Monday, 4 June 2012

Trotternish Traverse Day 1

Monday 4th June

Distance: 18.5km; Ascent: 1600m; Dry, often sunny but with a cold breeze; with Mark & Shona

After the last two excellent days of Munro bagging and scrambling in the Cuillin we decided it might be nice to actually go backpacking for a couple of days instead.  Being on Skye already, a good choice seemed to be the Trotternish Traverse from The Storr to Quiraing with the aim of finishing late morning on Tuesday, so as to allow time for the drive home.

A quick trip into Portree was needed to pick up the appropriate map after which we headed north on the coast road, with excellent views of the Old Man of Storr, to reach an extremely busy car park.  We set off walking in the sunshine, up through the forest on a good path at around 10:30am feeling somewhat over-equipped compared to the majority of other people we passed!

The Old Man of Storr
After a few hundred metres of ascent we reached the base of the impressive Old Man of Storr.  I circumnavigated the pinnacle, whilst admiring the fantastic views in all directions.  Soon we left the hoards and took a rightwards traversing path below the crags to reach the upper part of Coire Scamadal.  A steep ascent up to the ridge lay before us, so after we had managed half of it we stopped for lunch out of the wind before continuing up to reach the trig point and nearby summit of The Storr (Graham, Marilyn) on a turf bank.

Looking towards the Cuillin from the Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr
The stone summit trig point looked to be in bad repair, with some bits missing, and likely to collapse at some point.  There were a few other walkers up here, including sometime who had brought a radio aerial up here.  We spent a while admiring the views and attempting to do self-timer photos of the three of us.  The views were extensive across to the Cuillin, the Western Isles and over to the mainland. 

View south from near the summit of The Storr
On the summit of The Storr
A descent over easy pathless ground brought us to Bealach a' Chuirn, and then after a couple of hundred metres of further advent we reached our second summit of the day: Hartaval (Graham, Marilyn) at around 2pm.  Again the views were excellent as we attempted to identify the Fisherfield and Torridon hills.

Summit of Hartaval
Torridon?
The next half kilometre of fairly level walking was a pleasant change, with much of the rest of the walk laid out in front of us, and out surprisingly wasn't actually that windy either.  Soon we had to descend again, before the steep ascent up to Sgurr a' Mhalaidh and then the gentle ridge on to the summit of Baca Ruadh (HuMP, Graham Top).

Sgurr a' Mhadaidh Ruaidh
As it was now almost 4pm, and we still had quite a long way to go, we opted to skirt the next hill on its left to save a bit of time.  Therefore our next hill was Creag a' Lain (HuMP, Highland Five), whose summit cairn we reached at around 5pm.  A short descent, followed by an even shorter ascent lead to the unmarked summit of Flasvein (Highland Five).

The crags to the east were now more broken as we made our way onwards to summit of Groba nan Each (Highland Five).  It had now clouded over, but we had just two more hills left before our planned camp spot.  Just under a hundred metres ascent northwards brought us to the summit of Beinn Mheadhonach (Highland Five) and then finally to our last summit of the day: Beinn Edra (HuMP, Graham Top).  The concrete trig point was crowned by a small cairn and surrounded by a windshelter, suggesting that this hill was reasonably well walked although we had seen no one since The Storr.  It was now 7pm, and the evening sun was producing a nice light on the hills to the south.

Summit of Beinn Edra
Looking south towards The Storr from Beinn Edra
We dropped off to the north west to reach Bealach Uige, where we found a pleasant grassy spot to camp almost on the edge of the escarpment with light breeze to keep the midges at bay.  The sun was back out again now, as Mark and I went for a wander southwards to pick up some water from a pretty little stream complete with small waterfalls.  Dinner was couscous, which we ate outside whilst enjoying the last of the sunlight.  However soon we lost the sun and it became much colder, so we retired to our tents by around 10:30 just as the cloud was beginning to cover the top of the hills.

More photos and route map to follow in next few days... (Update 30/06/12 - photos and route map added to post)

Mobile phone photo from the Old Man of Storr (uploaded whilst on walk)
 Update 02/07/12: Post date updated to actual date of this walk (N.B. originally posted on 05/06/12)

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