Mad morning rush and dash up to Chris' for 6am again saw us driving up to the North West of Scotland to the Rubha Mor Peninsula near to the Gruinard/Gairloch area. The forecast was pretty dire for the mountains this weekend with cloud, rain and snow showers on the highest summits! I had tried unsucessfully to persuade Chris that going to Ardgour and Garbh Beinn was a good wet and cold weather option, but rightfully so he was adamant about staying low. Choices were to drive about all over the shop on Saturday looking for dry weather and escaping the showers (I couldn't be bothered with that!) or head to Ardnamurchan Point or up to Rubha Mor, with the latter two being supposed good wet weather options, often being dry and sunny there when there is rain elsewhere.
From the word go there was grey cloud and showers of rain, were we being far too optimistic in thinking we could find dry rock. Inverness, wet, Garve wet, Gruinard wet, mood and optimism sinking. Stopped at a wee garage at Laide and what should happen? Oh yes, the clouds parted, out peeped the sun and started drying away the rain! Took us a wee whiley to find the cliffs we were after at the Slaggan area. The other cliffs in this area are all tidal and I wanted non-tidal thank you, esp seen as the guide mentioned big swells! I am convinced that the writers of SMC guidebooks are deliberately vague and obscure when it comes to approach descriptions, particularly on sea cliffs! Mind you, searching for cliffs and turning obvious chimneys into grooves and triangular niches into square cut blocks is all part of the experience I reckon.
Approaching the Gob Geo we decided that even though it was non-tidal the swell of the sea was pretty mental, so carried on to the Atlantic Avenue area which had a nice large platform well away from the sea. God, I love Sandstone, just love it! Such a funky looking and beautiful rock to climb. The cliffs here are pretty clean and very much life Rieff in style, just not as much of it. If only the cliffs were larger though, the routes are very short! I started off on a V.Diff called Munich Man which in no way, shape or form felt like a V.Diff, certainly the easiest V.Diff I've ever done anyway!! Then Chris did a Severe called Heron Crack which was up a curving crack and over all too soon. Then I did a fantastic Severe called Nuptial Flight which went up a slab, over a block, up to a ledge and over a steep wall at the top. The top out was a bit scary and me being as wee as, I really struggled with a high step above my gear, and was thinking, 'oh c'mon leg, c'mon leg, get up there, get up there, ggrrrrrhaarrrhh!!' Chris did a Severe called Lunar Dance after that which was well hard! I've done VS's which felt easier, dunno if it was my height letting me down again though, but Chris did find it pretty tough too. Sometimes being short is a real disadvantage and I don't care whether folk like Lynn Hill or John Dunne are short, they may be short but they are also shit hot climbers, I'm not!!! Next was the route of the day, both of us thought it was fantastic! Twinkle Toes, a one star Severe, deserves 3*** in my book, it was an utterly, utterly glorious route, up a fantastic line! Up a really really thin and delicate slab onto a tiny wee ledge, grab hold of a good flake, lean off the flake putting you into a fabulous position! Then move up very awkwardly indeed into a niche, high step onto a block above the niche and up a steep wall above. The route is imprinted in my memory, truly one of the best wee Severes ever!
The weather had been very kind to us as regards the rain. We had a couple of tiny showers that never amounted too much, and although it could have done with being warmer, the wind was serving to keep any midges away and to quickly dry off any damp from the showers. We decided to move on after this and go check out the small crag further down the coast near a curious wee place called Mellon Charles, on the shore of Loch Ewe. This is one of several croft communities in this area and used to be a gathering place during WWII for shipping convoys carrying supplies.
We only did a couple of routes here. It was getting a bit windier, getting late and we were quite tired too. I backed off from leading a short Severe called Jetsam that went up a slightly overhanging wide crack. I had loads of gear in the crack, a couple of nuts and a cam! But I was up and down like a yo-yo unable to commit to doing the moves! I wasn't entirely sure exactly *how* to do it. Moving up the steep ground didn't bring any nice positive holds that I was hoping for, so I climbed back down and passed the rope to Chris. He bounded up no problems whatsoever, but I found it tough, reachy and horrible even on second! I decided just to do another V.Diff to round off the day and that went up a wee corner and onto a ledge. The next move was ace for a V.Diff and deserved a star just for that move! You had to step off the ledge and onto a hanging arete via a lovely big juggy flake, the position was lovely and the climbing easy and flowing. A nice wee finish to the day.
We camped for the night down in a wee hidden bay that had been shown to me a few years previously. It's fairly secluded from the road, has lovely views and there was enough of a breeze to keep the midges away. The approach did involve a path through neck high bracken which was a bit worrying after the amount of ticks I had on me last week! But I remembered to tuck my trousers into my socks and I had no ticks this time. Just as we finished eating, three deer scampered out of the bracken and onto the beach beside us, trotting along and kicking their legs up into the air in joyful glee! It was one of those amazing and privileged moments. The carried on scampering across the beach across the shallow water and then spotted us, stopping dead in their tracks. The stood stock still for quite a few moments, I think we had nicked their evening grazing spot, ooops! Then they darted off, but not before I took a few photos.