Category Archives: canoe

Spring

While spring is meant to be here winter does seem to be hanging on in the Highlands.  Despite turning to rock-climbing and sea kayaking and working on “Summer Mountaineering” courses I keep getting snowed on!  Its been a pretty wild April and this seems set to continue – a few photos from some good days out on the rock and the sea over the last few weeks.931A6872

On a marginal forecast a few of us ended up at Reiff – I struggle to get excited about small crags though the routes at Reiff can pack a punch.  Above- Adam on one of the classics – “The Executioner”931A6887Above and Below – Seb trying hard at Seal Song area931A6904

 

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Cecile on the awkward first move of “Jim Nastic” – Matt (belaying) is probably laughing we werent sure Cecile (who’s French) had understood the joke in the route name.931A6946

Canoeing on Loch Lomond.  I have been out on a few DofE expeditions and trainings in the last few weeks.  This was a particularly brutal one with high winds and driving rain.  This was the only picture I took.

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Cecile on the first pitch of “Secretaries Super Direct” in Glen Nevis.  The Glen is brilliant at this time of year and is right on my doorstep.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sea Kayaking through the Raasay – Rona gap.  After a few years of saying I would do more Sea Kayaking work this year I am.  A three day expedition around Raasay with some wonderful clients saw sunshine, hail, high winds, golden eagles and a high speed rescue (thanks Alison!) when we deemed the winds too strong to get back up the west coast.

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5 minutes before this photo we were in driving hail.  Three of my group looking NW to Skye

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Matt and Adam paddling over to Ailsa’s birthday party.  “A quiet catch up with some old friends” – yeah right!931A7125-HDR

Theres a reason why the road to Neist is so busy!  I’ve sat and watched (and photographed) this view a few times – it never fails to impress.931A7139Reflections in Loch Lomond on my drive to a stint of work in Inverness.  In a lot of ways this photo looks a lot more like Autumn than Spring and that is how the last few weeks have felt too.  Despite the occasional sunny day its still felt cold and windy.  Maybe the rest of May will bring more settled weather.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Neist Lighthouse, Reiff, Scotland climbing, Scottish Sea Kayaking, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

5% Chance of Rain

Most of the places I’ve been to this month have been promising 5% chance of rain or less but this seems to have been more a sign of the Met Offices’ optimism that actual reality.  With a few more days off than expected this month I have managed to catch up with lots of friends and family, finish the bolting work at a local sport crag and get to some pretty cool places on personal trips.

First up I joined Tristan and Lizzie with a host of other kayaking friends for a week of sea kayak day trips from Glen Elg.  I’m usually not a big fan of day trips in a sea kayak but in the knowledge that there would be some stormy conditions and some other paddlers that like that sort of thing it felt like a good opportunity to put my dislike of faff aside.

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Kag, Tristan and Lizzie paddling into Kyle of Lochalsh in stormy weather.  Our first day saw us launching at Sconser and surfing all the way to the Crowlins, through the Crowlin gap and on down to the bridge.IMG_9076

Lizzie and Kag taking a break under the Skye bridgeIMG_9087

Kayakers under Kilt Rock.  The longest day on the water was Staffin to Portree, a trip I had wanted to do for some time.  It was fairly tough paddling into a head wind at the end but worth it for some amazing coastline.  Being based in Glenelg this was a fairly long day to fit in before it got dark.  The fish and chips in Portree at the end of this were amazing.
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Sam making sure Pep knows where to go.IMG_9094

Sam approaching the waterfalls of Kilt Rock
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Kag passing one of the many pinnacles on this section of coast.

Next up it was straight to Wales for a couple of days work. As usual in October the weather didnt quite play ball despite again promises of 5% chance of rain.  I did manage a couple of routes at Gogarth with ChuckyIMG_9160

Chucky on the brilliant top pitch of “Concrete Chimney”.

From Wales I did a massive drive up to the Reiff Climbing Festival.  Saz, Al and I had decided to go to the festival no matter what the weather.  It turned out to be terrible weather for climbing but great fun with a good group of people.931A5574

Adam and Ailsa getting packed in the back of their van for a day of rather damp cragging.931A5592

Ailsa, Ali Hodnett and Adam sheltering under the shipshape block at Reiff.931A5593

We did manage to find the shortest routes in the UK.  Reiff is known for short routes but I think these could be the winner!  Adam struggling on one of the trilogy of Severes on this wall. 931A5596

It did dry up to try a couple of harder routes.  Adam making the off the deck dyno on “Lilidh”

I had a few days around Fort William before heading back up to Assynt with Bob and Adam.  Assynt is not somewhere I’ve spent a huge amount of time until this year but I just cant get enough.
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Stoer Lighthouse.  We woke up to this view after a late ascent of the Old Man of Stoer and then headed off on a two day canoe trip from Elpin to Boat Bay.  Connecting Loch Veyatie and Loch Scionascaig and a series of smaller lochs has become a bit of a classic and I was keen to see how hard the portages were.

