Neglecting the North


Ready for Scottish bouldering action.
Ready for Scottish bouldering action.

I’m having one of those moments – you feel a bit overwhelmed by work so you make a list of all the things you need to do. The list is big and you don’t know what to focus on, so you do something else – a blog post in this case to try and re-escape to the mini camping trip you just went on in your trusty though rarely used pop-up tent.

What a tent.
What a tent.

A couple of months ago Al and I promised each other we’d make more of an effort to climb in Scotland this year. We’ve lived in Glasgow for almost 4 years now and soon we’ll be leaving it behind for a while, so we want to make sure we make the most of it. Usually if we’re going for a long day out we’ll head south to Northumberland or the Lake or Peak District. We rarely head north, or when we’ve planned to, the weather has generally shot us down… Not this time!

So far our plan is going pretty well. We got to know Craigmore over a couple of sessions (previous post), Al has been hunting for new boulders locally and then after working all weekend last week we saw a weather window coming and escaped to the Highlands for a day and a bit to boulder in Glen Nevis and on Rannoch Moor. I bouldered in Glen Nevis once before about seven years ago, but I was much much worse (believe it or not) then and couldn’t remember much about it, other than how to drive there. The road to Glen Nevis has a lot of memories along it for me of trips into the mountains with my dad, mostly over a decade ago now. When I was 11 he took me out there for the first time to hike Ben Nevis over two days, and I can still point out all our swimming spots and lunch spots in the area – this trip really made me realise just how many fun times we had around there, may there be lots more to come!

Even a former forest looked nice.
Even a former forest looked nice.

But anyway. The boulders. Loving the area anyway might have helped, but I’m serious when I say this was some of the best bouldering I’ve done in the UK. The rock is rough, there are all kinds of holds on it and the problems we did were really fun – some crimpy and technical, others steep and burly. We climbed on the Cameron Stone and Heather Hat which I think are the most popular boulders there, but we’re both psyched to go back and explore. My favourite problem was a 6b called Mazie Gunn’s, probably because it was my anti-style but I started to crush it…ha!

We didn’t take any photos in Glen Nevis because we got too into climbing there. But that night we camped in Glen Etive and the next thing we knew it was our third anniversary of picking Crux up from the pound! So we went bouldering some more.

From the pound to Glen Etive, life has got better for Crux.
From waking up in the pound to waking up in Glen Etive, life has got better for Crux I reckon.

On our way home we thought we’d explore the one boulder in the guidebook on Rannoch Moor. Now usually I’d be against going to a venue with just one boulder, but I love Rannoch Moor for some reason so I was pretty game for hanging out on it. And turns out it’s a pretty sweet boulder with some fun easy slabs on it and a three star 6a.

The slabbiest slab I've climbed in a while, if you know what I mean.
The slabbiest slab I’ve climbed in a while, if you know what I mean. On the one boulder on Rannoch Moor.
Al meets Scotland’s answer to The Egg.

So it was just over 24 hours but we both felt like we’d had a nice little trip away – back home with bump though as emails and wedding plans demand our attention again. Lately climbing has been making me worry a bit, with big trips coming up I get nervous that even though I’m training and blah blah blah I won’t perform when it counts. But the last couple of days reminded me that while getting up hard problems is definitely a bonus, what really counts is being out there and making the most of it.Having fun means you’ll climb better. Onwards!

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