Friday, 31 July 2009

Cragging and Fishing

Donald climbing the first route

Two evenings in a row outdoors - that doesn’t happen very often!

On Wednesday night I went out with Donald and Ruaridh to Pinnacle Crag at Duntelchaig, the aim was to get me to dangle off the end of a bit of rope and actually climb something. The missed opportunities at Erraid had been gnawing away at me and Donalds assurance of easy routes and no pressure was enough to persuade me to at least give it a try.

Ruaraidh finishing up on the second route


After infinite patience (on Donald’s part) and much swearing, sweating and grunting (on my part) I finally managed to haul myself up a 10 metre Vdiff! Conquering my psychological fears was a bigger battle than actually climbing the thing. Moving on from there we tackled another wee route with a nice little crack that finished things off at the top, this one was probably slightly harder (certainly the top section made you think) but all the easier for the fact that I’d managed to get over my fears and go for it. I came home a bit scraped and bruised but very happy.

The View from Pinnacle Crag, Duntelchaig

Thursday night was slightly more relaxed - a fishing trip to Rosemarkie was the cure for a hectic day. My daughter tried her hand at fishing for the first time and seemed pretty taken with it, although I’m not sure that scrambling over the rock pools was more of an interest for her. I managed to lose three sets of gear in the rocks and caught the sum total of a bit of seaweed and a lump of mud! Not that I cared though. The sun setting behind us and a reasonably warm evening more than made up for it.

Rhiannon reels them in

Sunday, 26 July 2009

The Cairngorms

We were child free for the afternoon so decided a quick dash up Cairngorm was in order. My road bike's still knackered so the best option was a walk up a Munro I've done many, many times before. I use it as a general gauge of my hill fitness as it's reasonably straightforward (and a shortish day out with the option to extend round the Northern Corries or on to Ben Macdui)... it's not good as it turns out! My legs were killing me after the first half hour - I'm obviously not balancing cycling time with enough cross training.

It was my wifes third Munro (and the third that we've done together!) and we had relatively clear skies for the day, it's the first time that I've been on the plateau when there's been no wind - and the first time when a breeze would have been welcome!

The views across to Ben Macdui, Braeriach and the Northern Corries were very clear although the Corries seemed pretty quiet, where were all the climbers!? I thought it would have been a good day for it.

A Paraglider tried to make the best of the low winds, he didn't get too far and after taking off from the slope of Sron an Aonaich above Coire Cas he landed on the path heading to the Northern Corries. It looked idyllic though. I wouldn't mind a go myself!

Cairngorm Mountain have spent a fair bit trying to tidy the area up, it's much maligned for being a complete tip with rusting ski tows and bulldozed paths leaving scars all over Coire Cas. The funicular has helped with this in part (granted it's making sod all money!) and much of the ski and tourist traffic now use this as their main way up to the Ptarmigan. I was pleased to see that they've made a real effort with biingual Gaelic/English signage.

Next week - more training on my mountain bike. I'm using it to cycle to work and building up a good base level of fitness. Then I'm on annual leave, hopefully heading to Devon with a working road bike and lots of big Dartmoor hills to look forward to.



Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Erraid (Isle of Mull)

What a weekend! Left Inverness last weekend for a few days on the Isle of Erraid off the West coast of Mull. The weather forecast for much of Scotland was pretty gloomy and it was looking like we were in danger of the weekend being a bit of a wash out. Happily we were completely wrong! I’ve never been to Mull before and I was blown away by the scenery.. to be honest I think the pictures tell it better than I can.

Traigh Gheal - the view from the campsite

Our campsite beside Traigh Gheal (lit: White Beach)

Argos Pro Action tent - £25 and a complete bargain, light sturdy and very, very good value for money!

The Sound of Erraid

Sunset over Iona

Dan Goodwin new routing on Erraid

Those of you familiar with the works of Robert Louis Stevenson will know that Erraid is the Island that David Balfour is marooned on in ‘Kidnapped’, the outline of the Island also bears a strong resemblance to the map on Treasure Island. Apparently you can walk across the Sound of Erraid at low tide, however we turned up at high tide and it the sea was still a good distance away. The views from the high points on the Island take in Iona, Tiree, Jura and Colonsay. It’s a nature watchers paradise too with Gannets, Shags, Buzzards, Otters, Manx Shearwaters and Sea Eagles all within the flourish of a pair of binoculars.

The intention was to camp, climb and fish, I managed two of those but unfortunately climbing wasn’t to be. I seem to have hit a bit of a mental block when it comes to climbing and the thought of tying in to the rope just made me feel nauseous and utterly terrified. I can’t pin down the reasons for this and it made me feel pretty useless. I’m seriously contemplating selling all my climbing kit but I want to climb! I’m looking back on the photos of the others climbing and I’m gutted that I didn’t manage a single route. I declared at the time that I was done with climbing, but sod it. I’m not giving up and I WILL climb again, I just need to sort my head out!

The cycle stuff is still ongoing, I’ll post a picture of the Courier article when I get a mo’ and I have a loooooong rant about Halfords that I need to air.

The end of a great trip!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

More on the Cycle Path!

I’ve had some good responses from people in regards to the cycle path in Inverness. I started a couple of threads on UK Climbing and Bike Radar and drummed up a bit of interest.

I was also interviewed by a someone from the Inverness Courier on the phone yesterday, I think they want to run an article on it and had said that they would contact Highland Council and ask them for their response. The courier usually publishes their articles online so I’ll link to it on here as soon as it’s up.