Loch Coruisk & a Visit to The Bad Step

7 09 2014

Thu 7 Aug 2014
At last, Richard and I finally managed to get to Loch Coruisk for our long-promised walk around its shore – we didn’t get the weather we’d hoped for though, even though it was forecast for the day. I’d originally tried to book another guide to take me onto the Cuillin Ridge as my guide had left the island for the rest of the week and the weather was supposed to be superb. In the end, I was glad I hadn’t managed to hire one!

(click on photos for full size/resolution – half are mine, half Richard’s – but all are digital point-and-shoot this time as I forgot my proper camera on the day! There’s a lot of them though…)

We had a terrible journey driving to the boat at Elgol. Firstly, just as I set off, I had an alarming text from my bank about a humungous debit from my account which it took me most of the rest of the day to figure out (turned out to be someone cashing a several months-old cheque!) Then, we got stuck behind a few dawdling cars who really couldn’t be bothered with the single-track road rule despite a queue building up behind them – that of letting faster drivers past – that was also despite several signs on the roadside reminding them of their duty 😐 That meant that, by the time I forced my way past them with a few very nifty but rather dodgy manoeuvres after following them for around 7 miles, my blood pressure was absolutely sky-high 😦

We arrived at Elgol in bright sunshine and I proceeded to sunbathe on the pier. A stop was soon put to this by the first heavy shower of the day – no rain had been forecast at all… We were eventually kitted up with life jackets and took our place on what they nowadays call ‘a rod’ (a large inflatable boat anyway). I quite like these as they are bouncy but, despite the female pilot saying it would be rough, I found it exceedingly tame and didn’t even need to hold on (I am used to riding nutty horses though πŸ˜‰ )

We soon arrived, after a visit to the seal colony, at the landing steps at the end of Loch Scavaig. I loved our quick trip around the seals – they were all basking – lovely little fatties on every rock in various lazing poses πŸ™‚

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Garsbheinn – the start of the famous Cuillin Ridge Traverse

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The ‘Mad Burn’ (not sure why it’s mad!)

On surmounting the steps onto dry land, Richard and I were quickly on our way, mainly because I thought everyone would be walking around the loch and I was desperate for a pee! We went clockwise…

The first half of the loch shore was pretty good really – very wet underfoot if you couldn’t walk on ‘the whales’ (the long, smooth rock formations) but, luckily, you mostly could until the end of the loch.

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A ‘whale’ in the foreground (my name)

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Very wet walking

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(all Richard’s photos to here)

I was absolutely fascinated by ‘The Dubhs Ridge’ as you’ll see from my photos. When I got under the start of the route up the slabs, I had no idea how you were supposed to just walk up something so steep and high without a rope and spent the next quite a few minutes exploring for alternatives. After the first corner though, they were largely overhanging to a large degree and obviously impossible for non-climbers. I eventually found a grassy rake at the end of the slabs which would take you safely back onto them and quite high up onto the ridge. Richard got sick of me blabbering on about them while we walked round the loch and in the end he told me to shut up about them, saying it wasn’t like I was going to be doing them – you never know…

Dark Dubhs Ridge & Perched Rock
The dark Dubhs (my photos now for a while)
Dark Dubhs Ridge

Dubhs Ridge Start
Dubhs Ridge Start (‘The Slabs’ on the Cuillin map) from across the loch

I was fascinated to see a very new rockfall across the loch under Druim nan Ramh…

Druim nan Ramh Slab Collapse

Loch Coruisk to Mid Cuillin Ridge

Pitted Sandstone Rocks
Pitted Sandstone(?) Rocks

(Richard’s photos again for a while)

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We reached the end of the loch in around an hour, on a now very rough path, and I decided I wanted to look around the corner into Coir ‘Uisg.

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I’d been studying the back of my future long-skyline route around the Banachdich/Ghreadaidh tops with quite some trepidation – everything looks so rocky and sheer from the Coruisk side! Eventually I spotted where the In Pinn should be (I recognised An Stac below it) and we decided to wait until it cleared the cloud for a minute so Richard could take a photo with his great zoom. It finally almost came out and we got a half-decent shot.

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We crossed the several sections of burn dryfoot and easily and then I immediately fell in a very deep bog hole and poured water in the top of my boot!

Sgurr na Stri from Coruisk Inlet river
Heading back… (my photos again now)

Loch Coruisk Inlet

Sgurr na Stri from Loch Coruisk Head
The superb Sgurr na Stri (zoomed)

We then reached a nice section of stony beach which took us on easily for a few minutes. Apart from any other minor sections of beach, this was the last easy walking we did on this side of the loch – it was very rough indeed for the rest of it and took us around twice as long as the first side had.

