Category Archives: Kayaking

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

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, canoe, Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Reiff Climbing, scotland, Scotland climbing, Scottish Kayaking, Stac Pollaidg

The Summer that Keeps on Giving

“Winter is Coming” everyone keeps saying and I am definitely keen.  Its hard to complain though with so much great weather in Scotland just now.  Everywhere I’ve been in the last few years people have talked about changing weather patterns and Scotland is no exception.  Predictable seasons seem a thing of the past and looking at this November its hard to believe I’ve climbed winter routes at this time of year in the past.  This year seems unique to me in that there hasn’t really been a kayaking season (the Scottish monsoon season) but just a couple of days with epic rainfall and lots of scared kayakers (incidentally if anyone knows Glyn Richards your throwbag washed up in Caol at the weekend).  Instead, this year we have continued to have lots of good weather days with lots of fun to be had in the hills.  I have been dotting all over the place as ever but highlights from November would include James and Dots Wedding (photos on facebook), lots of days out cragging around Scotland including a visit to Arisaigs Sport Crag – a lot better than rumours would suggest, a couple of trips up to Skye, Sea Kayaking to dinner at the Onich hotel and some trips to Yorkshire including a few night solos at Crookrise crag.IMG_3701 The Fairy pools on Skye last week.  I stopped here after a day taking in Sgurr nan gillian, Am Bastier and Bruac na Frithe.  Even managed a swim!IMG_3683Having fun on the last summit of the day (Bruac Na Frithe).  It felt like April in the Cuillin
IMG_3681Looking North and East along the Cuillin.
IMG_3670 Am Bastier and the Bastier Tooth.  You can just make out Mike Lates (I think) and two clients.IMG_3635 Looking back into Coire Lagan as I descended into Glen Brittle after a day on the Inn Pinn and Sgurr McConnichIMG_3622 Glen Brittle bay and the Isle of Canna at SunsetIMG_3117 Eilien Donan Castle.  I’ve never actually stopped when driving past before but the tide was high and it was early in the morning.  IMG_3131First view of the Cuillin.  I’ve probably stopped for some version of this shot about 10 times over the years and recently saw it on a postcard too.  Great light on the Cuillin earlier in the month though the next day I headed for home early as gusts of 60mph rocked the van.
IMG_3152bw Miles leading DT’s crack at limekilns.  A great day with the ever banterfull Scott Brooks and Miles McConville.  I reckon it adds a grade when your belayers are alternating between making you laugh and insulting you.IMG_3172 Scott setting off up “Elgins Crack” – a limekilns classicIMG_3206Photo courtesy of Miles – me getting ready to lead.  I’ve done most of the routes I can reasonably expect to get up at Limekilns but have always wondered about “Grasp the nettle”  – given E3 5b by the current guidebook but luckily turned out to be a softish E2 5b.
IMG_3262 Adding a grade – Scott topping out of Grasp the Nettle.  Photo courtesy of MilesIMG_3089 Crookrise Crag at night.  I left Fort William a bit late but still managed 6 routes (in the dark) at Crookrise to break up the journey.  I love the three dimensionalness of some of the Gritstone cragsIMG_3078 Winter is coming – first frost on Rannoch MoorIMG_3076Rannoch Moor an hour or so after dawn.  I love the light at this time of year.
IMG_3063 Hannah and I were in Perthshire for the first weekend of the month for a surprise birthday for my dad.  The colours were amazing and we did a lot of wandering around looking at waterfalls.  Above – Bruar Falls in full Autumn coloursIMG_3034 Hannah and the smallest sister in the world in Glen LyonIMG_3026 The Falls under the bridge in Glen LyonIMG_3025 Picnic for Dads birthday in Glen Lyon.IMG_1271 Kayaking to the Onich hotel for pints and dinner this weekend with Oliver, Naomi and GeorgiaIMG_1265Above and Below – Amazing to be able launch a sea kayak from 100m outside the door.  Georgia and I launched and paddled over in flat calm to meet Oliver and Naomi.  Thanks KAG for the last minute lend of a boat!
IMG_1264 IMG_1251Alfie bouldering at Sunset just round the corner from Black Rock crag, Arisaig.  I spent two days at Black Rock a couple of weeks ago and was surprised how little its climbed on.  Routes ranging from low 6s to low 7s and an amazing outlook and its only 40 mins drive away!

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Arisaig, Climbing, Elgins Crack, Scotland climbing, Scottish Kayaking, scottland Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Warm Water

The sea has finally warmed up along with some very hot weather and a lot of rainfall.  This means that I have actually been doing things other than climbing for once.  Sorry climbers this months photos are all watery and proof that I occasionally do other things than hang out in the mountains.  I have also managed to take some landscape photos which has fallen a little by the wayside in recent months.  IMG_1019

Sailing boat with the Cuillin of Rhum behind.  Went for a walk with Hannah today and it was meant to be torrential rain – we were a bit surprised to see this!
ArisaigpanSmall Isles from the parking spot on the walk out to Rhue.

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Dave doing well on his first grade 4 – Headbanger on spean gorge.  A great day in a beautiful gorge! (photo courtesy of Janna)IMG_0780

I have probably put a similar photo up before – an evenings paddle from work in the sound of Luing.IMG_0802Finally got around to doing one of the local canyons.  Matt going big on the first jump.
IMG_0839 On Expedition with Pete – decided to build him a friend to admire the view with.IMG_0910 Some fishing in the rain with my sister and Adam – only three fish!IMG_1619 Spent an afternoon on Belnahua on a day where it must have been 30+deg.  Belnahua is a great place to explore but all we managed was a lot of swimming in one of the old slate mines.  Mark, Hannah and Dave JumpingIMG_1635 Dave showing us how its done.IMG_1643 Finally the nights are long enough and clear enough for some night photography.  Looking North and West from just outside my bedroom!IMG_1650Looking NW.  The white spot is a yachts mast head light in the Black Isle Gap.MattfairystepsMatt working hard on Fair Steps at the start of Spean Gorge.

Also posted in alastair rose, ali rose, Arisaig, Belnahua, Headbanger rapid, Rhum Cuillin, scotland, Scottish Kayaking, Spean Gorge, Uncategorized