Sunday, 6 September 2009

Fast Castle and the Souter.

All this summer we`d been planning interesting things to do over on the west coast,but only if it was in the sun of course.Sadly this summers been the same as last year,hardly a dry Sunday to the north and west of Glasgow.
Thank God for the East Coast and Galloway then.So far since February we`ve had one fairly grim wet day on the Moorfoots, mid summer, and a mixed day of sun and snow flurries (Kaim Hill) at the start.
The whole purpose of this blog is to show people how easy it is to find the sun in Scotland if, like us, that is their wish. (Yes, its even possible if you live in Skye .A Clue. Black Isle`s nice Alistair.)
What`s less easy if your used to Munro's is spending the summer on the lesser hills even if it is in glorious sunshine.It doesn't bother me but keen readers may note Alex has been pining subconsciously beneath a brave front for the greater ranges and yes............THE RAIN!
The occasional bothy trip over on the west has been mentioned.The damp soft drizzle of the western misty mountains calling out to him.
The same thing happened to me in Australia after months without rain.I started dreaming of the glistening west coast of Scotland and the waterfalls pouring off the mountaintops.I know its hard when your that dried out and your body instinctively craves water.
So, as a friend, I`ll give him the same advice Omar Sharif gave Peter O`Toole in Lawrence of Arabia as they staggered across the scorching void on thirsty camels. "Be warned Alex.You were drifting! Sit up and Focus!"
I know what its like.Hold fast! If it gets too much fill a bath and lie under it for a while,just your nose showing like Christina Ricci in Mermaids. Trust me.This helps.
Weather forecast.Rain sweeping in from the west from early on.Best of any bright spells.Go on, surprise me then.
Left my house in the drizzle,picked up Alex and headed East. Parked at Dowlaw farm car park and followed sign for Fast Castle on a path down towards the cliffs where the Lammermuirs plunge into the sea.This was an area we`d only visited once before on a club climbing trip to do the Souter seastack and the tilted Brander slab routes.Always fancied a return visit.
Replacing what was originally a drawbridge a more modest structure leads on to the semi hidden eagles nest of the castle.This was first mentioned in 1333 so its no surprise there is not much left.It has also been rebuilt,captured and destroyed several times since then by determined foes.Obviously the notch between main cliff and bastion has become filled with rubble over time but this was consided in its day to be sufficently well defended by nature and mortar that it could be held with only ten good men against all but an army.
It started raining at this point.Not heavy but a soft misty drizzle not unlike a normal west coast good day.Alex was happy! He danced around, face soaking up the moisture like a teenager and started climbing all the jaggy bits in sight.

I`ve not seen him this happy since St Abbs. PoorBoy, he must have been really dry!

After standing on several improbable pinnacles we took the sheep track round the cliff edge to the Souter where Alex spotted a new challenge.
The Souter itself was not a solo job but the fin next to it was on even when wet.He was game and enjoying the rain.Nirvana beckoned.

I stayed safe and took the pictures.

Alex and the Souter

All too quickly the rain went off but it was enough to ease parched bodies and minds.For those interested there is a HVS 5a up the seaward side of the Souter and many routes on the Brander slab area. (Bring a gardening trowel for them). A nice walk.

As it was still fairly early and the weather was improving into the usual fine afternoon we drove to the nearby Pease Bay for a walk along the Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve there,a deep wooded gorge where the evidence of mud slides and ripped up trees from a storm two days previously made it interesting.

The wildlife must have taken a pounding as well as these green beetles were everywhere, instinct still telling them to keep high.

You can see how the grand canyon could form just seeing the earth and trees even this very modest stream could remove in one night.
An interesting and varied day out finished off with a stroll along the beach to a blood red cliff of old red sandstone.Smashing stuff.Pity these two old foggies couldnt climb up to the cave halfway up this headland.......

...............due to incoming tide and lack of energy.Sandsones a bugger to climb, sloping holds and gritty texture.Ah well roll on the Autumn.


Stravaiger said...

The Black Isle of all places! pshaw! It's so hot here today I can barely breathe...

Anonymous said...

Aye right! The whole world and its granny knows you,ve had more than fourty consecutive days of rain up there this summer.Glad your getting your one day tan at last Alistair.
Ps Best film of the year I,ve seen so far is "let the right one in" a swedish gothic masterpiece I,m sure you and the misses will really enjoy.Its truly stunning.
You know who.