Out on the rock at Redhthye Portsoy with my old mate Dan the man!

Great to see the big man out on the rock again.

Great to see the big man out on the rock again.

The dust from the last few weeks lectures has settled and it was great to catch up with all my admin in the house and get away from some of the issues of the last few days. My old pal Dan Carrol was about so we managed to get an afternoons rock climbing at Redhythe near Portsoy. It was lovely and warm for late October when we left, even sunny but grey clouds followed us for the 45 minute drive to Portsoy. We soon arrived in the car park for the first time I did not get lost easy now to find it with the turn off to the car park near Kingdom Hall!  Dan had never been before to this cliff and it was a bit windy on the track in but hopefully the crag would be sheltered and the waves not too big. It took 15 minutes walk to the cliff  past the cleared fields, gone is the golden barley and everything looked a bit  grey and bleak. It was a good path along the cliffs and Dan had not been  this far before apart from canoeing and  he wanted to see it. I love this place, you rarely see anyone else. As you leave the path the view opens and the cliffs come into view with so many geos and inlets and a grey sea, then the cliff is there with its lovely red lichen to brighten the day. There were no Dolphins today and few birds just a few Shags and cormorants in the water.

The Grey day coloured by the lovely cliff.

The Grey day coloured by this lovely cliff.

Dan like me had done little climbing this year and it was great as we sorted the gear. its only a small crag so I had a half rope with me to see how it went. A big rope was hard to keep out of the sea as the climbs are short.

Directions & Approach to the cliff at Redhythe NJ 575671 From UKC

Crag features – A pleasant low-grade venue, with some very soft grading. The rock is not perfect, but is sound enough. A good place to solo

The flag marks the car park !

The flag marks the car park !

Approach notes – High tide affects some routes, but most are accessible via low level traverses.

On the west side of town Portsoy, follow the signs to the sea level swimming pool (now defunct – ask a local)and park in the large parking area.  (Dan had been here as a young lad when he was a very young lad about 15 and swam in the outdoor  pool) Walk west along the coast until you arrive at an abandoned target shelter, and then bear right along a vague path to the top of the crag – 15 minutes easy walk with great views.


That man Dan

That man Dan

The cliff is easily accessible 1k from the road and the routes though not long, many routes can be climbed in a day. The rock is can be accessed on a clam tide and the rock in place is covered by a brilliant yellow lichen and nesting sea birds are not on the climbing cliffs. The rock is metamorphosed sandstone, perhaps quartzite and can be sharp and care as always must be taken.

SMC Guide Book

SMC Guide Book

You can scramble down and there is a lovely traverse in to the far end of the cliff, you end up right by the waves and the sea it is a special place to be. I have seen dolphins, seals and shoals of fish at times and on a hot day the sea is so inviting. Normally you will see lots of boats and Kayaks on this coast but not today.

It was a grey day but no wind sheltered by the cliff

It was a grey day but no wind sheltered by the cliff

The climbing is really fun and though short the routes the situation is so special with the sea and the noise of the waves and the gurgling sea on the massive boulders in the geo, making a unique and incredible noise as the tide comes in and out. I enjoy it here but you still have to watch with the odd brittle hold and fluted features provide good climbing in the easy to middle grade routes. We climbed on the Plateau face which is usually in the sun and protected from the wind and the yellow lichen was so colourful even though it was a dull day.

The big man likes this place.

The big man likes this place.

It was fun to be out with Dan a great pal from many years, he still ensures you have a great safe day and the old harness check and safety checks are a reminder of past days and always worth doing. The crag is ideal for a fun day the rock is fairly good with great rock protection and so colourful on the rock and with the sea lapping at your feet a great place to be. During the day we chatted about lots of things from the earthquakes in Pakistan where we climbed on Diran in the Himalayas on the RAF MR 50 th Anniversary and Everest in 2001. The tragedy to a country especially in the mountain areas that has so little is so trgic and we wonder how the local pals some of the porters and our Sirdar Jabed is as the earthquake was near where he lives?  Yet we had lots of great days with true mountain companions and memories never to be forgotten of special days.

A contented old man out with the man again.

A contented old man out with the man again.

It was time to go and after 3 routes we headed home, Dan I think liked the crag and said he would be back hopefully with me. We planned a few things for the winter now I am feeling better, every day I feel stronger and what a difference a year makes after a long illness. It was great to be out and we managed a short afternoon and what a joy to be back among the rock and the sea in such a place.

Health, family and friends are so important in life and days like that make the oncoming of the dark nights long winter nights a bit more acceptable.


It was a joy to get out again and this weekend I am down at Newtonmore for the RAF Mountain Rescue Reunion and will see many old pals and get a day on the hills all being well.

Today’s tip – When climbing always check your buddies harness  and when you abseil final checks, screw gates, belays no matter who your with.

“Life is like juggling five balls in the air. They are Health, family, friends, and integrity, and career/ achievement. These balls are not the same: the important thing to remember that the career ball is made of rubber but the others are more fragile.  You can take more risks with the rubber ball, you may take more risks with this ball as if you drop it will eventually bounce back. Normally this ball does not suffer long – term damage. The other four balls need to be looked after more carefully. If you drop one of these it will be damaged and may even shatter. So long as we have our Health, family, friends and integrity we can overcome life’s hurdles.”

 2015 Oct Redhythe Heavy



About heavywhalley.MBE

After dinner speaker Lecturer and Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 36 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 4 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Enviroment, mountain safety, Rock Climbing, Weather. Bookmark the permalink.

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