THE EVMC JAUNT TO LEONIDIO
That’s the new venue in Greece. Not quite with the party/holiday atmosphere of Kalymnos but with the staggering array of routes already bolted up within the last three years and with a lot more potential. AL D, Pete B, Mary G and Alasdair R went Edinburgh to Athens and a drive over the Corinth canal onto the eastern shore of the Peloponnese.
The Dafnon Gorge carves its way out of the Parnassus Mountains to render 600 metre cliffs of multicoloured limestone laced with water worn feature sprinkled with tufa dripping caves. It takes several days to key into the actual size of the crags.Research in the form of a snatched conversation with Ross at Kendal Wall whetted Al D’s radar and the trip was on.
DERBYSHIRE – 6th – 8th October 2017
The pull of the gritstone and Thorpe Farm at Hathersage drew members of the Club there for the weekend. The weather looked good the Friday and saw early arrivals at Stanage in teeshirt (not quite) weather. A rather damp and cloudy Saturday saw groups setting off for walks and runs from the Pondside – for some reason the runners kept passing the walkers on the same route !! Two (Robin and Ron) headed to the crags (joined later by Michael) ending up with 7 routes on 7 crags (Baslow, Curbar, Froggatt, Tegness Pinnacle, Burbage South and North and Lawrencefield). The usual convivial meal was enjoyed later at the Pondside.
Sunday looked much better and a relatively early start was made for walks and climbing – with the High Neb area being the focal point. Unfortunately, the rock was rather damp in places and limited the climbing at the start – but Stanage is a huge place and there is plenty there to keep you busy.
Thanks again to Phil and Rosy for bringing the weekend together
SANDRAY – 8th – 14th June 2017
Blue sky, fluffy cumulus , azure sea lapping the slivers and beach….. are the dreams of the many who have made it to Sandray and now huddled in damp tents on a dreech Monday. There is a collective but unspoken wondering if the relief boat will make it across the stormy sound on Wednesday. Perhaps we shall have to draw lots to see who we shall eat first if the boatman fails in his desperate rescue attempt.True we have climbed every day so far, albeit a very short boulder problem in the gathering gloom of yesterday but the general feel is one of optimism.
The trip here was promising. A Campsite to envy looking onto the Sound of Vatersay.
Seals, terns, rats and rock. Some modern comforts. The spade of inevitability, the abundance if fresh water evidenced by the spontaneous regeneration of many local and proximal streams last night.
Lewisian gneiss , the second oldest rock on the planet, sculpted into intricate features over millennia to provide tactile reassuring holds and swallow gear placements, soaked by equal measures of sun and rain. Spirits are high as a result of Day 1. All teams having fun. Then the rain and wind overnight.
Day 2 dawns grey. Al Davis regaled us with his tale of the nocturnal tug of war he engaged in with the giant rat that claimed his cheese sandwich.
Jo made us smile at the youthful ambition he revealed in recovering his cooking pot from the briny. Oh, how we laughed. Oh, how we envy the motor skills on display attempting to avoid a soaking. The ability to smile when soaked!
Ronnie still searches for the elusive corncrake, but in passing discovers a huge gneiss slab that will necessitate further inspection.
All teams climbing numerous routes on day one, on Sea Creatures Wall, Canal Walls and at the galleries. The passion was dampened that night as a strong south westerly tested the metal, literally to breaking point, of Eric’s tent poles. Visions of rebuilding the abandoned black house ruins. Solved by bodge and gaffer tape.
A successful fish. Well, it was unsuccessful for the fish itself as it landed in Chris and Jo’s pot. Alasdair’s pot remains empty as he communes with the seals who have their eyes on the only other fish in the ocean adjacent to where he casts his line. How do they know and, is it fair?
Day two; more routes on different crags on the west coast, tempered by a strengthening breeze.
Day three, a day of contemplation; walks up to the Neolithic Dun and the top of Cairn Galtar. Apparently stunning views on other days!
