Bruach na Frithe

Scotland, Isles, Skye, United Kingdom

William Mackesy’s account of this walk

I started from the upper Glen Brittle carpark, which is a bit nearer, and a bit higher, the the Sligachan Hotel, the usual start of this walk.

This route climbs gradually up the slopes to the left of Coire na Creiche to a cairn on the Bealach a Mhaim  pass to Glen Sligachan, to join the main ascent path. There was cloud streaming over the Bealach a Mhaim ridge all day; I nearly didn’t begin this walk, as here would be no point climbing all that way in cloud, but the summit of Bruach na Frithe and the rest of the peaks around Coire na Creiche had been clear all day, so I went for it: worst case, turning back if I didn’t get above the cloud once I was well up in its high corrie.

The climb to Bealach a Mhaim  was a joy, with views of the stunning Coire na Creiche bowl, with a horseshoe of magnificent Cuillin mountains around its head and the famous Fairy Pools series of little falls and pools at its base.

I was in the cloud shortly before cairn, in weak grey light. At the cairn, I crossed to the other side of the valley and struck east across the generally dry lower Bruach na Frithe hillside, avoiding the boggy bottom with its lochans, taking care to look out for the ascent path and its cairns, but is a well-trodden route, and well cairned at that level,  so it was easy to spot.

The ascent path is a good, steady trudge, gradually getting steeper. The mind wanders and time passes when in cloud.

Joy – the cloud became a gauzy veil then cleared just as I crested the slope to gain the harshly beautiful high Fionn Coire corrie below the high ridge, with the sharp summit of Bruach na Frithe to the right.  The evening light is now crystalline gold, every blade of grass seems visible.

After an easy crossing of the corrie floor comes the real slog up steep, rocky, shaley slopes on the left side of the stream-bed towards the pass to the left of the high ridge. The path comes and goes, and I walk with care: I see no-one throughout the climb, and a fall could be interesting and lonely.

The high pass rewards with staggering views east to the Red Cuillin, then a few minutes later south into the heart of the great sinuous curve of the jagged Black Cuillin, Britain’s most exciting mountain ridge, silhouetted against a clear 7pm summer sky, with Loch Scavaig and then the open sea to the south-east (left).

It is warm, golden, without a breath of wind, having been freshly blowy lower down – and the midges come out in force!

It is 7pm, it has taken me 2 1/4 hrs to get here.  The final walk to the peak is relatively easy, but could be another 20-30 minutes. I’d be descending in cloud and the dark, alone albeit well equipped, head torch included. I turn back, dropping back to the beauty of the upper corrie pretty quickly, then on down into the colder cloud. It is pretty grim here, but I make a rapid descent, and emerge through iridescent haze onto the slopes just below Bealach a Mhaim for a final golden return, with  indeed, the Coire na Creiche bowl suffused with light – indeed, the Black Cuillins were positively red!

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