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May 2010 : Lagan, Banachdaich, Storr and Quiraing

with my second son in October 2009 I now went with my oldest son Gillean. We embarked on the DFDS Seaways ferry in IJmuiden and disembarked the next morning in Newcastle.Being named after 'Gillean with the Battleaxe' our prime objective was to try to climb Sgurr nan Gillean, providing good weatherconditions. Only the best of conditions would have been suitable for an 11 year old boy who's highest summit has been 15 meters above sealevel. After an overnight stop at the Ratagan YH near Shiel Bridge we drove on to the Isle of Skye. From the Sligachan junction we saw Sgurr nan Gillean shrouded in clouds and in the afternoon we arrived at the Glen Brittle YH.We checked in - the YH normally shuts between 10.30 and 17.00 - and had a little walk opposite the YH.The next day the Cuillin summits were covered in clouds and I thought a walk to Coire Lagan would be a nice appetiser to start with. The gradient is easy and the path has been improved. I remember sinking thigh deep in bog. Soon we reached the Coire Lagan boilerplates where things get more interesting. It was hands on for Gillean but the rocks, being dry, were no problem.The hills surrounding the coire were covered with lowhanging clouds creating the mysterious athmosphere that triggers the fantasy of an 11 yearold boy. I took photographs while Gillean explored the rocks and shoreline. Together we did a circularwalk around the loch before getting back down the boilerplates to the YH.Clouds were still covering the Cuillin the next day so I decided to go north for the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing, an area I hadn't been before. 9km north of Portree, Skye's capital town, we parked the car alongside the road. We weren't the only one. After a short walk through the forest the Old Man Man himself came into sight. At least some vague contours, clouds being as low as the base of the Old Man.Again a moody athmosphere. Most people preferred to stay near the edge of the forest but we wanted to explore the area. We entered the hinterland despite the sign saying the rocks near Needle Rock were unstable. The labyrinth behind of the Old Man of Storr is actually far more interesting than the Man himself, certainly in misty conditions like today. We wandered through Coire Faoin, expecting Urukhai behind every rocky outcrop. They didn't show up. At the southern end of Coire Faoin the path deteriorates and some slippery and narrow sections had to be crossed. The clouds were lifting and we could see the Sound of Raasay and the hills on the mainland. Soon we were back on the tourist path. After a short drive further north we parked our car in glorious sunshine at the little cemetery south of the Quiraing. A quick jaunt over short green grass and we were at the northern end of the Trotternish ridge.The area is surprisingly small and we passed The Prison, The Needle and The Table wondering were the rest was. Gillean didn'tfeel upto climbing the steep side of The Table so we followed the high path back to the viewpoint at the edge of the ridge. Although we didn't cover many miles today we sure did enjoy ourselves and even had some icecreams on our way back to the YH. Before making an attempt at Sgurr nan Gillean some training for Gillean - and myself - had to be done so we set out for Sgurr na Banachdaich the next morning. An easy walk-in along the burn towards An Dorus and a strenuous clamber up the scree and boulders of Coir' an Eich to reach An Diallaid at 700m. Someone took a picture of the two of us before we made the last pull uphill to reach the summit of Sgurr na Banachdaich, Gillean's first ever Munro. We had lunch on top and admired the wide vistas around us. I fancied following the ridge to Sgurr Dearg in the south but Gillean was satisfied with reaching our goal for that day and we returned the way we'd come. Next morning started with hot and sunny weather. Gillean was lingering while we walked up the western shoulder of Sgurr Dearg. I could feel there was something wrong but he was reluctant to admit it. It turned out his feet hurt. Did he feel unhappy about 'letting his father down' ? We returned and and spent hours at the waterfall near the hostel. Gillean played with water and rocks like boys do and I wandered around taking photographs. We were both happy.Although in the end we didn't do Sgurr nan Gillean - which was covered most of thedays - I think Skye has made a big impression on Gillean. We'll return one day.We ended our holiday with a visit to Glen Nevis, taking the cablecar up Aonach Mor, visiting Treasures of the Earth in Corpach, walking to the base of the Cobbler, visiting the Oceanaruim on Loch Lomond Shores, making a campfire on the beach near Rowardennen and spending a night in the grand Loch Lomond YH. Come to think of it : we did do A LOT.

May 2010

After visiting Scotland


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