Jane and Gary run round the island, again!
And a solo route as tents remain dishevelled and Al initiates a library service as books are rapidly digested.
So to day four; the light drum of the drizzle on tent canvas is exactly two octaves above the underlying bass tone of the surf on the rocks. Each time the sun threatens to slash through the grey canvas above there is an optimism in the cry of the ascending oystercatcher as it screams it’s despair at the wind. The rat that secured Al’s cheese banjo has changed allegiance and secure my cache. Nothing is forever.
One of the team hoofed it the mile up the hill to get a phone signal and a weather forecast from the mainland. Shame that his phone battery drowned on the ascent. An afternoon lull and a 5 minute walk to a drying sea cliff crag, more rock of quality.
The Hebrides do have an effect on the mind and given what is currently happening in the rest of the land. We really don’t mind.
A message from the mainland suggests that we might be more comfortable leaving on Tuesday evening because Wednesday could be a washout. It also confirms that there is electoral carnage that we have been oblivious of. Quite healthy really.
So Monday and Tuesday, a rush of routes established and new as teams find the Galleries, Rune Stones and Drum Buttress. The success on new rock and the search for new route names take some advantage of the General Election results.
More Climbing, fishing and birding. The recovery of a working lobster pot from the stormed rocks provides exotic meal potential but sadly the boat ‘The Boy James’ arrives in the bay to scoop us back to reality and crabs and lobster return to the sea.
The consensus is that Sandray, even in middling weather, is excellent. The climbing is not as psychologically ‘out there’. It is less demanding than on Pabbay and Mingulay, with much more attractive access to the foot of the climbs. However, the island has a delightful feel to it with the potential for lots more in the way of unvisited cliffs and in the pub and on the return ferry to Oban….. Plans are discussed. Watch this space.
For some – it is back to Bram Crag Quarry soon no doubt.
Great trip and thanks to all the team
27 May – 2 June 2017
Following on from meets to Pabbay and Mingulay, at the south of the Hebrides, another island was wanted for 2017 and Lewis at the north end fitted the bill – in addition to the island of Sandray, near Barra, as well in June. This was a joint meet with the FRCC. People kept saying Harris but the meet was to Lewis and based at the Uig Sands Campsite in the west of the island. This followed on from an FRCC meet on Skye, which was a convenient “stepping stone” to the Hebrides. There was a mix of folk from various clubs with a total of 21 people were there over the week. Of these only 4 had been to the area before which highlighted its isolation and being off the radar of most people.
Harris has its Corbett with Clisham and other mountains but Lewis has a wider mix. There is so much “space” with a number of mountains just south of Uig and its deserted roads.
- On the coast, there are a number of sea cliffs giving routes of all grades and accessibility on the most gorgeous rock. Many assessable by foot but some need abseil access.
- Inland there are two main crags –
- Creag Dubh Dibadale (a remote impressive cliff accessible from Uig with use of a bike – but not visited during the week due to weather)
- Tealasdale Slabs on Griomabhal with the **** Severe / VS of Islivig Direct – about 1000 feet climbing of superb climbing, unfortunately, wet in places, to finish with a tremendous view south over Harris
- Walking (and running) wise there are some great walks in often under trodden land.
- Suaineabhal overlooks the campsite and gives a fine walk.
- Horseshoe of Mealaisbhal and Laibheal a Tuath.
- Great Bernera Trail gave a good route on a rather inclement day but with fine views inland and a visit to the Iron Age house at Bostadh.
- Cycling – what a place – quiet roads and tracks give a great choice of cycle rides.
- John Skelton, from FRCC, had an interesting ride, south from Uig, along the relatively new track to the remote Tamnabhaigh – 12km there and 12km back!
- Calanish is the centre of the well known stone circles (there are 12 sites altogether). We might have sussed out what these were for – were they bouldering parks ?
