The briefest of missives, which I will endeavour to expand upon when time/speedy interweb sees fit to allow:
While to-ing and fro-ing up Strath Halladale (read Far, Far Away) in the name of work, my eye kept resting on a large chunk of rock that seemed to glow pink in the evening sun. Last weekend I took it upon myself to explore further, and couldn't believe my baby-blues when I stumbled upon treasure. I have found a crag. Now, the area guidebook, SMC's Northern Highlands North, mentions 'Culfern' as being a series of slabs and corners with next to no gear, and as such it's confined to top-roping, beginners and abseiling. Having given the place the once over it's clear that they havn't explored it properly, and I feel duty bound to let the reading public (all two of you) know the truth.
It's awesome. I won't go in to all the details, but suffice it to say that there are a good few trad lines and some good bouldering on sound, steep gneiss.
This evening, after a day of vegetation surveying, I soloed the probable first ascent of a cracking little line on the Norther-most crag. It's only about 8 metres, so it's in the micro-route/highball boulder area and takes the left hand thin crack in the gently leaning wall. It reminded me of those little routes you get on grit and in the County, with a hard start and then steady, heady climbing above, and would say it's around E2 6a/highball V3. I've got my eye on a few other lines too, but think gear and a belayer will be required. So, if any one out there wants to bag some first ascents get in touch. I am a long way North, but there is a train station next to my house (look up Forsinard).
I'll blog again soon with some pics of the crag and a video of the route (I was going to film the opening moves to get a video still to put on this, but it was so fun I ended up climbing it again).