Archive for the Climbing Category

Ardnamurchan – Climbs, Swims and Rescued Sheep

Posted in Climbing, Hiking, Hills, Photography with tags , , , , on June 10, 2013 by Jinja Coo

Back to Arnamurchan for our annual (sometimes more) visit and a return to climbing too. Friday night’s journey up was a bit of a labour despite early finishes at work as a road closure and diversion resulting from an accident made the five hour journey seven instead. A lie-in could have been on the cards then, the following morning, but by 7:30am the tent was roasting and we had to get out and take on the midges briefly whilst packing up.

A quick breakfast and some chat on the detail for the weekend over a map was next in Kilchoan’s cafe. Decisions, decisions, would we climb and lug extra gear or ditch that and just enjoy the place? It seemed like an easy and lazy option to go light so we endured the hour and a half walk with heavy packs (and light ones too) across the floor of the volcanic crater to a point close to our chosen crag.



It didn’t take us long to find a suitable spot, good view, flat and comfortable and with potential for a breeze to keep the midges at bay later on. This was our first visit coinciding with midges and we were not keen to feed them too well. Tents were soon up and then a quick lunch and lounge in the sun enjoyed before we headed a few hundred meters back to our chosen area of the ring crags.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

(l to r) Blaven and the Broadford Hills

(l to r) Blaven and the Broadford Hills

We did three routes of two pitches in blazing sunshine with nobody else in sight. Just us and bird song for most of the day but bizarrely peace was interrupted by music at one point coming from (we think) a cruise liner out in the Sound of Mull, miles away. Not even a single car in the road less than half that distance had been heard before that, a very surreal experience. The routes were nice on their own, but the overall package of comfortable climbing, great weather, great views and the feel of the place generally just made it such a good day.

Saturday's swimming pool

Saturday’s swimming pool

Another benefit of our camp spot was the proximity of a nice lochan which we had walked past on a previous visit and had in mind for a swim to cool off in after the day’s exertions. Again, this just added to the day – warm enough to be pleasant but cool, refreshing and cleansing, what a way to finish off the energetic part of the day.

Midge net view

Midge net view

Beers and dinner were shared with midges unfortunately but soon enough a breeze picked up, strong enough to see the wee bandits off for the night. I say night but night suggests darkness and it was a long time coming before that arrived. Sunset and its approach were taken in leisurely over a few drams with chat and silent pondering mixed in.

Western Isles at sunset

Western Isles at sunset


The views ahead of us to the west and north were amazing, something we have enjoyed at sunset on previous visits, but not from this high up and a bit more of the Skye hills could be enjoyed without Rum and Eigg obscuring them so much.

(l to r) Rum, Eigg, Cuillins and Broadford Hills on Skye

(l to r) Muck, Canna, Rum, Eigg, Cuillins and Broadford Hills on Skye

Darkness to an extent did materialise eventually and with it some stars, but it was not them that were the main event in the night sky, rather it was the formation of noctilucent clouds, bright and very high clouds which only form at certain latitudes and certain times of year.

Noctilucent clouds over Knoydart

Noctilucent clouds over Knoydart

Both of us fell asleep lying out on the rocky area by our tents with a mind to bivvying out but I was woken by the drop in temperature and we both retreated to our tents at that point. Again we woke to blazing sunshine and warm tents and again we had to endure midges over breakfast. Argghh, I forgot how annoying these things can be, but we survived and they can be endured to a point.

Boulder crag by the beach

Boulder crag by the beach

We struck camp, ironically just as the breeze picked up again, and headed off just after the midges did. After a sweaty walk out, our destination was a boulder and swim at Sanna Bay. An absolutely gorgeous place, so unspoiled and clean and but for the temperature of the water and remoteness, somewhere that could easily be overrun by people. Bouldering did not take up much time, fingers were tender from climbing on the sharp rock and it was hard going to we headed for the water and inched our way in over numerous attempts. So much colder than our dip the previous day, but worth it.

Sunday's swimming pool

Sunday’s swimming pool

View over Mull and Ben More in distance

View over Mull and Ben More in distance

A leisurely lunch then wander back out and on to a long standing objective of our jaunts out to Ardnamurchan, a walk up Ben Hiant. It actually proved to be a much shorter walk than the size of the hill appears to suggest and soon enough we were up top, having followed a good and evidently popular path. Views from here were good as expected and in all directions. A cleared village below the summit on the south caught my attention and I wondered about following a ridge down to it taking in views of the coast below on the way. Andrew was happy to reverse the approach so I jogged off on my own to try and avoid him any waiting at the end.

