The Pentlands

Ivor and I headed in to the Pentlands today to try and keep some hill miles in the legs. Starting from Harlaw we took in Harbour Hill, Capelaw and Allermuir. This also gave me the opportunity to pick up a large bag of rubbish I’d seen behind a wall during last week’s navigation course, but hadn’t the rucksack capacity to carry out at the time. Not as sunny today as forecast, however there were good views with cloud below us in the Forth valley.

Looking towards Corstorphine Hill and the Lomonds with cloud along the line of the Forth.
The view towards The Kips.
Edinburgh and Arthur’s Seat from Allermuir.

Blackford Quarry

After training with Ivor at Ratho on Monday we decided to make the most of a sunny November day and headed to Blackford Quarry today. It was cool in the breeze this morning, but all the routes were dry. It’s effectively an inner city venue, so be careful of broken glass on holds.

Ivor top roping on the main slab, which has nice climbing but with friable holds and minimal gear.
Ivor leading on the Little Slab.

Navigation Course

The last two days I’ve been delivering a navigation course for a small group from The Ramblers for Falkirk Outdoors. The course was delivered completely outdoors within the City of Edinburgh Council area. On Thursday we used the Dalmeny and Cammo areas. On Friday we started from Harlaw and used the west side of Harbour Hill and around Capelaw to get on to some unpathed terrain. Thanks to the group who were enthusiastic throughout, which made for a great course.

Some great pathless terrain for working on bearings, pacing and contour recognition on the west side of Harbour Hill.
One of the highlights today was this great view of a common lizard in the Pentlands.

EICA Ratho

On Friday and Monday I was in training at EICA Ratho. Really good to get some mileage in the arms.

Nettle warming down.
Ivor working a harder route.
Me figuring out the next move. Photo credit: J. Foden.

Lowland Leader Training

Over the weekend Craig and I were delivering a Lowland Leader Training Course for Falkirk Outdoors. It’s the first I’ve delivered with the current restrictions/guidelines and definitely makes you think hard about your teaching methods, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Thanks to all the participants for their enthusiasm over what at times was a cold and wet two days delivered completely outside.

Course Introduction. Photo credit: Craig McClaren.
Teaching navigation.
Photo credit: Craig McClaren.
Discussing access legislation variations across the UK and Ireland.
Photo credit: Craig McClaren.
A good variety of forestry, farmland, heath and semi urban terrains at the course venues.
Photo credit: Craig McClaren.

Hound Point

Pamela and I met for some local bouldering at Hound Point on Friday. It’s not extensive, but with a bit of imagination can provide some fun problems in a pleasant setting. The landings on the main area are generally flat and sandy, but it’s worth having something to get the sand off your shoes before starting a problem. Unfortunately, it’s also worth watching out for broken glass on holds and particularly the top. Wilf.

Pamela bouldering at Hound Point.
Me making a long reach.

Not a bad view.


Great to have a climbing session with Emanuelle today on her birthday. We were inside and a slightly damp outside at Ratho. Many thanks to Gillian for organising the day.

Emanuelle starting up a damp Peashooter. Photo Credit: Gillian Millar.
Emanuelle enjoying a well set corner line.

Local Hills, Bouldering and Climbing

Over the last week we’ve managed some good local hill walking, bouldering and climbing culminating in a visit to North Berwick Law today. The crag was busy, for North Berwick Law, but everyone was friendly and sensible given the current situation.

Euan leading Law of Gravity. Photo credit: I. McCourt.
Euan higher on Law of Gravity. Photo credit: I. McCourt.
The view from Hound Point bouldering.
Dramatic skies over the Forth Valley.

Ettrick Hills & Last Donald

In early July when we were allowed to travel further for exercise again I decided I needed a goal to help me get my hill fitness back. I settled on the Donalds and Donald Tops. For the less hill nerdy folk out there this is a list of 140 hills in the Scottish Lowlands with a height of at least 2000ft (610m). The logic behind this choice was that they were relatively close to home, so would limit travel; would be relatively quiet hills in terms of other people and that I’d already done quite a few.

Saddle Yoke across the Moffat Water, which is part of the excellent horseshoe above Black Hope.

Last week Jen and I went for a very pleasant walk up West Knowe and Loch Fell and with these two I completed the Donalds and Donald Tops. I climbed my first Donald in November 1998, so definitely wasn’t breaking any records. However, I’ve walked or run 48 that were new to me since July plus some I’d visited before and a bunch of smaller hills to make interesting routes.

Jen heading up above the Selcoth Burn.

Loch Fell was a fairly random choice for the last one, but it’s definitely worth saving for a clear day as it gives magnificent views to the Lowthers, the Galloway Hills, the Lake District, the Cheviot and the Eildons as well as the nearby Ettrick and Moffat Hills.  A quick thankyou should go out to Rab Anderson and Tom Prentice who edited the excellent SMC guide to “The Grahams and the Donalds”, which suggests good routes with plenty of options and lots of interesting background information.

Jen by the massive summit marker on West Knowe.
In a cool breeze, but with great views on the summit of Loch Fell.
The view to Croft Head from the Southern Upland Way on the descent.

Afterthought Arete and Curved Ridge

Two great routes over the last few days that I would highly recommend. One in the Cairngorms and one in Glencoe.