Friday 3 July 2009

Whether the Weather Be Fine.

So the plan was to head for Ardnamurchan while the weather was a bit iffy in the hope that the lower ground would let the clouds pass without breaking the rain. A better forecast was on the way for later in the week.

The first bit of the plan worked out quite well.
Although not particularly far away, getting to Ardnamurchan is a little time consuming. Many miles of single track road later we arrived on a grey afternoon at the most westerly point on the UK mainland and found a sheltered spot for the campervan.
We spent the next few days dodging showers in remote Ardnamurchan. Fortunately the rock there is a super sticky volcanic gabbro so the wet was not too much of an issue.
We spent the time getting comfortable with climbing on strange rock.

When not climbing Ardnamurchan proved very relaxed and away from it all. The population is a real mixture of sorts, from long time locals to city types who have sold up to telecommute from their country retreat. All proved friendly, if a little tipsy in the local pub.

On the drive out a few days later we passed exactly twice as many cars as hedgehogs down the 30 mile single track road. (We saw one hedgehog.)

Next on our list was Mallaig and the ferry to a very overcast Skye.
The climbing on Skye looks fantastic. We where hoping to get up on some of the classic mountain routes on the Cullin mountains but would have settled for playing on some of the good see crags but unfortunately the forecast break in the weather never materialised.
After doing a little sightseeing for a day or two, hoping for the skies to clear we finally gave up and started driving south.

The plan worked. After a scenic drive south and a night in a lay-by on Loch Lomond side we arrived in Glasgow fairly early and dropped the van in to QuickFit for new brake pads while we went to potter about the city in blue skies and sunshine.
That afternoon we drove south to the Peak District in England with it's fantastic grit stone.
They used to make mill stones from the grit (see picture below) but these days the Peaks is a national park with a steady stream of walkers and climbers.

The sunshine was still with us so we went to play on the rock.
I returned to a climb that beat me years ago on Stannage Edge. While it wasn't easy I finally pulled it:

Obviously there were lots of other climbs too. (Have you spotted a theme to our trip yet?)

On the whole we found the peaks fairly hard going so we only lasted 2 days before tired arms made us take a wee rest day.
Rather than sit about in the sunshine for the day we made full use of it by driving towards the cliffs at Gogarth on Anglsey, Wales, near Holyhead from where we had to catch a ferry back to Ireland in a few days.

Initially we went inland in Wales, hoping to do a few mountain routes in the Llanberis Pass but the weather had other ideas again.
Fortunately the weak occluded front dumping rain and mist on the mountains was leaving the west coast clear so we headed directly on to Gogarth.

Gogarth turned out to be a lot of fun, if a little scary at first.
Huge cliffs covered in loose rock and nesting sea birds all add to the atmosphere. As you can see, the sun was still shining.

We were still tired from the Peaks but got a lot of quality easy routes in. HVS and VS mostly.
I've got to get back there sometime and jump on something a bit harder.

We only lasted one full day plus a bit of the next morning before we dragged our tired bodies to the beach to wait for the next day's ferry from Holyhead back to Dublin for Jess's Graduation.

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