“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in an office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” Jack Kerouac
My final day on the Isle of Skye and the penultimate day of 2019, if I am honest the week hadn’t been as amazing as I hoped for. Well, at least not until this hike, it was also the first day I had done a mountain on Skye. If I was to go back to the Isle of Skye now, only 3 weeks since my trip I would just do mountains the whole time but at the same time, I am glad I got to experience the whole of the Isle of Skye. The visit had been on my bucket list for a while and I do feel lucky that I was able to go but am not in a hurry to return.
Bla Bheinn (or Blaven) is a quite magnificent mountain by any Scottish standards. At 928m high, it is one of the few of Skye’s Munros that is accessible to a competent hillwalker, requiring no mountaineering skills to get to the top by this route. It is not an easy walk through. The surfaces are rocky and in parts, the climb needs hands on the rocks, so be prepared for that.
The views as you climb are good, opening up from Loch Slapin and Torrin to include a vista of the Red Hills, Rum and a large part of the mainland NW Highlands. That would be enough in itself to make the climb worthwhile. But it is as nothing in comparison to what hits you as you crest the summit when the panorama of the Cuillin, Glen Sligachan, Marsco et al explodes into sight.
The day started out very much wet and grey like every morning I had experienced on Skye. But I decided to stay positive and make the most out the day!
So why is it so special? This is nature at its unspoilt best. Its isolated position gives it some of the island’s best views, across Glen Sligachan to the jagged Cuillin ridge, and even further across the sea to the Isles of Rum and Eigg, and the Scottish mainland. If you have any breath left at the summit, the panorama will take it away.
As I started to ascend and the grey clouds began to move away it wasn’t hard to see what makes Bla Bheinn special, the views are breathtaking and the path lacking people makes it a great introduction to Skye’s Mountain’s.
The higher up you walk the more it becomes a scramble with the large stepping stones becoming smaller and smaller until they are loose stones beneath your feet.
These pictures really don’t do it justice. I must have stopped every 10 feet to take the views in.
Fun little scramble up, this mountain was so much fun. In fact it is now firmly in my top 3 Mountains!
The surrounding ridges are almost jet black and with the serious lack of anyone else it felt oddly creepy and comforting at the same time.
I literally can’t tell you how amazing I felt when I reached the top, how beautiful the views were or how magical it had become while stood on top and it begun to snow.
Stood on top of Bla Bheinn I realised this would be my hike of 2019, with only one day and an 8-hour drive left of the year it was the perfect time to reflect and take in the last 8 months of hiking and outdoor life. Which had been utterly amazing, 2019 was the year that I found hiking and awoke a new side of me, stood there being snowed on was the perfect way to end a perfect year.
There is definitely something wrong with me, although I am not sure what!
After 20 mins on top, I had started to lose the feeling in my fingers so time to head down. But not before filling my lungs with as much Mountain air as they would hold.
I can safely say that the descent was nowhere near as fun as the ascent. I already struggle to stay upright on a flat surface so coming down over the loose stones was somewhat of a challenge. Although my confidence has grown in the last 8 months, in the past I would have been terrified of slipping and falling but now I tend to stone surf down, safe in the knowledge that I can do it. Well at least I have enough fake confidence that I can do it.
Fun Fact, Bla Bheinn overlooks one of the oldest rubbish tips in Britain. High Pasture Cave (on the opposite side of Loch Slapin) contains a rich deposit of animal bones, shellfish and pottery fragments, as well as evidence of fires, left by late bronze-age and iron-age communities.
Somewhat concerned that the gates were 7ft, what were they keeping in there?
At the bottom and at the end of my favourite hike on the Isle of Skye I become pretty sad knowing it was over. After any time away hiking the end is always bittersweet. There is a feeling of a great achievement that is almost tinted by the fact it is over and the knowledge that you know that tomorrow there won’t be another walk. When I finished walking in Cornwall in the Autumn I ended crying as I was so overwhelmed with it all and knowing the hiking was over.