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Blaven

Blaven (pronounced Blah-ven) is on the south east of the Isle of Skye which is itself off the west coast of Scotland.

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The classic view of Blaven from the west bank of Loch Slapin actually consists of four mountains. From left to right; An Stac 528m (1,732 feet), Blaven or Blà Bheinn 928m (3,044 feet), Clach Glas 786m (2,579 feet) and Sgurr nan Each 623m (2,044 feet).
The classic view of Blaven from the west bank of Loch Slapin actually consists of four mountains. Click on the photograph for more information.

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.'

Blaven is one of the island'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). Incidentally you should always refer to 'The Cuillin' (singular) and never 'The Cuillins.'

Geologically Blaven consists primarily of gabbro sliced by sheets of dolerite, and in common with other mountains in the Cuillin, basalt dykes. This combination of rock has weathered at different rates giving Blaven its distinctive look. It also causes magnetic variation so be careful when navigating by compass.

A relatively easy four or five hour walk, the views on the way up and from the summit are simply breath-taking.

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Blaven and the reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd.
Blaven and the reeds of Loch Cill Chriosd.

One of the earliest documented ascents of Blaven took place in 1857 when Professor Nicol and controversial Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, then aged 20, enjoyed a pleasant stroll up the south ridge. This is the only recorded contribution to mountaineering by the pair described as "inveterate drunkards" by Ian Mitchell in his well-researched book 'Scotland's mountains before mountaineers.'

Blaven can be found on sheet 32 South Skye of the Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 map. For walking refer to the Ordnance Survey The Cuillin and Torridon Hills 1:25,000 map. The National Grid Reference for Blaven is NG 529 217.

Blaven is 11km (7 miles) from Broadford on the B8083 single track road to Elgol. A description of the road, features and landmarks can be found on the seven miles page.

The most popular route to the summit starts at the small car park on the west side of Loch Slapin. An occasionally muddy footpath runs from the car park through the trees before turning to follow the north bank of Allt na Dunaiche. (The path is clearly marked on the Ordinance Survey maps). The path heads upwards following the stream and weaving through the sweet smelling heather and colourful gorse towards a series of waterfalls.

Beyond the waterfalls the path turns to the left and crossing the stream heads onwards and upwards towards the grassy slopes of the Coire Uaigneich, the secret corrie. The sparking Loch Fionna-choire comes in to view at the south west end of the corrie.

Passing lines of cairns follow the path to the right as it zigzags up the east ridge of Blaven passing over the top of the Great Prow on the right. The path becomes easier as it reaches the eastern shoulder of Blaven and gently weaves towards the summit. Some mild scrambling is required across the buttresses blocking the route before the ridge flattens and the trig point and cairn announce your arrival at the summit.

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360-degree panoramic view from the summit of Blaven. Move the mouse pointer to the left or right-hand side of the image to change the direction and speed of rotation.
Click on the picture to play a panoramic view from the summit of Blaven.

As mentioned earlier, on a clear day the view from the summit of Blaven is breath-taking, cloud permitting! Click on the picture to the left to view a scrollable 360-degree panorama from the summit composed of 25 photographs stitched together.

Rather than retracing your steps continue south along the summit ridge and down to the head of the Great Scree Gully, an obvious bealach. Head south from the south-west top which is reached from the col after a mild scramble. Then follow the broad south-east ridge back to the upper slopes Coire Uaigneich before re-joining the original path for the descent down to Loch Slapin.

Alternatively the more adventurous can partake in a little moderate climbing by traversing Clach Glas, frequently referred to by climbers as 'The Matterhorn of Skye.'

Take care

Skye Mountain Rescue Team logo

Blaven like all mountains can be a dangerous place for the inexperienced and ill prepared. Weather conditions can change at literally a moments notice especially during the autumn and winter months.

All walkers and climbers recognise the importance of the mountain rescue teams and are grateful to their members who give up so much of their personal time and risk their lives all on a voluntary basis.

The Isle of Skye Mountain Rescue Team is funded entirely by charitable donations. Please make a donation by visiting their website or via their collecting tins found throughout Skye. Help them to better help you and your fellow climbers.

