Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Stuc a' Chroin and Ben Vorich

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Saturday 23 May - Ben Lee (Marilyn)

Sligachan camp site was a busy, bleak, windy place and happy smiling campers were in short supply. The Cuillin had more or less disappeared smothered in the ever thickening clag; rain threatened and Ben Lee didn't look a particularly inviting prospect.

Not far from the camp site a young couple were returning along the boggy, skittery path their faces a picture of utter misery. Skye magic wasn't working for them, at least not today.

We crossed a burn, me taking a route that ensured wet feet, Lynne sensibly crossing dry-shod a few metres away. The path on Loch Sligachan's north shore improves beyond the Allt an t-Sithein but here we took to the hillside, realising after twenty minutes that we were on the wrong side of the burn for the best route up. Now the Allt was out of sight and well below us in its deep gorge, seemingly impossible to reach let alone cross. Was it going to be 'one of those days'? A quick descent brought us back to the obvious crossing place which we'd ignored a short time before and soon we were on our way up again.

Glamaig looked superb across the loch, a sharp peak thrusting skyward. Our little Ben Lee seemed very ordinary by comparison, an impression which would prove as unfounded as the forecast of heavy rain.

As many of you will know, Ben Lee, only 444m, is famous. In 1882 Lord Macdonald tried to remove the right of the crofters of Braes (Peinchorran, Balmeanach and Gedintailor) to use the common grazings on Ben Lee, but the crofters went ahead and grazed their stock anyway. Some refused to pay rent to Lord Macdonald until their grazing rights were restored so a sheriff's officer from Portree was sent to issue an eviction order. The crofters forced the officer to burn the document. To quell this uprising fifty policemen from Glasgow were despatched to force eviction but they were met by a hundred men, women and children armed with sticks and stones. What followed became known as the Battle of the Braes.

The government set up a commission of enquiry (The Napier Commission) and in 1885 the Crofters Act was passed giving crofters security of tenure and various other rights. A cairn on the road to Peinchorran commemorates the battle:

"Near this cairn, on the 19 April 1882 ended the battle fought by the people of Braes on behalf of the crofters of Gaeldom"

That, in brief, is the story.

We had previously toyed with the idea of descending to see the cairn and returning to Sligachan via the path but decided to leave the visit for another day.

The summit gave a real sense of spaciousness and, appropriately, sheep grazed nearby. On a good day the views would be very fine and even today they weren't bad. Below we witnessed that most west highland of scenes: a ferry making its way to an island, in this case, Raasay. Southwards to Glen Sligachan, Marsco was all but clear of cloud and even snow patches in Coire a' Bhasteir were visible as the cloud started to lift, temporarily as it turned out. To the north though, all was murk. A few photos, then we departed, our mission to find shelter for lunch.

There was no respite from the wind, the open ground allowing it free play. Eventually we found a hollow by the Eas Ruadh where we spent a quiet forty minutes or so. An impressive gorge lay further upstream.

Nearly down and as we re-crossed the Allt an t-Sithein we heard then saw an ambulance; then another arrived at Sligachan. Traffic from all directions ground to a halt and we resigned ourselves to a long wait before we could escape the Sligachan car park. Sooner than expected, things began to stir and as we crossed the bridge we could see a completely wrecked motorbike and damaged helmets. We couldn't imagine anyone surviving. Hope we were wrong.

Rain arrived as we rolled onto the camp site. Our timing had been, for once, perfect.


The photographs are from the BlackBerry. I may try posting using BlogPress in the future and thus be able to use pics from the Sony RX100. However, Highland Wi-Fi might not allow such big files to be uploaded. We'll see.

Sent from my BlackBerry®


Phreerunner said...

The photos are fine Gibson. My first rule of mobile blogging is 'keep it simple'. Blogger contrives to throw enough unforeseen complications without you adding your own!
Enjoy Skye - I wonder whether you will bump into Alan and Sheila.

afootinthehills said...

I wasn't aware Alan and Sheila were up here. It's busy but we will keep our eyes open for them, though we are not actually based on Skye at present.