Tag Archives: Scotland

Wet Weather Activities

I havent really taken many photos this month.  Lots of work, lots of driving and not very much good weather has meant that I havent had the cameras out too much.
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A brief spell of good weather at the end of last month.  I went on a wee canoe trip with Ali, Hana and Malcy out to Peanmeannach Bothy on Loch Ailort.  Hana and Ali swimming at our lunch stop.931A5141

Malcy disappointed hes going to have to carry his stuff to the bothy!  931A5435

Campfire on the beach.  The bothy was really busy with female backpackers (yes really!) but theres still plenty of space to escape the people.931A5443

I’ve been doing a fair bit of canoeing work this summer, mainly following DofE groups.  A common morning view as another squall comes down the loch.

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Almost got this wrong.  Loch Awe rose about 40cm overnight in torrential rain and I work up with the water lapping in my front porch.931A5477

I’ve also had a little side project this month – rebolting the Sport crag at Arisaig.  Drilling, grinding and glueing arent the funnest of jobs but its hard to complain when this is the walk in!IMG_9059

James and Zeemon pulling the old bolts at Black Rock Arisaig931A5482

Ive been on Stac Pollaidh a few times this summer with various groups from Joint Services.  The climbing is a bit loose but the views are spectacular.931A5491

The glamorous life of a Mountaineering Instructor.  Making cups of tea in the back of the MOD van at the base of Stac Pollaidh.

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Simon and John talking about life round the fire on the beach near Stac Pollaidh.  Its a hard life when you have to camp somewhere like this before heading to the Ceilidh House in Ullapool for breakfast the next day!IMG_9049Colours changing at the falls of Acharn in Tayside.

I’ve now done my last day of self employed work for a while and have a month to catch up with family and friends (and finish the bolting at Black Rock!).  More Scottish Adventures!

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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!

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Over the sea to Skye

The rain is pouring down in Fort William so that may well be end of an amazing run of weather.  Not to worry I just bought a new kayak so I’ve been waiting to get some use out of it!  My last post from September is from a couple of days on Skye with Alfie and Oliver.  I have been to skye  a fair bit but always headed to the Cuillin to climb so this time we decided to get after some classics on the sea cliffs of Neist, Kilt Rock and Floddigarry.

IMG_2619I drove up from Glasgow after a couple of days working for Tayler Made Adventures.  The light was stunning as I drove through Ballachuillish and I stopped to get this shot looking out at one of my favourite mountains – Garbh Bheinn, Ardgour.  I love driving into Fort William from this direction.
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A Sign of things to come at Kilt Rock!

IMG_2628After being heavily disappointed that the Cal Mac Ferry didnt do bacon rolls and nor did anywhere on Skye (!) we headed to Neist.  Above – Oliver leading Midas Touch as the sun slowly comes around the crag.
IMG_2643Alfie “aspirant mountain guide” Tipler heading off up one of the 3star E1’s “Security Risk”.IMG_2641On “Security Risk” watched by Oliver.
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Photo courtesy of Oliver.  Last route of the day “Wall Street” me belaying Alfie – probably one of the best single pitch E2’s I’ve climbedIMG_2694Last light at Neist Lighthouse.  We went for a wander after climbing and I was shocked to see all the photographers lined up along the cliff edge.  While I think there is a lot of merit in “getting the shot” at the perfect time as you sit out there I was a bit thrown by the plethora of tripods, lenses, filters, partners giving minutes till sundown, wifes handing out sandwiches etc.  Why not be out there all day with a camera and a lens and watch the light change.   The above shot was taken from the top of the hill above Neist (where none of the photographers were) and below from the cliff edge with approximately 12 other photographers.  I was smiling inside when the light went flat at the last minute!IMG_2709IMG_1150Next day it was off to Kilt Rock first thing.  I actually took this as we were leaving – another party abseiling into the route that we had just climbed – the awesome “Grey Panther”IMG_1115Oliver and I on the belay of Grey PantherIMG_1143Oliver checking I am in fact belaying as well as taking photos.

Next up it was off to Flodigarry just up the coast.IMG_2721duoAlfie and Oliver at the base of “Spantastic” (the pillar that Alfie is leaning on).  The 1996 guidebook states “The pillar has a narrow base that may not support it much longer.  This is perhaps the only route in the country which attracts a weight limit – more reassuring to make an ascent at high tide when the sea can help cushion a fall”!IMG_2737We decided that it was Alfies lead – I dont think he’d read the bit about a weight limit!  This route is given HVS 5a.  I think it would be easier to call it 4b and say that the leader should have a complete lack of imagination as to the consequences of a fall!  Great fun.

