Broach na Frithe on the Isle of Skye

Date: 30-Sept-2011

Map: Landranger 32

Weather: Proper 'dreich' as they say in Scotland.

 

A circular walk from the car park at the Sligachan Hotel, across the moor up to Cooire Basteir, then the col at Bealach Nan Lice. Up to Broach na Frithe, and down into Fionn Coire. Down to Allt Dearg and follow back to Sligachan: 8.3 miles – as measured by the Satmap.

Before I travelled to Skye I had a rough idea of a few walks I’d like to do, depending on the prevalent weather at the time. My number one wish was to walk up Sgurr na Stri, which happened at the end of the holiday. A close second would be Bla Bheinn or the Inaccessible Pinnacle – I know I could manage Bla Bheinn, and also know that I couldn’t manage the Inn Pinn without a guide. Given that it would have been a bit selfish to go off and do what I wanted all the time, I settled for the Inn Pinn if the weather was good. The walking forum has a long standing member called Ian S who has been successfully guiding for many years all around the world, and I knew he and his wife Janice live on Skye, so he was the logical choice. That was another good decision on my behalf as they are a delightful couple, we enjoyed a lovely meal and pint or two in the Carbost Inn later on. Ian runs the Mountain Freedom guiding service and I can thoroughly recommend his services – better still, he hasn’t managed to kill any clients yet. I think he’s re-jigging his website this winter when he gets some spare time.

Anyways, with the weather changeable we had a choice of three days, with Wednesday being the best – but it was fair blowing that day and being up on the top of the Cuillens in that weather was not advisable. The next best day was the Friday, which turned out to be proper ‘dreich’ – the only good thing about that weather was that it wasn’t cold. Ian had been honest and advised me I’d be better off doing the Inn Pinn with good weather and with some abseiling experience under my belt – I did tell him I’d fallen out of a plane once, but that’s not quite the same.

I left the choice of hills in his capable hands, and warned him that I would be slow as I haven’t done much walking this summer and hence have piled on the pounds. We agreed to meet up at Sligachan and toodle up to Coire Bhasteir to see how I got on. It started out ok at Sligachan, but pretty soon afterwards we knew it was going to be wet, and wet it was. The initial route took us up a well marked path from the Sligachan Hotel, passing many small burns, and pools on the way. This led us to the Allt Dearg Beag which we followed up to the rocky slabs that lay below Coire Bhasteir – there are some great waterfalls up here and it must be lovely to see in the sunshine. The higher we got the nearer the cloud base came, and soon enough it was raining constantly, and followed us all the way around. The highest peaks were completely clagged in and without Ian I would have got hopelessly lost up there, and definitely be a danger to myself.

Onto the slabs below the Coire Bhasteir, we had a shortish scramble up very grippy rock – this stuff could make a mess of your hands in no time at all. We were aware of any slimy patches as we gained height and soon enough we reached the corrie and Loch a Bhasteir. Crossing the outlet was fine, and to be honest it wouldn’t have mattered had we gone splish splosh, the only thing dry on me at the end of the day was my left foot – sounds like a film. Big camera was safely tucked away in a dry sack or two, and little camera braved the elements now and again to take a watery snap – it may well have been black and white film today, because that was the colour up here. Streams of water tumbled down off the back wall of the corrie as we made our way around beneath some big black monster buttress – I’ll have to go back when it’s clear someday. The path then headed up a scree slope and thankfully for me it wasn’t too steep or lose, taking us up to the col at Bealach Nan Lice. Once we were up there Ian enquired about the state of my health, and wondered if we should nip up to the Munro of Broach na Frithe – well it would be rude not to. Despite not having any views at all, we knew it was the summit as there is a nice round concrete post plonked up there. We didn’t hang about as it was fairly unpleasant with the wind and rain, and scarpered down from the summit and onto scree paths that led us down to Fionn Choire. I was advised that this was a relatively easy decent, that wasn’t so steep – I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of the more challenging ones..not.

We thought we would get down out of the cloudbase, but it relentlessly followed us down as we descended, walking north beside the Allt an Fhionn-choire river. Again local knowledge was vital when it came to crossing the burns, and the lower we got the fuller they became. We finally reached one where there were no stepping stones and a shallow wade was inevitable – surprisingly a quick dash left me with feet that weren’t any wetter than they were beforehand. Down at Coire na Circe we followed the Allt Dearg Mor down to the small cottage at Allt Dearg House, passing some increasingly impressive waterfalls on the way. Once we reached the track it was a short walk back to the Sligachan car park and a squelchy drive back to Carbost. A pint of Hebridean Gold never tasted so good.

A big thanks to Ian and Janice for their company – we really enjoyed a grand day, and I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending Ian as a guide……..just ask for better weather.

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the view from Sligachan - some lovely waterfalls, but the weather looked ominous

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panoramic of the Black Cuillens

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heading higher passing more falls

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we passed this delightful pool of grey rounded cobbles

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we could see the path we'd taken - that's where the water flows. Sligachan far below now

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heading up to Coire Basteir and the rain

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wet and dark from now to the finish

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the path led us up to some Gabbro slabs for a light scramble up and around to the Coire

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looking across to Pinnacle Ridge up to Am Basteir

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the camera started to get a little soggy at this point

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we contoured around to the Coire Basteir, down by the small lochan

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still not fully engulfed by cloud - it was wet though

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small crossing across the outlet led us up to a scree path below Am Basteir

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the back wall of the corrie

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looking back down into Coire Basteir

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then it was up into the clag to the col

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proof if needed that we went up to Broach na Frithe summit

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and so did I

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not many pictures of the decent as there wasn't much we could see anyway

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down into
Fionn Choire

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the waterfalls got bigger as we got lower

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this one should have been at the top

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 the classic view of Sgurr na Gillean from the Sligachan Hotel

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