Skye's Black Cuillin ridge south

Munros

Sgurr nan Eag (924m, Munro 265)
Sgurr Dubh Mor (944m, Munro 228)
Sgurr Alasdair (992m, Munro 154)
Sgurr Mhic Choinnich (948m, Munro 217)
Sgurr Dearg 'In-Pinn' (986m, Munro 164)
Sgurr na Banachdich (965m, Munro 190)
Sgurr a'Greadaidh (973m, Munro 185)
Sgurr a'Mhadaidh (918m, Munro 277)

Ascent

2440m (8,000ft)

Distance  

17.5km (11m)

Time

5-12hr*
 *Naismith's rule doesn't apply on Skye's Black Cuillin !


Main route summary


Doing this route as a continuous chain, puts the easier sections at the start and end of the day with the real concentration required in the middle. The trickiest parts are getting onto Sgurr Alasdair from Coire Ghrunnda, getting off Sgurr Thearlaich, approaching Sgurr Mhic Choinnich and of course the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Dearg. Sustained scrambling is the order for most of the day, finishing off with a fine walk alongside the Allt Coire Ghrunnda and its waterfalls.

The Skye Cuillin are technically much harder than anything else in Scotland. These peaks should not be attempted without some prior scrambling experience on the Aonach Eagach, An Teallach or similar. You will need abseilling experience to get off the In Pinn and possibly Sgurr Thearlaich. Although the gabbro rock is grippy, some sections are also very loose and others are well polished, therefore slippy in the wet. Check out the weather forecast, choose your day wisely and you'll have a fantastic time.

The OS Landranger does not show sufficient detail, therefore use of a 1:25000 map is advised. The Harvey's map of the Skye Cuillin is well recommended.

Alternatively, hire us to guide you around the ridge. We offer two different types of experiences - the Skye Munros trip which is done over 4 days, returning to accommodation each day, or the Classic Cuillin Traverse done over 2 days with an overnight bivvi on the ridge.

start/finish Glenbrittle Campsite
(grid ref : NG410225)

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GPS data download GPX file of this route

Google Earth    download KML file of this route

Terrain
easy Grippy rock, tricky scrambling and at least one roped abseil required difficult
Navigation
easy Very difficult in mist and the compass can play tricks testing
Effort
easyA hard day spent concentratinglong day
Scenery
ok Simply amazing stunning
 
meanings Sgurr nan Eag :
  'peak of the notches'
Sgurr Dubh Mor :
  'big black peak'
Sgurr Alasdair :
  'Alexander's peak'
Sgurr Mhic Choinnich :
  'Mackenzie's peak'
Sgurr Dearg :
  'red peak'
Sgurr na Banachdich :
  'peak of smallpox or milkmaid'
Sgurr a'Greadaidh :
  'peak of torment/conflict'
Sgurr a'Mhadaidh :
  'peak of the fox'
main route outlineprint route
Getting there
  • Glenbrittle Campsite sits by a bay at the end of the glen. It is accessed by a narrow, twisting road heading in from Carbost - you won't find any caravans heading down here !

Sgurr nan Eag
  • From the campsite at the end of Glenbrittle, walk through the campsite, past the toilets, over the fence, then up a path. Cross a track that heads south-west, then continue on the path uphill for ½km.
  • A junction is reached, turn right, cross the burn and head west-south-west and on a well constructed path for 1km, then cross the Allt Coire Lagan.
  • Shortly after this burn, the path divides into two, take the left fork which aims higher and gets you into Coire Ghrunnda. The path has been recently extended and carries on into the coire and hits some scree. Over some large boulders then occasional easy scrambles to reach Loch Coir a'Ghrunnda.
  • Cross the outflow and start to walk around the south side of the loch.
  • Just after an inlet with some sand, turn and aim directly up Sgurr na Eag. Apart from some minor easy scrambling, there are no difficulties reaching the large cairn on top of some boulders.

Sgurr Dubh Mor
  • Return for a bit, then get onto the crest of Sgurr na Eag's west ridge. The scambling becomes slightly more technical, but still fairly easy.
  • Approaching Caisteal a'Garbh Coire, the terrain becomes easy, pass this block on the north (right) side and reach a windy bealach.
  • From here, some sustained but easy and enjoyable scrambling will take you up to Sgurr na da Bheinn. Various routes options present themselves, but generally keep just to the Coire Ghrunnda side of the crest.
  • To reach Sgurr Dubh Mor head initially in the direction of the peak (east), but look for a path on loose scree on your left (north). Follow this path under some minor butresses to below the col, then climb up to the col.
  • Cross to the other side of the col, then follow a ledge on your left (see photo). Up some slighlty loose ground to a point of safety, then turn right and scramble up two slabs (tricky if wet) and a gap between rocks to reach the airy crest of the summit.

