April’s meet took us over the “bridge” to Skye to a change of venue after our original destination in Torrin was cancelled due to renovation work being carried out. This disappointed one particular member who was hell bent on putting the record straight on a certain summit almost on it’s doorstep. However, The Croft Bunkhouse with it’s Wigwams in Portnalong didn’t disappoint. Vibrant colours and hippy decor made it a refreshing change from the usual pine clad climbing huts A couple of members had stayed here before so were familiar with the surroundings and Hotel a few hundred metres away.
On Friday Lorn, the only one not to use the Bridge crossed from Glenelg to Kylerhea on the Highlands’ last working turntable ferry, he then ascended Ben Aslak, a sub 2000 hill then continued in the rain over Ben Buidhe at the North end of the Trotternish ridge with views to the Quiraing. Despite the poor weather conditions some spectacular photos were taken.
George, Susan and guest Rob Waitt’s Friday adventure was to scale the Clach Glas – Bla Bheinn ridge but after assessing its winter condition opted for the Corbett Garbh Bheinn. This was Rob’s first taste of Scottish hills and it seems he was caught under their spell and will be lured back again
Eventually all arrived at the bunkhouse and after introductions were made, rations consumed some got set for a night of socialising. Others who had come straight from work and fatigued by the long drive opted for an early night especially the ones who were coerced by the clubs leading navigator into an early rise for an attempt on a Munro. A wee crisis arose when our French guests Caroline, her daughter Ines and friend Christine locked the door of their Wigwam leaving the key inside. Unable to contact the owner James and Marie attempted to pick the lock, open locked windows, trying every other key people had before trying the obvious, looking for the spare key under the flower pot, and lo and behold it was there. Twenty minutes wasted in the pouring rain.
Saturday saw groups and individuals head off on 5 different routes George and Susan headed for Glamaig, Skye’s other Corbett and the most northerly of the Red Hills. They traversed this from east to west and the summit was below the clag so offered good views over to Raasay.
Raymond took his cycle to Raasay, exploring and visiting the much-heralded Calum’s Road. before taking off on foot to the island’s highest summit Dun Caan. Below the clag he too got views and good photos.
Lorn assessed Saturdays weather and decided to give Sgurr na Stri and Rhuadh Stac a miss and went for a low level sprint from Kilmarie (I’m sure someone will if she keeps us up any later at nights ) along the Skye trail back to Sligachan which had several problematic river crossings but being alone we’ll never know if he emulated Jim the Swim’s previous Skye disaster. This shorter day had its advantage as Lorn now had a couple of hours to kill, Acht well there was always the Slig’s whisky bar.
Our French guests along with Mike, Marie, Jason and Rob also went for a Red Cuillin epic Starting from the Sligachan Hotel Mike, Marie and the French ladies cutting it short after the first summit. Jason and Rob continued to complete the route.
Alan Orr, Gerry Weir, Jim Hughes, and JDF decided to climb Bruach na Frithe, possibly one of the easier summits but in full winter conditions this was to be no walk in the park. Deep packed snow and whiteout conditions started to have its effect on some of the team who when on the ridge threatened to call it a day but after some reassurance all pulled together to reach the summit. Gerry’s first time on Skye and another tick for Alan. Huge bum slides made the descent easier. Another first for Gerry.
After a brief rendezvous with others at the Slig Hotel it was decided to head for the more cosy and atmospheric Carbost Inn where refreshments were taken along with chips, pomme de frittes and crisps. All then headed back to the bunk house to get showered and fed.
James Alan and Gerry decided to help the local economy and went to the Hotel to sample local brews. A bizarre surreal scene met this trio on their return. A cross between The Mad Hatters Tea Party and a meeting of the Eddie Izzard appreciation society was in full swing, with Ramond on guitar and Gerry on mandolin. Hors d’oeuvres were made and served by Marie who also acted as host in a hilarious game of Play Your Cards Right complete with bonus prizes showcased by “Alana Orifice”
One by one climbers filtered off to bed leaving only the hardest to see the sunrise.
On Sunday a big goodbye was said to our French friends and each other. Only Lorn and Raymond stayed to take advantage of the best day weather wise and headed for the Red Cuillin hills. Taking advantage of both cars Raymondo left his at the Slig and travelled with Lorn to Sconser. Off they went on this one direction hike knowing of the time saved by having a car at the other end, unless of course you have been hung over and have left your car keys in another jacket in Lorn’s car! Back track all the way. However, the views were superb and who would be in a hurry to leave this Island?
One more adventure on Sunday, A two-hour delay for James and Gerry after a front tyre blow out.
One thing Gerry won’t miss about Skye—- the potholes.