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Bob portaging Eas Dubh Uidh a Glaigeal on the outflow from Cam loch.  931A5656

And going back upstream to pretend that he’d ran it.  This portage is probably not necessary but the falls are spectacular.931A5693

Adam supplying some moral fortitude for the second portage.931A5703

Adam paddling under Suilven.  We had originally planned to do a climb on Suilven as part of this trip but the weather didnt quite play ball and we didnt have quite enough hours of daylight.931A5727

Can you see two canoes?  Bob (back) and Adam (front) in the middle of 2 km portage between Loch Veyatie and Loch Scionascaig.  This, the “eastern portage” is essentially a 2km portage and rumored to be harder than the western one.  As 2km portages go it was pretty straightforward and easy.931A5733

Bob and I have done quite a few portages over the years.  I wonder when he’ll notice that I just take photos and he does all the pulling!
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Bob completely in his element on cooking duty with Cul Mor in the background.
931A5745Autum colours at Cread Dubh above the Spey.  Its quickly been turning to winter in the highlands and the colours have been fantastic.  Every time the weather starts to get me down I realise how many amazing adventures there are to be had in Scotland at all times of year.

I’ve also been tidying up some qualifications this year and this month finally feel able to take stock having completed the last one on the list (for now!).  I moved back to Scotland “full time” 5 years ago and wanted to bring my qualifications up to speed in the UK.  On one of my many long drives recently I started to count up the cost in both time and money of doing this.  The good news is that its been a lot of fun and I’m now at a stage where I don’t feel the need to work too hard on any other qualifications, the bad news is that I worked out I have spent over 60 days on training courses in the last 5 years (bearing in mind that I have only been in the UK for 36months of that period!) and its cost me at least £8000 just for the courses (not the kit or the consolidation days).  The process has been massively rewarding and through it I have re-engaged with so many friends and made so many new ones.  When I started in the outdoors at 18 I’m not sure what I expected but certainly not the huge variety of work and adventures that can be crammed into a few short years.

Also posted in Assynt, Assynt canoeing, Canoe across Scotland, Climbing, Kayaking, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, North Wales Climbing, Scottish Kayaking, Scottish Sea Kayaking, Skye, Stoer Lighthouse, Suilven Canoe, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

Boats and Climbing

This spring has had some great weather for adventures in Scotland.  Over the last couple of months I have been trying to get to places that have formerly escaped me, its so easy to go back to places I love.  As the winds dropped and sun came out at the start of the month Adam and I headed to Skye for a couple of days.  I have spent a lot of time on Skye though had never got the boat from Elgol to access the Cuillin.  We had a very leisurely start with the aim of a two day traverse of the Cuillin with the Dubhs Slabs start thrown in for good measure.931A3023

Getting the boat in was great – cups of tea and shortbread with the skipper and stunning view of the full Cuillin ridge.931A3024

The last time I was in Loch Coruisk was about ten years ago on a sea kayaking trip.  We almost got stuck at the head of the loch in a force 6.931A3028

Adam trying to work out which one is the Dubhs Slabs.  In recent years there has been some hard climbs put up in this glen – theres a life time of climbing in just this one area if you get the weather and the time!931A3059

Still snow in the bivy cave below Sgurr Alisdair.931A3068

Our aim on the first day was to get past the Inaccessible Pinnacle and find a bivy spot.  With both of us happy to solo most of the ridge it was pretty easy going with the odd stop to realise how lucky we are and admire the views.  Above – Adam on Collies/Harts ledge.
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Adam soloing the East Ridge of Inaccessible Pinnacle as two other traversers gear up at the bottom.  After watching both of us they both decided to solo it as well – interesting decision making!931A3089

Bivy spot on Banachdich931A3095-Pano

Sunset views from the bivy spot back south along the ridge.931A3102

What its all about!931A3223

After a couple of days of work I managed to rustle up some friends for a trip I’ve wanted to do for a while.  Getting 5 people, 5 vehicles, 3 canoes and lots of climbing gear to the correct layby on Loch Maree was probably the hardest bit!  Above – Cecile, Tim and Chucky bringing the last boat down to the Loch.931A3229

