Couple are Skye high after summit proposal
For most people, climbing the much feared and exposed Inaccessible Pinnacle on the Isle of Skye is enough of a nerve-racking ordeal. But it was the thought of asking his partner to marry him on the infamous Cuillin summit that left Brian Welsh an emotional wreck on Sunday.
Brian, of Glasgow, said: “I couldn’t think about anything else or worry about where I was. I don’t think I was even aware of the steep rocky drops all around. I was much more anxious about what she would say.”
Thankfully, Sharon McKenna’s reply was a “yes” – once she recovered from her surprise over the summit proposal.
The child development officer said: “I had no idea Brian was going to ask me to marry him. When he went down on one knee everything went blurred. Of course, I did say yes once I had recovered from the shock.”
What is the In Pinn?
The Inaccessible Pinnacle – also called the In Pinn – is a jagged blade of rock that sits on top of the mountain Sgurr Dearg, located on the narrow ridge of the Black Cuillin.
Read about the day I managed to overcome my fear:
Rising to 3234ft (985m), it requires most people to be roped to a professional guide for the climb of some 200ft (60m). Either side, airy drops fall away to Loch Coruisk thousands of feet below and a steep scree-filled corrie on the other side.
After the climb, there is a 60ft (18m) over-hanging abseil off the rock.
Brian’s proposal plans
Brian, who is an oil rig chef, had been planning the summit proposal for seven months. The couple, who are in their forties, have been together almost eight years and have three grown up children, all in their twenties, between them.
He said: “I came up with the idea in February and it was meant to happen on a trip to Skye in April but then lockdown happened.
“I had the ring and a boxed bottle Champagne with a special inscription already and I never imagined I would need to keep the secret from Sharon for so long. It was difficult not to let something slip out over all these months.”
Brian had also asked Skye mountain guide Adrain Trendall to be part of the proposal plan.
Adrian, the founder of guiding company All Things Cuillin, said: “I was so happy to be involved although there was a lot of pressure, especially with the weather. We were meant to go up on Saturday but conditions were not good so we moved the plan to the Sunday.
“We also wanted the summit to ourselves so we had to start at 6am to avoid other people being there, too. Luckily, it worked out perfectly in the end.”
Why the In Pinn?
Brian chose the In Pinn because he knew it would be a significant ascent for Sharon. He said: “When we met I was a keen hill walker but Sharon was less experienced. She was also petrified of heights.
“When we went to Go Ape forest adventure park she was scared doing that. But over the years, she has improved her head for heights and we have managed to do many mountains and ridges that people find scary such as the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe and the Forcan Ridge in the Highlands.
“But I knew that the In Pinn would be a huge test for her and if she did it it would be a very big achievement for her.”
Brian also invited a bagpiper to play on the ridge while he proposed. Grant Macleod, who is known as the Munro Bagpiper, was thrilled to be in on the secret.
The Bishopbriggs piper said: “I have been asked to play the pipes at other proposals but much closer to ground level. This was a first for me playing pipes at a proposal on the Cuillin.”
When the couple bumped into Grant on the mountain ascent, Brian was worried that Sharon would recognise the Munro Bagpiper form social media and smell a rat.
Grant said: “The hardest part of the day was hiding from Sharon. We didn’t want her to recognise me and suspect something.”
Brian added: “Fortunately Sharon didn’t seem to notice that it was the Munro Bagpiper. She just thought it was a young lad that happened to be on the mountain. He even managed to change into his kilt and get out the bagpipes near the tip without her noticing.
“The piping really added to the day.”
Not quite to plan
Brian had a speech planned but his mouth dried with nerves when it came to the critical moment. He said: “I was going to say: ‘Sharon, will you do me the honour of… abseiling off first?’
“I had it all set up as a wee joke to start with but then my mouth dried up and I just blurted out: ‘Will you be my wife?’.”
Brian also carried the couple’s dog, Kai, on to the summit. He rested in Brian’s rucksack as they climbed the In Pinn.
They hope to marry soon. Brian said: “We are both over the moon and we want to get married as soon as we can.
“We might try to find a way to get wed on Skye, maybe with a ceremony on another mountain.
“For now though we are letting it all sink in. We are both very happy.”