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BRITAIN’S BEST-SELLING HILLWALKING MAGAZINE

LIVE FOR THE OUTDOORS

MAY 2012

R

EST EVER en who The m nearly bagged it first

H E A ETZ OFF DTO L ER! RCH p40

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3 PEAKS COLLECTOR’S EDITION

10 ROUTES TO

MAY 2012 £3.99

SNOWDON THE TOP!

The ULTIMATE guide to Wales’ highest mountain

DO IT!

the one which absolutely doesn’t advocate the smoking of pipes at high altitude. Even if you’re British, dammit

LAKE DISTRICT

Thrills on Sharp Edge + 7 scariest UK ridges

GEAR TESTS

13

3-season boots HILLWALKS Multi-activity Navigation Routes footwear Expert skills that Brecon Beacons + MAPS Sleep mats really could save Scotland Lake District

your bacon: p57 + Walk the Cuillin Ridge!


OUT THERE Been there, climbed that? Send us a picture! Liathach Torridon Stuart, on a well-deserved jelly bean stop prior to tackling the Am Fasarinen Pinnacles. His brother Craig, whose picture shows the Liathach ridge leading up to Mullach an Rathain in the background, says: “We had just scaled the 3,456ft Munro of Spidean a’ Choire Leith and this photo was taken on our way to bagging Mullach an Rathain. It’s an adventure we will both never forget and my legs feel like jelly again thinking of those pinnacles !”

4 TRAIL MAY 2012


Send us your shots, share your adventures

Email your photos to us, along with a description of what was special about your day, and we’ll publish the most inspiring examples! Put ‘Out There’ in the subject box, and send them to trail@bauermedia.co.uk

MAY 2012 TRAIL 5


CONTENTS OUT THERE SKILLS 14

Ask Trail

Meet the porters who made mountain history

p42

16

ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY

Sharp Edge: arguably Blencathra’s best bit. TOM BAILEY

8 TRAIL MAY 2012

64

Energy bars worth buying; spotting cloud inversions; mapping for Macs PLUS! Why you shouldn’t necessarily bin old walking boots

Skye’s Am Basteir: mind, it’ll have your eye out

p72

What’s Welsh, and even bigger than Tom Jones? See page 20.

Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a grizzled old pro, our collectable three-part expert-led series is for you

All 283 Munros, as you’ve never seen ’em before

Dream peak

RT TW

TOM BAILEY

Unsung heroes

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12

A

ADVENTURES

N

Munros mapped

Master Navigation! 57

I G AT IO

10

How you can help our beloved mountain huts

V

P

Bothies on the mend

NA

Where this month’s issue will take you...

THE THREE PEAKS • PART 1

YOUR TRAIL

3 Peaks: Snowdon

20

Sharp Edge

42

The world of hillwalking – according to you lot

Does Blencathra’s arête bring a tingle or terror?

Petzl headtorch offer! 40

7 more scary ridges...

50

Trail talk

18

Subscribe NOW to get a Petzl Tikkina2 headtorch

Why we love...

162

...that prince among Scottish valleys: Glen Coe

The ultimate guide to Wales’ highest mountain

Mighty edges to test your hillwalking mettle

Everest: race to the top 72 The men who nearly bagged it first...


p98

Multi-activity footwear, put through its paces.

GEAR 82

Gear news

The must-have kit that’s coming soon

Montane Medusa 32 84 Their clothing is great, but a rucksack...?

3-season boots

86

The hillwalker’s staple footwear, tested

Multi-activity shoes 98

Want fast and light hill days? Try these for size

Sleeping mats

110

Stay warm and comfy when camping out

p110

p86

ROUTES Mid Wales

125

NW Highlands

127

Lake District

129

Route 1 Cwm Hengwm Go wild camping in a revered and historic valley Route 2 Beinn a’ Chapuill Spend the night in a timeless Scottish landscape Route 3 Borrowdale Visit the legendary Millican Dalton’s cave

Devon

131

Lake District

133

Route 4 North Devon cliffs Break a coast path walk with a beach bivvy

Route 5 Bowfell Links Scramble to a lofty summit, then kip in a yurt!

