Walk of the month
Bag Glamaig on the Isle of Skye
In the shadows of the infamous Black Cuillin, Skye’s more gentle and sedate range, the Red Cuillin, can often be disregarded. But this underdog band of peaks is marshalled by a talismanic captain in the name of Glamaig and it is dismissed at one’s peril.
Also known as Sgurr Mhairi, Glamaig is the northernmost and highest mountain in the Red Cuillin, and with an elevation of 775m it represents half of Skye’s population of Corbetts. As seen from Sligachan in the west, Glamaig appears perfectly conical – as though a colossal limpet had once emerged from the deep of Loch Sligachan and hunkered down on the rugged landscape. In reality, the mountain has a southeastern spine, the Bealach na Sgairde, that links it to the rest of the Red Cuillin.
Given its circularity, there are a good number of ways to bag Glamaig. Tackling its western face is the most direct assault, requiring an ascent of a brutally steep slope of grass and scree that effectively rises from sea-level and equates to a 600m climb over just one lungpunishing kilometre. More commonly walked is the horseshoe route (page 97), while ascending the north-east nose to An Coileach is arguably the finest way to begin a foray into the snaking Red Hills range.
Glamaig’s rounded top is typical of the Red Cuillin’s granite composition, which was less resistant to the millennia of glacial erosion than the saw-edged peaks of gabbro and basalt that sculpt the Black Cuillin. The apex, though, offers up one of Skye’s most dramatic viewpoints, a humbling panorama of the whole of the isle plus almost the entire west coast of mainland Scotland at your mercy.
So, if you’d always thought Skye’s Red Cuillin had little to offer over its more sinister and iconic neighbour range, think again.
Composed of granite, the Red Cuillin features a reddish tinge in certain light, hence its name.