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Sgurr nan Gillean

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There are a handful of mountains in Scotland which possess a classical outline; the Buachaille Etive Mor in Glencoe is one and Sgurr nan Gillean on the Isle of Skye is another. From Sligachan, where most ascents are undertaken from, the view across the moor is one of the most photographed and painted in Scotland.

It says much for the attractiveness of the Cuillins that Gillean was first climbed at the very early time of 1836, by the eminent physicist and geologist Professor James Forbes. He was accompanied - guided really - by a local forester, Duncan MacIntyre.

Forbes soon learned that the rocks of the Cuillin, gabbros, were so rough that it was almost difficult to fall off. The rocks were also quite unapologetic when it came to wearing down skin and clothing! This route up Gillean, whose name probably means Peak of the Gullies, requires a little scrambling near the summit but is otherwise straightforward. The descent route is the same as the ascent.

Begin from the A863 road 200m south west of the Sligachan Hotel. A track leads to a bridge over the Allt Dearg Mor. Continue south across the moor to reach the Allt Dearg Beag and follow its west bank for 500m to another bridge which is crossed.

Continue south up the path and gain Coire Riabhach, below the lowest rocks of Pinnacle Ridge. From the approach, the fine pinnacles on this more difficult ridge are seen end-on. Our approach path continues south and once past Coire Riabhach begins to climb up increasingly rocky ground lying below the east face of Pinnacle Ridge.

Eventually, the south east ridge of Sgurr nan Gillean is reached. Turn right and climb the ridge, with a little scrambling to be enjoyed near the finish, where the ridge narrows before leading to the summit of this very fine Munro.


Maps: OS Sheet 32 'South Skye & Cuillin Hills'
Distance: 12 km
Ascent: 950 m
Time: 6 hours
Food & Drink: The Sligachan Hotel has long been associated with mountaineering in Skye.


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