Saturday, December 03, 2011


I finally made it to Kalymnos or, as John Topping said:

“aah so you caved in (pun intended) and went to Kalymnos after all!!”

Having been put off by stories of crowds and overly steep climbing I’m now kicking myself for not having made the trip years ago.

Pete Whillance said it was a world class climbing destination (what, you mean like Tuolumne or Red Rocks?). He wasn’t wrong. There are crags everywhere and thousands of routes. Resident activists are constantly developing new areas and all within a short scooter ride from base camp in Masouri. In fact much of the island economy seems to have been turned over to climbing after the failure of sponge diving.

We climbed a couple of the easier tuffa routes but for us the best climbing was undoubtedly on the 40M mega pitches at Ahri; endless steep faces with beautiful rock and an uninterrupted supply of positive holds. '4U' (6c) at Arhi was my favorite route of the trip while Ghost Kitchen was the most inspiring crag that we visited. There’s loads of places we didn’t have time to visit including most of the popular crags directly behind Masouri.

I think I’ll still be avoiding the peak periods of April and October and won’t be provoking the Athens riot police again (another story) but, I’ll definitely be back.

Il Pittore 6b+, Arhi

Ghost Kitchen, 6C+

Pete Whillance and Cynthia Grindley below Ghost Kitchen

Pete Whillance, 7a at Ghost Kitchen

Pete Whillance, French Connection 6a+, North Cape

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tour de Ben Nevis 2011

Did the Tour de Ben Nevis on Saturday. It’s a 72km loop round the Ben starting and finishing in Fort William; fantastic mountain biking terrain with a really tough descent down into Kinlochleven.

I was very happy with a time of 5 hrs 4 mins but, not so chuffed when I discovered that I’d been demoted from 18th to 53rd as result of my woefully inadequate descending skills on two 8 minute special stages. To me (not that I know anything about MTB events), the special stages make the other 4hrs 45mins of mad thrashing somewhat irrelevant. I suppose you just need to be really good at riding planks of wood covered in chicken wire as well as everything else. Team mates Mike Devlin and Hamish Irvine (who have excellent descending skills by any measure), suffered a similar fate in the final results

Winge over..... A great event, well organised and inspiring terrain. Need to practice on those planks before next year.


Video thanks to David MacMillan of

This is what Mike Devlin of Mikes Bikes had to say.........

Mountain Bike “racing” 
Before I start, this will include a rant!!! Three intrepid (okay old) athletes, Mike Devlin, Hamish Irvine and Andy Hyslop entered the MTB enduro event “Tour de Ben Nevis” at the weekend. As a group they all suffer from a minor affliction, and a major misconception. The major misconception being, “1st over the line wins “, Hamish & Mike should know better, 
having “competed” in the Merida mountain marathon which produces no results. Anyway, what follows in Mikes account of this gentle mountain bike race Warning: This article includes some rambling.  
Hamish, Mike & Andy arrived on the start line in Fort William on a very cold and wet Saturday morning (Forecast was wall to wall sun!),after a long and cold chat to Steve Broadhurst, Catriona Brown, Peter, Duncan Clark etc, we were piped (bag) along the high street………….and then it started. 
Stage 1
Immediately, we got stuck into a long hill climb, and quickly the 300+ thinned into 20 ish  racers. Riding alongside Hamish, I felt good even great!! Cue 1st attempt at dropping him.  After 30mins or so it got a bit rougher, and I promptly fell off!!

(our hard tyre policy was all wrong!), the bete noir (Hamish) over took me (on my Merida 29er XT edition), & I quickly lost sight of him over a long, arduous, rough track to Kinlochleven. 