We had opted for an evening paddle across Loch Maree followed by a 10km hike into Carnmore Crag in the Fisherfield Wilderness.  Above – Ceciles first time in a canoe!931A3237

Dark and broody getting over the hill and down towards the Bothy.931A3238

I had been into the Fisherfield area from the other side a couple of times but had forgotten how spectacular it is.  Tim on the approach to the bottom of the routes.931A3253

Cecile about to start the unprotected traverse on the main pitch of “Dragon”931A3284

Tim the red power ranger relieved to be across the traverse.931A3297

 

Cecile working out where the route goes.931A3314

On our second route of the day (Gob) we crossed paths with Al and Chucky.  Above – Al (with Chucky somewhere above) on “St George”931A3322

The landowner at Carnmore kindly leaves a barn open below the crag – Cecile and Tim chilling by the front door.931A3326

The bothy is not the nicest but it does have beds!931A3328

Sunset over the bothy931A3330

931A3362We had two brilliant days at Carnmore and then headed back to the boats in the evening.  I love how much you can pack into a couple of days in Scotland.  If you’re ever heading to carnmore I recommend the canoe approach over the 20km walk (you just need a friend with lots of boats!)

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, bothy, Climbing, Cuillin, Fisherfield Wilderness, Jetboil, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Skye, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

A little bit of everything

Sometimes the weather just doesnt play ball.  June has been one of those months.  After some good weather in May, June rolled in pretty stormy which always makes planning difficult.  I had some varied work in June along with a few days off and my friend Justin coming to visit so flexibility was the name of the game.  June has been a whirlwind of activity and as the whirlwind is continuing heres the photos in no particular order.IMG_4807 I spent 4 days in Knoydart with a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Group.  This is an area that I have spent a fair bit of time in but usually in winter and not for a number of years.  Above – Kinbreak bothy (the red dot) hidden in the hills on the edge of KnoydartIMG_4815 Shelter from the storm.  The group did really well considering the rain and midges!IMG_4818 Sourlies bothy with a carpet of ThriftIMG_4822 On our way to Inverie on the last day I was struck by the starkness of the ruined building and the stormy clouds.  Its amazing to think of people living in such isolated places.IMG_4842_1 Justin and I managed to fit in a couple of adventures in amongst the weather. Above – our bivy site in Coire Lagan.IMG_4848_1 Jet Boil Master.  IMG_4851_1 Stunning views from the Lagan Traverse in the evening lightIMG_4908 I headed up to Reiff with Hannah for a quick getaway last weekend.  Hannah soloing on the stunning sandstoneIMG_4932

Scott and Kirsty (and later Andy and Miles) joined us.  Scott leading the awesome “Hy Brasil”IMG_2069 Justin and I joined a party headed out to Canna – early morning logistics and a bit of damp weather was well worth the adventure. Above – the boats on the ferry crossing out to the islandIMG_2080 Justin and Nigel sitting off the amazing bird colonies.IMG_2085 Exploring the sea caves and sea stacksIMG_2099 IMG_4726 I also did a little canoeing on the Spey with a Gold DofE training group – Above – Too much food for the barrel!IMG_4735 It was stunning on the river and actually too hot at timesIMG_4753 IMG_4781 Straight after the Spey, Justin, Rob and I headed for the classic Tower Ridge.  Turns out there was still a bit of snow around!IMG_4794Rob contemplating the step down into the gap.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Ben Nevis, bothy, Knoydart, Uncategorized