West Highlands

135

Route 6 Sgurr an Utha Walk then bed down in Glenfinnan Sleeping Car

Hawes

Route 7 Semer Water Route 8 Dodd Fell Route 9 Round Hill

139

Choose your perfect base, walk for three days! This issue’s first Ultimate Weekend gives you a trio of routes from a pretty North Yorkshire village

Bala

145

Isle of Skye

151

Route 10 Aran Fawddwy Route 11 Moel y Garnedd Route 12 Arenig Fawr Fancy a long weekend in Snowdonia? Why not head for this cracking Welsh lakeside base, which has the Arans and the Arenigs within easy reach

Route 13 Bruach na Frithe Our Classic Route takes you to an intimate spot that reveals ‘simply breathtaking views’ of The Cuillin – the nearest thing we have to the Alps

Classic Route

with 3D maps MAY 2012 TRAIL 9


OUT THERE

Am Basteir and Sgurr na Gillean at dusk. Worth the trouble? Oh, yes... ALAN GORDON/MOUNTAIN IMAGES

16 TRAIL MAY 2012


DREAM PEAK

AM BASTEIR SKYE

Dream peaks don’t come much dreamier than the studs amid the contours of the Cuillin Ridge, nailed to and marooned on the Isle of Skye like snappy, rabid hyenas. Resplendent with medieval names and terrifying silhouettes, people will tell you they are entirely too uncivilised for walkers, the Cuillin. The realm of climbers alone, they’ll say. But they’d be wrong. Hillwalkers can do far more than gawp at the ridge – they can access the best bit of it on a trail of staggering quality that gets you into the teeth of this magnificent mountain range good and proper. And the best news? May’s the best month to do it, and everything you need is in this issue.

DO IT! ›› TURN TO PAGE 151 MAY 2012 TRAIL 17


Where? Snowdon, north Wales What? The Three Peaks part 1

The staggering view of Snowdon up Cwm Llan. The weather might not always be this good... but the mountain will be.


SNOWDONIA, WALES HEIGHT 1085m SUMMIT SH 60989 54379

THE THREE PEAKS • PART 1

SNOWDON

In the first of three specials celebrating Britain’s three peaks – the highest summits in England, Scotland and Wales – Trail presents the ultimate walker’s guide to a Welsh icon.

MAY 2012 TRAIL 21


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Where? Blencathra What? Tackling Sharp Edge

TINGLE OR TERROR? The Lake District has dozens of lip-licking mountain ridges – but is Sharp Edge the one that rules them all?

WORDS HANNA LINDON PHOTOGRAPHS TOM BAILEY

42 TRAIL MAY 2012


Dare you ridge it? Blencathra’s Sharp Edge disappears into the clouds.

MAY 2012 TRAIL 43


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Navigate better now!

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Once you’ve established yourself with map and compass, it is time to start advancing your skills to help you pinpoint your own location and move through challenging terrain…

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TRAIL SKILLS

OUTDOOR ADVICE FROM OUR HILLWALKING EXPERTS

RT TW

YOUR NAVIGATION MASTER Lyle Brotherton (far left) is one of the world’s leading navigation experts. The author of The Ultimate Navigation Manual, pb Collins, he trains Search & Rescue teams plus Special Forces across the world. He is also a member of a Scottish Mountain Rescue Team. Read more about Lyle at www.micronavigation.org

T EC H N I Q U E 1

GRID REFERENCING The National Grid – and why 8 figure grid references could save your life By knowing a grid reference you can locate a place on a map and travel to or from it, and accurately describe it to others, possibly for a rendezvous or to let the emergency services know exactly where you are if you are in trouble. One of the best techniques you can learn is the ability to give your position correctly – and should you ever need to call Mountain Rescue, it’s the skill that will get help to you the fastest.

A

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NT

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Using the Ordnance Survey National Grid reference system, we can describe any location in Great Britain and its outlying islands, including the Isle of Man. The Irish grid reference system is a similar system which covers Ireland. They are an arrangement of squares that are subdivided into progressively smaller squares identified first by letters, then by numbers.

O T

NF NG NH Inverness NJ NK

NT

This square measures 100 x 100km...

