With a bit more travel freedom this month, we took an opportunity to get as far away from the city as we could, heading to the Highlands of Scotland.
If you’re willing to travel that far, the well-trodden Highland tourist trail draws people to the Isle of Skye like a magnet. This set-up works well for both the tourists of Skye, and those who want to find pristine wilderness and seclusion in the immediate surrounding areas.
Part of me was reluctant to write about Glenelg because I’d like to keep it a secret. Largely overlooked, it sits just South of Skye on the mainland, on a road to nowhere (actually the beautiful village of Corran). If you’re travelling by bike, you have the hefty climb from Shiel Bridge to contend with before you drop down into the seafront village.
Against all odds, we’d had perfect weather for a few days (this does not happen up here and is part of how you earn the right to enjoy Scotland!) but on the day we decided to have a crack at Beinn Sgritheall, the sky was filled with cloud.
Beinn Sgritheall (pronounced ‘Ben Skree-hal’) is a lonely munro a bit further down the dead-end road from Glenelg, sitting at 974m. We set off early with our Husky, Murph, in tow. On our way to the beginning of the path, a local passing in his car stopped to say hi. ‘Willy the Post’ was 90 years old and the former Postman of Arnisdale. His legs wouldn’t get him up Beinn Sgritheall anymore but he asked us to pay his regards to the top for him. (We did.)
The initial climb out of Arnisdale is steep and unrelenting, beginning with bracken-y bogs and ending with a sheer scree climb. Murph took the ascent in his stride, stopping frequently to catch track-side mice, take a cooling lie-down in a bog, or stare-down sheep from the safety of his lead. A one point we spotted a snake on the path and spent a while debating what it could be, but to our disappointment, subsequently found out it was a worm.
As we got to the top of our sweaty climb over the rocks to the first plateau, we emerged from the cloud to a blue-bird sky. The sun was bright and the breeze was non-existent. Below was a blanket of white fluffy cloud, broken only by the odd munro in the distance.
We finished climbing to the cairn marking the top and had the perfect spot for a hot lunch (chipotle cauliflower lentils). It felt pretty special to know the good weather that morning was reserved only for those who’d made it this high.
We set-off down to the beach via a tarn where Murph went for a quick dip to cool off. He’s a big fan of downhill and it took my legs three days to recover from being on the other end of that lead! As we lost height, the clouds dissipated, and it felt like we were bringing the good weather down with us.
The route down finished back on the coast, on the stony beach of Arnisdale – perfect for a post climb swim. We began scheming for our next exploration.