- Uig Sands was where the Uig Chessmen were found
The weather is a big factor – especially the wind! Given good weather, this area is a paradise but the next day (or a few hours later) it could raining heavily. Ironically the wind can be useful as it dries out the crags more quickly after rain. Whatever – a visit here is something special.
The campsite costs £2 per night with a shower at £2 – i.e. it is cheap. Nearby is a well stocked shop and garage – together with a community hall with cafe (with wifi) and museum. The site takes tents, campervans and caravan. Caravans need to book beforehand.
Books available for information on the area are as follows –
- Rock climbing
- SMC guide “Skye and the Hebrides” – 1996 – new “Outer Hebrides” due in 2018
- Scottish Rock (Vol 2 – North) – selected guide by Gary Latter
- Walking Cicerone guide – Walking on Harris and Lewis
- Scrambles Highland Scrambles North by SMC
ST BEES (or CLIFTON) – 0r SHEPHERDS – or BRAM CRAG QUARRY (where else !)
14th May 2017
After weeks of sunshine, there was some rain leading up to the weekend. It was decided to head to the seaside and the delights of bolts and bouldering at St Bees. Some (Rob and Johnny) (wisely) went straight to Shepherds. The weather was great but the “long approach” to the crag was not a good idea with slippy boulders with three dogs as well (extreme dog walking). The crag was eventually reached but with an incoming tide and (surprise, surprise !) water coming out of the crag with the sun not on the crag yet – it was decided to beat a retreat to BCQ. Belinda and Ron stayed on for an explore of the area.
The routes to the left of the crag looked doable – however, a supposedly amiable Ancient Mariner at F5+ was not very amiable with a long second clip. The routes to the left had the first clip “halfway” up the crag and the clipsticks we had, had were on their way to BCQ. The first clip on Blooming Marvellous was clipped but then progress came to a holt for the move onto the ledge above – score Crag 4 / EVMC 0.
Up to the top (the short way) and some bird watching (good to have the human “bird book” about) and down to Fleswick Bay. What a delightful place with bouldering along the back (we managed a few problems !) and Belinda could not resist going for a swim (Ron kept looking out to check she was not swept out towards Ireland) – she said it was “warm” – Ron did not check!
Then checked climbing developed to the north of the bay by Keith Phiz and Al Steele – and found their shiny new bolts (and some decidedly steep rock !)
A drink the “Dog and Pheasant” finished the day.
ARMATHWAITE – 12th April 2017
The second evening meet of the year. A rather wet start to the day which brightened out in the afternoon and drew a good crowd to the crag for a lovely evening’s climbing. The usual routes were climbed – and why not !! – Bullgine Run, Flasherman, 39 Steps, Glenwillie Groove, Kingfisher, Ituna and Monkeyhanger.
EGERTON QUARRY – LANCASHIRE – 9th April 2017
Somewhat different to the Jotunheim – the group drove to the centre of Lancashire and the delights of Egerton Quarry, just north of Bolton. Excellent weather and sheltered crag – though it took a little while to get used to “a quarry in the middle of Lancashire”.
Local guide writers, Les Ainsworth and Dave Cronshaw, were in attendance there checking the crag after much removal of vegetation and trees.
JOTUNHEIM – 27th March – 5th April 2017
Steve Goodwin, Phil Illingworth, Soo Redshaw and Ron Kenyon headed off to Norway to the Jotunheim. Starting at Fondsbu hut, gained by weasel from Tyin, they made their way to Olavsbu hut (unwardened) – unfortunately, an ill Ron dropped out and went out to the delights of Bergan and Geilo. On to Leirvassbu Lodge and some day trips in not the best weather conditions. A long day took them to Gjendebu Hut then on back to Fondsbu. Great trip – with plans for the return in the future.
GLENCOE WEEKEND – 3rd / 5th MARCH 2017
Thanks to Robin for organising the Scotland weekend based at Craigallan (Rucksack Club Hut) and the grub on Saturday evening – and thanks Jane for the delicious crumble.