UKC

Scotland summer climbing

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When lockdown is over at last, I want to get the hell out of London and climb something a little bit adventurous like some Scottish mountain routes. Looks like May is a good month for dry weather but I wonder if routes like the Long Climb on Ben Nevis will still be snowy in places? Any other weather/timing considerations? 

Also intrigued by the sea cliff climbing in Sheigra and any and all other destinations! Any other especially exciting recommendations? 

6
 OwenM 28 Feb 2021
In reply to alex505c:

Lockdown may be coming to an end in London but it's very likely it's going to last much longer up here. At the end of April we're likely to be going to level 3, which still means we're not allowed to travel outside our council area. I think someone's enjoying keeping the border closed to people from down south. 

11
 kaiser 28 Feb 2021
In reply to OwenM:

Pretty obvious that the OP means May 2022... 

In reply to OwenM:

Yeah I'm not holding out much hope for a Scotland road trip in late May / early June...

In reply to kaiser:

> Pretty obvious that the OP means May 2022... 

I'd put money on them meaning this year.

3
In reply to Robert Durran:

And you’d have won the bet. Guess I’ll have to shelve my Scotland fantasy. Alas. 

In reply to alex505c:

> And you’d have won the bet. Guess I’ll have to shelve my Scotland fantasy. Alas. 

When it's on, definitely check out Sheigra - one of the best crags in the whole of the UK. The whole area is amazing, incredible scenery and great crags. Late spring definitely the best time to visit, roll on 2022.

In reply to alex505c: I think a May 2021 Scotland trip might be possible, Nicola Sturgeon will have resigned by then and the new incumbent might be more friendly to tourists from England.

Very unlikely that the Long climb will be doable and although I haven’t done it it doesn’t get great reports, maybe something like The Bullroar (HVS 5a) or Centurion (HVS 5a) would be better targets. Sheigra is a great place to climb.

10
 smally 28 Feb 2021
In reply to Martin Haworth:

Nae chance. From the 28th of April mainland Scotland will go into Level 3. Current Level 3 rules require you to stay within your Local Authority area. I think these are updated every 3 weeks so it could be well into May before any glimpse of light for increased travel.

I have certainly put a planned cragging week for May on hold, till June.

2
In reply to smally:

> Nae chance.

There might be a chance. Sturgeon is, sensibly, being very cautious and not wanting to get hopes up. If things go really well, I think there might be an earlier relaxation.

3
 Dom Goodwin 28 Feb 2021
In reply to alex505c:

Ignoring possible covid issues, May is indeed a good time to climb in Scotland from personal experience - often drier, with less midges. I've encountered mixed climbing on top pitches and/or snow exits late May/early June climbing on the Ben, not that I've done a massive amount there - but for sure it's something to take into account. Best to check with people with local knowledge nearer the time as obviously this will vary according to the route and year.

1
 Red Rover 28 Feb 2021
In reply to OwenM:

What do you think the chances are of late September being OK legally, if your crystal ball is working?

1
 ScraggyGoat 28 Feb 2021
In reply to Robert Durran:

I still don't see how Sturgeon can hold back the rising tide.  I went out for a very long ride today, which is of course permissible (if not possibly within the spirit), and it was stunning spring weather.  Deep into the hinterland to see what was happening.

Lots of cyclists (both road and off-road), all obvious low level car-parks nearly full, the village centres had an early tourist season feel with the ice-cream shops open (serving from a hatch), people queuing inside the co-op for the take-out coffee machine  (not so good), the coffee and ice cream being consumed by multiple folks laying outside (socially distanced; all fine), takeaway doing good trade, a handful of soft-top cars doing the single track (essential?), a few more motor bikes and pillion passengers out and playing with the little traffic there was, a handful of gliders getting tug plane launched, and on the the far hills skiers doing spring snow descents. I bet if I'd taken a different loop there would have been numerous parties on the crag, and white water paddlers on the rapids. The only activities lacking from a normal spring were campervans and the odd road- / loch-side tent.

Now all the people doing this were predominantly socially distanced (apart from the coffee), most were probably in their own local authority area, but do we really think that once the folks in the conurbations (particularly ones with currently low infection rates) realise that while they are confined, elsewhere people are having a good time, they aren't going to get restless for some spring sun, space, and fresh vistas. The better the weather is the more it will brew.

History tells us from the end of the first lockdown, that attempts to hold the five mile limit in lower levels (as was suggested), only lasted days.

So unless there is evidence that the new strain is significantly contagious outside, the longer the pan-Scotland approach is held the bigger the political pressure will mount from many authority areas, and the bigger the potential tsunami exodus from the central belt will be, with or without government sanction................all in the run up to an election.

On current evidence, for better or worse this is only going to go one way, and not to the current timetable hinted at in Holyrood. Parliament is going to have to offer some form of concessions (which will at least have an element of planning/consideration for the greater good), or it is  going to lose authority, from which it will potentially struggle to recover.

