Arbroath Sea Cliffs

Nettle, Ivor, Simon, Martin and I visited the Arbroath sea cliffs today. It was one of the few crags that we thought would be dry.

The conditions were not perfect. The conditions are only good on crags with South facing aspects. If planning a visit here it is worth finding these buttresses as described in the sports climbing guidebook.

It was however very hot in the Autumn sunshine.

Nettle enjoying the Autumn sun.

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.

Dovehole Boulders

Ivor, Martin and I were bouldering today in Northumberland. We visited Dovehole Boulders. It is at least fifteen years since I have been here. It was nice to return to this beautiful venue.

The venue is much greener than when I was there last. There is however still plenty to do. it is worth taking a toothbrush for the holds if you visit.

Dovehole is made up of free standing boulders.

3 Days with the Falkirk Staff Team

Over the last three days with the Falkirk Outdoors staff team I have been to; Benny Beg, Blackford Quarry and Beinn a’Chrulaiste via the Pink Rib. We spent time looking at the SPA, ML and MIA syllabuses. It is essential that once qualified instructors remain current hence days out like these.

Steve leading a trad route at Blackford.

Benny Beg

Benny Beg today with Catriona, Calum and Malcolm. This was a Falkirk High Tops Team day out. We looked at bottom roping, abseiling, movement skills and lead climbing skills. The crag was lovely and warm in the October sun.

Practising movement skills.

Impressive Performance at Kirriemuir

Today Martin, Ivor and I climbed at Kirriemuir. The condtions were excellent being dry and cold with autumn sunshine making the sandstone perfect to climb on. We climbed a number of routes including; ‘Slim Pickins’, ‘Flyboy’ and ‘By Hook or by Crook’. However, the stand out event of the day was Ivor climbing ‘A Touch too Much’ (F7A).

At the age of 70 Ivor climbed his first F7A at Rob’s Reed.. Last season as a team of four (Graham, Martin, Ivor and I), we concentrated on continental ice and mixed routes. We climbed sensational routes such as La Catterdale (WI5/WI5+) on Ivor’s 71st birthday. The autumn was spent in the USA climbing desert towers.

Ivor below La Cattedrale.

This year Martin, Ivor and I have been back in the gym lots as well as climbing on crags when the weather allows. Ivor, now 72 has climbed F7A again today at Kirriemuir. Very inspirational and all down to very hard work and determination.

Ivor showing great technique today at Kirriemuir.


Elephant Rock

Euan, Ivor and I had a pleasant day climbing at Elephant Rock today. This is a good sea-cliff sport climbing venue south of Montrose with routes up to 20m in height. It’s semi-tidal, which needs to be considered if you’re looking to climb some of the routes, and East facing, so catches the sun in the morning and is well sheltered from westerly winds.

Nettle high on “Tale of the Tape”.

We climbed a number of routes with the best probably being the four star “Tale of the Tape”.

Expedition Skills Module

This weekend I’ve been working with John delivering a Mountain Leader Training Expedition Skills Module Training/Assessment for Lowland Leader Award Holders Iain, Rachel and Simone. We used the Falkirk Community Trust Base and the area in and around the Muiravonside Country Park.

The team crossing the River Avon on the canal aqueduct.

The course covers lots of useful information and skills for those leading expeditions. Well done to the candidates. It was mostly dry on Saturday, but with rain on Sunday and conditions underfoot being wet and muddy in places.

Dunkeld and UHI Perth College Climbing Wall

Euan, Ivor and I were out again today. We visited Myopic’s Buttress and Upper Cave Crag at Dunkeld, but both crags were suffering from seepage / dampness on the routes we were looking to get on.

Euan on the campus board in the training zone.

To save the day we dropped in to the University of the Highlands and Islands Perth College Climbing Wall for a bouldering and training session. None of us had used this facility before and it’s well worth a visit if in the area and the crags are wet. The reception and wall staff were helpful and friendly; there are routes on a good variety of angle of wall, which will benefit from regular route setting; there’s a good bouldering area and an excellent dedicated training zone.