Sgurr na Stri Camp. October 2010.

Date: Saturday – Sunday 9th-10th October 2010
Distance: Day 1: 8.1km Day 2: 10km
Ascent: Day 1: 960m Day 2: 350m

Once again a high pressure was building for the weekend. On this occasion though the best weather looked like being after the weekend, with high winds persisting til Monday.

The only exception looked like the far west. The wild camp route folder was consulted and a long-cherished route was dusted off.

We had great memories of Sgurr na Stri – the 497m hill which sits clasped in the arms of the Cuillin Ridge. It has probably the single best hill view in Scotland, but is often overlooked by hillwalkers and climbers in favour of the Ridge and other listed hills.

Kicked off in Fort William for the 2 hour drive to Elgol. Cloudier skies in Lochaber gave way to blue skies through Lochalsh. Stunning views of Bla Bheinn across Loch Slapin before dropping into Elgol. 100m vertical drop from top of village to harbour.

The plan had been to walk from Elgol round to Loch Coruisk and then ascend Sgurr na Stri to camp. A quick check revealed the Bella Jane was boarding in 5 minutes so we purchased 2 one-way tickets to take the lazy way in.

Bella Jane:

Sea Kayakers:

A very relaxed substitute for about 8km of rough walking. Got some lovely views of the Cuillin and Camasunary on the way.

Isle of Rum:

An eagle was spotted from the boat and circled lazily overhead. The barn door shape identified this as a Sea Eagle – it drifted away but was sitting on some rocks as we rounded a headland later.

Gars-bheinn from Loch Scavaig:

A few seals on the rocks at Coruisk.

Disembarked at Coruisk. All the other passengers hared off to Loch Coruisk and the boat left. We lazed about here in warm sunshine for an hour with the place to ourselves.

Jetty:

To make up for our laziness we pledged to walk the entire length of the River Coruisk. 😉

Wandered up to Loch Coruisk – quite a place. We’ve had a yen to visit here for a while.

Crossed the Stepping stones of Coruisk :

headed for the bealach between Sgurr na Stri and Druim na Ramh. The track is fairly rough and boggy so actually does little to speed progress. I actually prefer trackless walking to these kind of tracks.

Loch Coruisk pano:

Link to Larger pano

Wended our way slowly up to Loch a Coire Rhiabhach and dropped the camping gear under a boulder. Gars-bheinn:

Our water taxi had given us time to explore so we thought we’d visit the 500m point of Druim na Ramh. Picked a way up through grassy strips with developing views.

Sgurr nan Gillean:

Loch Coruisk:

the summit cairn has closer views of the Cuillin ridge which loomed over us.

Druim na Ramh ridge:

Sgurr nan Gillean:

Unidentifiable part of ridge (with climbers):

Saw an apparently solitary Redwing flitting past – my first of the year.
Sat and relaxed on a windless (and midgeless) summit. Warm and bright – quite a pleasant October surprise.

Another Eagle appeared from the direction of the main ridge – Golden Eagle this time. Sailed past towards Sgurr na Stri.

Hazel and Bla Bheinn:

Summit pool and rocks:

Loch Coruisk and Sgurr na Stri:

Dropped back down to the packs. Sunset is already back to 1830 so wanted to get up Sgurr na Stri and find a pitch with some time to spare.
Started the climb up untracked slopes aiming for the Druim Hain – Sgurr na Stri ridge.

Loch a Coire Riabhach:

Visited the monument on the way up – well off track and rather hard to spot despite its size. I thought it looked rather grand.

Pushed on up to the 350m ridge, purified some water and then on up to the summit, weaving through rocks and grass.

A photographer was at the summit despite the late hour – a quick chat revealed he was also out overnight.

Scoured the summit area for a pitch. Have to say this was tricky – quite rocky ground. I’d eyeballed a do-able pitch on the way up about 3 mins short of the summit. Just enough flatness for the sleeping area of the tent and no rocks. Pitched the tent before wandering the twin summits til sunset.

Sleat and mainland:

Rum and Eigg:

Tent pitch:

Rum:

Near sunset:

Sunset to mainland:

Last light on Bla Bheinn:

Last light on Gillean:

Antisolar shadows:

Cooked tea in the gloaming. No moon tonight so darkness became deeper than our last few camps. Watched the lighthouses out in the Western Isles as we supped our liquid refreshment.

The southerly flows had certainly brought warm air. I was comfy in my day walking gear and only added a jacket after sundown. Normally I’m in many added layers on these camps.

Chatted til about 2130 and then had a look at the Milky Way above us – about as good a view as I’ve had for a number of years. Turned in.
Didn’t do any night photos – too pitch black.

Tumbled out of bed at 0730 to catch dawn. Said hello to the photographer at the summit – to find that this was a different guy! He’d walked up from Camasunary to catch dawn. Busy place!

Breakfasting as the sun rose lighting the Main ridge in reds and yellows.

Link to larger pano


Link to larger pano

That unidentifiable bit of the ridge again:

Sgurr nan Gillean:

Hazel at the tent:


Link to larger pano

Gars-bheinn:

There were twittering and trills around at dawn – sounded like a redwing. Turned out to be more than a few as about 50 took off from the hillside around us. A couple of Ring Ouzels were also around – possibly migrants heading south.

Struck the tent, took a last wander to the summit and then started down to Camasunary. It’s on the tip of my tongue:

Some nice pools on the descent.

There’s a hint of a path dropping from NG 500 202. 30 minute descent to the river. This river could be a serious problem in spate. It can be waded/crossed near Camasunary. We crossed at the stepping stones upstream at NG 509 196.

Walked downstream to Camasunary.

Crossed the beach. This is a special place – a real contrast to enclosed and intimidating Coruisk.

Had toyed with the idea of returning to Elgol over Beinn Leacach, Ben Meabost and Ben Cleat but decided for the easier track. These hills are a nice short winter’s day.

The track is fairly narrow and undulating, providing changing angles to the Cuillin. Took a couple of hours to get back to Elgol.

Eventually back at the car at 1430. I said somewhere that I thought Arnisdale rivalled Elgol for views – having been back I’m not sure anywhere does. Worth a trip in itself.

Back in the car for the long drive home. I suspect we’ll be back on Sgurr na Stri sometime. A winter summit camp perhaps 🙂

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