Though I can see cross-border restrictions lasting a bit longer.

Post edited at 23:34
2
 OwenM 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Red Rover:

How long is a peice of string? I've no idea.

1
 graeme jackson 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Red Rover:

> What do you think the chances are of late September being OK legally, if your crystal ball is working?

We were told all last week that we may be able to have 'stay at home' holidays this summer. I'd not hold too much hope of st nic opening the borders if she's still around.

 Rob Parsons 01 Mar 2021
In reply to graeme jackson:

> We were told all last week that we may be able to have 'stay at home' holidays this summer. I'd not hold too much hope of st nic opening the borders if she's still around.


Unless some unexpected disaster happens, I give you a guarantee that the English/Scottish border will be open before September (and likely long before that.)

-- Mystic Meg

 Dave Hewitt 01 Mar 2021
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

> I still don't see how Sturgeon can hold back the rising tide. 

As well as the main political input, I think a lot will depend on how the various police areas choose to handle things. In theory Police Scotland is all one big unit these days, but it doesn't work like that in practice. I've heard from a well-informed source that Highland police are taking a liberal view on Highland residents travelling within their area, but that doesn't appear to be the case with Stirling (my neck of the woods). Just a couple of weeks ago a couple with a child, known to one of my main hill sidekicks, were turned back somewhere between Stirling and Callander when they were intending a low-level walk just beyond the latter. They live in Stirling, so they hadn't gone very far and were well within their council area - but if the polis stop you and tell you to go back, you don't have much choice.

With the hills looking lovely in the spring sunshine, I've started to get hankerings for a Stuc a' Chroin outing from the quiet side - Braeleny above Callander. It's the closest big-hill starting-point from Stirling, 18 miles from here. I don't have any problem doing that in terms of the law and the guidance, but I don't want to get pulled over somewhere near Doune and sent packing, so I'm very much in two minds. Thus far there doesn't appear to have been any problem whatsoever with the Ochils side of things - I can get along there under the five-miles-beyond exception and the street at the west end of Tillicoultry (in Clackmannanshire) is exactly five miles beyond the council boundary on the A91. This has been a bit of a godsend and I've been going there repeatedly during Dec/Jan/Feb. I'm happy enough doing that for considerably longer if need be (after all, the situation here is miles better than the big city dwellers have, so I can't grumble), but a change of scene to the local Munros would be nice if feasible.

 Eric9Points 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Red Rover:

> What do you think the chances are of late September being OK legally, if your crystal ball is working?

Everyone will have had their second jab by then so as long as nothing horrible happens September should be safe.

I've booked a holiday cottage for late June.

1
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Quite the endorsement! Good to hear... And Martin/Dom, thanks for the recs on Ben Nevis. Maybe the planets will align for a trip somewhat later in the summer...

 ScraggyGoat 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

Agree, we live in interesting times, and have a wounded government looking for diversions away from their current self-inflicted woes. 

I'm sure they would be very happy if the press were ridiculing some poor hill-walkers whos only crime might be to be parked a mile out of their area, to give them some respite from their current front page coverage...............

Police Scotland has to tread a fine line, not to undermine the ethos of policing with consent of the population, yet are beholden to the instructions of parliament (some of which seam to have dubious legal standing; sadly I haven't the wherewithal to mount a judicial challenge).

2
 Eric9Points 01 Mar 2021
In reply to alex505c:

June is fine as well and more likely that there will be no more travel restrictions. Best plan is to have a rucsack metaphorically packed and go at the first opportunity. 

Sheigra is totally brilliant.

An alternative to the Ben might be the Fhiddler Nose in Coigach. It may not be a big hill but the route has a big route atmosphere about it.

Post edited at 18:13
 ScraggyGoat 01 Mar 2021

In reply to alex505c:

Follow the weather. If the Ben and West Highlands are clagged, but coastal forecast is clear consider Reiff, Sheigra, Stac Polly and the Gairloch crags, possibly also the Old Man of Stoer.  If East is better than West consider the Cairngorms; Shelterstone, Etchachan, Dubh Loch....................don't forget to check the summit temperatures as cold fingers can ruin an otherwise perfectly fine weather day on mountain routes.

Fingers crossed the midges hatch early, and upon finding no tourists starve to death!

Post edited at 18:24
 spenser 01 Mar 2021
In reply to alex505c:

If I drove from London to Ben Nevis I would be profoundly disappointed if the route I had wound up targeting was The Long Climb, you would have driven past countless FAR better routes (and walked past quite a few on the way up to it as well!). You will be able to get some truly fab routes done up in the Lakes long before Nicola lets us Englishmen across the border!

In reply to alex505c:

Another rec for Sheigra. Lovely sea cliff climbing. It’s a long drive, mind.

 girlymonkey 01 Mar 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

You could cycle to Braelenny, you can cycle as far as you like!

 buffalo606 01 Mar 2021
 drew52 01 Mar 2021
In reply to alex505c:

If you can get up to the North West then there is so much to go at and much quieter that some other areas.

