to Glenelg to recce the location and circumstance around a kayak crossing of Kylerhea where a fast and swirling stretch of water with strong currents separate the mainland and Skye. It is only 800m wide, but the tide and currents could play havoc with a small light kayak.

There is a ferry which crosses between Glenelg and Kylerhea which is the world’s last remaining manually operated turntable car ferry. It is owned and run by the Glenelg community and harks back to the days before the Skye bridge was built. Euan had planned to cross this stretch of water because it is much closer to his present location and is convenient for the single Munro outwith the Cuillin range – Bla Bheinn – pronounced blaven.

The commander made initial contact with the community café at the ferry point who helpfully radioed the ferry captain, Colin, to arrange a meeting when the ferry came across. Colin and deckhand, John were very welcoming and informative first to the commander and then to Euan when he arrived on his bike. There would be no problem crossing by kayak, he explained the best launching and landing points and provided high and low tides times. He then offered Euan and the commander a trial crossing on the next ferry to get an idea of what it was like. Not only that, but the next day when it came to paying for the van and the commander for the real crossing – normal cost £30 – “You’re doing this for these charities, right?” said John, the deck hand, “the skipper says you don’t pay” Euan and the commander both thanked Colin, John and the café staff for a genuine Highland welcome. Ch282 urges anyone planning a visit to Skye to consider using this unique service.

As part of this potential visit, a vehicle would go over from Sheilbridge to Glenelg using the route of an old drove road which Thomas Telford made usable for military purposes. It involves a twisting ascent and descent of Mam Ratagan, a hill of 1100ft with wonderful views of Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters – to be climbed later - looking back and Loch Hourn and the sound of Sleat looking forward. It is worth noting that the drovers had to force their cattle from Skye to swim across the water described above. They probably had to mooootivate them a lot.

The van then spent the night at Moly campsite about 5 miles inland in a very rural and open location. There was no formal reception, and one could choose your pitch where one is free. Ch282 chose one facing the mountains of Skye obviously. Other highlights on this site although others may not view them as such. During the evening a herd of noisy cattle could seen traipsing down past the campsite gate bypassing a useless cattle grid. They then later ambled back up the road having seen and done whatever business they had further down the valley. A lot of “business” was seen lying on the road the next morning. Why did the cow go down the road? This is not a joke coming but merely an observation. Perhaps the grass was greener down there? Maybe there was a male friend which they had to see or more likely they went there because they could.

The Cuillin's on Skye


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1 commentaire

06 juin 2023

The Editors comments above would suggest that Skye maybe the highlight of this trek so far. The pictures that Euan has posted are some of the best. There is a further suggestion that Ewan‘s connection with Scotland is returning.

By the time this post reaches you the 200 Munro point may have been breached, well done if that is the case. The topping of the ones to follow will be a breeze.

Note for Editor, still attempting to come up with a word to describe a group of gillies riding electric bikes. It’s a puzzler, but will keep you posted on progress.

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