One of the great things about working as a freelance outdoor instructor is having the opportunity to travel and work right across the country. It’s true that this isn’t always a benefit of being self-employed, but more often than not, you get to know and work in some really nice areas in the UK that otherwise you might not visit.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been based on and around Skye in North-West Scotland working for a new Joint Services Adventure Training Centre. I was running a mountaineering course and couldn’t have been more fortunate with the venue and the weather. Having both the Cuillin’s and Glen Shiel within a short drive of the centre opened up so many great opportunities for hill walking and the mountains thereabouts are amongst the most spectacular in the country.
One of the best days out was going along the Cuillin Ridge from Sgurr na Eag to Sgurr Dearg with some fit Ghurka’s. We had fantastic weather and the more technical sections of the Cuillin such as the TD Gap were really enjoyed by the team as well as the more straightforward but exposed sections of ridgeline. I’ll have to return at some point in the future to complete the full Cuillin traverse but the section we completed was a very nice day excursion of the most technical section.
After finishing on Skye I met up with Dave Macleod for a couple of days of climbing. Dave had just finished work on his new bouldering and training wall in his garage which is now the best of its kind in the highlands so he was pretty keen to get out on real rock. Initial plans had been to climb on Skye but we were pushed further West to the Isle of Harris to avoid some wet weather. The last time I’d been on Harris was over ten years ago on a holiday I mainly remember for its rain! This time we only had a couple of days before the drizzle returned but still enough time to check out Creag Mo, a very impressive and underdeveloped mountain crag.
Although the approach to the crag isn’t through a swamp it certainly isn’t across dry land and leaving my walking boots behind on Skye was an error that Dave found particularly funny. The first couple of routes I tried to make ground up first ascents of were totally desperate and we soon got our top ropes down the best looking lines up a vertical wall of Gneiss, approximately hard E9 and E7. Both routes were to escape us that trip due to conditions but we did succeed in climbing some utterly fantastic new routes between E3 and 5, doubling the existing number of routes yet these are still only a drop in the ocean on this fantastic cliff. I’d love to return to Harris in the near future to get climbing again but at a 12 hour journey it’s just a little too far to make a shot trip to.