Bagging Bla Bheinn

By Colin Hogarth

Bla Bheinn has long been one of my favourite mountains - mainly because it's one of the few Munros on the Isle of Skye that is easy to ascend.

The 928 metre high peak sits in glorious isolation from the more famous Black Cuillin ridge, but is considered by many to be the island's finest top. Huge slabs of gabbro rock, slashed with deep gullies and precipices, rise steeply from the tree-lined shores of Loch Slapin and the summit offers spectacular views over the neighbouring mountains.

There are several routes to the top, but the most enjoyable for hillwalkers is from the head of Loch Slapin. After the road in from Broadford passes through Torrin, it loops round the head of the loch and turns south to a small parking area by the northern edge of a forest on the right. A path strikes up the north bank of the Allt na Dunaiche, rising steadily past a wooded gorge before climbing over open moorland into Coire Uaigneich. In past years, walkers would have experienced a fairly eroded, muddy route here, but much work has now been done by the John Muir Trust to repair the damage and upgrade the path.

The way crosses to the south side of the burn below the coire and starts to climb more steeply. Another bubbling burn is breached higher up and the way continues to climb between the rocky buttresses of Bla Bheinn on the right and craggy An Stac to the left. The path climbs over scree on to the southern ridge of the mountain, zig-zagging to gain height with relative ease. When you emerge on to the shoulder, turn right and continue up. The ridge narrows until you reach the peak's southern top.

From here there's a short, steep drop into the col which requires a little easy scrambling. On the otherside of the scree-strewn gully, climb out to reach the summit, marked by a cairn and a cylindrical trig point. The west face of Bla Bheinn plunges down into Strath na Creitheach and there are truly stunning views down to Glen Sligachan and over to the jagged peaks of the Cuillin.

The easiest descent is by the same route. However, for a bit of excitement another option is to scramble south west down the gully between the south and north tops. It drops steeply, over loose scree but if you've some experience of such terrain, it presents no major problems. The gully bottoms out at the path which is then followed back down to the start.


Distance 5 miles/8km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 32.
Start/parking Parking area on A881 a mile and a half west of Torrin. Space for several cars.
Grading A straightforward ascent suitable for experienced hillwalkers with the option of some easy scrambling. Considerably more demanding in winter, though.