The 2 Dubhs
Another photos of The Dubhs – the portion between Sgurr Dubh Beag and Mor – nasty!

I was slightly amused to see two anglers trying their luck and wondered whether they were from the tents which were pitched up not far from the landing stage.

Loch Coruisk Boulders
Distant angler dangling his rod!

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Easier beach walking (Richard’s photos again)
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Rougher walking

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We eventually reached the rockfall we’d seen from across the loch and I took some more photos – you can tell the newly fallen rocks, they’re bright grey instead of weathered brown.

Druim nan Ramh Rockfall closeup

Dubhs Ridge from Rockfall

Looking ahead, we could see a bad shower was on its way – when it hit, it was very heavy indeed and had quite some hail in amongst it.

Stormy Coruisk
Storm Starting (my photos)

I was fascinated to see how shiny and lethal-looking the nearby rocks suddenly became, especially on the side of Sgurr na Stri ahead of us.

Glistening wet rocks

Sgurr na Stri Crags

When it stopped raining we took more photos across the loch in the new ‘glishy’ light – me taking yet more ‘Slabs’ photos!

Dubhs Ridge after storm

Dubhs Ridge Behind Scavaig Crags

And Richard, less obsessed, taking some nice loch and river photos…

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We then set off for a little extension to ‘The Bad Step’ as I wanted to see, and possibly have a go on it…

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Richard’s photo of the start of the path across a low pass under Sgurr na Stri

Now to say the Step is only about quarter of a mile away, we were amazed at how long it took us to get there – about quarter of an hour each way. Put it this way, there was no walking whatsoever once you rounded the corner – just clambering and scrambling.

Bad Step from Nasty Slab Crossing
The Bad Step is across the Shiny Slabs ahead (my photo) – it’s the crack running up and then down just above the dry-looking section low down on the rock

We met a couple coming the other way from it and checked that what I was looking at was the Step – they confirmed it was. I expressed concern about the slabs we’d just seen them crossing and said they looked far worse. They didn’t think so and said we’d soon find a river descending them easily back down to near the shore.

When we set off and I got onto the slabs, I was horrified at the huge, steep slide down the rough rock into the sea if you slipped. The section we had to traverse was wet and potentially slippery and there was a clamber onto a shelf above to start which caused me to dither for a while. Richard eventually told me to get on with it and I smeared my way across until I thankfully found the river descent which was very wet but much safer.

Nasty Slab Crossing
My photo after the really nasty bit and approaching the descent river

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Richard’s photo of me descending the river

At the foot of the slabs we were confronted with ground with essentially no floor and just massive boulders to clamber across. There were, of course, huge crevasses between them awaiting the careless and progress was impossible without much use of hands.

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A bit rocky now (Richard’s photos)
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We eventually clambered to the foot of The Bad Step where I was so quick going up onto the crux of it to try it out, Richard almost missed the act with his camera.

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I still maintain the step is easier than the preceding slabs as it was sheer below you – if you fell off, you wouldn’t scrape anywhere, you’d just make a nice, resounding splash into the deep sea – far preferable in my book to multiple lacerations! It’s only a very short swim back round and I think it would be quite funny…

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Heading back

We then hurried off back for the stepping stones and the boat. We didn’t realise there were two sets of stepping stones – the second were okay but the first were largely underwater and took a lot more balancing. Richard, of course, had his walking pole but I didn’t.

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Richard’s photo of the stepping stones – the pass from Glen Sligachan over Druim na Haim in the background

I spent the last ten minutes mooching around taking photos…

Loch Scavaig Outflow
River Scavaig outflow

Landing Bay
Loch Scavaig with the Mad Burn (above) and looking moody (below)
Stormy Loch Scavaig

We then had a quick visit to the Coruisk Hut (my photos again)

Coruisk Hut

Yes or No Vote!
Richard querying the forthcoming vote!

The boat then arrived… surprisingly, as it was the last one, carrying another group of tourists. Just as they docked, there was another severe heavy shower with again much hail and they all refused to leave the boat – softies! We all just put our hoods up and stood waiting until they deigned to get off and let us on.

I was very pleased we were given hot drinks on the trip back but sad not to be returning on ‘the rod’ as it was by now much bouncier and would have been superb fun.

