I think it’s fair to say that North Wales is the Promised Land for most British climbers. It’s where everyone seems to live, or at least, it’s where everyone seems to spend a lot of time, and for good reason. Almost all the variety of styles of British climbing, including many of the very best, are accessible within a tiny area, so even if the weather’s crap there’s almost always something to do. Consequently there are loads of climbers around so it’s easy to find keen beans to get out with, and lets face it, that’s half the battle – finding folk to share the adventures. I think another reason it’s so popular is that despite being fairly tucked away and quiet, it’s not that far from big cities and modern amenities – you don’t have to be an all-out balls-out yokel to get on there.
So, I got thinking about the places in Britain where climbers seem to live and about living here in Aviemore and thought I’d write my musings down in a series of blogs. Maybe the Strathspey tourist board will hire me to promote the area for climbing bums.
Generally, when I tell non-climbers I live here they assume it’s a great place to live as a rock climber - with the Cairngorm mountains right here there must be no-end of rock to play on. But the truth is not so simple. As the highest continuous lump of ground in Britain The ‘Gorms are out of condition for most of the year – either they’re caked in snow or they’re hiding in a rain cloud, so we have to look elsewhere for rock. And while the high tops are capped with beautiful pink granite, down in the Strath we have to settle for schist, (I’m not being rude), and this schist seems pretty reluctant to bare itself.
Naked schist: Creag Dubh's Great Wall (Pic: Steve Crawford)
So, over the next wee while I’m going to spray a bit about my experiences of living here and the climbing we’ve got at our fingertips. Stay tuned...