Coruisk meet report 29/4 - 3/5/2016

Graham Pearson

It was wet! It was windy! The toilet didn't work! Nobody brought Bananagrams! Despite which, we had a good weekend.

Phil, Cat, Franklin and I (Graham) walked in to the Coruisk hut from various directions on the Friday, to discover a pile of food left by previous occupants, and a blocked toilet. Fortunately(?) the Cuillin was covered in snow so we had all brought iceaxes. Meanwhile various luxury-lovers spent a warm comfortable night in Broadford, and the club slappers camped at the head of Loch Slappin'.

Next morning the others arrived by boat from Elgol. The only slight problem was that, having seen the weather forecast, the boat wasn't willing to come back on Monday, so the choice was to get an early boat out on Sunday or walk out. Between this and the lack of toilet, the meet was getting more bothy-like all the time.

The weather being too grotty for the ridge, two intrepid groups set off: one heading up Sgurr na Stri by the scramble from the Bad Step, the other planning a traverse of Druim nan Ramh. The guide book said the only scramble up it was up at the Loch Scavaig end, but Lucy thought she knew a way from Coir'-uisg. Fortunately she was right! These feats of derring-do were rewarded with Catherine's slap-up chilli and Andy's cake & custard compote en croute. The only problem was a surplus of whisky, which nobody was keen to carry out.

Next morning Cat, Catherine, Chris, Jack and I headed up Loch Coruisk leaving Phil to fester in the hut and the others to get the boat out. I walked up Coir'-uisg until I got bored then back by the other side of Loch Coruisk, while the others traversed Druim nan Ramh by Lucy's Route. Both routes seemed potentially erroneous when I met a party which was walking all the way around Loch Coruisk to avoid the now-submerged stepping stones; fortunately they were just being shandy-arsed and we all got across, albeit with even wetter feet than we had before. Phil, meanwhile, had been making himself useful by using rope tricks to reduce the shutters' rattling in the wind, fending off marauding boat parties who had seen whisky through the window, and also discovered that the toilet bowl had drained over the previous 48 hours.

Cat, Catherine, Chris, Jack and Phil walked out on Monday morning, Phil to walk to Slig, the others to Elgol. Leaving me with the hut to myself for 24 hours. Party on! My cunning plan for a walk up Sgurr Hain lasted precisely five minutes: having walked to the stepping stones, humming "All By Myself", I discovered them to be under even more water than the previous night. I'm glad I didn't have to walk out that day! Apparently they had to walk around the head of the loch; Cat is a qualified Mountain Leader, but seemingly that doesn't help with coastal walks. So I spent some time around the hut: I patched up a leak in the water supply, discovered a hole in the intake to the septic tank, and found that no matter how frequently I flushed the toilet I could no longer get it to back up. Who knew that blocked toilets could be self-healing?

Having exhausted all festering possibilities, and the time being barely after twelve, I felt the urge to go for a Pearson Pointless Plod in Pissing Precipitation®. I wasn't keen to give myself a soaking crossing the stepping stones, nor to potentially trap myself on the wrong side of the Mad Burn, and I'd already walked up Loch Coruisk twice, so I went in the only remaining direction: up An Garbh-choire. And I can report that it truly lives up to its name: it is filled with a jumble of blocks of the roughest rock I have ever encountered. Oh yeah and there was the odd hail shower passing through. But, keen to reach the ridge at least once over the weekend, I made it to Bealach a' Garbh-choire and discovered that the wind wasn't quite strong enough to stop me. So, rather cautiously, I continued to the top of Sgurr nan Eag. And despite it being a bank holiday I had the hill to myself, with only the rather ominous sound of a helicopter for company. I even got a bit of a view down the other side.

After an evening spent listening to hailstones the size of marbles (seriously) bouncing off the metal roof of the hut, on Tuesday I walked out to Slig for a well deserved pint of Black Face and bowl of Cuillin Skink, and the bus back home. Maybe next time the meet secs can arrange for better weather!

Photos are on Facebook

Appendix A to the Coruisk meet: five walk out on Monday, by Catherine Jones

Please note, all times are complete guesses. The only one that is correct is that we were back in Elgol for 16:30!

Approx 8:30 am on Monday morning, Cat, Catherine, Chris, Phil and Jack depart hut, leaving Graham to enjoy its aforementioned delights alone. Graham takes photo of group leaving.

8:32 am Catherine notes that the water over the rocks at the very foot of the Scavaig River is somewhat higher than the previous day. The previous day the stepping stones (not in view at this point) were passable with care.

8:33 am Much laughing at how unpassable the stepping stones are.

8:34 am Cat declares she wouldn’t lead a group across the river.

8:35 am Catherine tries to cross the first half. Water at thigh depth on Catherine. Catherine wishes she had her kayak…. Situation becomes less funny.

8:35:30 am Jack and Catherine try to get a bit further across. Water approaching Jack’s waist. Both retreat. Realisation that river is unpassable. Situation is definitely not funny anymore.

8:38 am Start walking round Loch Coruisk. Blue sky spotted above the Black Cuillin.

8:39 am Decision made to go up and over to the top of Loch na Creitheach, therby avoiding crossing the river at Camasunary. This means no scrambling over the bad step with rucksacks in the rain. Cat likes this.

About 45mins later reach top end of Loch Coruisk through the bog. Group paddle across Coruisk River. Re-enter bog and head back to the other end of Loch Coruisk. Phil leaves the group (he is headed for Slig, the rest for Elgol) to do things with an ice-axe. (Was it mentioned that the toilet was blocked?)

About 11 am reach nearly the end of Loch Coruisk. Just as the rain starts, eat elevenses under boulders (still in bog). Phil catches the group up.

11:05 am Look to cross the Alt a Choire Riabhaich low down. Good waterfalls (spectacular but seriously impede river crossing possibilities). The next shower comes in: hail (at least it was on our backs). We have to go to nearly the mouth of Loch a Choire Riabhaich up the bog, but at least there is no paddling this time. Phil is the chivalrous gentleman and carry’s Cat’s rucksack over the river for her.

11:20 am Glorious sunshine giving great views of the Skye ridge and the Red Cuillin. Second elevenses is had in the sun, on the boggy path.

11.45 am Reach the pass just below Sgurr Hain.

11:46 am Phil departs for Slig, warm bar and food.

11:47 am Cat, Catherine, Chris and Jack spot the next river crossing whilst navigating yet more bog.

12:30 pm Several options for crossing next river surveyed, river crossed and motorway between Slig and Camasunary is gained. Glorious sunshine. Path less boggy. Result. Eat lunch not on bog and in the sun.

Afternoon activities: walk out past Camasunary and along the very pretty, and times quite exposed, coastal path to Elgol. Weather is still mixed but generally dry.

16:30 arrive in Elgol. Group are accosted by an Australian tourist in a hire car who is asking for advice on where to go walking whilst driving car down a 15 % hill. Just as we thought we had got rid of him, he appears coming up the hill (still driving the car) asking if he would need a map…

16:35 Arrive at the public toilets.

16:45 arrive at cars. Remove boots, pour out water, note a helicopter circling the clag on Sgurr nan Eag…. Depart Elgol for home via Kyle for pizza after a great weekend away.