Blaven (Bla Bheinn)


Blaven, or Blà Bheinn as it’s spelt in Gaelic, actually gets it’s name  from a combination of Old Norse and Gaelic roots. Bla in present day Norwegian means “blue”, but the Old Norse word blá could also refer to the colours blue-black and black.  So it could be the Blue Mountain, or the Black Mountain!  Blue or black, Gaelic or English, with a V or a Bh, whichever way you look at it it’s a corker of a hill!  It’s isolated position means that it really stands out, and many folk consider it to be Skye’s finest mountain, possibly partly because of this unique position. The Strathaird estate, upon which the mountain sits, is now the property of wild land charity the John Muir Trust, but until the mid 1990s it belonged to rock star Ian Anderson of the band Jethro Tull.

Blaven is one of the most accessible Munros (mountains over 3000 feet) on Skye. Not only because it has a relatively straightforward route to the summit, but also because this route has a short approach. So it’s possible for a fit hillwalker to be up and down in just a few hours from the side of Loch Slapin, via the Allt na Dunachie, into the corrie of Coire Uaigneich and then up the stony east flank .   it’s possible to incorporate a few sections of mild scrambling to add spice to the ascent .  Although the views are continuously interesting on the ascent, and always changing, it’s not until one reaches the summit that the true splendour of the vista is revealed. Blaven’s isolated position standing head and shoulders above it’s near neighbours gives a a true 360 degree panorama of astonishing beauty, and offers a grandstand seat for viewing the main massif of the Black Cuillin to the west. We often make an ascent of Blaven on our  Walking with a Camera and Classic Walking programmes.

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Of course it’s possible to make  good walking circuits that do more than just visit the summit and return the same way. The mountain has two summits of roughly equal height, only a short distance apart. Blaven’s slightly lower south summit is reached from the high point by a short scramble across a gap and along a ledge before clambering up the summit rocks. It’s all easy enough, but it can be quite intimidating for some people, and in colder conditions ice can lie on the ledges that form the easiest route, making things a little bit more tricky. Crossing to the south summit does allow you to vary the route of descent, heading down the South East Flank  before rejoining the outward path at the head of Coire Uaigneich.

Another worthwhile route for walkers is to take in the long south ridge which rises from the shore of Loch Scavaig at Camasunary. Once again, easy scrambling can be sought out to enliven the ascent, and superb views over to the islands of Rum, Eigg and Canna can be enjoyed

The Blaven- Cach Glas Traverse

For those who seek a more adventurous day out, negotiating the crest of Blaven’s outliers en route to the summit gives a superb mountaineering day. This route can be a good warm up for those thinking of attempting the much longer traverse of the main Cuillin Ridge which lies to the west. Normally this route is attempted from north to south, taking in the “Matterhorn of Skye”, the lowly Cach Glas before continuing by  a direct assault on the parent mountain’s north face.  This route, although a very enjoyable Skye classic, should not to be underestimated as it is exposed and committing with much tricky scrambling and sections of rock climbing up to “Difficult” grade. Bear in mind that a Diff pitch here is very different from a beginner’s route on your local crag or climbing wall, and calls for careful route finding and judgement of the conditions as well as sound mountaineering climbing experience!  We often include this route on our Skye – Ridges and Scrambles programme.

  1. Mike Reply

    Is it possible to descend from the north summit of blaven down to the saddle between clach glas and blaven then north west down the gullies back to glen sligachan?

    • Ian Reply

      The route from the main summit to the col is one of the more challenging parts of the Blaven Cach Glas traverse. It involves rock climbing graded Difficult, which would need to be done in descent. Check out the SMC Skye Scrambles guide for detailed route info.

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