Review by John Burland: Skye’s Cuillin Ridge Traverse by Adrian Trendall. Published by Cicerone £19.95

THE last time I was on Skye it rained solidly for four days from Monday to Thursday. However, on the Sunday when we arrived at the campsite at Culnamean near Glen Brittle we had a marvellous view of the Cuillin and that is something I have not forgotten in over 30 years.

The Cuillin Hills occupy the south western part of the Isle of Skye and are visible as you cross from the Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland, now over the Skye Bridge but by ferry back in the 70s and 80s when we visited before the bridge was built in the early 1990s.

This new book about the Cuillin Ridge Traverse is divided into two parts. The first part contains 10 classic scrambles onto sections of the Cuillin from a number of locations – Glen Brittle, Sligachan and Elgol. These 10 routes (ordered approximately by grade) range from little more than tough walks through hard scrambles and easier graded climbs. They provide a variety of grades and offer opportunities both to explore the Cuillin and recee parts of the ridge. There are enough routes here for an extended trip to Skye and they provide both a chance to scope out the ridge for anyone considering a traverse and a few routes for any spare time afterwards

Many of these are great routes in their own right but most offer scope to explore parts of the ridge in preparation for a traverse. The Dubh ridge, number 6 of the scrambles, is a fantastic route, offers an alternative route up onto the ridge and can easily be combined with an exploration of the T-D gap. Some of the easier routes are good as a poor weather alternative and all the routes offer fantastic views of the Cuillin. There are three grades of scrambles and up to the fourth climbs these increase accordingly. From the fifth route onwards, sections of the climb fall into rock climbing grades of moderate or difficult.

Adrian Trendall has estimated times for these ten classic scrambles from 4 hours up to 10 hours. Also in this first section of the book he has included advice for those wishing to attempt the full traverse of the Cuillin Ridge. These include Preparation and Training; Strategy and Tactics; Gear; Navigation; Climbing, Scrambling and Ropework; Grades; Weather; Geology and Logistics.

The second part of the book is a step by step guide to the ridge traverse itself, 12 kilometres of almost continuous scrambling, eleven summits over 3,000 feet (Munros), technical rock climbs and a number of abseils. On first attempts, fewer than 10% of those who start complete the full traverse. From the first completion in 1911 when Leslie Shadbolt and Alastair McLaren took 12 hours 18 minutes to traverse the ridge, this has since been reduced to 2 hours, 59 minutes and 22 seconds by Finlay Wild, a runner and climber of repute.

For any competent walker and climber this is a challenge that can be completed either in one day or two days with the latter having an overnight bivouac. Throughout the book there are maps of the ten scrambles and the ridge traverse with photographs of these with the route highlighted on them. There are also a plethora of other colour photographs showing climbers on both the scrambles and the ridge traverse.

This book equips the potential challenger with all the information they need to tackle this epic traverse but will also appeal to anyone with a love of wild and exposed places.