Pentlands Navigation

The last four Tuesdays I’ve been running a navigation course for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. This has consisted of four sessions of 2.5 hours. The last two of which have been in the Pentlands. We’ve covered what would often be covered in a single day navigation course, but the extra time between sessions to think about and practice skills has seemed to work very well. Thanks to all the attendees for their interest and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, I’ve been very poor at getting my camera out, so I’m afraid the photo is from a previous day in the Pentlands.

Edinburgh from the Pentlands.

Rob’s Reed

Euan, Ivor and I were back at Rob’s Reed near Forfar again today. Temperatures were quite cool and the forecast sun never quite appeared, but there was still plenty to do at this good sandstone conglomerate sports crag.

Euan leading the aptly named “Welcome to the Big Pocket” with Ivor belaying.

Pentlands Navigation Course

I was out in the Pentlands today with a City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education Navigation Course. This was week three of a course split over four consecutive Tuesdays, doing a few hours on each day. This seems to work well as it gives time to practice and reinforce skills between each session. No photos I’m afraid as I forgot my camera today.

Rob’s Reed

Euan, Ivor and I were out sport climbing at Rob’s Reed near Forfar today. The majority of the routes were dry and the friction was good in the cold temperatures, although a warm-up was definitely worthwhile for the often fingery and technical routes. It was great to be able to get out on rock at this time of year.

Ivor looking very comfortable leading “Horny Deer?” as a warm-up.

Argyll and Appin

The last three days Jen and I have been based south of Oban with B, Butch, Jen, Patrick, Rachael, Tom and Wilmot. On Friday we had a pleasant half day walking in the Knapdale Forest starting from the visitor centre for the Scottish Beaver Trial and walking down to Rubha na Stiure. This gave a sheltered walk with plenty of interest looking for signs of the reintroduced beavers.

Descending Beinn Fhionndlaidh towards Glen Creran.

On Saturday we headed up Bienn Fhionndlaidh from Glen Creran. This worked well on a day of sunshine and showers falling as snow or hail above about 750m on a south-westerly wind. Congratulations to the two team members for whom it was their first Munro.

A zoomed in view of Ben Cruachan showing the snow level on Sunday.

On Sunday after dropping some of the team at the station in Oban a reduced group caught the short ferry to Kerrera for a delightful wander around the southern loop of the island. It was cold and sunny with great views out to the islands and back to the hills where a dusting of snow had settled down to around 700m.

Salisbury Crags Bouldering

Euan, Ivor and I had a few hours bouldering at Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh today. Temperatures were cool, but the rock was dry.

Euan on The Black Wall Traverse, Salisbury Crags.

Navigation Courses

Over the weekend I was running two single day navigation courses for The City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education. We used the area near the ski-centre in the Pentlands. The courses were well attended and the groups were keen to learn and improve their navigation skills, which made for good enjoyable days.

Edinburgh from the Pentlands.

The weather was dry on both days, windy on Saturday and cold and sunny on Sunday, which was drying out the ground and paths in the Pentlands.

Ben Nevis, Gulvain and Braigh nan Uamhachan

The last couple of days I’ve been based in Fort William. Graham was up for a flying visit with the aim of climbing Ben Nevis on Wednesday. The forecast was less than ideal with 50mph+ south-westerly winds and fairly constant heavy rain. We decided on heading up from the North Face car park and via Coire Leis in order to be sheltered from the worst of the winds until popping out on to the end of the Carn Mor Dearg arête. This worked well and although it made for a longer day meant we didn’t have to battle the wind and rain/hail until high on the mountain. We descended via the zig-zags to the half way lochan before cutting back to the Allt a’Mhuillin.

Graham and me on top of Ben Nevis with the summit shelter just visible behind.

Graham was catching the early train today, so I took the opportunity to head up Gulvain via Gleann Fionnlighe. After summiting I returned to the low point before the south top and then descended steeply to head over to Braigh nan Uamhachan, which I traversed before returning to the glen. This made for a good horseshoe, but the descents from Gulvain and back in to the glen are steep and rough and not really to be recommended in the current very wet conditions. The hills in the area are saturated at the moment and it rained fairly constantly both days. Stream crossings that are normally ok are currently problematic and this needs to be considered when making route choices.

Kirrie Hill

Euan, Ivor and I are trying to keep training/climbing going as much as possible during the autumn to get us strong for the winter season. Yesterday the weather dictated training inside at Alien Rock, however today we headed outside to Kirrie Hill at Kirriemuir. The crag was dry and we had a good few hours climbing routes that were nearly all new lines for us.

Euan onsighting the very good “Ginger’s Jewels”.

Mountain Skills Course

The past two days I’ve been running a Mountain Training Mountain Skills Course for Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors. Gina, Lesley, Paula and Andy were looking to consolidate, improve or learn new skills for walking in mountainous terrain. The course had some classroom elements, but was largely delivered outside in appropriate terrain.

The team in the wind on the summit of Meall Tairneachan.

The weather over the weekend meant some careful planning was required to avoid being hindered by high winds and rain. On Saturday we drove to the head of Glen Ogle and from there walked up on to the slopes of Meall Buidhe and Beinn Leabhainn. These two hills have lots of interesting small features and are great for working on your navigation in rough trackless terrain. On Sunday with higher winds forecast again we went to the Corbett of Meall Tairneachan north of Weem. This allowed quick access to the hill on a good track and shelter from the southerly winds for large parts of the day. It’s worth noting the access track is very much a working track for the mine and probably best avoided during the week. Two good days running a very rewarding course, thanks to the team for their interest and enthusiasm, which made for a good course. We were even rewarded with some excellent views towards the end of Sunday.