Tag Archives: maps

Isle of Skye – the plan

2 Jul

I realised yesterday with rather a shock that it’s T minus 3 weeks until I go up to the Isle of Skye for a weeks holiday and an attempt to walk the length of the Cuillin Ridge.  That’s 21 days.  Actually it’s only 20 days now, already.   So I thought I had better start getting prepared and bought a map.  Now I am starting to get properly scared about this task!  The ridge route is 12km long, the highest point is 4115m and various websites and guides refer to it as “the most difficult and dangerous true mountain range in the British Isles”.  Don’t tell my parents.

Just to clarify, I wasn’t actually going to Skye to do the Cuillin Ridge, I was going for a week’s holiday.  Some camping and relaxation with the dog, though I admit those two words aren’t regularly used together with much success, and a bit of walking.  Big G invited himself along and all of a sudden we had a mini-adventure on our hands!

The word “Cuillin” comes from the Norse word “kjölen”, meaning “high rocks”, yep there are certainly some of those around by the looks of it.  I love looking at maps and this one is no exception.  Some great names jump out at me, making me want to be there NOW and walk over the Stepping Stones myself, and see how bad The Bad Step actually is, and wade in the Fairy Pools.  Then my eye falls on a place called The Bloody Stone, so named after a battle between rival clans where the bodies of the slain were piled up around the Stone.  Having looked at our route, the names don’t really inspire confidence in me, I must say.

The Inaccessible Pinnacle (Pinched from paul.sammonds.com - can't wait to take one of my own!)

We approach Gars Bheinn (the echoing mountain – all names translated from Gaelic), passing the notched peak, before making sure we reach the highest point on the Ridge,  the Inaccessible Pinnacle.  Fifty metres high, it was described by an early climber as “”a knife -edged ridge, with an overhanging and infinite drop on one side, and a drop on the other side even steeper and longer”.  Not even the original bagger himself, Munro, managed to climb it, but I’m going to try.  After abseiling down the other side of the In Pinn, as those in the know call it, we carry on past Sgurr na Banachdich (smallpox peak – hope we don’t catch anything), past the peak of the mighty winds (less said about that the better, considering the company I’ll be keeping up there), continuing on past the less scarily named foxes peak, the door, the castle, limpet peak and the rather lovely sounding brae of the forest, before being lulled into a totally false sense of security and ending up on Am Basteir (the executioner).  Fortunately our last peak of the day is called little peak, because by then (if we even get there) we’ll be exhausted I suspected.  And we still have to get back to our campsite!

That’s if we even get that far.  My guide says that most people fail at the first attempt and less than 10% of parties that set off actually manage to complete the route.  Clearly planning and preparation is key and then fair weather, a strong head and lots of water on the day.  I’ll keep you posted but I’m off to practice my bouldering and probably go running a couple of times this weekend to start to build up my fitness levels.   This has rather crept up on me so I had better get going!

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