“ Glenbrittle, Carbost, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA. tel = 01478 640278 „
Ask any climber about the Isle of Skye and he/she'll tell you about the Cuillin (pronounced "coolin"), the arc of mountains in the southern half of Skye, which about 10,000 years ago were volcanoes. The Cuillin is on a par with the Alps - the only difference is the altitude. There's nothing else like it in Britain. Climbers love it. Then ask the climber where the best base for Cuillin activity is. He/she will probably say Glen Brittle, the valley running down the western side of the Cuillin. This side offers better access from the eastern side (Glen Sligachan), with more paths and easier approaches. But since it's the Highlands, and Skye in particular, there's not much else there than the mountains. Glen Brittle is a 10-mile long valley, from Drynoch at the northern end to the water at the south. The only accomodation there is the Sligachan Hotel at the north end, with limited access to the mountains, or the Glen Brittle hamlet down the 9-mile single-track road. Accomodation comes in two flavours - the campsite or the youth hostel. Do you : (a) spend your holiday in a tent, cooking on a portable stove, in the rain, with no central heating; or : (b) spend your holiday in the comfort of a central-heated, double-glazed, fully-equipped youth hostel, kitchen-and-all? We know what we did. Glen Brittle YH sleeps a total of 40 people over 4 dormitories, in the standard youth hostel double bunk beds, pillows and duvets and bedsheets provided. Downstairs, all cooking equipment is provided - hobs, oven, toaster, microwave, fridge (no freezer), plates, bowls, cups, cutlery - everything. All you need to take is food. You can buy small odds and ends from the hostel reception - cereal, tinned meat, drinks, milk (UHT only) and other non-perishable items. The shop at the campsite a mile down the road sells more items like bread, fresh milk (for the first few days of the week, t
hen it's back to UHT) and the usual souvenir items. Both sell local maps and walk guides. Other than those, the nearest supermarkets are at Portree (20 miles away) and Broadford (30 miles away). If you go by car, make sure the tank's well topped up - there's a small fuel pump at Carbost 10 miles away, but that's only open shop hours (ie. not early morning, late night or Sundays). Apart from that, it's another journey to Portree or Broadford to fill up. As you might have guessed by now, Glen Brittle YH is quite remote. That's what's so great about it though - you can go there and relax (unless you're going climbing on the Cuillin of course). Although the Cuillin is mainly a climber's playground, those of us who don't know the ropes can still go there on foot. Some of the peaks can be reached without climbing gear, but be prepared to go back down the way you came up - there's plenty of cliffs waiting to surprise those of us who came up the "easy way". Or, failing that, the huge corries below the cliffs provide not-too-hard walking - pick up one of the leaflets from the YH for some ideas. Or there's the Rubh' an Dunain peninsula (watch out for the archaeologists though, hint hint). Or if you jump into the car, the Trotternish region to the north has the strange rock formations of the Quiraing, or go eastwards for the easier peaks of the Red Cuillin - Blaven is a particular favourite. Just because Glen Brittle's remote, it doesn't mean there's nothing to do. Interesting fact : from some places, you can see South Uist, one of the islands on the Outer Hebrides. Beyond that is the Atlantic Ocean. Three thouand miles beyond that is America. A Gaelic name for the Isle of Skye is "Eilean a'Cheó", which translates to "The Misty Isle". They're dead right, you know. The Hebrides are fairly flat, so the Cuillin bears most of t
he brunt of the Atlantic weather storms. Which means it rains quite a bit. To quote one of the books : "there's no point in sitting out a rain shower on Skye, they can last for weeks". It isn't all doom and gloom though, the isle does get some good weather - May seems to be the best month. And the Cuillin acts as a barrier as well - go eastwards and the weather can brighten up. Another Gaelic name for Skye is "t'Eilean Sgitheanach", which translates as "The Winged Isle". Anyone who's been there will know what it means. Midges. Plenty of them. I can recommend the Mosi-Guard spray, available from the Glen Brittle campsite shop for about £4. The Facts ========= Cost : varies from £8.25 to £8.75 per person per night (see website) Beds : 40 Recommended Map : Harvey's Superwalker - Skye : The Cuillin (available from the hostel shop) Area map : http://www.streetmap.co.uk/streetmap.dll?grid2map?x=140500&y=822500&zoom=4&isp=200 &ism=1000&arrow=y?157,103 How to get there ---------------- The usual approach to Skye is the A87, over the Skye Bridge (£5.70 for cars), then continue to Sligachan. Turn left on the A863. Then left on the B8009, from which Glen Brittle is signposted. Be warned - it's single-track roads from here!