Beinn Bhreac
Beinn na Seamraig
Ben Aslak
Beinn Bheag
Sgùrr na Coinnich
Beinn na Caillich

Sunday 9th September 2018

Weather/Conditions: Windy and sunny at the beginning, mist and rain on Ben Aslak. This cleared on Beinn Bheag for the walk down to Bealach Udal. The last two hills were increasingly wild, culminating in screaming wind and torential rain coming off the spur of Beinn Bhuidhe toward Kylerhea. The caol looked stunning and three-dimensional from up on the hill. I got picked up by parents at last light in bad weather!
Distance/Ascent/Time: 15.8km / 1500m / 4h 50m
Accompanying: Alone

I spent September working on Sleat on Skye, five weeks working on the Gaelic-language drama Bannan. Monday to Fridays were consumed by work, and Saturday was accordingly a rare lie-in day. Sundays were usually the day to get something done and on this occasion it was after lunchtime that I finally got my plans together. Sometimes it's a push to get moving, and this was one of those days.

The route covered the chain of summits running from Sleat up to Kyleakin on the eastern edge of Skye. Having now been around most of the big Skye hills, these were some of the highest ones I hadn't yet climbed. A route that took in the whole range made good sense. And it's all on bog and grass - typical Scottish terrain and not a path in sight.

Starting by Kinloch Lodge, I was up onto Beinn Bhreac with autumn colours, bright skies and a tugging wind. The skies were pure clarity, the brown, green and gold oozing from the land in return. Though for some reason, I felt right out of sorts. Sitting around in work had likely got the body out of the way of walking and it was a push to get going at first.

Over Beinn Bhreac and onto Beinn na Seamraig, I had sunny views east to Loch Hourn and Knoydart. En route were miles of bog and grassy ground. Beinn na Seamraig wasn't too bad, trig on top, then Ben Aslak was next and another hill of high moorland. Sun was receding to the east, showers gathering over the Red Cuillin out west.

Mist closed in on top of Ben Aslak, and I went off to Beinn Bheag on a compass bearing. Amazing how disorientating even lower hills can be when the mist sets in thick. It's easy to forget. Over Beinn Bhreac the weather cleared again, then I went quickly down to the Kylerhea road where it crosses Bealach Udal.

Sgurr na Coinnich and Beinn na Caillich are the big hills in the area; a twin pair sitting on top of Kyleakin and Kyle Rhea. Climbing the former was another grind up in deteriorating weather, then I went into mist over the top. A compass brought me back out the mist on the other side to a stunning and unexpected view down to the Skye Bridge.

Beinn na Caillich was a simple matter of ten or fifteen minutes. The wind was now ballistic, and turning around to go down meant going face-first into it. The plan was to meet mum and dad half 7ish at Kylerhea and go and get pizza afterward. I headed down the shoulder of Beinn Bhuidhe, fully exposed to the south-westerly. Along this bald, wind-eroded shoulder, I was bent sideways into the gale, torrential rain hammering along and the wind screaming in one ear.

You can move in these conditions, but something's got to change eventually or the wind drives you mad. I was keen to get down, as much to get to the meal on time than with any misgivings about weather. Rain was absolutely battering down but I'd barely noticed. Below, Kylerhea looked spectacular, grim and gloomy, all at once. The Glenelg peninsula loomed out of the mist, closing to that narrow gap of water below.

In the half-light of evening, a car pulled into a deserted layby below. I ran the last bit, and didn't hestiate to dive into the car, pulling off wet kit once inside. The meal was accordingly good and well-earned. It was great to finally go over these hills, I felt good the following mid-week not to have squandered a weekend.

360° Panorama

Beinn na Seamraig
Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 2.45pm Kinloch Lodge Hotel
(0.45) 3.30pm Beinn Bhreac
(1.15) 4.00pm Beinn na Seamraig
(2.00) 4.45pm Ben Aslak
(2.25) 5.10pm Beinn Bheag
(2.47) 5.32pm Bealach Udal
(3.40) 6.25pm Sgurr na Coinnich
(4.20) 7.05pm Beinn na Caillich
(4.50) 7.35pm Kylerhea parking
Written: 2019-01-25