Tuesday, 7 October 2008
A Few Days on Skye
The weather forecast said sunny, the midge forecast said negligible so I headed to the Isle of Skye for a few days wild camping and gabbro scrambling. The midges on Skye can be ferocious so it’s somewhere I usually avoid during summer. By late September they are usually calming down and I had that midge forecast to reassure me. Even so I packed repellent and mosquito coils. Arriving in early evening I walked down Glen Sligachan as the sky darkened on a clear evening with just a faint hint of chill in the air and not a murmur of wind. Entry into the wild was between the towering sentinels of Sgurr na Gillean and Marsco, two of the magnificent mountains of Skye. As the light faded the stars started to shine and soon I was walking under a spectacular sky, another sign of the coming autumn. There are no skies like this in summer; the sky never darkens enough for the Milky Way to stand out so brightly. Revelling in the dramatic night with the stars sparkling between the black silhouettes of the hills I walked without a light, just able to follow the faint, pale line of the thin, twisting path. I did need a headlamp to stumble through the bogs to the narrow strip of dry ground beside Loch na Creitheach where I camped for two nights.
The next day dawned grey and flat with no sign of the sun. The thick bank of cloud was just brushing the summits. I wandered up little Sgurr na Stri, one of the finest viewpoints in the whole of the Highlands, and stared down to Loch Scavaig and Loch Coruisk and up to the curving ramparts of the Cuillin, a familiar but always exciting ragged line of rock peaks. Tour boats from Elgol puttered around the head of Loch Scavaig. A kayaker paddled to an island on Loch Coruisk. The air was calm and everything was peaceful. Staying above Loch Coruisk I made a way over the rough terrain of the Druim nan Ramh, the going hard as the rock strata cut across the line of the ridge, making for many little ascents and descents. Right in the heart of the Cuillin Druim nan Ramh is another superb viewpoint, though little visited it seems as there’s no path. The mountains hung grey under the gloomy sky.
Back at camp I sat outside the tent contemplating the gently rippling waters of the loch and the huge mountains. Skye is marvellous whatever the weather. Then the midges arrived. In numbers and hungry. I cooked and ate in the tent with the doors zipped tight shut, glad it was midge proof, then read the evening away, unwilling to collect any more bites. The midge forecast could not have been less accurate. The midges were still waiting for me the next morning and the clouds were hiding the summits. I breakfasted in the tent then packed everything except the tent itself. Once outside I took the tent down, glad that this only took a few minutes, bundled into a pack pocket and headed back to Sligachan and the long drive home. The forecasts for sun and no midges were wrong but Skye had still worked its relaxing magic and I felt renewed and refreshed.
Photo info: Canon EOS 450D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS@42mm, f8@1/160, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in DxO Optics Pro.