Sunday, 9 March 2008

A Joy-full Adventure

Fri evening after work I went for a meal with my friend Joy. I don't see enough of Joy. We've known each other for ages. Joy technically was the first person to see me wearing girls clothes! I reminded her of this and we started reminiscing about our Skye Adventure.

It must have been 15 tears or more ago. Joy myself and Peter Bamford (the friend with whom I shared a house) went for a week's holiday to the Isle of Skye. Now Pete was an avid and skillful rock climber. If you had met Joy or myself back then, you would very quickly realise that we were absolutely unsuited to mountains (or even hillocks!). It was supposed to be an exploring holiday so we left Pete to come up with the plans. One day he decided we should trek to the remote Loch Coruisk on the west coast of Skye. It was one of those fabulous bright and sunny Scotland May Days (May is best month up there, on a balance of sun/midges). The walk involved about a 5 mile walk through a well foot-pathed valley called Glenn Sligachan and then a scramble over a dip in the Black Cullins mountain range (The clue is in the word mountain!) The valley walk was fine, and the views stunning, with mountains either side. Then came the mountain "pass". It seemed to go on forever, every time we went over a brow another stretched before. Pete of course took it like a stroll. Joy was a little fitter than me and our party soon stretched over 50 yards. We did finally get to the top. I was shattered. It was at this point that I vowed as an ex Physicist, I would never fight the laws of Newtonian Physics or gravity. If god or whoever has decided that a bodies natural state is at rest, then I for one am happy to go along with that. However all the effort had been worth it. The view from the top will stay with me forever. We looked across the beautiful, stunning loch, to the White Cullins . I have never been quite convinced of the existence that a God or any other supreme being is in control of the random madness of the world. But, at that particular place at that moment in time the I could have been convinced very easily that this couldn't all have been put together by accident. My exhaustion disappeared into the vista before me. With smiles lit up by the sun and enhanced by the fact we were now heading downhill towards the loch. The route down proved to be very hazardous indeed. There was no real path, so we were scrambling over rocks, and sliding down scree. After half an our of effectively descending on my bum we made it. It was absolutely worth it and more. The loch was peaceful and at the same time dramatic.I have also never felt so remote and isolated before. We had passed a couple of walkers on our way, but down here there was no evidence of human existence at all. i loved that. As a born worrier it is nice to be released from that. There was nothing or nobody to worry about. (of course this lack of worry soon worried me!) Anyway we spent an idyllic hour by that loch. I was proud we had made it.

Coruisk from the Cullins, and Our "Green Leggings" Beach
Unfortunately we had to turn to thoughts of getting back. Joy and I started to panic. The route down had been so difficult we didn't think we could make it back up. Pete got out the map. He indicated there was another route. We could follow this footpath around the coast and then back up the original valley. It was significantly longer, but saved "mountaineering". We were happy with this. I t might also be more interesting. Our happiness soon disappeared on the so called "footpath". This was no more a footpath than I was a mountaineer!! We soon found ourselves plastered against a rock face edging as delicately as we could the sea crashing 50 foot below. I may be being slightly melodramatic, but I was scared. Pete of course took it in his stride, but he did help out on the tricky bits. On hindsight (the best of all sights) the fact that this path was called The Bad Step should have been a clue. We survived this baddest of steps, and found ourselves on a tiny beach. I had now developed other problems. All the scrambling and climbing had reduced my cheap Jeans to utter rags. They were literally falling off my arse. I was effectively naked from the waist down. However Joy was at hand. She for some unknown reason had a spare pair of leggings in her rucksack. So that is what I did. I sat on a remote tiny beach on the west coast of Skye and changed into women's green leggings. (I know you were waiting for the dressing bit!) They fitted Ok, apart from being "slightly" baggy round the hips! (sorry Joy). We set off again. My worry now, was that if we got stuck, I would be on the 9 o'clock news being winched into a rescue helicopter in Green Women's Leggings! We eventually made it round the headland to the far end of Glenn Sligachan, at a tiny settlement called Carmanasury.

The Bad Step, and Carmasunary
By now it was late afternoon and light was dusking. We doubted that we could make it all the way back up the Glenn in daylight, and it would be far too dangerous in the dark without torches! So we again looked for another plan (Plan C if your counting). There was a path of a few miles that would get us to the nearest road. This would have to to preferable. We set off again. I was now struggling again, due to my boots being the cheapest I could have bought. The fitted my feet in exactly no places! What I was walking on now was more part blister than foot. I soldiered (or hobbled) on. We made it to the road. It was by then pitch black, and very cold. We were also now about 15 miles away from our car by road. Time for Plan D! We flagged down the first passing car. They were very kind and offered to help us out. There was only room for one so Pete went along with them to fetch our car back. I have this memory of a very cold hour, by the roadside, Joy and I hugging each other for warmth. We eventually got back to our hotel in Portree via a bar at about 11 pm. It had for Joy and me been an amazing day, and as you can tell, 15 years later we can still recall it so vividly.

A View Across Loch Coruisk

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