Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Skye Hills

When I did my munro round in 2005, Skye was one of the toughest sections  due to the weather conditions. 9 years later, again Skye has proven to be testing. May is not necessarily the best month to be here.
After a crew change in Mallaig, we had to spend a day there sheltering from the wind before heading for Loch Ainort in deteriorating conditions. It was early afternoon when the boat dropped myself, John and Caz to climb the 2 Skye corbetts. By this time the sunshine had given way to a downpour and we headed up into the mist. As the ridge narrowed, the wind blew up and by the time we were close to the summit we were often been blown offf our feet by the strong gusts which sounded more like a train hurtling passed.
En route down when we had relaxed a little from the gusts a blast came from nowhere and Caz was whipped off her feet and in order to avoid hitting me, jumped to the side and tumbled over the rocks smashing her face in the process. Not a good moment but Caz, whose cheek was very quickly doubling in size and the colour around her eye going from blue to purple, did not stop smiling and we just got up and got moving again. It was not long before we realised that the torrential rain was going to make some of the rivers unpassable and it took a while going back uphill to find a good crossing point. There was not a chance of doing another hill that day.
Meanwhile, the boat had not been able to wait around for us in the gale force westerly winds and had sought shelter in Portree and that is another tale best told by one of the crew. We did not know this, having no phone signal and John hitched on to let the boat know what had happened while Caz and I did a long, slow trudge in pissing rain to the Sligachan where i planned to stay the night. No room at the inn, however, and when we heard the boat had engine problems we decided to head for Portree to find out what had happened and resume in the morning. Three little drowned rats arrived on the boat later that evening to be told the tales of engine failure, and Paul having to be rescued from a dinghy which was too difficult to control in the wind.
The next morning John, Caz and I peeled on wet clothes to go back to the Sligachan to climb Glamaig. As I still had to get back to Portree, I gave Mike Lates, from Skye Mountain Guides,  a call. He had been helpful 9 years before on the Skye ridge when I was pretty trashed by  showing me a good shortcut to get from the base of the King's Chimney on the Cuillin Ridge. Yet again he came out tops and a couple of hours later we were in the Sligachan Hotel having a pint with Mike who had arrived with a bike for me to cycle back to Portree.

The Gods had been a little kinder this day and it was a beautiful evening. Iona was drying out alongside the wall and we had a couple of hours to enjoy a beer before moving off to spend the night on a mooring with a beautiful sunset. We had a small weather window to get to Harris and planned to leave very early the next day.......

1 comment:

  1. I must admit I admire your resolve. Scotland is one hell of a place to experience the elements, even in the height of summer. Not to mention the midges . . .
    ~ Fozzie