Come with me on a tumble from the dark jagged peaks of Bla Bheinn (Blaven) down to the soft grassy shores of Loch Slapin, on the far south west of the Isle of Skye. Sheets of dolerite encased in gabbro, speckled with basalt dykes create a distinctly dramatic Munroe. The stone itself confuses compasses, the mountains way of keeping us awake. You need to be good at reading the sun and a map when you cross these rocks which lie on the very east of the Coullin. As sharp as razors these peaks can create their own weather, wrapping clouds into swirling rain in the blink of an eye, before parting into glorious sun.
The Blue Mountain chisels through the land, offering drama and crumbling rocks. From the wind whipped peaks, pieces crack and tumble down towards the lower slopes. This rock dust is highly fertile, and where it gathers in gullies and cracks, nature flourishes vibrant and green.
Bog Myrtle, Heather and Bog Cotton clothe the less sharp slopes, as we tumble down over the high pastures of the loch side. Sun drenched and rain drenched a carpet of plants has taken root here for millennia, in the shadow of the high rocks.
Hidden in the cracks, crystal clear water tumbles from high mountain springs. Gathering volume and losing speed it pours over water smoothed boulders, singing tales of heroes and beautiful princesses. The trees cluster over the stream whispering secrets and stories of what has passed beneath their boughs. The wind softens and the earth throws tender ferns and leaves skywards, in this hushed glen.
Soft lichen and moss gathers in the stillness, filling the trees with soft green clouds, perfect for lining nests. The trees are full to bursting with a choir of Gaelic birds, and the soft magic of the low slopes soothes away any cares.
Here in the moss filled woods trees have stood for longer than even our ancestors memories. Cloaked in softness you might come to rest for a while beneath the wise trees of Bla Bheinn, and it would not be time wasted.
For those who like facts, Blaven’s Gaelic name is Blà Bheinn, the ‘bh’ representing the letter ‘v’ which is not present in the Gaelic alphabet. The meaning of the name is confused and variously documented as ‘blue mountain’, ‘warm mountain’, ‘sunny mountain’, ‘mount of the blast’ or ‘hill of bloom’, but the locals all call it the blue mountain.
Blaven is one of the Isle of Skye’s twelve Munros – a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet (914.4m) in height – and is the east most peak of the Black Cuillin. Separated from the main Cuillin range by Glen Sligachan, it is the highest of the surrounding mountains at 928m (3,044 feet). Just so you know, you should always refer to ‘The Cuillin’ (singular) and never ‘The Cuillins.’