snow showers on sgurr an doire leathainn

Fri, Sep 21, 2007

I had a day off work on Monday and the forecast was rather interesting. Sleet and snow down to 600m with the certainty of snow showers at 900m, so I headed for Glen Shiel and Sgurr an Doire Leathainn, at 1010m, intent on getting the first snow of the year.

Looking East Along South Glen Shiel Ridge From Sgurr An Doire Leathainn

Also, with my ML assessment coming up I thought I’d better stretch the old legs after a heavy bout of work. I haven’t been cycling to work as much as I normally do so the only way for me to keep fit is to keep going to the tops. With a strong north wind forecast, direct from the Arctic, the South Glen Shiel ridge was a good bet, as it has the North Glen Shiel ridge and Torridon to shield it from the weather and sure enough, with torrential rain and zero visibility on Skye, when I reached the layby at the foot of Druim Thollaidh, just west of Cluanie, the tops were clear and there was even some blue sky appearing here and there. And there it was. The first snows of the winter. A light dusting on the north east summit slope of Sgurr an Doire Leathainn!

Looking Down Druim Thollaidh To Aonach Medhoin

It was a pleasant although very boggy trot up Druim Thollaidh onto Sgurr Coire na Feinne, where I had a pleasant lunch, lying in boiling sunshine overlooking Glen Quoich and the hills of Knoydart. It was interesting to see that Bog Asphodel was still flowering up here, at around 900m, while down in the glen, it had all stopped its’ yellow colour.

Loch Quoich from Sgurr Coire na Feinne

By the time I’d had lunch and moved on, west along the ridge, snow showers had come in and were scouring the 830m bealach on the way to Sgurr an Doire Leathainn. Such is the weather in the highlands. Warm sun one minute, gale force winds and snow showers the next! The top of the ridge is quite rocky but perfectly easy with superb views of the Glen Shiel mountains and the Five Sisters, with the highest having small snow patches on the summits, gleaming in the sun, which broke out between snow showers. I spent another pleasant half hour on top of Sgurr an Doire Leathainn, out of the wind, watching cloud shadows drift over the ridge and two Ptarmigan fly past, their wings just turning white. It was just so relaxing to sit unobserved in a hollow by the summit and watch the weather and the wildlife drift by. This is what hillwalking is all about.

Sgurr an Lochain from Sgurr an Doire Leathainn

The view of Sgurr an Lochain from the top of Sgurr an Doire Leathainn was impressive, with cloud shadows racing over the jagged top and the blue sea beyond. The chill had me romping off down the north east ridge, with a rainbow leading the way down the wet and boggy slopes. There are some interesting crags to work your way through and I noticed patches of still flowering Bog Asphodel around 650m, then it’s bog, bog and more bog down to the river, which I crossed in true ML style! Normally I just try and jump a burn at the narrowest point but the very wet weather of late had swollen this one considerably. So I tried out the walking stick method of facing upstream, leaning on the stick and walking sideways across. Rather than the usual boulder hopping. Worked a treat too.

A superb day out indeed and you can see the rest of the pictures here.

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