Category Archives: Skye

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, Kayaking, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, North Wales Climbing, Scottish Kayaking, Scottish Sea Kayaking, 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, canoe, Climbing, Cuillin, Fisherfield Wilderness, Jetboil, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Uncategorized Tagged , , , , , , , , |

The trouble with Sea Kayaking

The trouble with sea kayaking is there’s an awful lot of faff involved.  It also involves large amounts of driving (even though I live 100m from the sea) and it can be quite hard work.  I hate faff, do a lot of driving already and usually try and find a way around hard work.  This might explain why I havent managed to do much sea kayaking this year despite a looming assessment.  At the start of the month Matt and Oliver agreed to join me for some faffing as I got myself ready for my “5 star leader assessment” (a grand and somewhat confusing title).  The final problem with sea kayaking is that it is pretty hard to get decent pictures of the actual sea kayaking.  I am therefore starting with the ubiquitous shot of the boat on a beautiful scottish beach.IMG_2199 The three of us headed out to Arisaig to prove how inept we were at rescuing each other and ourselves – it was however a great warm up for the next 8 days of paddling for Matt and I.IMG_2203 Matt paddling away from the Cuillin in the sound of Raasay.  Strong winds stopped us getting anywhere so we were forced into a couple of nights stay at Raasay House.IMG_2208Ferry coming in.  We headed out into some fairly big swell (again no photos as I was trying to stay upright) on a particularly wild day
IMG_2214 IMG_2226 After some kit sorting and drying we headed down the sound of Luing, through the corryvrechan whirlpool to the west coast of Jura.  The bothy finally in sight after a great days paddlingIMG_5417Jellyfish on the beachIMG_5426A couple of shots of Glen Garrisdale bothy.  I’ve wanted to go here for years and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.  IMG_5434Glen Garrisdale

The next day we headed back across the whirlpool to Scarba and across to the Garbhellachs.  IMG_2228 Coffee and and super noodles on Eileach a NaoimhIMG_5448 Looking south over our campsite on the southern end of GarvellachIMG_5454 Sunset looking south.IMG_5481The next morning we had planned to leave early to catch the flooding tide.  We were met at 630 by clouds of midgies forcing us to procrastinate in the tent for 45mins.  Above – Matt contemplating getting out, you can see the smear of midgies on the mesh panel on the right.

Despite all the faff, driving and hard working I love the places you can get to by sea kayak and how simple it can be to pack up a boat and head off for a few days.  Oh and I passed the assessment.

Also posted in ali rose, Arisaig, Back of Keppoch, bothy, midgies, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, scotland, Scottish Kayaking Tagged , |

Nice weather for Ducks

For the time that I lived overseas I pictured living back in Scotland getting out to some of the stunning places around the west coast, blue skies, the odd cloud, the odd bit of wind, the odd midge.  It seems that I failed to picture summers like the one we’re having.  Overcast, damp, midgy.  I have long believed that you can always find the right condiditons for your adventure sport in Scotland if you just look hard enough and drive far enough.  This summer I have spent time in a huge variety of places – Thurso and the North Coast, Ullapool, Skye, Fort William, Inverness, Ardgour, Torridon, Cairngorms and everywhere seems the same.  July has been as bad as the rest of the months for weather but its still hard to complain as the hard won “good days” feel all the better.  It could also be that Hannah and I just got back from 8 days in Vratsa, Bulgaria where the temperature sat in the upper 20s to lower 30s and only rained once.
IMG_2165 Desperation set in and Adam and I headed for “Bullroar” on Ben Nevis.  The famously wet crux pitches were indeed wet and I got colder than I did all winter.  Above and Below – Adam leading the long traverse pitch.IMG_2169IMG_4954A lot of July saw me working in Inverness for Adventure Training Scotland.  Even with the ability to go anywhere it was still pretty hard to find “good” weather.  Above – my two co-instructors Johannes and Lawrie staring at the only bright bit of cloud from our camp in Coire Lagan.  IMG_0889Descending from Sgurr Mhic Choinnich in the mist.  We had been deliberating whether to go up but were rewarded with stunning views back down to the coire and out to sea.

IMG_4966_1Happy to be off the ridge!IMG_4970A forecast with a low chance of precipitation but a high chance of midgies (low wind) saw Adam and I (followed poorly by Scott, Josh and Kirsty) head up to one of my favourite spots – the South Wall of Garbh Bheinn.  Above – the always stunning view from the corran ferry.IMG_4986_1Adam starting up Excalibur.  IMG_5007A view back across at Liam Ingram on “The Pincer” from the belay of “The Peeler”

Next up it was off to Vratsa in Bulgaria with Hannah.  Hannah at the top of “Bezengi” Tower with the central wall behind.
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Hannah making the traverse out to the West ridge of the dogs tooth.IMG_2194Limestone everywhere.IMG_5018The view from our balcony.  So much climbing so close to where we were staying meant lots of time to chill out and samply some Bulgarian food as well.
IMG_5024 In the “big cave”.  We headed up here for a look as there are some incredibly hard routes that climb inside this.  The scope for new lines in this cave is absolutely unbelievable though probably with an entry grade of about 7c+IMG_5036We also went and checked out the show cave at Ledenika.  Well worth a visit if only for the weird 1980s style light show on the tour.

Next up – a quick turnaround for me, out to South Africa to meet a group of students and then head to Northern India with them.  Best get packing!

Also posted in ali rose, Ben Nevis, Climbing, Climbing Bulgaria, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Scotland climbing, Torridon, Uncategorized, Vratsa Climbing

May Madness part 2

Thought I would throw some more photos up while I have a bit of time.  Winter does not seem to have left the Highlands quite yet but there has still been some stunning days.  I have been spending quite a bit of time on Skye for work and play with a few mad dashes back home or elsewhere.Clac-Glas I drove up to Skye after lunch one day and went for a quick solo along the the Clac Glas Blabheinn traverse.  Above – The summit of Clac  Glas with Blabheinn beyond.IMG_4613 The great prow of Blabheinn.  Its awesome to revisit places I havent been in years.  I climbed the crack up the prow with Rasta Gav in 2002 – seems like yesterday.IMG_4628 There are some views in Scotland that never get old.  Stepping out the van at Elgol as the sunsets.  IMG_4647 I was back on Skye with Adventure Training Scotland (the MOD) working the last couple of days of a Rock Skills course with Calum Musket and Max Hunter.  Great fun in a great location.  Above – Calum on the classic “Integrity” with two of the lads.IMG_4649 Max getting ready to get of the Cioch.IMG_4660 Calum and Max sorting the ropes after a fairly wild group ascent of the Inn Pinn.IMG_4669 What to do after a damp day in the hills?  Calum leads the way into the fairy pools.IMG_4692 I had an unexpected free day on Skye yesterday (not technically May I know) so Miles and I headed out to slay one of his dragons – Pinnacle Ridge of Sgurr Nan Gillean.  IMG_4708 Miles cruising up the upper part of Pinnacle ridge with some other climbers just approaching the abseil behindIMG_2048This morning Hannah, Miles and I headed out for a quick blast down the Inchree Canyon.  Hannah on the big jump.

Also posted in Canyoning, Canyoning Scotland, Cioch, Climbing, Cuillin, Inn Pinn, Pinnacle Ridge Sgurr nan Gillean, scotland