“The absolute simplicity, that’s what I love. When you are climbing, your mind is clear and free of all confusion, you have focus. Suddenly the light becomes sharper, sounds become richer and you are filled with the deep powerful presence of life.”

Seven Years in Tibet is a great book but an average film in which Brad Pitt plays Heinrich Harrer with one of the worst accents in movie history (and that includes Russell Crowe in Robin Hood). Whilst I feel a little pretentious quoting it here, it does sum up how I feel about running and scrambling rather nicely and I have never experienced these emotions more profoundly than during trips to the Isle of Skye.

Four Days in the Minginish

Last week, Colin, Mark and I took advantage of a rare window where we were all available to spend an extended weekend on Skye. This was our first visit in a few years and my fifth in total. With its crazy weather and midge infestations, Skye can be an enigmatic place which often teases you with glimpses of its brutal beauty through black cloud and horizontal rain. I’ve spent many days there struggling through these conditions on previous trips, sometimes to be chewed up and spat out by the hills and on other occasions, gifted with some of the best experiences I have ever had in the mountains. The  harsh weather and vastly changing personality that can be found on different parts of the island give Skye a mysterious and sometimes intimidating appeal which draws me to it like no other place.

Whilst we had one day of horrendous weather, our 2013 visit was accompanied by some of the best conditions I have ever experienced on the island with the whole of the Black Cuillin being clear for three full days. This revealed the ridge in its full Mordor-like glory so we capitalised on it by getting as much scrambling and running in as possible and I was quickly reminded of how unforgiving the Black Cuillin can be. There are few places where an ascent onto the ridge can be made without scrambling and once you are on there, complete commitment is required at all times as escape routes to the valleys below are equally as rare. Once up among the basalt and gabbro peaks, you will encounter the most sustained sections of exposed scrambling that can be found anywhere in the UK and the blackness and brutality of the mountains can intimidate and enthrall in equal measures.

There have been numerous occasions where I have pushed the limits of my comfort zone in this environment, sometimes due to fast-changing weather, sometimes due to a exposure to height but mostly I think it is due to the brooding presence that these mountains have, both to frighten me and to draw me back yet again.  

Full Credit to Mark who took most of the better images below……

Double Rainbow that we drove straight through the middle of on the way up!

Double Rainbow on the A87!

First view of the Cuillin Ridge on the drive into Glenbrittle

First view of the Cuillin Ridge on the drive into Glenbrittle

We pitched our tents and  set out of Glenbrittle for a stretch of the legs after 11 hours in the car

After pitching our tents, I set out from Glenbrittle to stretch my legs and release some built up excitement  after 11 horus in the car

Beautiful light in the setting sun on the way to Coire Lagen

Beautiful light in the setting sun on the way to Coire Lagen

Cloud dropping in Coire Lagen

Cloud dropping in Coire Lagen

Happy to be in a beautiful spot

Unbelievably happy to be in such a beautiful spot

Quick trot around the beach to cool down before the wind a rain came in and we made a hasty retreat to the tents

Quick trot around the beach to cool down before the wind a rain came in and we made a hasty retreat to the tents

After a rough night of horizontal hail and 30mpm winds, we woke to a morning of carnage and destroyed tents. If you were wondering, that lump on the left is someones head. Fortunately, we were ok

After a rough night of horizontal hail and 50mph winds, we woke to a morning of carnage and destroyed equipment, fortunately we were unscathed. If you were wondering, that lump on the left is someones head.

Running repairs - Dealing with niggles whilst waiting for the weather to clear

Running repairs – Dealing with a niggle in my hip whilst waiting for the weather to clear

Quaraing!

Windy Quaraing!

11. Quaraing12 Quaraing

Scramble to Coir' a' Ghrunnda

Scramble to Coir’ a’ Ghrunnda

15. Scramble to Coir' a' Ghrunnda16. Scramble to Coir' a' Ghrunnda

Beautiful sunset on the Cuillin ridge, looking towards Sgurr nan Eag

Beautiful sunset on the Cuillin ridge, looking towards Sgurr nan Eag

Sgurr nan Eag

Must learn to look less grumpy

Must learn to look less grumpy

Coruisk, Blah Bhienn and the mainland

Coruisk, Blah Bhienn and the mainland

A better evening.............

A better evening………….

Sgurr Dearg Scramble from Coire Lagen

Sgurr Dearg Scramble from Coire Lagen

24 Cuillin Ridge

On the Cuillin Ridge

25 Cuillin Ridge

Another grumpy-looking self shot

Another grumpy-looking self shot on the ridge

Sketchy Down-Scramble

Sketchy Down-Scramble

Sketchy Down-Scramble

Scree-1, Ankles-0

Scree-1, Ankles-0

Glamaig in the Red Cuillin - This is the site of a rather famous fell race and I can confirm that it is steep, hard and steep again......

Glamaig in the Red Cuillin – This is the site of a rather famous fell race and I can confirm that the route  is steep, hard and steep some more……

Glen Sligachan

Glen Sligachan

Water Pipe Gully Sgurr An Fheadain

Heading up to the Water Pipe Gully &  Sgurr An Fheadain

Mark Jumping into the fairy pools

Mark Jumping into the fairy pools

35 Fairy Pools

Me Being a massive wuss and trying to walk my way in. Eventually discouraged by the wind and cold temperature, I retreated like a toddler who has just dipped their toes in the sea for the first time

34 Fairy Pools