If you want something adventurous then would recommend a visit to Carnmore crag. Take a bike to shorten the approach, or even better canoe in over Loch Maree!

In reply to Rog Wilko:

> Another rec for Sheigra. Lovely sea cliff climbing. It’s a long drive, mind.

Depends where you live......

 Dave Hewitt 01 Mar 2021
In reply to girlymonkey:

> You could cycle to Braelenny, you can cycle as far as you like!

Indeed, although I'm getting a bit old for cycling all the way from Stirling, climbing Stuc and then reversing the process - you're younger than me! It's crossed my mind however to park in Callander and walk from there - an extra three miles or so each way - that's much more doable, just turns a 5hr outing into a 7hr one, which is fine on a nice day. But that still runs into the basic problem of being stopped en route even though it's all legit. The Bracklinn Falls car park between Callander and the hill is also exactly the kind of place the polis have been hanging about. Will ponder the matter further and stick with the near/middle section of the Ochils for now...

 Mike1902 02 Mar 2021
In reply to OwenM:

> How long is a peice of string? I've no idea.

Twice half its length

 Dave Hewitt 02 Mar 2021
In reply to Rob Parsons:

> Unless some unexpected disaster happens, I give you a guarantee that the English/Scottish border will be open before September (and likely long before that.)

I wouldn't get your hopes up too much given the latest news on intended internal restrictions within Scotland:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-56237471

In reply to Dave Hewitt:

> I wouldn't get your hopes up too much given the latest news on intended internal restrictions within Scotland:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-56237471

The key figure is to get below 50 cases per 100000 in order to get into Level 2 and be allowed to travel to other level 2 areas. Looking at today's figures, I would have thought that a lot of areas should achieve that by the end of April if things go reasonably well. 

The other important thing for those of us in large council areas is whether the guidance to stay local remains - this was only brought in on with the lockdown on Dec 26th and it is not at all clear to me whether I can assume it will remain till the end of April.

 facet 02 Mar 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

All change again, the SNP say lockdown exit could be accelerated...

!

 Dave Hewitt 02 Mar 2021
In reply to facet:

> All change again, the SNP say lockdown exit could be accelerated...

Yes, heard that on the radio on the drive back from the Ochils (lovely day - unexpected inversion up top, sunny and quite warm on the upper 50m). From what little I heard on the initial news report however it sounded like some kind of unspecified acceleration after the late-April date when lockdown ends, rather than bringing that forward. But I've only heard the basic headline really - will need to have a proper read/listen later.

(Presumably it's the Scottish government saying whatever's being said, not the SNP.)

 Michael Gordon 02 Mar 2021
In reply to facet:

They say "could be". So not really a change. My feeling is that although there are now tougher criteria on progressing down the tiers, it should be easier to achieve these numbers as more and more people are vaccinated.

 facet 02 Mar 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

Great that you got a good day out with inversion. The Haar has been in all day around Inverness/Black Isle and sunny most other places I think. Yes the Scottish Government, which basically is the SNP at present! But I get your point. 

 Dave Hewitt 02 Mar 2021
In reply to facet:

> Great that you got a good day out with inversion. The Haar has been in all day around Inverness/Black Isle and sunny most other places I think.

Yes, was good - just went for a basic lunchtime loop and while it was a pleasant mix of murky and bright lower down the cloud sea up top came as a surprise. Could happily have sat on top for an hour or more rather than the actual 20 minutes. The big hills to the west and north in the semi-forbidden lands were sticking up above the cloud and looking lovely. Almost completely windless - a very light easterly, but almost nothing. Saw a bee in the woods on the way up, a good sign of spring. Also saw a bee in the same woods a fortnight ago - that felt a bit too early.

> Yes the Scottish Government, which basically is the SNP at present!

Indeed!

 facet 02 Mar 2021
In reply to Dave Hewitt:

Sounds idyllic!

 jonny taylor 02 Mar 2021
In reply to alex505c:

> routes like the Long Climb on Ben Nevis

Since nobody seems to have said it yet: the Long Climb is a *VERY* serious route. A number of serious incidents and at least one death have occurred in recent years due to loose rock. Not one to be taken lightly.

 Will Hempstead 03 Mar 2021
In reply to jonny taylor:

Friend of mine got rescued off the long climb after spending I think two days on it. He's done a fair bit in scotland + the alps as well. Hasnt stopped me from wanting to do it but I think its rep is well deserved.

Last year I had an alps trip cancelled and just stayed in scotland, mingulay rieff sheigra etc. Had not climbed on gneiss before but thought the stuff on mingulay and sheigra blew the alps out the water for quality of climbing, especially when you consider cost per pitch. Stuff like jack the ripper on stac pollaidh and the fiddlers nose are also brilliant. Obviously go to the shelterstone as well if you can. 


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