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davidx Elgol - A travel report by David
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Elgol,  United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom
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davidx's travel reports

Elgol beneath the Cuillin in magical Skye

  13 votes
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The Cuillin are usually reckoned to be the UK’s finest mountains. I reckon the Torridon Peaks [Diabaig report] are equally good – but that still allows for the Cuillin being very, very fine – and they are.

Sorry there are no photos but the * websites should more than compensate. Spellings of Cuillin[s] vary but not to worry. First a few general points about the Black Cuillin [the scenic ones]. They may be boring but they are vitally important. 1. These are the only mountains in the UK where several peaks need definite climbing ability. 2. Magnetic ingredients in the rock mean that your compass becomes potentially treacherous. 3. If you are considering the ‘Cuillin Ridge, there’s no water up there and it takes a fair old time. 4. Weather conditions – and visibility – can change very rapidly. Now let me dispel some misapprehensions about Skye. The Black Cuillin are not the only mountains worth seeing and there’s plenty of potential appeal in the island for those who can’t do much uphill. On the other hand, if you don’t like SEEING mountains this isn’t the place you want to be! is great for the island as a whole. www.scotland-inverne-ss.c is better for regional coverage. A brilliant site for walking and scrambling [I only found it when doing this] is http://cgi.mountaine-er.plu ntains/skye/* GETTING TO SKYE Unless you are flying or using your own boat, there are three ways from the mainland. The road bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh is now free. There is a Calmac ferrry from Mallaig to Armadale [] and a smallish summer only ferry from Glenelg to Kylerhea []. My own favourite is the last and you can see the Brochs at Glenelg on the way. Uig, on the NW coast of Skye is connected by Calmac with Harris and with North Uist [other islands]. The triangle in either direction will provide some wonderful sights. MANMADE ATTRACTIONS I shall be ignoring these in the rest of the report. Nobody goes to Skye for its towns but the castles of Dunvegan in the west and Armadale in the southwest are popular. I’m told that the Serpentarium at Broadford is appealing to children.

Favourite spots:
Loch Coruisk has been a tourist high spot from Victorian times – and deservedly so. It is only a short height above sea level and, except for it’s outlet into [Sea] Loch Scavaig, it’s practically surrounded by sharp peaks of the Black Cuillin. For normal mortals there are 2/3 ways of getting there. 1. By boat trip from Elgol [Good chance of seeing seals – and sometimes larger sea creatures] 2. Longish walk from the Sligachan Hotel [near summits with great views down onto Coruisk] 3. perhaps - short walk from Elgol via Camasunary – this involves a bad step and requires a complete absence of vertigo. Unusually I can’t place these in order of preference. They’re all terrific. Try to use different ones coming and going – but do go anyway! If you find the idea of the ‘bad step’ daunting, it’s still well worthwhile doing the walk as far as that – no difficulty and idyllic, right near the sea and Camasunary is a fabulous beach, ideal for a picnic.

What's really great:
The Cuillin Ridge is possibly not too hard by climbers’ standards and the record is an absurdly short time. However, it’s definitely not on for non-climbers [but read on!] and, much to my sorrow, I’ve never been up to it. It’s about 25km in map length and involves something a bit over 3000 metres in ascent/descent. Note the remarks above in the intro. Some climbers add the ascent of Blaven to the Main Ridge for their day’s walk. Talk about masochism! Non-climbers will be pleased to know that almost all the peaks on the way along the ridge are accessible without climbing. The easiest two are Bruach na Frithe and Sgurr na Banachdich from Glenbrittle. However my favourite from those I’ve done on the ridge is Sgurr nan Gillean from Sligachan and I wish I’d done Sgurr Alisdair from Glenbrittle. Bla Bhein [Blaven], not part of the main ridge, is also a real beauty, accessible from the village of Torrin on the bus route from Broadford to Elgol. Only the south top involves no climbing.

The Red Cuillin have never appealed to me. [Many disagree]. However, if it were not for the superlative scenery of the Black, the area of Trotternish, in northern Skye, would get far more publicity. The views from the Trotternish Ridge of the Black Cuillin is, of course, part of its appeal – but only part. Have a look at ternish/walking.html* and you will get the point. Of all the peaks here my favourite is the Quiraing, where names like ‘The Prison’, ‘The Table ‘, and ‘The Needle’ leave a little – but not to much, to the imagination. The Table is an area of grass almost suited to be a golf course through hte action of sheep, almost surrounded by weirdly shaped peaks.
Another fine walk is up The Storr via the impressive rock stack of The Old Man of Storr. This worthy shouldn’t be confused with The Old Man of Stoer, a sea stack in Sutherland.
Fed up with mountains? Try the coastal view from the Kilt Rock.

I really like the Sligachan Hotel, well known to pretty well all keen walkers or climbers who have ever been to Skye.
Another place I liked was the Ullinish Hotel. Some of us on a college party played darts there whilst others were riding horses and I’m afraid we knew it as ‘The Farting Nags’. However it’s very good and friendly

Other recommendations:
The magnificence of the Cuillin can be the only reason for Skye’s coastal scenery not getting far more attention. I wonder what proportion of those speeding along the A663 to see Dunvegan Castle have the vaguest notion that they are missing hte chance of seeing some of the UK’s best cliffs to their left. I hate to particularise here but McLeod’s Maidens must get a specific mention, lovely sea stacks.
You’d rather have a good beach? Head for the Tallisker Distillery at Carbost, open for visits, and continue to the beach there. It’s a beauty!
By the way, DON’T imagine that the distilleries are places to get the whisky cheaply. You’ll do better in a mainland supermarket! If you’ve not tried the island whiskies, with their peaty taste, rectify the matter asap.
I admit to not having spent any time in the area of Sleat [pronounced Slate], where Armadale is situated but I’m told that the estate of Armadale Castle includes some fine gardens.

Published on Sunday March 20th, 2005

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