Edinburgh and the Cairngorms

This week I’ve been working with Peter and Tommy delivering a Gold DofE training for The City of Edinburgh Council based out of their outdoor centres at Bangholm and Lagganlia.

One of the groups walking towards Meall a’Buachaille.

Tuesday to Thursday was a practice expedition in the Cairngorms, where we changed the planned route to a lower one to avoid the very high winds forecast for Wednesday & Thursday. This worked well and we missed the worst of the wind and rain.

Ben Vane

Mick and I had a very pleasant day climbing Ben Vane near Loch Lomond today. Early cloud lifted above the summits and we got some fine views. There was no rain whilst we were on the hill and the rock was dry.

Mick and I at the summit of Ben Vane.

It’s worth noting that when the breeze dropped the midges are now out and biting even at summit height.


Euan and I were back at Weem for the last day of our three days of climbing. We climbed a mixture of trad and sports routes.

Starting at Wood Wizard’s Crag we climbed “Ring Twitching”, which is quite dirty at the moment and probably feels a grade harder than the guidebook, and the good but pumpy “Two Boys and a Cup”. We onsighted both, but generally the routes on this crag might be worth a quick clean on abseil before climbing.

Euan leading the steep arete of “Right in the Face” at Easter Island Buttress.

We then moved on to The Easter Island Buttress and Manyana Wall crags for some sport routes. Good to see some of the EICA Ratho team out staff training today at the crag.

Sma’Glen and Balgone Heughs

I’ve been climbing with Euan the past two days. On Wednesday we were at Newton Spur in the beautiful Sma’Glen in Perthshire. We climbed six good routes on the Flat Line Wall, the pick of which was probably “Ouzels of Fun” before soloing the two rightmost lines on The Sentinel. See the Facebook page for a photo of me on The Sentinel.

Euan below Statement of Heuth.

Today we were sport climbing at Balgone Heughs south of North Berwick Law. The crag faces north-west and is in trees, so can prove a good choice in dry hot conditions.

Buachaille Etive Mor

I was out with a Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors scrambling team of Shona and Donald today. We had a great day climbing North Buttress on Buachaille Etive Mor.

Shona and Donald on North-Buttress with Rannoch Moor behind.

It stayed dry for the route, although there was a shower as we descended and we drove back through some very heavy localised showers.

Creag na h-Eighe

Yesterday I was working for Falkirk Community Trust Outdoors at Creagh na h-Eighe north of Dunkeld. David and Devon were looking at learning to lead outdoors. They’re both interested in mountain routes, so we also used the route Jugs to look at multi-pitch stances and rope management.

Devon topping out on Jugs, whilst leading it with a “ghost rope” from above.

It was dry at the crag although hot and muggy with the odd midge under the trees. We narrowly avoided some heavy showers, which were very localised.

RCI assessment

I have just completed running an RCI assessment for EICA Ratho. This qualification replaces the SPA. Congratulations to Caz and Finlay who both passed.

Loch Ordie Crag

Pamela and I had a very pleasant day climbing at Loch Ordie Crag north of Dunkeld today. The routes probably don’t see much traffic, so some care is required with the odd loose block and vegetation, but there are some very nice lines in a beautiful setting.

Pamela setting off up New Order.

The pick of the routes we climbed were “New Order”, which was very good for the grade, and “Ordie Crack”. It’s worth climbing the lower wall of Ordie Crack from the left to avoid some possible loose rock above the lower thin cracks before reaching the main straight crack. We also climbed a possible new line left of Leo.


Euan, Ivor and I have been cragging at Weem today climbing a mixture of sport and trad routes. It was hot in the sun and shaded routes were a good choice for the day.

Euan and Ivor warming up on Crowing at the Enemy.

It’s worth noting that if you climb the excellent “Back to Basics” there is no lower off if you move right at the overhang as described in the new Highland Outcrops South guidebook. To avoid a vegetated top out and some bushwhacking to set up a belay/abseil it’s probably best to move left at the overhang and head up to the lower off on the sport route “The Real Mackay”.

Euan leading the steep High Pitched Scweem.

Good to bump in to Jonas and Lennart at the crag putting in to practice some of the skills they covered with Euan at Bennybeg last week.

Euan setting off on Back to Basics with me belaying.


I have just had a good few days in the Black and Red Cuillin of Skye. Firstly Rob, Andy and I had three days. We climbed;

  • Window Buttress and the SW face of the In-Pinn.
  • Little Gully and Slab and Corner to the summit of the Cioch.
  • A days scrambling on Sgurr man Each near Blaven.

Secondly, I was out on the Cioch with Tim and Shelley. We climbed to the summit via Arrow Route and Collie’s Route.

The summit of the Cioch behind Rob and Andy.