We’ve spent three days camped in the shadow of the Black Cuillin on Skye. Well we would be in their shadow if the sun had appeared… The mountaineers amongst you will know that the Black Cuillin are some of the UK’s most fearsome peaks – a jaggedy, wind and rainswept ridge of alp-like peaks where compasses don’t work very well.
The weather has been typical for Skye, which is to say very wet and windy. The campsite at Glen Brittle is at the mouth of a loch, ideally placed for watching the squalls race in from the sea. Once or twice when the clouds parted we would get an enticing view of the dramatic ridge above us. But as the campsite owner pointed out, the brief snatches of clear weather were ‘a tease’ – within ten minutes or so the next squall would sweep in. I lived to regret going to the loo in a clear spell with no coat – when I emerged after a minute or two it was coming down in stair rods!
So mountaineering on the first day was sacked off in favour of a tour of the nearby Talisker whisky distillery. It was fascinating to see how this fiery stuff was made, and a dry way to spend the afternoon.
Yesterday we got onto the hill a bit, up into Coire an Lagan, below Sgurr Alisdair. The mist was down as we were up, but we did get occasional glimpses of very black, very steep, very wet rock. Later we headed up the valley to look at the fairy pools, a set of impressive waterfalls and pools, a noted wild swimming spot. Only warm enough for about ten minutes in August I would guess! All the rain meant that stepping stones across the river were a bit submerged. But Rachel got across in the end (though she has asked me to spare you the details!)
The wind got stronger in the night, rocking the van quite a bit. This morning there were two types of tent left on the site – Quasar mountain tents, like the one we took on our bike trip, were still standing, but trembling violently. Almost all other tents were either flattened or packed away, their bleary-eyed occupants looking glum-faced in their cars. We felt very fortunate to be in the van. Today it’s off to Edinburgh, where hopefully the weather will be a bit more clement.