UKC

North West Highlands - where to base?

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 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022

I've done a few trips to the NW Highlands, but not for years now. Been to some of major crags at Reiff, Torridon, Sheirga, etc, but by no means all. 

Trying to decide where to base a trip and can't decide. I'd like to see new places but they've got to be worth the bother! No particular crag is a must for access, I've done the truly obvious stuff already. Mid May probably, so I reckon access to seaside stuff that isn't wet/freezing is the major factor...I don't know much of the gneiss around Gairloch/Gruinard... We'll be climbing E1-5 I'd say.

Cheers!

 alan moore 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Last time up I stayed at Kinlochbervie. Lots of roadside cragging, foinaven for bigger stuff, Assynt hills when it rains, north coast for a change of scenery. Had a good trip.

Mid May is as good a time as any.

Post edited at 17:35
 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022
In reply to alan moore:

Thanks, that's exactly the sort of slightly leftfield suggestion I was looking for. Going super-north has a lot of appeal. 

Is there any sense/possibility in trying to access both coasts? I've never been East...

In reply to Jon Stewart:

Caithness coast is worth a visit if that classifies as ‘east’. Some of the best sea cliff climbing on the mainland. Mainly all long adventurous single pitches. Short approaches but feels adventurous abbing in, so best of both worlds.

I spent a week there in October and it’s the first time I’ve been properly psyched for trad again in a few years. We stayed in the van which was easy enough, most of the stuff is between Wick and Latheron. Ellen’s Geo and Sgaps Geo were particular highlights. I think there is a campsite in Wick and probably plenty Airbnb type stuff around for something more luxury.

In reply to Jon Stewart:

Sounds like you don’t mind driving a bit for the climbing. So I’d be looking for a base with good creature comforts. The Kylesku Inn still features in my daydreams, and the A-frame lodges across the road have views…  It’s pretty easy/fun driving to get north and south along the road from there. 

As you’re no doubt aware, that whole area is much busier nowadays because of a certain tourism promotion scheme.

 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022
In reply to CMcBain:

That's inspiring, thanks for the reply. It was Caithness I was thinking of.

 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022
In reply to rsc:

> As you’re no doubt aware, that whole area is much busier nowadays because of a certain tourism promotion scheme.

Hadn't thought of that actually  - even that far north...

Ah well, nothing I can do about it.

 Cam Forrest 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

You don't mention Carnmore. Is that because you've cleaned it up? Without doubt, one of the finest crags in the UK. And check it's altitude and aspect.

 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Cam Forrest:

Good point! Never made it there, need the weather window and psyche once settled into a comfy cottage

In reply to rsc:

I stayed in the Kylesku in back in 2001 - a magic trip.

In reply to Jon Stewart:

> That's inspiring, thanks for the reply. It was Caithness I was thinking of.

I don't think you would want to do the NW and Caithness from the same base. Ideally be flexible (Caithness will often have better, or at least different, weather), or split the trip but then there is the issue of campsites getting booked up if you don't want to take the roadside dossing option. Having said that, May is before the main tourist season so you might well be ok. Oh, and Caithness is really good, worthy of not being just a backup, maybe not quite the scenery of the west, but lovely in its own way. 

 Fiona Reid 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> That's inspiring, thanks for the reply. It was Caithness I was thinking of.

Latheronwheel and Sarclet are well worth a visit. Might be some birdy fun to contend with but there's usually plenty to go at. Mid Clyth is meant to be good too but I've not been yet (will be rectified this year as I'm now living less than 90 mins away).

For wet weather options Cocoa Mountain in Durness and Smoo Cave or just watching the mental waves at some of the beaches 

 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Robert Durran:

Thanks, sounds like sound advice. I like having accommodation in Scotland, rather than camping which is the limitation (but absolutely worth it for me).

 Jon Stewart 09 Jan 2022
In reply to Fiona Reid:

I've got that coast down as a definite trip thanks to this thread, don't know if it'll be this one. Ta!

In reply to Jon Stewart:

Another thought prompted by Fiona mentioning “birdy fun”.  If you’re on the north-west coast and want a half-day off climbing, you can’t beat  a trip to Handa Island . Even if you’re not a birder at all it’s unforgettable - you’re definitely in their territory.

In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I've got that coast down as a definite trip thanks to this thread, don't know if it'll be this one. Ta!

The Caithness coast can very conveniently be combined with a trip to Orkney - you drive up it on the way!

 Nutsmuggler 10 Jan 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

We found Glasgow convenient.  Great restaurants, great hotels and you can fly there easily from down south.  Once there hire yourself something nice for the drive in to the highlands each day.  We hired a Range Rover Sport and it was ideal for both pre and post climb drives.  If you fancy a couple of drinks on the way back to then the newer ones have a self steer feature and automatic breaking.

 Jon Stewart 10 Jan 2022
In reply to all:

Cheers for the input. Was looking at the guide for the far north and got a feeling of psyche I've not had in a while. And if it's not that great, I can just hang out at Sheigra everyday, swinging around on buckets having a laugh. Doesn't really get any better than that.

 mike barnard 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Supercrag (Creag Rodha Mor) is well worth a visit if you're in the area. Billed as 'Gogarth meets Sheigra'

In reply to Nutsmuggler:

>   We hired a Range Rover Sport and it was ideal for both pre and post climb drives.  If you fancy a couple of drinks on the way back to then the newer ones have a self steer feature and automatic breaking.

I thought automatic breaking was a feature on the old ones too? 🙄🔧🛠😒

 Alex the Alex 11 Jan 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

Hi Mike. That does look amazing. What about some of the crags you've explored? If someone had one good day, which of the crags you've developed beyond Ullapool would you recommend? The ones around Handa looked pretty special from the tourist boat? 

 mike barnard 11 Jan 2022
In reply to Alex the Alex:

Supercrag beats most other stuff though pretty steep so if you're me you get boxed after a couple of routes. I really like Balmy Slabs which is in the old Northern Highlands North guide but quite a bit has been done there since. The ferry trips to Handa go from the same parking spot (Tarbet). I'd be reluctant to recommend a lot of the obscure crags to all but the very curious/adventurous...

 Alex the Alex 12 Jan 2022
In reply to mike barnard:

Cheers Mike. Il add Balmy Slabs to the wish list. I am often curious, and less often adventurous. Sometimes they overlap, most often in the kitchen.


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