Monthly Archives: May 2013

Summers here?


Summer must be here according to the calendar but it doesnt seem to have changed the weather.  I am now firmly back at work but this summer driving boats rather than instructing.  So far it has been cold and wild interspersed with the odd sunny day.  No matter what the weather this is still one of the most beautiful spots in the world and sometimes even more beautiful as the storms roll in.  Not many days off to speak of yet but a couple of good routes on the etive slabs yesterday and a good scramble today have blown the cobwebs away.  Our next break between courses is a massive 5 days – watch this space for lots of adventures.

A common site during the summer – lots of scruffy dirty people living out of their vehicle in a picturesque car park

Last week a group of us headed up Curved ridge on the Buaichille – On the way down it cleared enought to get this shot from the bridge of Lagangarbh Cottage in the glen

Putting one of the boats, Razorbill, in the water.  A lot of people get surprised when they watch these “fishing boats” get up on the plane and hit 30knots!

A view out of my office window.  Looking out of Golden eye at the main house.

Storm rolling in from the South

Weather can be kind of hard around here on outdoor kit – Iona’s towline after the winter!
Ross, Matt, Gemma, Joe and Hannah on the summit of the Buaichille in normal summer conditions

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2000 Miles

As the van rolled up my parents driveway two days ago the final reading on the odometer was just over 2000 miles, my elbows had a deep ache and I was ready not to be driving and (for once) climbing.  Bowden Doors, Back Bowden Doors, Kyloe, Almscliff, Helm Crag, Guillemot Ledge, The Boulder Ruckle, Mother Careys Kitchen, Wen Zawn, Gogarth main wall, Lawrencefield, Millstone, Froggat, Stanage. Heptonstall, Brimham, Limekilns is like a climbers litany of the most iconic British crags to the most esoteric.  For once we had an excuse to drive way south of the border for Clare and Daj’s wedding and decided to add to the excitement with a two week climbing road trip visiting old friends.  The first leg of the trip saw us in Northumberland, Yorkshire and the Lakes catching up with Tom and Kate followed by Pete, Kag and Tony.  I dont have many good photos of this part of the trip as it was incredibly windy and we were just getting started.  I can say that Northumberland climbing grades are all over the place!

From the lakes we headed straight to the beautiful town of Winchester to see Clare (Hannahs mum) and Daj get married

Clare and Daj outside Winchester Cathedral shortly after getting married.

Hannah and David up to some monkey business in the garden of the pub were we finished the wedding day

Straight after the wedding Clare and Daj loaded their car and took us out to climb at Swanage on the South coast.  The climbing here is brilliant in places and loose in others.  Great short adventure routes with a short walk in.

Clare and Hannah relaxing in the sun after the first route at Guillemot ledge

Back at the bottom of the cliff again.  Hannah and I about to start up “Ledgend Direct” (HVS 5a)

That night we were joined by Justin, Sara, Molly, Rupert (their two ridiculous dogs) and Rosie the campervan.  Above – Rosie upstaging the Yellow Heiffer.

Next up we headed to Pembroke

St Govans chapel tucked into the cliffs. (fisheye shot)

Van living – cooking dinner in the back of the Heiffer.  (Purists might note that even though this is deepest darkest wales I am still drinking tennents!)

We were mainly camped in the van for this trip with the odd stay at someones house and the odd shower here and there.  In Pembroke we had decided to try and climb a route called “Preposterous Tales” which is given a grade of HVS-E2 depending on what you read and is described as “This route is a wild, crazy trip into the bowels of the earth.  Traverses into the low sea cave to the right, thereafter firing up through a massive blowhole system, to arrive at the top blowhole exit.. Big, big adventure!”  Unfortunately we were woken up by a man from the Army at 5am and asked to move as they were about to  start using the firing range we were parked on.  Oh well – one to go back from

We did some great routes in Mother Careys Kitchen and then hit the road again to go and see the Caithness Family in Brecon.  We had a lovely evening at Magnus and Helens house (almost convinces me that the future is to become a house parent at a boarding school!) and stared at some rather dismal looking weather forecasts.  We couldnt resist stopping to get a photo of Ali’s Cafe on the drive to North Wales.

Hannah Setting out on the final traverse pitch of one of the UK’s most famous routes “A Dream of White Horses” (HVS)

At first it looked like were going to struggle to find dry rock in North Wales till we drove out to Anglesey and the rain cleared.

Hannah almost there on the long final traverse pitch of Dream of..  While this route is HVS the actual climbing on it is fairly straightforward and easier than most guidebooks suggest if you keep thinking about it while you climb.

We then decided to abseil back in for another route before the sun set.

Hannah leading the first pitch of “Wen” (HVS 5a)

Hannah on the final traverse of Wen as the sun sets.  Next day we headed to Gogarth Main Wall to climb the original route of the cliff “Gogarth” (E1 5b) which turned out to be everthing I’d hoped in terms of adventure climbing – no photos though as I decided the camera would be too much of a faff.

Next up it was off to the peak district.

Millstone below Froggat Edge, Valkyrie Buttress – another day another classic route.  We climbed Valkyrie (HVS 5a) late in the day on our first day in the peak – strange short multipitch grit route which was a good test of different climbing techniques.

Me leading “Chequers Buttress” (HVS 5a) Photo courtesy of Ed Luke our peak district tour guide.  Ed and Tom and Kate met up with us at various points in the peak to give advise on top routes. places to go, places to eat.  Tom and Kate win “best place to park a van” with their suggestion of Grindleford train station – best cafe ever right next to a very secluded parking spot.

Me trying to get some gear in before topping out of “Chequers Buttress” (HVS 5a) as the wind tried to rip me off.  (this might explain why no-one was queueing for this classic!)  Photo courtesy – Ed Luke

Ed about to set off up the balancy climbing on “Motorcade” (E1 5a) Froggat Edge

Ed on the final move of Motorcade

Finally it was off back to Yorkshire to see Wee Ben and Mary with a quick visit to weird world of Brimham rocks.  This area has the weirdest rock formations ever! – brilliant single pitch and bouldering (so i’m told!)

Hannah and I soloing “Dancing Bear” (Hard Very Difficult) on Dancing Bear buttress.

A lovely final evening was had with Wee Ben and Mary at Bens cottage eating more good food and finishing his sloe gin.  Then it was off back to Scotland with a quick stop at Limekilns.

It might reassure some of you (and my bank account) that I will actually be busy working for the next month with only the odd day off.  The good news is that “work” is driving boats around some of the most beautiful islands ever and having a laugh with all the groups of crazy children we get to hang out with.  Coming soon – more photos of Rua fiola, West Coast Climbing, River boating and Sea Kayaking.

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