With a good forecast of 20c on the summits (!), sunshine most of the day and light Southerly winds, we decided on Bruach na Frithe as their introduction to Skye, but via the North ridge to add a little frisson. The car was parked along with two million others, (OK, I exaggerate a wee bit, but in 20yrs of coming to Skye, I have never seen it so bust at the Faerie Pools), and we set off from Glen Brittle for a change. I normally do this route from Sligachan, and I cannot for the life of me decide why - This way is shorter and far more pleasant.
We were soon on the ridgeline proper, and the lads soon got into the swing of 'push down, don't pull', and 'tread like a ninja' on the loose basalt, and move after move, their confidence increased and with it, their enjoyment. All too soon, we were at the summit, with views that make this such a special place in these conditions.
After a long lunch, we picked our way to the head of the Fionn Coire, but not before watching some climbers on the Bastier Tooth. The descent in loose, but gradual, and we enjoyed the turfed lower reaches before picking the path up back to Glenbrittle, and into the maelstrom that was the traffic. Simply put, there were scores of cars parked in the passing places, and no-one could go forward or back. People were simply inexperienced in driving in such circumstances, and I had to get out of the car and organise things over about 100m for 15 or so minutes before things got moving again. Apparently the Pools have been widely advertised somewhere, and they are now a serious honey pot. You Have Been Warned!
A great day, a great introduction, finished off by a pleasant pint at the Old Inn, with the full route in relief behind us.
Wednesday did not promise to be so pleasant weather wise. Still very warm indeed, but with cloud down to 100m, and sharp pulses of rain. That meant being in waterproofs on and off constantly, and feeling like a boil-in-the-bag rice with 'em on. Very uncomfortable.
We elected to go for the two most Southerly of the main munros, Sgurr nan Eag and Sgurr Dubh Mor, with an open-ended plan on which route to descend, and indeed how far we would go in the conditions. As we sweated our way up into the imposing Coir'a Ghrunnda, the clag gave it an eery feel, and the boilerplate gabbro slabs took on a life of their own. We were making slow progress, and soon came to one of the steepenings.
These are normally OK in dry, clear conditions, but if you are not an experienced scrambler, and the way isn't obvious in the murk, they take on a whole new seriousness that can be unnerving. It was already lunchtime, and we knew we had a long way to go. As we prevaricated, there was another cloud burst, and that, along with the difficult terrain made our decision for us. Down we went.
It was still 3pm before we made it back to the Glenbrittle camp site car park, and we knew we had made the right decision. This was further vindicated when later that evening, another strong group who were staying at the bunkhouse returned after an 11hr day in 'miserable conditions', being led by one the top Skye guides. We knew we would have taken even longer, so accepted that discretion had had the better part of valour.
Our final day was spent in cloudy but much clearer conditions, with a fabulous walk around the Quiraing in Trotternish. We took the higher path over the cliffs, with great views down on the Table, the Prison and the Needle, all features in the spectacular geological spectacle. It is a large, super slow-motion landslip that has been happening for 10,000 years, and along with the Storr further South, forms part of the 30k long Trotternish Ridge in the NE of Skye. Very accessible, and the round only takes around 4hrs, so quite amenable for a short day out.
So we only managed one munro in the lads' first visit to Skye. Not at all unusual of course - The special terrain experienced in the UK's premier mountain location means you need all the factors to come together to get the most out of the trip, and often the first trips are about building experience and familiarity. This is what we did, and along with a few great nights in the OId Inn, we had a cracking time. Haste ye back fellas, haste ye back!