June 29, 2016

Coire Lagan, Isle of Skye

If the Quiraing is the hike that brought me to Scotland, Coire Lagan might be the hike that brings me back.  Hey!  I can always dream, right?  But seriously, I do feel like I have unfinished business in Scotland.  We never climbed any Munros, after all.  [A Munro is a mountain in Scotland that is over 3,000 feet high; hiking all 282 of them is a challenge hikers pursue much like the Adirondack 46ers, New Hampshire 48, or Colorado 14ers.]  And we didn't get to climb North Berwick Law, which we'd planned as a day trip from Edinburgh via train, because service on that line was canceled due to a ScotRail strike. 

Anyway, Coire Lagan is a tiny loch ringed by the towering, jagged summits of several Black Cuillin Munros, including the Inaccessible Pinnacle (a.k.a. In Pinn), Sgurr Mhic Choinnich, and Sgurr Alasdair.  In Pinn is Britain's most difficult mountain to climb, while Sgurr Alasdair is the highest point on the Isle of Skye.  The Black Cuillins are collectively considered the most spectacular and challenging peaks in all of Britain.  We may not have climbed to the top of the ridge, but I was certainly close enough to get a taste and want more...

The hike was somewhere in the range of 5.25 miles, with approximately 1,935 feet elevation gain.  We used Walkhighlands again to plan the hike, but did an out-and-back instead of the loop described, so I don't know the exact mileage.  I was very interested to do the full loop, of course, but we didn't get the earliest of starts and were traveling at Frankie's pace.  Also, Erwin doesn't generally enjoy hiking in the rain, and was really pushed to his limits in that department today.  When we reached the junction around 5 pm, his mind was already on dinner, so I didn't argue to take the longer way back.  Plus, we'd been so ensconced in rain clouds during part of the ascent that the views were completely different as we retraced our steps on the way out.  Given the dodgy weather, I had mentally prepared myself for the possibility that we might have to turn back without even reaching the corrie, so I'm super grateful we made it that far at least.

It is truly a magnificent and magical spot.  Words cannot convey.     

this hike starts at sea level; use the carpark for the beach at Glen Brittle
much work has gone into improving the lower portion of the trail

our destination is up in the clouds behind Frankie


lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica)
heath spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza maculata)

bog asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum)
picnic lunch

Loch an Fhir-Bhallaich

sheep in the rain

getting the camera back out as the clouds lift
looking back toward Loch Brittle

the path forward was still socked in

butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris)


Coire Lagan


the Great Stone Chute is the route up Sgurr Alasdair

Loch an Fhir-Bhallaich

we've emerged into the sun, but Coire Lagan is still socked in

returning to the beach at Glen Brittle -- the car park is at the far end of the beach, past the campground

route map from Walkhighlands

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