Tuesday, 6 May 2014

May 2014 - Cuillin Ridge Traverse

The Black Cuillin Ridge Traverse
Not a lot of planning required for this trip as it is organised by Kendal Mountaineering Services. 

The price of £425 includes seven nights self catering accommodation and four days guided walking, scrambling and climbing, visiting all 11 Munros including Sgùrr Dearg - The Inaccessible Pinnacle, representing excellent value. It is the chance to traverse the jagged ridge of The  Black Cuillin and hopefully its eleven Munros, as opposed to The Red Cuillin to the east of Glen Sligachan with its single Munro - Blabheinn. That is for another day!

It is a bi-annual trip, in May and September of each year. If you are interested further information can be found here or by contacting Kendal Mountaineering Services direct on 07761 483364 

Of course bagging all the Munros cannot be guaranteed but allowing 6 days to get in 4 walking days gives you as good a chance against the glorious Skye weather as you will get on a trip booked on fixed dates 6 months in advance. If the weather really is not suitable for the ridge, well we will just have to make do with some of the lower less exposed peaks.

It is not a continuous traverse as we will be based in a cottage near Carbost each night, however that only makes it more comfortable rather than easier. In fact with having to descend to sea level each evening and return to the ridge next day, in my book that makes it harder.

As usual the eternal optimist in me leaves me hoping to not only bag all 11 Munros but who knows some of the more accessible Munro and Corbett tops may also find their way in to the bag.

Peaks of the Black Cuillin
Great having no routes to plan, and just as well as I have extended the scope of my walking to include hills and long distance walks closer to home. However living in East Anglia and with a round trip of nearly 1000 miles from Suffolk to the Isle of Skye I cannot resist pulling in two or three walks either side of the trip to extend it to approx. two weeks.

The plan on the way up is to spend three nights, two days wild camping in Glen Lochay to bag the four remote(ish) Munros of Creag Mhor & Beinn Heasgarnich [Beinn Sheasgarnaich] on one day and Meall Glas & Sgiath Chuil on the other. While coming back to stop off in Tyndrum, assuming I am not too tired, walk what I have called The Tyndrum Handfull of Corbetts, which is the five Corbetts of Beinn Odhar, Beinn Chaorach, Cam Chreag, Beinn nam Fuaran and Beinn a'Chaisteil. By the nature of the Corbetts prominence you are hard pressed to find routes that can complete two or three Corbetts in one day, let alone five.

Glenn Lochay
Creag Mhor & Beinn Heasgarnich [Beinn Sheasgarnaich]
Route Information
Start Point - Track to Innisraineach Burn (GR - NN 46140 36995)
Start Height - 363.96m
Finish Point - Track to Innisraineach Burn (GR - NN 46140 36995)
Finish Height - 363.96m
Distance Walked - 13.81 miles
Height Ascended - 1561.73m
Duration - 10hrs 20mins [based on average pace 1.75mph + 1hr 0mins added per 600m of ascent]


Meall Glas & Sgiath Chuil
Route Information
Start Point - KenKnock (GR - NN 46535 36390)
Start Height - 227.62m
Finish Point - KenKnock (GR - NN 46535 36390)
Finish Height - 227.62m
Distance Walked - 15.41 miles
Height Ascended - 1518.72m
Duration - 11hrs 12mins [based on average pace 1.75mph + 1hr 0mins added per 600m of ascent]


The Tyndrum Handfull of Corbetts
Route Information
Start Point - Layby near 315 spot height on A82 (GR - NN 32830 33145)
Start Height - 313.33m
Finish Point - Layby near 315 spot height on A82 (GR - NN 32830 33145)
Finish Height - 313.33m
Distance Walked - 13.74 miles
Height Ascended - 2059m
Duration - 11hrs 03mins [based on average pace 1.75mph + 1hr 0mins added per 600m of ascent]

For those of you who have enjoyed the train journey from Glasgow to Fort William on the West Highland Line you will recognise the view down Gleann Achadh-innis Chailean, just after/before Upper Tyndrum Station towards the prominent peak of Beinn a'Chaisteil. Even if you do not ascend the peaks it is well worth walking down this glen to soak in and absorb the view which is only too brief when you pass it on the train.

Revised Plan
Having stopped off in Derby at Hillside Leisure on the way up to Scotland to have a few post delivery bits and pieces done to the campervan, I have had a spare afternoon in the pub to complete plans for the walks either side of the Cuillin traverse.

Even as the eternal optimist it is clear, even to me, that a 14 mile and a 15 mile walk at the beginning of a trip, especially on two consecutive days is rather ambitious. In fact it may also be ambitious at the end of the trip. I am therefore going to limit myself to attempting the Tyndrum Handful of Corbetts on the way up as described in the SMC's "The Corbetts & Other Scottish Hills". Walking in an anti-clockwise direction as that is what the book does, but funny how most of my routes are walked anti-clockwise.

It is still over 13 miles with a total ascent of more than 2000m so is not an easy walk. In fact it will be a chance to test my fitness in real hills as opposed to the functional training in the gym and walking I do back home in a vain attempt to prepare myself physically.  It also has suitable exit routes if the weather turns for the worst or I am too tired half way round, I don't want to exhaust myself before the main event.

Finally it saves the Munros for the return journey which would give me a rest day to do the two walks, just do one walk, shorten both walks, do one short walk or don't do any of them. Whatever I decide will depend on how tired I am and what the weather is like. 
As they always say - "The mountain will still be there the next time I return to Scotland.

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