Edinburgh

NQ NR NS NT NU NV NW NX NY NZ

9

9

8

8

7

7

6 5 4 3 2

NT

1 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

58 TRAIL MAY 2012

‘Name the house, walk in and go up the stairs.’

NA NB NC ND NE

NL NM NN NO NP

S

To give a grid reference you first state the letters, then the easting (blue vertical lines) and finally the northing (blue horizontal lines). An easy way to remember this is:

NT 58 87 is a four figure grid reference that puts us inside a square measuring 1km x 1km, which is a large area. Luckily all Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 maps have grid lines that are 1km apart, and we can calculate where inside these squares we are to be more precise.

6

NT5 8

5

NT5887

4

Imagine this is 3 divided into a 2 hundred 10 x 1 10km squares... 0

...which is then further divided into a hundred 1 x 1km squares. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


© CROWN COPYRIGHT IN ASSOCIATION WITH BAUER’S MEDIA LICENCE NO. AM105/09

MASTERCLASS MASTER NAVIGATION MASTER NAVIGATION

Read your map’s National Grid reference - NC

EASTINGS: Locate first VERTICAL grid line to LEFT of point and read LARGE figures - NC 86

The third Easting figure is below your square NC 865

NORTHINGS: Locate first HORIZONTAL grid line BELOW the point and read LARGE figures NC 865 62

The third Northing figure is left of your square NC 865 624

The grey vertical lines split the 6 figure square in half = 5/10ths

The grey horizontal lines split the 6 figure square in half = 5/10ths

4th FIGURE FOR EASTINGS: Using the vertical grey lines for reference you can estimate the Eastings’ 4th figure NC 8657 624

4th FIGURE FOR NORTHINGS: Using the horizontal grey lines for reference you can estimate the Northings’ 4th figure - NC 8657 6243

The importance of 8 figures Using the roamer on our compass we can give a six figure grid reference that puts us inside a square measuring 100m x 100m, as shown in the first diagram on the right. Something it’s easy to forget is that this six figure grid reference only puts you inside an area equivalent to 1.4 Wembley-sized football pitches. At night, in the dark, on complex terrain, that’s a big area – a margin of error that may place you either on a ridge or in the adjacent valley. Better still is to use a grid reference tool to give an eight figure grid reference (10m x 10m), which is an area less than the centre circle on the pitch at Wembley. Lyle says “This has become a big crusade of mine. Most Mountain Rescue teams are now adopting eight figure grid refs. Think about it: even a casual walker crossing any of the ridges in the Lake District using a six figure grid reference would probably not be on the ridge! I invented a tool for this reason – plus it eliminates the errors easily made with a compass.”

l?

Six figure area (in blue) 100 x 100m

Eight figure area (in blue) 10 x 10m

rid

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cin usive n e er se excl ay! f e r e w

ea f th h o to giv ation s a g s st FR a huge ing tool m/navi a . .co as nt ls.. enc Wa Trail hid refer ww.lftoll detai gr sit w for fu Vi

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Where? Mt Everest What? The nearly men

72 TRAIL MAY 2012


The team that might have triumphed: Evans and Bourdillon, battered and beaten on the South Col.

THE RACE TO BE FIRST In 1953 Hillary and Tenzing grabbed the headlines, but they weren’t the only mountaineers attempting to summit Everest. Here Trail reveals the heroism, the heartache and the headstrong grit behind the men history so narrowly overlooked. WORDS DAN ASPEL

ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY

N

ext year marks the 60th anniversary of the conquest of Everest. The papers will celebrate Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay. You’ll see the famous image of the Sherpa, ice axe and flags aloft, and encased in an oxygen mask. You’ll hear the figures 29,002ft and 11.30am repeated across the media on and around 29 May. Google will probably design a commemorative ‘doodle’. There the story will end. You’re unlikely to read about re-breathers and south summits. There will be few mentions of Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans. You certainly won’t hear about Hamish MacInnes. Yet Bourdillon and Evans very nearly summited first. Both English by birth, they were the core of the British team which included Hillary and Tenzing, and made the first assault on the unclimbed summit. They could have relegated the New Zealander and the Nepali to obscurity. Conditions and technology held them back, but their gripping story remains a seldom-told segment of Himalayan adventure. As for Hamish MacInnes, his brazen attempt to climb the

mountain without money, support or even permission kick-started a new age of high mountain privateers and formed the blueprint for a generation of audacious British climbers.