Stuck lamb

Stuck lamb

The views were good but unexpectedly I chanced upon a sheep stuck in a big which after some effort was free but not looking too lively, perhaps it had already exhausted itself in trying to get free. Soon I found a lamb nearby in a similar situation. It was much easier to extract and had obviously not been stuck as long as it bounded off quite the thing to join its mum and badly in need of a wash.

Free lamb in need of a wash

Free lamb in need of a wash

This place doesn’t disappoint and there are still plenty of things to go back for, can’t wait till next time.

Back Again

Posted in Climbing, Hiking, Hills with tags on September 11, 2012 by Jinja Coo

Third visit to Ardnamuchan in a year, taking a chance given the forecast for the weekend, which was not promising. We were lucky though with just a couple of very brief showers on the Saturday morning which arrived thankfully after we had our tents up.


Pretty chilled out – mooching by the coast, watching the weather first come in and shroud the isles of Muck, Eigg and Rum in cloud then slowly and partially reveal them again later on.

After a few, very short walks and scrambles on the nearby rocks, we managed to spend the entire evening by the firebox chatting with no more rain and finished things off on the Sunday with one single climb in a new part of the ring crags followed by a quick drive round to Arndamurchan Point to see what the waters are like there on a stormier day than during my last visit (kayaking Ardnamurchan Point).

Previous visits: 2008, 2009 and 2010.

21st to 22nd of August, 2010 – Scrambles in Glen Coe

Posted in Climbing, Hills with tags on August 22, 2010 by Jinja Coo


A planned crossing of the Aonach Eagach had to be abandoned due to forecast high winds in which, a group of people new to the route would be lead across it in order to gain some experience in scrambling and exposure in preparation for a forthcoming visit to An Teallach.

As the intended route was no longer an option and the forecast so bad, a smaller group of us decided on a scramble up Dinner Time Buttress on the west side of Aonach Dubh which seemed a more sheltered and shorter option. Great decision! We had an entirely dry day with some buffeting from the wind but no issues and great views out to Loch Leven and beyond as well as over to a shrouded Aonach Eagach.

We dropped down below the east side of Aonach Dubh then walked along beside the road which felt surprisingly hard going at the end of such a short day out.

The rest of the group joined us in the evening for food, beers and social.

A wetter day forecast and with the aim of getting some scrambling experience introduced to the members of the group who missed out the day before, we opted for an ascent of Beauchaille Etive Mor by Curved Ridge – an old favourite of mine. I think this was my seventh or eighth time on this route but it occurred to me along the way that in all those times, I’ve only been on the ridge once when it was dry. Today was not one of the dry ones by a long way.

Wet from soon after leaving the path, we were distracted from the misery of heavy drizzle and rain by the task at hand. Most of the difficulties were no problem but we did rope up for one section having experienced slick, wet rock further below.

We topped out to dryness and clearing views in much the same way as on my first time on this route and as we descended after a short lunch the weather improved all the way.

6th to 8th of May, 2010 – Ardnamurchan Climbing

Posted in Climbing, Hills with tags on May 8, 2010 by Jinja Coo

I love this place!

Third time climbing in Ardnamurchan and it has gotten better each time; this time we had longer to enjoy the place, two days versus one, and for this third visit, we enjoyed great weather again, some really enjoyable wild camping with stunning views and sunsets, and the pleasure of the heat of an ‘open’ fire to warm us and cook on.

Our climbing was relaxed, almost too relaxed but it is hard to get moving when the views below are so amazing.

Previous visits: 2008 and 2009.

16th January, 2010 – Ice Climbing Attempt in Glen Ogle

Posted in Climbing on January 16, 2010 by Jinja Coo

An unusually severe winter compared to recent years has been forming ice all over the Highlands and today we headed off to Glen Ogle to have a go at some good looking ice falls that have been climbed in the past few days. However, a thaw has set in the last week and though pictures of the ice from two days prior suggested thick, solid ice, we set off not knowing what the day would bring.

We drove up with rain (not a good sign) but were encouraged on arriving at the car park to see the frozen falls above and set off for the 15 minute walk uphill with the rain turning to snow in a quite a short height gain. Unfortunately with each new view of the falls as we approached it was apparent they were not just ice but the burns which had formed them were now flowing fully over them and thawing the ice rapidly in the process. We quickly decided against the lower of the two main tiers of ice, it being far too wet and climbed past it to the upper tier which looked more promising. It was still wet enough to make us seal sleeves and collars against the deluge but apart from a 15ft section of ice at the bottom, there was no climbing to be had, the next section was hollow, brittle and exploratory probing with my axe was like running a hot knife through butter. We managed one other short play on a little piece of good ice further below the main ice falls but that was all.

Hopefully this thaw will not take all the ice away completely before the second phase of winter sets in (which usually happens) so that we get another chance on routes like this.