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Shelterstone

I usually manage a climbing trip to some far flung destination every year but this year looks a little different.  I have so many places I still want to get to in Scotland and with the vote on independence this month (yesterday!) I decided to stay at home.  First up was the Loch A’an basin in the Cairngorms.  If you have never seen this side of the cairngorms scroll down to the last couple of pictures and I’m sure it will entice.  For me I really wanted to get some routes done on the shelterstone and managed to convince Adam into walking in at night to go for “The Needle” the next day.  Before the needle (and before Adam got up) I nipped up Afterthought arete and we headed back to Stag rocks in the evening to climb “Monarch of the Glen”.  The day after we climbed “Prince of Darkness” on Hells Lum – Same grade as the Needle but a fair bit harder in my opinion!

IMG_1043Adam starting up the first pitch of the needle.  This route was first climbed by one of my all time heros Robin Smith – Hard to picture him leading this stuff in 1960!
IMG_1068Adam enjoying another exposed pitch with Hells Lum crag in the background.IMG_2536Midgies!  Enough to ruin any climbing day but thankfully only in our camp for a wee while at dawn and dusk.
IMG_2537My wee yellow tent below the Sheltersone crag.  Just like Yosemite really!
IMG_2542Looking down the wonderfull Loch A’an at dawn.
IMG_2544Carn Etchacan, Shelterstone and Hells Lum from the head of Loch A’an
IMG_2556The trouble with climbing (or maybe its the best thing about it!) is that once you do the route you want to do you see another couple that look just as good or better.  I could spend a fortnight camped in the same place and climb every day, especially if I get to wake up to this view every morning!

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Winter Colours

Winter was here but now it seems its gone again and we are back with Autum.  The move to Fort William has finally been paying off in the last couple of weeks – living in the “Adventure Capital of the UK”.  We are still very much in a transitory period living with our friends Sue and Charlie and doing a lot of driving to get things done and see other friends.  This is definitely boating season up here just now with the odd wintery bit thrown in and for once I have actually been using my kayaks!  A range of photos below of the last couple of weeks.

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I was over at Glenmore lodge for a day (re)assessment and spent the night parked beside the beautiful Loch Morlich.  I new the day was going to go fine when I woke up to this.
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At the last minute I went over to Perthshire to help with safety on the “Tay Descent”  Bob and I were sweep/safety for the OC1 class (people in canoes who dont have any friends).  It was great craic paddling with Bob all day and even doing a couple of rescues.IMG_0268

Just before the start at Dunkeld.IMG_0273

The next day Bob and Robin and I headed over the Leny – Robin and I were both under the weather with colds but it was great to be on the water and watch Bob in his canoe on a pretty full river at grade 3 and 4.IMG_0283

We carried on down to where the Leny joins the Teith and picked up Hannah (making Bob OC2 as he then had a friend).  Spot Robins green boat above.

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Bob and Hannah storming down Tory rapid on the Teith amongst the Autum colours.

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Hannah and I headed into Glen Coe the next day for a short hill day on Buachille Etive Beag – Funny how many times I have been up its big brother but never this one.  Brilliant day of storms rolling past.  Above – Looking West along the B.E.B. Ridge.hannahstormcoming

Hannah walking towards the storm.  It hit just as we opened the oatcakes!

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Wild day in the mountains.  IMG_0434

Last Sunday we headed out to one of my favourite mountains – Garbh Bheinn (Ardgour).  I snapped this as we waited for the Corran Ferry.

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View from the Summit.  Far Left is Ben Nevis, Middle (roughly) is Glen Coe.  Brilliant day and the light just got better as we headed down the ridge.
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On the Summit

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Hannah playing with my fisheye lens – did I mention I’m doing Movember?
islesglencoeA quick shot on the drive home on Sat after I had been up in Glen Coe for a nip up the classic “Dorsal Arete” in Stob Coire nan Lochan.  The Pap of Glen Coe from the Isles of Glencoe hotel.

 

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Autumn Colours

 

Driving back from Perthshire today the Autumn colours on the hills were amazing.  For a couple of years October used to be my pilgrimage up the the Northern Cascades of Washington and the beautiful Methrow valley just in time to see the colours change in the mountains.  October is such a beautiful month to be in the mountains in Scotland, the midgies are gone, its cold and crisp and the colours are all changing.  I have been out and about in the hills and on the rock for the odd day here and there in the last couple of weeks, the best day of which was probably doing on Scotlands best days the Aonach Eagach in Glen Coe.  Hannah and I met up with Jago, Sarah and Marius for a glorious day with cold temperatures and bright sunshine.
blueskydayBlue sky day!  Not a cloud in the sky looking back east along the Aonach Eagach.
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On the pinnacles.  Hannah in pink and Sarah in green – Jago was helpfully all in black and is in there somewhere!

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Looking down into Glen Coe and the Three Sisters.

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Sarah and Hannah looking west to Ardgour from the last summit of the ridge.
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A couple of great photos from Jago – Marius, Sarah, Hannah and I lined up at the start of the harder section.

DSC_0912And lined up again on the descent.blackrock

Hard to beat the drive back today – I stopped a couple of times to get some photos.  Above – Scotlands most photographed cottage?  Black Rock Cottage on the edge of Rannoch moor and the entrance to Glen Coe surrounded by changing colours.Glencoe_1

Autum colours in Glen Coe.

 

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