Tag Archives: Sea Kayaking

Summer Sun

For the last couple of years I’ve tried to hold onto a couple of weeks in May and June where I dont work to allow me time to tick off a couple of Scotlands classic rock routes.  The weather window to do these mountain routes can be quite small and usually  I come away from those weeks a little frustrated at either the amount of rain, the amount of midgies or the lack of keen partners.  This year feels a little different.  When you’re self employed its often hard to not take work when its offered but over the last couple of months I’ve managed to hang onto my time off and amazingly this has largely coincided with periods of amazing weather and friends who are also free and keen to climb.  In the last few months almost everything else has fallen by the way side as I’ve got tireder and tireder ticking through three star routes quite a few of which I never thought I would get to climb.  Its been amazing to see the mountain crags so busy with teams operating at all grades in glorious sunshine.

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The majestic Cir Mhor on the Isle of Arran.  Despite having lived on Arran for a few months I had never climbed the South Ridge Direct.  Camping in Glen Rosa for a couple of nights was the start of an amazing spell of good weather.931A7226

Photo from Cecile.  I wasnt sure if after the 14 pitch South ridge I would still be keen for this Robin Smith testpiece – a protectionless 15m solo of the “Rosetta Stone” at the top of Cir Mhor. 931A7354

Somewhat of a rest day.  On a baking hot day Cecile and I cycled in to climb “Ardverikie Wall”  I was on belay duty all day and climbed with my hood up to try and escape the sun.  The last time I climbed this was one of the most midgy experiences of my life!931A7472

A wee bit of work.  I have been running some Skye sea kayak expeditions this summer for Sea Kayak Plockton.  All of these expeditions have been quite different but all with brilliant clients to some wild and adventurous places.  Above – camped on Harlosh Island in loch Bracadale – we had to cut the last day of this exped short as a force 8 was forecast.931A7506

Point of Stoer lighthouse.  We were meant to be sea kayaking this day but it was way to windy (right after the Loch Bracadale work trip)931A7534

Jago, Sarah and Ceclie proving how windy it is on a wander out to see if the “Old Man of Stoer” is still standing.

P1020317Photo from Andy Nisbet (me on the second pitch of the the Robin Smith Classic “The Big Top”).  At the end of 12 day streak of climbing Andy convinced me to head out for a photo shoot for the new guidebook with Graham I had been shifting concrete slabs the evening before and was feeling pretty tired but it was all worth it for some more classics in the sun with Andy shouting “stop there for a minute theres a cloud”

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Adam contemplating his runout on the classic “Edgehog”.  Somehow in the driest summer I remember Adam, Seb and I were up the glen on a freezing cold morning as the drizzle showers came through.  It hasn’t all be endless sunshine!

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Endless sunshine!  The two accompanying teachers on a recent bit of work for the High School of Glasgow taking a morning dip in loch Morar.
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Fox in camp on Loch Nevis.  I think we might have been camped on this old boys den as he hung around very close to us for quite a while.931A8771

Work – supervising a Gold DofE group as they paddle to the narrows of Loch Nevis.  931A8788

Final day of a four day trip.  Dave (the other supervisor) gliding up the inside channel from Back of Keppoch into Arisaig bay. These four days were the hottest I have ever spent on the water in the UK.

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Al Docherty on the crux pitch of “Minus One Direct” in May.  There was so much snow in Observatory Gully that the bottom two pitches (45m) were missing.

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Adam on the top pitch of “Crocodile”  on one of our many productive days this summer.  On this day we had to desperately seek shade as it was too hot to climb in the sun.

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Stormy paddling into Glen Dhu (appropriate name) with Cecile, Jago and Sarah.

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Pabay post box.  On the last of the Skye sea kayak expeditions we stopped for the night on Pabay on the east side of Skye.  Definitely one of the weirdest places I’ve stayed with a lonely wee post box, a fancy renovated farm house (deserted) and a perfectly straight road across the island that appeared to go nowhere!

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Paddling under the Skye bridge on the last day of the exped.

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Cecile seconding one of the many exciting pitches of “Torro” on Ben Nevis.

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Mark Chambers on the brilliant main pitch of “Alice Springs” on Creag and Dubh Loch.  The last two days of my summer climbing season (in Scotland!)  were brilliant with Mark and I trying to fit as much as possible into a couple of days before had to be back at work.

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Third route of the day – the never dry “Sword of Damocles” was bone dry.

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Here we go again”  Staring up at “King Rat” at 7am ready for another day of fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting home in style.  Even the crag access is fun on these things you call “Mountain Bikes” (I think they should be called trail bikes as you dont see people actually on mountains on them!).

The summer has been amazing but now I have a couple more days of work before some international trips for work and play.  For once the Scottish summer has been a good warm up for Morocco and the Dolomites!

 

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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.

Posted in alastair rose, ali rose, canoe, Climbing, mountains to the sea, mountainstothesea, Neist Lighthouse, Reiff, Scotland climbing, Scottish Sea Kayaking, Uncategorized Also 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.

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

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!

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