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Richard’s goodbye shot from the boat…

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18 responses

27 03 2016
Mark Kelly

I’m heading up to Skye May bank holiday with some mates.. for part of the trip we’re spending a night and day around Loch Coruisk. Some are heading up on to the Dubh Slabs and the ridge. I’m figuring out a less climb-y route with a couple of others. the Bad Step looks an option to incorporate πŸ™‚

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27 03 2016
mountaincoward

I think I’m up there with my club around then – staying at Glenbrittle though so don’t think we’ll make it round to do the Dubh Slabs. I’d really like to do them sometime though

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1 04 2016
Mark Kelly

Have a great trip, Carol.. I’m hoping for decent weather for that weekend πŸ™‚

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1 04 2016
mountaincoward

Actually I think I’m the week before – you’re lucky as otherwise you’d have cr*p weather – I’m a bad-weather jinx! Hope you have a good trip….

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5 10 2014
fedup

Sorry missed this one – useful route info as usual – the bad step doesn’t look as ‘bad’ as I imagined – I presume it will be doubly awkward with the dog though!!
Cheers

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6 10 2014
mountaincoward

I’m not sure it will cause the dog many problems – it might cause you a problem if you’re hanging on to the other end of his lead at the time though!

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12 09 2014
McEff

Hiya Carol. You’ve done two things there I’ve always wanted to do but never have. First, walk around Loch Coruisk; second, follow the coast and cross the Bad Step.
I walked to Loch Coruisk from the Sligachan Hotel once on what was probably one of the wettest days of the 1970s, but I was so wet and cold by the time I got there I just turned around and walked back without doing a circuit of the loch.
I like the pictures. And another great report, which made me laugh in places.
All the best, Alen

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16 09 2014
mountaincoward

I still laugh at that photo of Richard with the ‘Yes’ / ‘No’ vote pose πŸ˜‰

I believe the walk to Coruisk though Glen Sligachan is renowned for its wetness and for being very strenuous! I’d still like a stroll down the glen sometime though…
Carol.

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9 09 2014
bob

I was in my 20s when I first walked that route. Still looks the same though. I’ve never “Done the Dubhs” yet so I think I’ve missed my window of opportunity now. Great selection of photographs.

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16 09 2014
mountaincoward

I have to say I have a niggling to go and try the Dubhs but, as usual, I’d need a guide. I believe there’s at least one abseil involved off Beag…
Carol.

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8 09 2014
smackedpentax

Superb post Carol. I love the pics…no wonder you are always in Scotland

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8 09 2014
mountaincoward

I’m hoping they’ll still let us come if they vote Yes!

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7 09 2014
Gaffr

I have been a couple of times ‘doing the doo’s’ with a forty year gap between the visits…..different starting place for the slabs each time. Looks all much more inviting when the sun is shining! Getting off Sgurr Dubh Beag was by abseil both times so a rope is useful. First time was a walk in from the Elgol road after arriving in the post bus and then via Camasunary and the ‘step’ to spend a week in the sanctuary.

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7 09 2014
mountaincoward

Did you do them alone? That’s why I was thinking of a guide as otherwise I’ll be on my own and don’t own a rope at the moment.

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7 09 2014
Paul Sammonds

Must be nearly ten years since I walked out to camp at Loch Coruisk, your post has got me itching to get back.
One of the many fine memories I have of the trip was when walking along the ridge dropping from Sgurr nan Eag a walker coming the other way enquired if I was “doing the doo’s”. It took a while to realise he was asking if I was “doing the Dubhs'” as in Sgurr Dubh Mor and Sgurr Dubh Beag, I eventually replied that I was.
Quite fancy a trip out by boat when I do eventually get back.

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7 09 2014
mountaincoward

I think it looks really tough getting onto the ridge from the Coruisk side. I must admit though, that I do have a secret hankering to try the Dubhs Ridge – would have to be with a guide I think though – looks quite nasty getting off Sgurr Dubh Beag!
Carol.

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16 09 2014
Paul Sammonds

I walked around the coast from Coruisk passing under the mad burn to then take a rising traverse onto the start of the ridge and over Gars-bheinn. I did an out and back to Sgurr Dubh Mor with a bit of scrambling before continuing to the bealach to the west and dropping into Coire an Lochain. From the loch it was a bit tricky negotiating the slabs toward the west end of Loch Coruisk. There were some cairns to mark the way but would have been difficult if the slabs had been wet. Would quite like to climb onto the ridge via the complete Dubh ridge, looks to be very ‘interesting’.

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16 09 2014
mountaincoward

I have to admit I’m really tempted by the Dubhs Ridge, even though it’s way out of my league. There’s just something about it… πŸ˜‰

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