The background

In 1953 the Brits meant business. It was 22 years since George Mallory had scouted the mountain’s northern approach, and still no flag had been planted on the summit. The mountain had claimed the trailblazing Mallory’s life in 1924, while the two vast expeditions of the Thirties headed by Hugh Ruttledge had also come back empty-handed. By now the sands around the world’s tallest mountain were beginning to shift, and the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet had reshaped the anatomy of any approach. The logical northern route used by all preceding expeditions was now out of bounds. Instead, the south approach via Nepal was becoming politically viable. In 1951, cool-tempered Eric Shipton was dispatched on a reconnaissance to scout out possible routes. After negotiating the various threats of the Khumbu icefall, he reported back that a southern path via Nepal was a practicable reality. MAY 2012 TRAIL 73 53


GROUP TEST Whether you’re sticking to paths or tackling rockier terrain, 3-season boots will see you right.

WHAT WE TESTED Alt-Berg Asolo AKU Lomer Meindl Salomon Boreal TNF

MALHAM £160 TRIBE GV £160 LEROSA PRO GTX £160 TIBET STX £160 KANSAS GTX £160 COSMIC 4D GTX £170 ZANSKAR £170 VERBERA BACKPACKER GTX £170

86 TRAIL MAY 2012


3-SEASON BOOTS

£160-170

3-season boots With the right 3-season boots you can tackle the UK’s hills and mountains, and even enjoy trekking abroad. Here are eight pairs priced between £160 and £170. TEST AND STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHS GRAHAM THOMPSON OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHS TOM BAILEY

MAY 2012 TRAIL 87


GROUP TEST For fast and light action on the hill, you might find multiactivity shoes do the job.

WHAT WE TESTED Lomer SELLA MTX Mammut SHAVANO Meindl JAMAICA Teva SKY LAKE EVENT Brasher HURRICANE GTX inov-8 TERRAFLY 277 Patagonia DRIFTER A/C TNF HEDGEHOG GTX XCR III 98 TRAIL MAY 2012

£90 £90 £90 £90 £100 £100 £100 £100


MULTI-ACTIVITY SHOES

Multi-activity shoes Want to make the switch from using boots to shoes on the hill? Read this test before you take the next step‌ TEST PHOEBE SMITH PHOTOGRAPHS TOM BAILEY

MAY 2012 TRAIL 99


Invergarry

Mallaig

Braemar

Fort William

ULL

Oban

Always take a map on the hill

19.3km/12 miles

ULTIMATE WEEKEND

10 TRAIL ROUTE SNOWDONIA

JURA

Glasgow

Edinburgh

Berwick-upon-Tweed

ISLE OF ARRAN

Ayr

Ballantrae

Jedburgh

Dumfries

Newton Stewart Stranraer

FACTS

st

Newcastle -upon-Tyne

Carlisle Penrith

Keswick

Kendal

Aran Fawddwy Middlesbrough

Northallerton

Windermere STRENUOUSNESS ■ ■ ■ ■■ NAVIGATION ■ ■ ■ ■■Ingleton Bentham TECHNICALITY ■ ■ ■■ ■ Lancaster Skipton TRAIL 1OO COUNT 1 Leeds

York

SH879297 From the station or the bus stop, Conway locate the bridge over the Afon Sheffield Bodelwyddan Twrch and go over a stile on Betws-y-Coed the west side of it. This leads Llangollen onto a broad track that follows Derby Barmouth the river for a few paces before Peterborough Aberystwyth Birminghamswinging right by a building. Continue around sheep Hay-on-Wye Cardigan pasture, passing a house down Brecon Gloucester to the left and a farm drive Distance 19.3km Oxford that leads right. Shortly after Pembroke (12 miles) this, cross a stile on the right, Swansea Total ascentCardiff 1080m Bristol by a fingerpost, and follow a Time 6-7 hours grassy bridleway across a field Minehead Start/finish towards a craggy hilltop. Keep Llanuwchllyn, SH879297 theSouthampton hill to your left and contour Brighton Exeter Poole around to a marker post in a Terrain a mix of rough upland and boggier broad saddle. Bodmin Liverpool Rhyl

