Applecross and the story of the cable on Meall Gorm .

The photo above is of my mate  Tom Mac a few years ago at Applecross on the Buttress of Meal Gorm . It is an easy walk in from Beallach Na Ba where in the past you could park just behind the bends now it’s busy with the North Coast 500 –  Good Or bad ?

There’s nothing quite like the freedom of the long open road. Never-ending back roads, wide meandering country tracks and beautiful bends through some of Scotland’s finest coastal scenery are just a few things you can expect along the North Coast 500. Strap yourself in for the road trip of a lifetime.


The NC500 starts in the northern city of Inverness, weaves along the west coast to Applecross and then northwards towards the towns of Torridon and Ullapool. From there, you’ll venture to some of the most northerly coastal points in Scotland, passing by Caithness and John o’ Groats before heading south again through Dingwall and finally back to Inverness. – that is what the pr says but in reality? Be careful on the tight roads and take things slowly this is the Highlands not the M1. Take nothing but photos leave nothing but footprints.

On one of the bends you can park 3 cars off the road and it is so easy  to walk to a climb. The road is handy for winter and when conditions are in you may see a few ice climbers if the road is clear.


This was a busy area at Kishorn Yard at the Lochside  where thousands worked in the huge yard during the oil boom. There were a few climbers among them in these days and they put a cable on the top of Meall Gorm to get a better reception for the Tv! Hence the cable on the rock! This was a massive yard in the 70’s.

Ninian Central Platform – The original Kishorn Yard was developed as a manufacturing and fabrication yard for oil platforms in the 1970’s. The yard was owned by Howard Doris Ltd and operated from 1975 to 1987. In 1975 work began on the North side of Loch Kishorn to develop a substantial acreage in order to build the Ninian Central Platform. This was by far the largest project undertaken at the site and the construction of the 150 metre diameter dry dock to house the  first layer of the Ninian Central as it was ‘set down’ as a concrete structure.

By 1977 there were over 3000 people working at the yard. Owing to planning and travel constraints the yard was to be considered as an island and all materials and people were to be brought in by sea or air. Two retired cruise liners were moored in the Loch for accommodation; they were the Rangatira and the Odysseus.

The Song Kishorn Commandos – Gordon Menzies)

We’re the Kishorn Commandos way up in Wester Ross
We’ve never had a gaffer, we’ve never had a boss
But we’ll build the biggest oil-rig you’ve ever come across
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

Every single morning we get wakened by a shout
Get up, ye idle buggers, won’t you get the finger out
And what do we get for breakfast? Seven pints of stout
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

Digging down a dusty hole till we can hardly speak
Summer sunshine, rain or snow, we seldom stop to sleep
We work for forty hours a day and fourteen days a week
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

We’re the toughest gang of workers that you have ever met
We’ll work or fight with anyone, and you can lay a bet
There may be some men tougher, but we haven’t found them yet
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

We’ve never joined the Navy, we’ve never joined the RAF
We’ve never joined the army, we’re not so bloody daft
We’d rather go to Kishorn and get paid for skivin’ aff
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

You’re welcome here in Kishorn if you know how to work
We’ve Geordies here from Africa and Paddies from New York
Wi’ Scousers, Jocks and Taffys, all from the County Cork
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

And when the job is over we’ll up and pack our bags
We’ll spend the money on the booze, the women and the nags
But until then we’ll have to do wi’ navvies dressed in drag
Remember we’re the Kishorn Commandos

(as sung by Gaberlunzie) skiving = avoiding work aff = off (in Scots)

Sword of Gideon another Tom Patey Classic

On this day it was raining and it cleared quickly the Sword of Gideon dried and with Graham Stamp of the North Face of Eiger fame we had a grand few hours on this classic. 3 pitches of sandstone with a steep crux, but in the damp rock interesting. In the photo Ray Shaferon is enjoying the exposure. He normally climbed in simple DMS boots but cheated that day.

1994 Sword of Gideon Ray

The Classic  Cioch Nose – below. I love this climb a must do and to finish over the ridge in a great day. Leave the car at the car park at the top of the beleach and descend the gully to the route. What a place to be.

Cioch Nose move out


There are a few good climbs on this area a place that is neglected by many but is becoming popular in winter if the road is clear. It is a short walk to the crag, perfect for an old man or a short day. Of course on the other side  of the hill is the Classic Cioch Nose climbed by the great Tom Patey and Chris Bonnington in Aptil 1960 on Sgurr a’ Chaorachain. The area has changed since these days with the road so busy in the season and the roar of motor bikes and cars and folk enjoying the 500.

If its a walk you fancy what a great short wander from the car park at the top of the beleach and the views of Skye and the sea are spectacular and you are high up and soon away from the crowds. You can even get a Corbett in ! No matter what is some place and in the quite months a place that you can get into wild areas quickly as your getting older.

Cioch Nose Apple

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 Corbetts, Mountaineering, Rock Climbing, Scottish winter climbing., Views Mountaineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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