36 hours after getting back from Tanzania I was off on my own adventure with eight friends to the Barra Isles. In this time I managed to unpack, do three loads of washing, go to the climbing wall (twice), clean the house and repack my camping gear plus an excess of ropes hoping that I hadnt forgotten anything. Its never ideal to start a climbing trip having not climbed for the month previously so I hoped that my two indoor sessions made up for the month in Tanzania where I mainly drank lots of coffee and ate too much. The isles of Pabbay and Mingulay are one of the UK’s trad climbing paradises and somewhere I have wanted to visit for a very long time. While they were inhabited for a long time by a surprisingly large amount of people neither island has had permanent inhabitants since 1911. What is left is some beautiful Lewisian Gneiss cliffs on the west coasts constantly battered by the atlantic swells while the east coasts have sheltered bays of perfect sand. A climbing trip to these islands involves a bit of organisation (cheers Malcy!) as getting a group of climbers to agree to dates and then actually turn up in Oban for a five hour ferry journey followed by another hour on a fishing boat is no easy feat. Added to this the mixed weather the islands receive for much of the year make this a tough choice when a trip to spain costs almost the same.
Theres always a risk with a late summer trip to the Hebrides! Tims lightweight alpine tent not standing up the challege of some force 7 gusts while Als cheap car camping tent sits proud. We were offered an early pickup by Francis but ended up staying (long story) to weather the storm.
Looking down the initial slab of “The Priest” to Tim far below. Tim and I were keen to get as many of the three and four star classics done as possible. This involved some pretty exciting days with quite a few pitches of quite damp rock!
Speeding back to Barra on the Saturday. I was really struck on this trip by how many places in Scotland I still have to explore. I’ll definitely be back in the Barra isles for another climbing trip soon but hopefully Mingulay next year!
Castlebay Church lit up at night with an eerie moon.