928 m. |
Translation: Blue hill, or possibly warm hill
The best day, at least weather-wise, was also the last day of the 2016 holiday in Scotland. After five days of fog, two days of wind and rain and one further beautiful day this hike was the saving grace of an otherwise rather viewless bagging season.
Knowing the weather would be very good we had decided to climb Blaven via its south ridge since this would afford us marvellous views of the Black Cuillins on the way up. Like quite a few other walkers we started the hike from the parking south of Kilmarie where a Landrover track crosses the Strathaird peninsula. The track undulates a bit but then rises to its highest point (Am Mam) and drops again on its way towards Camasunary. Shortly before the next sharp bend in the track a path leads off towards the foot of the south ridge of Blaven. In due time this path crosses a small burn. A few metres past the burn the path leading up the steep grass slopes of the mountain’s south ridge branches off at an altitude of approximately 100m.
We climbed this very steep slope on the good path which further up outflanks the first bands of rock to the right before it leads up a steep gully filled with scree. Then at about 380m the path suddenly reaches the crest of the ridge and the complete Black Cuillin ridge springs into view. I took a break there and enjoyed the views which really were to die for.
From this spot onwards there is not much grass left underfoot as slabs of rock, small boulders and scree form the ground your boots tread on. The way forward was marked by cairns though and route-finding was not a problem. Over several steps in the ridge – which gave opportunity for some mild scrambling – the path follows the crest of the ridge or uses easier terrain on the east side of the hill. Further up the mountain it was not so easy to discern a path or rather the right path anymore since there were several options available: Thousands of walkers before us had created faint tracks in the scree, grassy spots or on the rocks (scratch marks of crampons). When it all got too confusing I just climbed up to the crest of the ridge and – voila – there a distinct path appeared which soon delivered me to the south summit of Blaven where Frank was waiting for me while taking photos of the hill and the Black Cuillins. Breath-taking views!
We continued towards the real (i.e. north) summit of Blaven descending an uneasy earth gully and re-ascending maybe 20 metres on the other side of the dip between the summits. Once at the north summit we took a longer break and enjoyed the 360∞ views form this great hill in the company of maybe a dozen fellow climbers: Black Cuillins, Red Cuillins, the sea, the islands. Ach, it was a pity we had to leave the summit again. We got back to the south summit of Blaven by climbing an obvious ledge of rock that leads from the dip up towards the summit plateau. Then we turned south and descended the very steep slopes leading towards the 600m beallach between Blaven and Slat Beinn. On the way a deep ravine had to be avoided by staying on its right-hand side. The faint path through the scree soon became more and more distinct and delivered us at the lochan on the beallach in no time.
From there all that was left was the long walk back to the Am Mam Landrover track on the very dry and pleasant grass slopes of Slat Beinn – a terrain which was easy in sunshine and good visibility but which can likely be quite confusing (and squishy) in fog or rain. We had another break sitting in the dry grass and taking in the impressions of the sea and the islands which spread out before us in the distance.
Then all was left was to regain the Landrover track leading back to the Kilmarie parking and our car. We reached the road-side just short of the six and a half hours Mr Storer gives as an estimate for this walk.
Blaven is a real Skye Munro! Rocks abound and scrambling is available in all degrees of difficulty. The views were overwhelming and we felt quite privileged to have climbed this great hill in such superb weather. The (Far) West is the best. Full stop.
Max elevation: 930 m
Min elevation: 45 m
Total climbing: 1167 m
Total descent: -1172 m
Total time: 06:18:49
Description Bla Bheinn is the great isolated mountain of the Cuillin, similar in many respects to the other gabbro peaks of the Black Cuillin, but quite separate from them. It rises above the head of Loch Slapin as the highest point of a long ridge which extends south to north from Loch Scavaig to Loch Ainort and includes not only Bla Bheinn, but its lower neighbouring peaks Clach Glas and Garbh-bheinn. The east face of Bla Bheinn and its satellites above Loch Scavaig look magnificent with their many cliffs and gullies, and the more distant and remote west face above Srath na Creitheach is equally impressive.The ascent starts from the road on the west side of Loch Slapin at the Allt na Dunaiche and goes along the path which starts on the north side of this stream and goes up Coire Uaigneich. At a point level with Loch Fionna-choire turn north-west and follow the path which zigzags steeply uphill to reach the crest of the east ridge of Bla Bheinn. Follow this ridge westwards with some scrambling to reach the summit. The descent may be varied by going south-west from the summit down to the col between the two peaks of Bla Bheinn and descending the gully south-eastwards to the head of Coire Uaigneich.