BLÀ BHEINN HIKE, ISLE OF SKYE
As you drive through Torrin you should be able to see the top of Bla Bheinn (pro-nounced Bla Blaven), there is a car park with a toilet and information (the car park is free) specifically for the walk on the other side of the Loch.
As we navigated the stony trail, I glanced up at the 928-metre-high peak of Bla Bheinn in the near distance and a strew of swear words fluttered across my mind. I looked over at Adam who was buzzing with excitement. He had no idea my stomach was churning like a milkmaid on cheese day. I was nervous the way only a Geordie who spent a childhood hiding in the toilets from PE lessons, could be. Sure, for the last few years I’ve lifted, ran, climbed, boxed and reached a good level of fitness, but the uneasiness I feel in entering a physical challenge still lingers in the pit of my stomach, and Bla Bheinn is quite a physical challenge. I looked up. The mountain was so high I swear I could see Saint Peter welcoming people into the gates of heaven up there. Still, we were doing this so off we went.
Like everywhere on Skye there are water falls, you have pass over 2 streams which depending on how much rain has been falling will vary loads in the flow so it might be difficult to pass in places.
The first part of the trail to the base of Bla Bheinn across Coire Uaigneich is like a jaunt through paradise. Gushing streams, scattered wild flowers and luscious greens with the backdrop of one of Scotland’s most beautiful Munro’s is exceptional. We were lucky with the weather too as this looked like it might be the only real clear day of our trip to Skye. That morning Adam had pulled out his best blagging skills and managed to get us the last space on the ferry from the mainland saving us a three-hour drive to the bridge and valuable climbing time. Parking near Bla Bheinn is easy enough and there are public toilets on hand incase you see the mountain you’re about to ascend and feel the urge to soil yourself.
This is the peak just next to the main mountain (or Munro), you could tackle this as well on the way up or down.
After crossing a couple of streams, we found ourselves at the base and ready to begin our climb. The first third is relatively easy and enjoyable. The hike is scattered with small, free flowing waterfalls and excellent views. We chatted and laughed and saw climbers on their descent who gave us words of encouragement. I was suddenly aware that something unexpected was happening, I was actually enjoying myself. Then we reached the steep scramble across the grippy gabbro rock. This section of the climb requires a lot of concentration and after a hair-raising clamber, we finally reached more solid ground. I paused to wipe the sweat from my forehead and Adam said ‘We’re about halfway now.’ I looked down at the hours of climb we’d completed and then up towards (what I saw as) the final section of the mountain and felt my eyelid begin to twitch.
Luckily, we were much further on than anticipated and after another steep climb over the huge, beautiful rock formations surrounding the mountain, we reached the top of Bla Bheinn.
The Cuillin Range is vast with a long ridge running deep inside it, offering some of the best climbing in the UK.
I could tell you about the incredible views. How the jagged peaks of the Cuillen will cut deep into your memories forever. How the plunge down to Glen Sligachan will catch your heart in your throat. But truly it’s the feeling of the place that is impossible to forget. It’s hard not to catch a stirring deep inside yourself when you reach the peak and become a tiny part of the history of such an incredible natural monument. To survey the world below and realise we are just a small brushstroke in a much bigger, intricate painting is feeling that’s hard to define. Then I remembered we’d brought chocolate flapjacks and got stuck in.
Just over half way up, you can start to see the whole of the infamous Cuillin mountain range.
After chatting to other climbers at the top (Hi Danny) we discovered an alternative route Southwest, down a rocky gully of scree between the north and south tops. Apparently, this is a much safer route back down in the case of bad weather. However, just looking down the almost vertical rock-slide was enough to make the hairs on my head stand up. There is also a thin, rocky scramble which joins the two summits of Bla Bheinn which you can watch here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xy0SVp50mEY if your stomach can take it.
The climb down can be tricky and took us slightly longer than actually getting up there. The saving grace is passing red faced, sweaty hikers and feeling grateful that you’ve done that bit.
If you are lucky enough to get it on a clear day you can see a large part of the Hebrides, this is looking north towards Rassay and the mainland.
The cloud and mist was flying in thick and fast when we got to the summit, but we caught a good glimpse of the Cuillin ridge.
Driving away from the mountain past Loch Slapin is an opportunity to take in the magnitude of beauty the highlands so effortlessly radiates. Skye is definitely one to put on your bucket list.
Looking towards the ridge.
The scramble down