Review: Cicerone Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse guidebook
Adrian Trendall, a guide on the Isle of Skye, has written a book published by Cicerone called Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse. My husband, G, and I made good use of the book during two mountain days – and a total of eight Munro summits – this summer. Our overall conclusion is that this is an excellent guide book and the perfect companion for walking and scrambling in the Cuillin mountains of Skye. It is ideal if you plan to do a full traverse of the 12km ridge, including 11 Munro summits, or if you want to do shorter sections of the ridge.
Overview of Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse book
The book in brief:
It’s a two-volume guide book with all the information required to complete the main ridge traverse on Skye’s Black Cuillin.
In volume one there is a wealth of useful information about strategy, gear, training, navigation and logistics. There are also 10 scrambles described in detail, which are meant to provide an introduction to the Cuillin. In addition, there are details for a winter traverse.
In volume two, which is a lightweight second guidebook, there are detailed maps, topos and route description for the ridge traverse itself. This second volume is meant to be carried with you on the ridge.
Both volumes feature official Harvey mapping, numbered topos and corresponding detailed route descriptions.
Note 1: The book is for those who are confident and experienced enough with ropes, scrambling, navigation and the exposure of spending time in the Cuillin.
Note 2: The ridge is generally completed in one or two days, either as TRIAD (the ridge in a day) or CREST (Cuillin Ridge Expedition Style Traverse).
Where to buy:
Buy for £13.99 at Amazon (I do receive a tiny commission for each sale, but then again I write my reviews for free so all you support is helpful.)
It’s also possible to order direct from: [email protected] for £19.95. All direct orders have the advantage of offering buyers the chance to visit Adrian on Skye and/or ask for any help or answers to questions not covered in the book.
Scroll down for my review after using the book on the ridge this summer.
My review: Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse book
To start with, and I know that looks should not matter, but the guidebooks are beautiful. They are small, neat and filled with great photos and maps. Adrian, the author, is an accomplished photographer and even if you only look through the book and read sections, you will greatly enjoy it.
In terms of the practicalities of a Cuillin traverse or half traverse, the books are a must-buy. They include all the details and info you will need before you make the traverse and while on the ridge.
The fact that the book is in two halves is brilliant. It means that you only need to take half the weight – volume two – with you. When packing for a Cuillin traverse, most people will be thinking about two things: Safety and weight. That is, you need all the right kit and essential items, but you don’t want to have to carry more than you have to because you will be out in steep and tough terrain for a long time.
Adrian is very experienced and knows these mountains extremely well. All this comes across in the way he writes and explains everything in the book.
Whether you have been to the Cuillin before, or you are new to these mountains, volume one is well worth a good read.
Volume one: Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse book
Volume one starts with an excellent introduction and then masses of detail on preparation and training; strategy and tactics; gear; navigation; climbing; scrambling and rope work; grades; weather; geology; logistics; and reasons for failure.
For people who are experienced in the Cuilllin, it might seem like the information is way over the top. But a guidebook has to be written for a range of abilities, from those who simply want to read about the ridge to those who are expert climbers and all the many people in between. Adrain has left no stone unturned in his very detailed first volume of the guide book.
The 10 scramble routes are a great addition, too. These offer the chance to try some of the main sections of the ridge. This allows you to test your head for heights and technical skills.
Some of the 10 scrambles are also considered to be classic mountain days out in Scotland, such as the Dubhs Ridge and Sgurr nan Gillean’s Pinnacle Ridge. Even if you do not end up doing a traverse, these detailed routes are well worth ticking off.
There is also information on a winter traverse and this is something of a bonus for such a small guidebook. The chapter details a superb winter mountain route, from north to south.
The 10 routes will give you are great introduction to the Cuillins – and will also show you how the guides work in terms of descriptions and route guidance.
Volume two: Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse book
Volume two, which is the book you would take with you on to the ridge, is great for “reassurance and checking”. G said: “Navigation and route choice in the Cuillin is notoriously tricky, so it is helpful to have maps and route descriptions to back up your choice when actually on the ridge.
“Even if you are sure you know the route because you have been there before or you have looked at the maps, there are times when you get to a section and you are not quite sure of the exact route.
“The book is really helpful because it allows you to feel reassured that you are taking the right route.”
The detail of the ridge route is incredibly detailed. It offers a step-by-step account of best route to take with lots of thought put into how the information is presented.
The use of the Harvey maps – 1:25K and 1:12k scale – is a huge bonus. And when even these maps are not detailed enough, there are magnified schematic plans for the really tricky sections.
The addition of photos with route lines drawn on them, plus the written descriptions, add extra information on where to go in terms of navigation and also, usefully, where NOT to go.
The Cuillin ridge is a tangled mass of rocks and pinnacles and so the very detailed and commonsense route descriptions are welcomed.
G said: “The topos are very good and clear and Adrian has made an excellent job of photographing different sections of the ridge so you can see the exact way ahead and angle.”
We used the book for a half traverse of the northern section of the Cuillin Ridge, which is well-known for being very technical and a sustained section.
G said: “While I have a great deal of experience in the Scottish mountains and I am a confident climber and route finder, the Cuillin Ridge Traverse book was very helpful. I referred to it many times to reassure myself of the right route.
“The book saved us from making potentially numerous wrong turns and it was good to get switched on to every angle, choice and stage in one book
“The level of detail is second-to-none and it was great to see tips on where to save time and energy and possible water sources etc. It’s a brilliant book.”
- Thanks to Adrian Trendall of All Things Cuillin for the photos.