My mate Al who works off shore had fancied a day on the hill he had not climbed Stac Pollaidh not far from Ullapool. It is a lovely wee hill with stunning rock formations and never ending views of these hills and hundreds of lochans.
We both wanted an early start and I was up at 0530 to meet Al at 0630 in Nairn. It was a lovely morning cold but dry when I picked up Al and we set of for the 2 hour drive North past Ullapool to our hill. It started to rain very heavy at Ullapool yet the small town looked stunning with the Christmas lights on even some on the boats in the harbour. It was still dark but the rain was heavy and as we headed North the road so quiet at this time of year. The rain was so heavy we arrived at the little car park at Stac Pollaidh it was getting light and the cloud was down. This wee hill is gem but it should be enjoyed on a good day so it was an easy decision to head to the coast where we could see the weather was a bit better. When you live up here and you have time you can pick your days.
About 20 minutes away is the Coast and the cliffs of Reiff where we had climbed many times. We had some kit and thought a walk here would be great the view of the Summer Islands and the sea are always special. We had some kit and took a rope and though it was wet to start with we had a great few hours climbing in big boots in December. We climbed nothing hard just 4 routes but had a great laugh. Al is so much fun and it was the place to be and despite the weather we have a fun day climbing. It is hard to describe this place but the peace and beauty of this is incredible.
Every few minutes the light changed, squalls come in the waves crash in and the sunlight on the waves makes this unique. It was just what we both needed.
The Reiff cliffs are made of clean, rough, hard sea-washed sandstone, more akin to very featured grit than the softer sandstone varieties found south of the border. Ranging from bouldering to around 20 metres in height, the cliffs are a mixture of non-tidal and tidal with most featuring flat wave-cut platforms at the base and walk-down access routes. Whilst the most accessible crags are a few hundred yards from the road-head, as a general rule the climbing gets better the further you go, with the excellent venues on the northern tip of the peninsula requiring around an hour of often boggy (wellies useful!) walking from the car.
The climbing is mostly steep and well protected- with sustained technical and pumpy climbing generally being the name of the game.
there really is enough for several visits for climbers of any standard, with superb routes at all grades.
The rock is generally fast drying though, as with all sea-cliffs can be a bit greasy in the morning and some lines suffer from seepage. The low-lying coastal landscape often escapes the attention of the rainclouds that can thwart activities inland so it can be worth risking a mediocre forecast, though beware of stormy seas. Being right next to the sea and with cliffs facing south, west and north, sun, shade and a refreshing dip can be sought at will and climbing on the south facing cliffs is often possible in the winter months.
All the climbing is protected by traditional gear, with small wires and cams proving particularly useful, and while the routes are short, due to the horizontal break nature of the rock, half ropes (or one half rope folded) are a good idea. While there are the possibility for numerous entertaining sea level traverses, deep water soloing options are limited. However, for those keen to explore, the ‘Baby Taipan Wall’ on the north side of the Rubha Mor
Thanks for all the messages I have received lately but it’s great to get out and enjoy the peace and the wild places. I never tire of it.
The Fannichs hills were snow-covered now and my phone was red-hot with messages as tonight there is a documentary on Lockerbie on Channel 5 and the Press were after comments.
It was not the day for this my head was clear and after such a lovely day I did not want to revisit this part of my life, not today.
It will be a hard watch to-night and you always wonder what they will put on and what they will cut out. It is 30 years this month and so much has happened since. On my trip to the USA I met so many relatives who were positive after such tragedy. I hope this program is ?
I hope the program shows some of this and what so many volunteers did and what the folk of Lockerbie did for us during that terrible time ?