In the latest edition of our My Favourite Hike series, komoot ambassador Sian Lewis takes us on a journey to the magical Munro of Blà Bheinn in Scotland's Isle of Skye.
She says that "reaching the pinnacle of the ‘blue mountain’, as its name means in Norse and Gaelic, is the perfect day hike to appreciate the beauty of Skye."
- Start/Finish: John Muir car park on Loch Slapin’s western shore
- Distance: 5.6 miles or 7 with a wild swim stop
- Elevation gain: 2887ft / 880m
- Difficulty level: Challenging
- Duration: 4-6 hours
The route up Blà Bheinn and back again starts next to a handy John Muir car park.
The first section is flattish, passing under trees and through heather before approaching the mountain’s foothills and following the path of a rushing brook towards a corrie. Inside the corrie, the going gets steeper as it leads you to the only challenging part of the hike – a short but steep scrambly section on loose gabbro.
From here the path winds all the way up to the 929-metre summit, where there are panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Follow the same route down again and you can tack on another 1.5 miles if you’re feeling spritely, walking around Loch Slapin’s shores to a hidden swim spot near the settlement of Torrin.
Blà Bheinn: why I love it
Skye is best known among hillwalkers for the Black Cuillin, the range of rocky mountains that are some of the most spectacular in Scotland. But it’s also home to one more Munro that stands alone. The only one not part of the main Cuillin ridge and often said to have the best views on the island, Blà Bheinn (sometimes Anglicised as 'Blaven') stands in splendid isolation above the still waters of Loch Slapin. Reaching the pinnacle of the ‘blue mountain’, as its name means in Norse and Gaelic, is the perfect day hike to appreciate the beauty of Skye.
I first walked up Blà Bheinn in the autumn of 2021, after a campervan adventure around the island. I’d always wanted to walk up this beguiling Munro, and we were lucky enough to have a free day with clear weather – it’s worth waiting for blue skies for the astounding views at the top. If you can, come to trek this mountain in autumn. The heather turns purple, the surrounding mountains are golden and the air is crisp and cool – oh, and the midges are gone, too!
The first section is a gentle incline through heather – spot the bright red caps of amanita muscaria mushrooms in autumn. Then the trail skirts alongside a deep gorge where waterfalls rush down the valley from the Allt na Dunachie brook. A left turn and an easy river crossing takes you into a corrie, and the steeper path leads to main challenge of the hike – a stiff but mercifully short scrambling section. It’s not technically difficult, and any confident hiker should be fine navigating the boulders of gabbro – I suggest going slow, and using one side of the gully for extra hand holds.
From here it’s a simple climb up to the summit, which flattens out and rewards the walker with one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain views in Britain. Turn in a slow circle and you can see an ocean of dark peaks, dominated by the imposing Black Cuillin stretching into the distance, and beyond them, the edges of the island Skye and the glittering sea.
It's the same way down, with the scramble the only challenging bit to tackle. Once you’ve reached the lochside, I recommend following the (very quiet) tarmac road for 1.5 miles anticlockwise around the bay. Just outside the hamlet of Torrin there’s a secret treat waiting: follow the river Allt Aisridh for a minute or two inland and you’ll come across a deep river pool fed by a waterfall, and with cold but amazingly clear water to swim in.
If you need to refuel after your adventures, the hamlet of Torrin is also home to Amy’s Place, a friendly little tearoom painted bright purple that does doorstopper-sized scones and great coffee.
Highlight: Torrin Pools
While the epic views from the summit of Blà Bheinn are one huge highlight, there’s a secret second spot where you can cool off that I absolutely love. At the end of the hike, if you follow the B8083 road around the coast of Loch Slapin for 1.5 miles, you’ll spot a rather unprepossessing river mouth. Follow it up the valley for a minute or two and you’ll find the Torrin Pools, where there’s a deep and very cold waterfall pool perfect for a dip after you’ve tackled Blà Bheinn. You can even look back at it across the loch while you swim.
My Favourite Hike Collection
To see the other hikes in the series on komoot, click on the Collection below...
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An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.