Saturday, 25 May 2013

Gorge Scrambling and a RIB Ride

On their last day, there was just time for the team from George Watson's to squeeze in a gorge scramble before getting packed up and sorted. There was fresh snow on the Clisham down to 700m or so, so the water was a little chilly to say the least! It's been a great couple of weeks working with this group and getting to know them, and I think it's fair to say that by the end of their stay most had achieved things they would not have thought they could at the beginning.

 The girls group tacking the big jump

The boys group chatting to the locals

Yesterday after a day of pottering about at home and in town to get some chores done, I headed out with Roddy, John and Iain to see what John's new RIB was like. We took a little tour about from the end of the road at Point on a lovely evening. The RIB is meant to be good for seas of up to 2m... Not convinced I'd fancy it in that though!

 The coastline around Point where John and Iain go cliff-jumping

John grinning like the Cheshire Cat with his new toy!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Aird Uig, Camping at Luskintyre and Todun

On Sunday I had the day off, so we headed up to Aird Uig to check out a crag up there and take the girls to play on the rocks. Although it was overcast and misty in Stornoway, the weather came good in the west and we had sunshine all afternoon. In between scrambling, bouldering, bouncing stones on pools and swimming, we managed to have a nosey at Boardwalk Crag and hope to head there for some climbing soon.

 About to head off to play on the rocks

Looking back towards the Uig hills

Yesterday I was working with Sean and the crew from George Watson's College who are staying at the Scaladale centre just now. They were all feeling refreshed after a day off from activities, so we thought we'd cram as much as possible into the last few days of their stay... We started off with a raft building session, then hit the showers before packing bags and walking the Coffin Trail through to Luskintyre where they pitched tents for the night. Once tents and dinner were sorted and tidied away, we had a fire on the beach and the group entertained us with music and stories until late. Although it was a pretty breezy night, the tents managed to pass muster and everyone got some sleep at least!

 The view from my tent - could be worse!

 Natalia rocking it up on the ukelele

Hugh playing some ceilidh tunes on his fiddle

Today there were lots of bleary eyes getting the tents packed away and the washing up done. A short sharp shower of hail woke everyone up a bit though, and we managed to get out on to Todun at a pretty respectable time. The hail soon stopped and we were mostly in the sun for the rest of the day, with squally showers passing us by down the loch. With nicer weather and lots of little scrambly bits to play on, the group soon perked up and we had a great short day out. On the way back we took them to have a little peep at the hostel at Rhenigidale where the school group used to stay each year before the Scaladale centre opened 12 years ago. 

 Stopping for a quick bite to eat on the way up Todun

 Play time on the way up - bouldering

 On the ridge - a wee bit of scrambly stuff

 Squally showers going down the loch and passing us by

Views to Clisham - very different to a few days ago!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Hillwalking on Todun

The weather wasn't quite so kind today, with a stiff north-easterly wind and cloud down to around 400m. We opted to go up Todun, which at 528m gave us a good challenge. Lots of defensive walking and some wee scrambly bits saw us to the summit, where we huddled in the shelter for a bite to eat. On the way down the group really enjoyed battling the elements, with a few of them getting knocked over by gusts - pretty blowy at times! They remained amazingly positive though, managing to spot some of the vegetation they identified with the rangers from the North Harris Trust a few days ago, getting involved in the navigation and having a shot at finding the route themselves through steeper ground.

Scouting for the best route down

Friday, 17 May 2013

Staff training day - climbing and gorge walking

Today I was out with Sean again from the Scaladale centre, and we were joined by Matt. The idea was for us to go and have a look at a single pitch crag near Scalpay that we hadn't been to before, and have a look at the gorge walk on the Rhenigidale road so myself and Matt can help deliver sessions there. The sun shone all day and there were only light breezes - it almost felt like summer for a while!

Matt on one of the 6 good lines at the wee crag

Sean doing his very best pensive pose in the gorge

Sean showing us the best spot to place a handrail using a knotted sling

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Biking and Coasteering for Scaladale

The last couple of days I have been working for the Scaladale Centre, in North Harris. Yesterday was showery with a few exfoliating hailstones, so we decided that mountain biking in the castle grounds was the way to go. This is a great area for teaching skills, with lots of small, isolated slopes and features to practice on, and a variety of purpose-built trails to play on once confidence has been built. The teams did brilliantly, with some who had never been off road on a bike before managing to ride the red run by the end of the session.

Top of the blue run - 2nd run, double the fun!

Today was a brighter day, although still with a cool breeze and the odd heavy shower. We took the groups coasteering at Rhenigidale as they had a theme for the day of comparing coastal and inland environments. Conditions were great, with just a little swell to make things interesting, but not enough to prevent us getting the maximum fun out of the journey. It's a great venue, with plenty of options to start and finish, and interesting things to do whatever height the tide is at. 

Running into the sea - Baywatch style!

Getting used to letting the swell do the work

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A New Chapter

Since I've just made a move to Stornoway and gone freelance, I thought I'd resurrect this blog to record starting out up here. There should be lots of exploring going on in the next few months, so hopefully some good pictures and experiences to share.

After saying goodbye to the Ice Factor team on Friday (yes I really will miss it, most of the time!) I headed straight off up the road to Skye. The forecast didn't look great, but the Polldubh Club had a meet arranged in honour of former club member and meets secretary Mark Phillips so I figured we'd find something to do. In the end, 7 of us opted for a coastal walk round to Coruisk as some of us hadn't been round before and others had always got the boat. We walked in from the layby just up the hill from Elgol, giving us an easy track to walk as far as Camasunary. There was an epic stag party happening at the house near to the bothy there, but we declined to join in! 

The coastal path round from Camasunary to Coruisk is very pretty, and quite rough walking all the way. It is worth noting that the river crossing next to Camasunary to get to it is definitely a wet feet job - I'd consider sticking a light pair of trainers in another time. The infamous Bad Step gave little difficulty in dry conditions and with small packs - I could see how it could get a bit more exciting with a big pack in the wet though! A worthwhile walk on a showery day.

Walking in to Camasunary

Pinnacle Ridge just peeping out in the background

 Blue skies over towards Blaven

 Looking towards Coruisk from the Bad Step

Today I headed out with Sean to look at a coasteering spot near Rhenigidale. I will be working for him at the Scaladale Centre for some of the summer, so it was a chance for me to see a venue, have a chat, sort paperwork etc. Out with a group with them tomorrow - looking forward to it!

Sean chilling in a cave