© CROWN COPYRIGHT IN ASSOCIATION WITH BAUER’S MEDIA LICENCE NO. AM105/09

Plymouth moorland; long road walk at the end; best in good visibility

Public transport regular buses to Bala from various locations; buses to Llanuwchllyn 0871 200 2233; www. traveline-cymru.info Summer railway service to Llanuwchllyn www.balalake-railway.co.uk Guidebook Mountain and Hillwalking in Snowdonia Vol 2 by Carl Rodgers, pb Mara Books

in association with

To get this route and maps on your phone now, go to www.viewranger.com/trail Route code TRL0236

MILES KILOMETRES

1

1

SH866243 Drop and cross a stile ahead so that fence is back on your left; then continue down on a pebbly path that winds between outcrops but never strays far from the fence. Another stile puts you close to the escarpment edge and a fairly clear

4

SH862223 Retrace your steps to the cairn on the top of Erw y Ddafad-ddu and continue for another 100m or so (not as far as the stile), where you’ll pick up a faint path that leads right down the easy grassy slope. Follow this down into the saddle below and with Creiglyn Dyfi – the source of the Dyfi – to your right, continue up the faint path on the other side to Foel Hafod-fynydd. Keep right when the fence splits and continue to the top.

2

SH868246 Cross the stile by the tarn and follow the fence, now on your left, to another stile. Continue to the top, which is marked by a large cairn. This is a fine viewpoint – perhaps the finest in the whole of Snowdonia – and a few minutes with a map should identify just about all the major mountains of north Wales, from the Berwyns and the Arenigs, to the Carneddau, Tryfan and the Glyderau, the Snowdon Horseshoe,

3 4

6 5

Aran Benllyn

0 0

146 TRAIL MAY 2012

3 4 2 2

Aran Fawddwy

Foel Hafod-fynydd

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6

SH877227 To descend, cross the fence and drop due north to rejoin the lower fence in the shallow saddle beneath the spot height of Braich-yr-hwch. Descend the steep ridge and bear slightly right to locate a rough track leading to the derelict farm at Cwm Ffynnon. Cross the stream and keep ahead through the yard to enter a field with a fence right. Now keep ahead to pass below a wood. Cross the next field diagonally to reach a track. Turn right onto this and follow it to Nant-y-barcut, where you keep right to join the road. Follow this for 2km to the T-junction at Talardd and turn left to return to Llanuwchllyn. A footpath left as you reach the village eases the final minutes.

6

3

2

path follows the fence, passing an impressive-looking cairn that marks the top of the ridge of Erw y Ddafad-ddu; this is a useful marker for your descent route but ignore it for now. Finally the trig point comes into sight to your left and the views are all to the south with the Dovey Hills and Cadair Idris close by and the Tarrens and Pumlumon a bit further away.

5

SH875287 Bear left to follow a faint path upwards towards Aran Benllyn. Climb for a short distance and then drop slightly to cross a boggy plateau. Keep ahead to cross a ladder stile, and climb again, all the time heading straight at the summit of Aran Benllyn. Cross further stiles, keeping ahead the whole time, and then clamber steeply up a red scree gully to another stile. Continue with the fence to your right to a large cairn that marks the northern top, close to Llyn Pen Aran.

Start

1400 1200 METRES 1000 ABOVE 800 SEA 600 LEVEL 400 200

the Nantlle Ridge and Moel Hebog, the Moelwynion, the undulating profile of the Rhinogau, Cadair Idris and the nearby Dovey Hills. Closest of all is impressive top of Aran Fawddwy, which now appears to tower overhead, despite being less than 40 metres above you. This is your next objective.

2

Maps OS Landranger (1:50,000) 125; OS Explorer (1:25,000) OL23; Harvey /BMC British Mountain Map (1:40,000) Southern Snowdonia; Harvey Superwalker (1:25,000) Aran

GRADIENT PROFILE

1

Manchester

views to die for

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Finish

8 10

12

14

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Always take a map on the hill

5km/3 miles

ULTIMATE WEEKEND

SNOWDONIA

Moel y Garnedd

SH913352 Keep ahead, with the buildings to the right, to follow a grassy track ever upwards, eventually emerging onto a boggy sunken section that leads to a gate and out into a field. Keep straight ahead to a marker post and then bear left to another gate that leads onto a track. This leads into the yard of Penlan.