Sgurr Alasdair
  • Return to Sgurr na da Bheinn the same way, or, if you prefer something slightly harder, stick to the crest.
  • Head north-west, and reach Bealach Coir' an Lochain via boulders and no difficulties.
  • Sticking to the ridge beyond this point involves an abseil into and climb out of the Thearlaich Dubh Gap (or 'TD Gap' as it is affectionately known).
  • The Thearlaich Dubh Gap is however easily avoided by following a faint path below Sgurr Alasdair's south-facing butresses to a small cave (see photo). After reaching the cave, turn right and head over some loose ground below and to the right of the crest to reach the bottom of an awkward looking dark chimney (there are two chimneys, it's the larger one on the right). The scramble up it is not as bad as it looks !
  • Once up out of this chimney continue up with extreme care on exceptionally loose ground to Sgurr Alasdair's summit. This is a fantastic place to stop for a while and take in the views.

Sgurr Mhic Choinnich
  • From Sgurr Alasdair's summit, easy scrambling leads down to the top of the Great Stone Shoot.
  • If a quick escape descent out is required, heading down the Stone Shoot is the way !
  • Next up is Sgurr Thearlaich - from the top of the Shoot, walk south-south-east down on a path on the screes until you see a gap on Sgurr Thearlaich's rock. Clamber up this then scramble directly up to Sgurr Thearlaich's summit.
  • Continue north, down on the crest over a very airy section, then a plateau to a dead end. Either abseil directly down (see right), or head back slightly and look for a loose route right. The latter requires a bit of route finding and careful footwork on the loose rock.
  • Scramble over to Bealach Mhic Choinnich. The direct route to Sgurr Mhic Choinnich is up King's Chimney, however that's a climb !
  • Alternatively (see right), cross the bealach and look for a ledge off left. This is Collie's Ledge, which is exposed but fairly easy and continues around the peak to reach the north side, from where it's an easy scramble, with one slight bad step, to the summit, where there is a small memorial plaque.

Sgurr Dearg and the Inaccessible Pinnacle
  • Return to the top of Collie's Ledge, then continue scrambling down to the top of An Stac Screes. The route is fairly obvious with easy scrambling most of the way.
  • If you've got a good head for heights, you could aim directly up An Stac, however, if you'd like a breather before the exposure on the In-Pinn, just keep to the top of the screes and below the rock of An Stac. Climb up on loose stone and boulders to reach the base of the Inaccessible Pinnacle.
  • You may have to wait a while before it's your turn to start up on the Inaccessible Pinnacle's edge, the most difficult of Munro peaks ! The scramble up is not really that difficult, it's just the exposure that's frightening.
  • The easiest way up is the east ridge - start this near the bottom of the rock (see photo above), then get onto the crest. Scramble directly up to the summit boulder, with only one modertly difficult move on the way.
  • The easiest way down is to abseil off the west side. Plonk yourself onto the safety of Sgurr Dearg and watch the other climbers do what you've just done.

Sgurr na Banachdich
  • From here on the progress becomes gradually more straightforward.
  • Leave Sgurr Dearg and head down easy loose scree to Bealach Coire na Banachdich. To reach Sgurr na Banachdich via fine scrambling, stick to the crest. However, a slightly easier, but less enjoyable route is just off left on some vague sections of path.
  • Higher up the crest narrows and a first top, then the main summit are reached.

Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh
  • Leave Sgurr na Banachdich and head over an obvious route initially north-west, then downhill turning right (north-east) on loose scree. A bit of easy scrambling at the col, with a good view over to Blaven.
  • Scramble directly up to the summit of Sgurr Thomaid, then careful on loose ground on the other side.
  • Keep to the right (south) side of the 3 teeth and reach a col ith some stone circles to shelter out of the wind.
  • Scramble uphill towards Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh, concentration is required as although the scrambling is straightforward, it is relentless to the first top.
  • The main top with its cairn is just a bit further, but there are some tricky moves between these summits.
  • From the first top, keep mainly to the crest, then just before the main summit, drop a bit to the left, contour just below it and come back on it to reach the cairn.

Sgurr a'Mhadaidh
  • Head north from Sgurr a'Ghreadaidh's summit over easy loose ground and go around The Wart - a large black cliff on your right.
  • Easy ground takes you down to a slight difficulty on a dyke, easily overcome with care.
  • Pass an impressive cleft on your left, then keeping more or less to the crest continue down to An Dorus. There is some scrambling here, face the rock and descend down to the col.
  • Cross the col, one little move being required, then head up easy loose ground to Sgurr a'Mhadaidh's small airy summit.

Down to Glenbrittle Youth Hostel
  • Return to An Dorus, then head down on scree into Coire An Doruis. A faint path develops, crosses the burn near where it swings south-west and Coire a'Ghreadaidh is entered.
  • Further down the Allt Coire a'Ghreadaidh needs crossing, but careful as the rock can be slippy.
  • Pick up the recently re-constructed path and follow it down to the youth hostel, stopping to admire the waterfalls on the way.



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