Jun 12 06
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Thanks to the extra holiday the four day jubilee weekend made for a perfect opportunity to head a little further afield than a normal bank holiday weekend allows. Interestingly on the last jubilee weekend, 10 years ago, we also headed to Scotland during a spell of perfect weather for some world class cragging based out of the CC hut in Roy Bridge. However, this time around Richard and Bernard had organised a meet (aka the VP’s meet) in Gairloch near Torridon. It’s quite a bit further north than I’ve been before in Scotland and Laetitia was last here 20 years ago on a family holiday, so the sunny forecast was ideal for the journey – especially as the south of Britain was set for rain!

Stone Valley Crag

Gairloch is just amazingly beautiful, but it does mean each day a little drive is required to get to the climbing, and after the mega drive late in to Friday evening (and early Saturday morning) we opted for the closest of the Gairloch crags for our first day, Stone Valley Crags. A clean sweep of rock, a short approach, super sunny position, and a wonderful outlook – perfect!

Rachel on the superb Bald Eagle
Is the term 'bald' a Scottish climbing slang word for bold and thin?

Richard finishing the amazing Open Secret

On the approach to the crag there were dozens of orchids nestled amongst the heather…

Snowy White Orchid

Magenta-speckled Heath Spotted Orchid

Most of the people on the meet were camping, although there were two teams in smart camper vans, one in a caravan they’d towed from Lancashire for a fortnight of holiday that ended with the meet, and even one team avoiding all risk of midge-attack in one of the luxury static caravans on the site.

We were one of the teams under canvas and on our first night we had dinner (pasta-twirl bolognese) al [sic] camping, with a view to beat all campsite views…

Laetitia enjoying a (plastic) glass of wine while making dinner!

Richard, Bernard, Colin, and Caroline enjoying the Gairloch camping experience with a view!

The view from the Gairloch campsite - stunning!

Diabaig

Sunday was fine again, and a large CC team headed over to the awesome Diabaig crags in Torridon… We did kind of take over the whole crag – so apologies are due to the other two teams that were there, they must have thought it would be a wonderful tranquil day until we all turned up. Although I think we were reasonably discrete.

The CC takes over Diabaig's main crag - Bernard & Jan on Route Three, and Caroline, Rachel & Richard on Route Two

Pete half way up the long and immaculate Diabaig Pillar

Caroline, Laetitia, Keith, Rachel, Fiona, Jan, Bernard, Pete, and Richard at Diabaig

We made use of the pub next to the campsite for a social dinner on Sunday evening. It was nice to be indoors as the evening temperatures were bitterly cold! Then we caught sight of a squall over the Torridon mountains. The late and low sun from the west created a fantastic rainbow – Jill made me go outside to get a photograph – apparently it’s unlucky to photograph a rainbow through a window (who knew?) – which was well worth enduring the chilly evening air for…

A lucky photo of a late evening rainbow over Gairloch

Carn Goraig (Crag of the Silly Woman)

Monday was yet another wall-to-wall blue-sky and fluffy white-cloud day, albeit with a chilly north westerly wind. Ted suggested Carn Goraig as a sensible venue with its southerly aspect sure to catch every ray of warming sunshine. Although the approach was one and three quarter hours long it was almost entirely level, but it did have a sting in the tail – a river crossing!

Fiona, Colin, Keith, and Pete on the approach to Carn Goraig

We saw loads more flowers, including hundreds of the Heath Spotted Orchids. Plus we also saw this little fellow…

Getting to the crag involved a river crossing – cold water and slippy painful stones on bare feet made for quite a giggle!

Laetitia negotiating the delicate crossing of the Gruinard River

Pete and Colin putting their shoes and socks back on to frozen feet!
The clean sweep of Carn Goraig is visible on the left.

However, the river crossing was worth it, the climbing was amazing and the setting jaw droppingly beautiful!

Colin on Wailing Wall

Ted, belayed by Jill, on Olden Glory

For our final night together we had a somewhat cold but very sunny and enjoyable BBQ at the Gairloch campsite. We’d bought some top-quality burgers from the local butcher in the morning, as they close at 5pm well before we’d get back from climbing. These had been left in Richard’s tent vestibule. Unfortunately Richard didn’t spot the four large bags of burgers, sausages, salad, and disposable BBQs, so everyone was just about to go to the pub for dinner when we got back at 8pm. Luckily we just headed them off, showed them the stash of BBQ food, and had a brilliant sociable team BBQ.

A final evening BBQ!
Nigel, Caroline, Perry, Tracy, Ted, Christine, Richard, Jill, Rachel, Laetitia, Fiona, Keith, Colin, and Pete
(Dave, Bernard, and Jan missed the photo opportunity)

It made for a very cold last night under canvas, but we had the most spectacularly clear night sky (not that it ever gets really dark this far north at this time of year) and a full moon over Torridon…

Fantastic full moon over the Torridon mountains

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