Time-Lapse Video

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Blaven 8am to 5.30pm time-lapse sequence. 10½ hours and 570 images condensed in to 90 seconds.
Click on the picture to play a time lapse recording of a snow-dusted Blaven from before dawn until after dusk. Please note that this video is 3.5MB in size and may take a few moments to download depending on the speed of your internet connection.

Click on the picture to the left to play a 90-second time-lapse sequence of a snow-dusted Blaven from before dawn until after dusk.

Blaven was filmed from nearby Torrin over a period of 24 days. Notably clouds appeared during daylight hours on only three of those 24 days. It is fair to say that clear blue cloudless skies do not make for particularly interesting time-lapse sequences!

The completed sequence from 5th January 2010 is composed of 570 separate images shot every minute between the hours of 8am and 5.30pm.

The clip also serves to illustrate just how quickly the winter weather conditions can change; from freezing cold, low cloud, wind, rain and snow to sunshine in under an hour.

Keppoch

The abandoned settlement of Keppoch is a pleasant 3.5km (2 miles) walk from the car park at the foot of Blaven. Follow the signposted woodland walk from the car park or walk on the road in the direction of Elgol, recommended if the rain has turned the footpath in to a muddy quagmire. The initial collection of longhouses - a long, stone built, turf roofed building with a single room providing shelter to humans and their animals - grew to become a substantial crofting settlement. However in 1852 44 families were evicted to make way for an enlarged sheep farm. 25 years later the settlement was completely depopulated and the buildings in ruins. A Forestry Commission conifer plantation surrounded and consumed the settlement until 2002 when volunteers from the John Muir Trust cleared most of the trees. Many of the surrounding trees suffered storm damage during January 2005 and the Trust has undertaken to replace the conifers with native, and more attractive, birch and hazel trees.

Gallery

A selection of photographs of Blaven appears below. More photographs of Blaven, Torrin, Isle of Skye and beyond can be found on the Gallery page and the header image gallery page.

Blaven, the 'classic view'. Click to enlarge.
The 'classic view' of Blaven from the east bank of Loch Slapin.
Blaven from Camas Malag. Click to enlarge.
Blaven from Camas Malag.
Blaven from Loch Slapin. Click to enlarge.
The 'classic' view of Blaven from the east bank of Loch Slapin.
Blaven from Loch Slapin. Click to enlarge.
The 'classic' view of Blaven from the east bank of Loch Slapin.
Modelling. Click to enlarge.
Preparing for a photo-shoot by Loch Cill Chriosd with Blaven as a backdrop. This was a cold winter morning with everyone wrapped up and protected from the cold. Everyone that is except the model.
Blaven from the Sound of Sleat. Click to enlarge.
Blaven from the Sound of Sleat.
Blaven from the Sound of Sleat. Click to enlarge.
Blaven from the Sound of Sleat with Ornsay lighthouse to the left.
Blaven reflecting in Loch Slapin. Click to enlarge.
Blaven reflecting in Loch Slapin.
Blaven from the Kilbride road. Click to enlarge.
Blaven from the Kilbride road.
Blaven from Torrin. Click to enlarge.
A snow-dusted Blaven from Torrin.
Rocks, sheep and Blaven. Click to enlarge.
Rocks, sheep and Blaven from the east side of Loch Slapin. This is the only image on this website shot on 35mm film.
Out for a stroll. Click to enlarge.
Three cows out for a stroll in the pastures above Torrin.
Blaven and concrete rock. Click to enlarge.
The concrete 'rock' in the foreground is part of the remains of a jetty that presumably once served the old Torrin quarry immediately behind the photographer.
Allt Slapin. Click to enlarge.
Allt Slapin at the point that it meets Loch Slapin.
Blaven at sunset. Click to enlarge.
Blaven, sunset, clouds and trees.

And finally...

Blaven beer

If climbing Blaven seems like too much effort why don't you take Blaven home with you instead? Not the mountain of course, but some bottled Blaven beer from the Isle of Skye Brewery. It is described as a deep golden ale, malty and full-bodied, with a fruity, hoppy character and a delightful Fuggles hop aroma! If your tastes are a little less alcoholic how about a gold or silver Blaven ring from Skye Jewellery of Broadford.

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