May Madness

Spring is an awesome time of year in Scotland with a lot going on and the tourist season kicking off.  With not too much work booked in for the start of May I decided to get some professional development done as well as a bit of climbing.  I had planned on a Cuillin Traverse with James to reacquaint myself before the Skye work season kicks off but the weather decided not to play ball.  Instead we headed out to Neist for some climbing in the sun. IMG_4258 I’m still waiting to get the shot of Neist Lighthouse that I want but this sunset was awesome at the end of a good days cragging.IMG_4307 James is currently breaking into the “VS” grade so what better place to do it where all the routes are big and steep!  James leading the classic “Shocks and Stares”IMG_2035Next up it was up to Thurso for 5 Star Sea training. Above – the first mornings launch site looking a bit full on!IMG_2036_2So we headed to much calmer water!  We had planned to paddle round Duncansby Head (John o’ Groats) but moved further west to paddle round Dunnet Head – the most northerly point on the British mainland.  IMG_2039_2Looking back at Dunnet Head.  Not really 5 star sea kayaking conditions!  We then headed out for a night paddle – belowIMG_2045IMG_4371After leaving Thurso I drove down to Sheigra – an area I have never been too.  I headed out in the evening to one of the climbing areas to find waves breaking over the wall which is 30m high.  Above – stormy seas as the sun sets.IMG_4381Driving out to Reiff to meet Tim Hamlet I stopped to take a shot looking back East towards Stac Pollaidh.
IMG_4410 Tim at the very steep “Inverpollaidh Rock Gym”IMG_4431Me on the not so steep “Moon Jelly” at Reiff.  (courtesy of Tim Hamlet)
IMG_4477Somehow I convinced Tim to have a shot at the worst looking route at Reiff.  “Stop… Go”.  Tim stopping and going!  Turns out its a bit harder than the guidebook suggests.IMG_4482Then it was time for more training – this time 4 Star Canoe.  I am not known for my ability in a canoe but this was a lot of fun learning some of the dark arts of open boating.IMG_4483 Shelter from the storm!IMG_4504Ollie surfing with style on the FindhornIMG_4555Hannah cruising on the final rapid – quality facial expression!IMG_4571And finally back home for a couple of days.  I spent a day working on the Aonach Eagach and then met up with Hannah and Miles to go climb the classic “Agags Groove” on the Buachille.  Above – Hannah and Miles checking out the Buachilles Glacier.
IMG_4584Miles Cruising on the steep pitch (Vdiff!!!)IMG_4585Miles making another inappropriate derogatory comment about my climbing/belaying.

Mays  not over but things are about go get busy.  More photos coming soon………

Also posted in agags groove, alastair rose, ali rose, Buachille Etive Mor, Climbing, Kayaking, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Reiff Climbing, scotland, Scotland climbing, Scottish Kayaking, Stac Pollaidg

Alligators and Other Dangerous Animals

Life and plans change fast, especially when working short contracts for Outward Bound. That is how I recently found myself in the Florida Everglades. A phone call telling me my work was no longer but that I could attend a staff training, a flight to Alabama, a day at our base in Alabama, a car ride for 7 hours with someone I didn’t know, another day at another base, another road trip (this time with 6 people I didn’t know), another day at another base then three hours back in the van and I was getting in a canoe that I was not to leave for the next 5 days. I’ll say that again. A canoe I was not to leave for the next 5 days. The course area in the Florida everglades does not have land. None. Well none that we used until we stood on highland beach in the gulf of Mexico.

The system is simple if a little weird. paddle all day with all the gear stored on top of the boards in the bottom of the canoes, anchor for the night, get the boards out from below all the gear, put them on top, tie it all together, and do all normal camp stuff on the boards.

The Everglades itself is pretty crazy with amazing diversity of wild animals (think crocs, alligators, sharks, manate’s, flamingos, mosquitos, no-see-ums (midgies) etc)

For the Canoeists – the boats we used were 18ft Trippers in which we had an assortment of gear with boards hidden underneath (the boards are 2 x 8ft and were possibly developed as a system by OB down here). The photos.
Organisation – list taped to bow of the boat so you know what you should have and where to access things with the boards on top.

Yes you guessed it – the toilet system. the pad on the bottom right is the “privacy screen”

Getting up in the morning – everyone has 2 x 8 ft of space with all their sleeping gear including “healy hammock” (a bug net). very hot, very buggy and very awkward getting in and out of your healy……..
Amy solo paddling into late afternoon light as we head further towards the gulf of Mexico.

On a chickee (platforms you can book to camp on) waiting for the lightning to pass and the tides to change.
John highly unimpressed with the bug and mangrove situation in “the nightmare” (yes that is really what it says on the map)
About to set of on the last paddle into the gulf of mexico. our last “day” comprised of 37 miles (nautical miles….) lots of navigation, lots of darkness and lots of paddling. Setting off at 4 pm we paddled till 7pm slept on the beach for 4 hrs then paddled through the night and dawn to our take out at 9am.

Sunset as we paddle down the Gulf of Mexico
The boards in place. This was the living space for 12 of us. All of us!

We met this rather large “crocagator” (10ft!) at night. This was taken with my lens set at around 30mm. A little to close I think. Final assesment is that it is a Crocodile.

Osprey taking flight.
Also posted in alligator, everglades