Thursday, 24 June 2010

A Scottish trip

So a week in Scotland and I'm feeling rather tired! Nothing compared to Steve Pyke and his mammoth Munro run though. The idea had been to get some Hard Rock ticks done as well as some lower level cragging. In the event, things didn't quite work out that way.

Our first objective was Creag an Dubh Loch in the Cairngorms, so a two hour blast from the Spittal of Glen Muick got us to the foot of the crag only to find that both our intended routes were very wet. Obviously the winter snows have taken longer to melt than normal, there was some snow still lying in Central Gully. So we headed up on to the plateau and bagged Broad Cairn before heading back to the car and then over to the west coast.

The next bit of the plan was to visit Carnmore, possibly the remotest major crag in Scotland with a 10 mile walk-in, and attempt the two routes there that are in Hard Rock plus a couple of others. Weighed down with suitably heavy sacks we plodded in, set up camp and climbed the classic VS, Fionn Buttress.

I reckon that this would be a bit of a shock if you only led VS as it has some seriously committing climbing. It is absolutely brilliant though and it was 10pm when we topped out.

The following morning another team had the same plans as ourselves so as it was a little cool we thought that we'd give it some time to warm up and we headed off to bag a couple of Munros. Actually the two are reckoned to be the remotest in the list with a complete round trip being some 40Km. An increasingly interesting ridge led to the summit of A' Mhaghdean with its fantastic panorama over the Fisherfield Forest. Ruadh Stac Mor was easily ticked off then back to the crag.

The other team had only just finished the route on the lower tier so we decided to head up Black Mischief to get to Gob on the upper tier. Three pitches of varied climbing got us to the foot of the central bay then another two full rope lengths over very insecure, and steep, heather got us close to the start of Gob. By now it was cold again and I was somewhat spooked by everything so we bailed out up the original route of the crag. Again it was late, 9pm, so possibly just as well we didn't decide to do Gob. On the descent we disturbed a Scottish wild cat, the first I've ever seen captive or wild.

The next day was wet so we walked out and went cragging by the coast. Either the grades were wrong or I had suddenly become much better by not doing any climbing! There followed a couple of days visiting various crags which included doing one of the best HVS pitches I've ever done (Bald Eagle at Stone Valley Crags).

By then it was time to head south but we split it by stopping overnight at Blair Atholl then a little bit of sport climbing at Weem Rock on the final day.

I'd forgotten just how far and big the Scottish hills are and was seriously knackered on the way out from Carnmore with pretty low sugar levels from not eating enough. Walking in to the crags the following days felt easy in comparison with having a much lighter sack though I may have even convinced myself that I was fitter. Ultimately though, ten minute walk-ins to 15m sports crags is not good training for big mountain routes even if those routes are technically far easier.


  1. Ace photos Bob. Sounds a good trip. DT

  2. Fantastic stuff Bob. I love it out there. Camped near the "causeway" at Carnmore on a wild, windy night a few years ago and woke to the most beautiful sunny, clear day. Very envious.
    Nice to meet you a couple of weeks ago, recceing leg 1 with Andy. See you soon.


  3. Some more photos at