Sgurr na Banachdaich is a 965m mountain on the Cuillin Ridge, the most dramatic, precipitous, technically difficult range of mountains in Scotland. Along its 12km length there are 11 prominent mountains (munros) and a further 26 separate peaks. Almost all involve scrambling on steep and exposed terrain to reach their summits.
Sgurr na Banachdaich, peak of the milkmaid or smallpox peak, is exactly halfway along the ridge and is perhaps the easiest mountain on ridge to do and a great introduction to the Cuillin.
This Friday, me and Shree – a client from Chicago – headed up from the Glen Brittle Youth Hostel, ascending via good path by a mountain stream called Allt a’ Choire Ghreadaidh. It was a warm sunny day with little wind and the beautiful clear pools in the stream looked very enticing. I spotted a bathtub shaped pool that would be great for a cooling dip on the way down.
After ascending for a bit along the path by Allt a’ Choire Ghreadaidh we took a faint path away from the stream that heads up – along easy slopes – to Coir an Eich (see photo above) which is grassy and pleasant with lots of wild flowers.
Among the flowers we saw were Roseroot, Lousewort, Milkwort, Wild Thyme, Thirft, Starry Saxifrage, Cheekweed, Tormintil, Sweet Violets, Alpine Lady’s Mantle and lots of Common Spotted Orchid.
Starry Saxifrage Saxifrage stellaris
Thirft Armeria maritima
Roseroot Sedum rosea
From Coir’ na Eich we followed the path up through the middle of the Choire. Here, although the slope wasn’t too steep, we encountered quite a lot of loose rock and scree – fairly typical for an ascent of a Skye munro – but nonetheless a little tricky. These slopes presented perhaps the hardest part of the hike.
Above Coir’ na Eich the rest of the ascent to Sgurr na Banachdaich was on gently angled rocky slopes with no technical difficulties. Fantastic views of the Cuillin ridge presented themselves; first to the north: the pyramid shaped Sgurr Thormaid, the narrow arête of Sgurr a’ Ghreadaidh and the complex multi-peaked Sgurr a’Mhadaidh; and to the south: Sgurr Dearg and the Inn Pinn, Sgurr Alasdair and Sgurr Thearlaich with the Great stone shoot in between and off to the east side of ridge the Dubhs.
The exposure at the summit of Sgurr a Banachdaich, particularly on the eastern Loch Coruisk side was awesome. This didn’t put Shree off however, on this her first Scottish munro. With good deal of style she did a difficult one legged yoga pose called the Standing Bow-pulling pose.
On the way down we descended via An Diallaid, past the grassy meadows of Coir’ an Eich and back beautiful pools of Allt a’ Choire Ghreadaidh.
I found my bathtub shaped pool and took great delight in cooling off in the crystal clear water. A pretty great way to end the day.