2

short stroll

FACTS

a rough, faint track and as you reach the wall on the far side, bear left to follow faint paths upwards, eventually crossing a small stream beneath a small crag, and clambering up onto the trig point.

STRENUOUSNESS ■■ ■ ■ ■ NAVIGATION ■ ■ ■ ■■ TECHNICALITY ■ ■■ ■ ■ Distance 5km (3 miles) Total ascent 220m

To descend, 4 SH896355 retrace your tracks back past the crag and keep your eyes downhill to try to locate a stile and gate around 100m to the right of the row of trees and bushes that dip into the Gwenwyn-feirch valley. Cross awkward and wet ground to get to this stile and then cross it into a field. Keep straight ahead to a gate

Time 2 hours Start/finish layby on Bala Lake (SH915350) Terrain a mix of clear paths and tracks and a long, trackless section on the top; can be boggy, but low enough to escape the fog most of the time

Moel y Garnedd with Arenig Fawr behind.

Maps OS Landranger (1:50,000) 125; OS Explorer (1:25,000) OL23; Harvey /BMC British Mountain Map (1:40,000) Southern Snowdonia; Harvey Superwalker (1:25,000) Aran

3 4 5

Continue 3 SH911358 through the farmyard and out the other side, then follow the drive to a gate and keep straight ahead as the drive bends right. Continue on

Public transport regular buses to Bala from various locations 0871 200 2233; www. traveline-cymru.info

2 1

From Bala, looking over Bala Lake to Aran Benllyn.

Guidebook Mountain and Hillwalking in Snowdonia Vol 2 by Carl Rodgers, pb Mara Books

at the right-hand edge of the caravan park. Go through this, join the track and bear right to drop to some buildings. With the main hall ahead and a house to your left, turn left to locate a gate between the two, marked by a yellow arrow.

walk down the valley. Go over a stile and into woodland, then continue down through the wood to come out on the drive of Fronfeuno again. Bear right onto this and follow it down to the main road. Turn left to finish.

SH907353 Go through and cross one small field and then the next, and then drop to a gate above a stream. Cross the bridge and clamber up the bank on the other side for a few paces onto easier ground. Now bear right to

in association with

5

GRADIENT GRADIENT PROFILE PROFILE

Start

1400 1200 METRES 1000 ABOVE 800 SEA 600 LEVEL 400 200 MILES KILOMETRES

1 0 0

Moel y Garnedd

2

To get this route and maps on your phone now, go to www.viewranger.com/trail Route code TRL0237

Plas Moel-y-Garnedd

4 4

3

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Finish

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1 1

11

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MAY 2012 TRAIL 147

© CROWN COPYRIGHT IN ASSOCIATION WITH BAUER’S MEDIA LICENCE NO. AM105/09

SH915350 Walk along the pavement and cross just after the Llanycil sign to go through the middle of three gates (small pedestrian gate and cattle grid). Walk up the drive to a post on the right and turn right to follow the blue bridleway arrows to a gate. Go through this and wind up through the woods to eventually come out near Fronfeuno.

1

TRAIL ROUTE


CLASSIC ROUTE

13 TRAIL ROUTE ISLE OF SKYE ‘THE VIEWS DOWN INTO COIRE A’BHASTER AND ON TOWARDS AM BASTEIR AND SGURR NAN GILLEAN ARE SIMPLY BREATHTAKING; INDEED, THEY ARE NOT RIVALLED ANYWHERE ELSE IN BRITAIN.’

154 TRAIL MAY 2012


www.trekmates.co.uk

© STEWART SMITH / ALAMY

On Bruach na Frithe, descending towards Sgurr a’ Fionn Choire, Am Basteir and Sgurr nan Gillean. The path that avoids the scramble over Sgurr a' Fionn Choire is clearly seen on the left-hand flank.

MAY 2012 TRAIL 155

Trail magazine - May 2012  

a sneak peek at the May 2012 issue of Trail magazine - the UK's best selling hillwalking mag! On sale 18.04.12