Stage two began, oh joy (v technical down hill, big drops, all rock and steps), despite being well warned I rode it all on 1st sight, a combination of extreme skill (modesty is over-rated), 29er & luck! I did it “sight unseen “and stayed upright. The highlight of the descent was passing (avec smug grin in place), the black beast (Hamish), who had decided to walk! We then hit the hill to Mamore Lodge (mega steep honest), and I was delighted to have dropped Hamish on the down hill (not that I am competitive). This delight had a very short shelf life, for at the top of the hill, a familiar “hello hello”  was proffered from the big man as he cruised past!! At that point both of us were overtaken by the 1st woman, so our god like status dropped somewhat. After a very long and sore Land Rover track, I caught sight of Hamish in front and Andy behind!  After fording a river, the “walking” section commenced, yes I did write “walking”. Now hill walking is not my favourite activity, especially in Shimano Carbon soled race shoes, whilst carrying a (big) bike. I saw Hamish drawing further away, and Andy drawing nearer on his Merida 96 carbon full suss. My resolve failed! I sat on my bike at the top and fell over, Andy & Hamish rode away. On top of this ignomy, I lost my chocolate bar ( the subject of a long dream on the climb). I thought,”oh well” a long slog to Fort William now, how hard can that be!!
Actually, very hard, after 4.5hrs of hard riding, a nice man told me I was 20th out of 300+, and that there was a “short
technical section” ahead.(Translation: short technical section-try world cup XC course. Given I had worn my rear brakepads to the metal, a technical section was not my ideal finish. Halfway down, I got off and ran(or was that walk gingerly)! It was safer. Somewhere in the woods two DH demons overtook me (so fast I missed one of them), and one with a smug podium smile. (Damien Forster, ex owner of off beat bikes, so he knows a bit about the trails. Finally, I reached the finish alone in 22nd place after a mind numbing 5hrs 11mins & still thinking about my chocolate bar.  The team did well for old men Hamish Irvine (12th), Andy Hyslop (18th) Mike Devlin (22nd).overall………..or so we thought This is not the end of the story………… we were unaware of the “rules”, which meant that “style” points were awarded for various sections DH, UH (that’s uphill) etc. Personally I don’t get it, but in this world of equal ops for all, it must have some logic! Steve Broadhurst reckons that if Mike etc actually read the instructions it might have worked out. The key appears to be, ride very slowly for 75% of the time, fix your hair at the top of the DH (if you have any, I would polish my helmet) and bomb it down, then return to riding slowly, till the next style section! 
Sore loser! You bet!

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Big Loop

Took 12 hours 10 mins (ish). Went anti clockwise. Cafe stops at Pitlochry and Braemar. Distance: 160 miles with the 4 big climbs.

  • Inshriach 6.50am
  • Pitlochry  10.20am
  • 40 min Cafe stop ( 2 sausages, bacon, scrambled egg, toast, coffee)
  • Spitall of Glenshee 5 min leg stretch
  • Braemar 13.50pm
  • 40 min Cafe stop ( Cheese & tomato toasty, tea, caramel slice, can of beer)
  • Cock Bridge 5 min leg stretch
  •  Tomintoul 16.50pm
  • 10 min butty break ( 1 x cheese/salami)
  • 17. 15pm Brig O' Broon energy crash and another 10 mins butty break ( 1 x cheese/salami)
  • 18.10pm Nethy and a tow home from Pat
  • 7.00pm Cairngorm Hotel Aviemore for beer and chips
I took HighFive Zero electrolite tablets for the water bottle but refrained from any other energy products.
Pat tows home from Nethy

View Cairngorm Road Loop in a larger map

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Merida 96

Got the chance to try a Merida 96 on some of the tracks and trails around Aviemore.

The bike was amazing, probably a bit too amazing for me! It would be nice to own one but I could see myself going faster and faster until the inevitable happened. Probably best to stick with what I've got for the rest of the this year at least.

Many thanks to Jenny and Mike of Mike Bikes, Aviemore for the loan of the bike.

View Burma Road - Burnside Loop in a larger map

Friday, July 08, 2011


Colin Moody’s new sport crag at Duart Point.

More new routes at Erraid. Plenty more to come

Topo of Corridor Crag, Erraid (NM297201). Thanks to Colin Moody

Thursday, June 02, 2011

May 2011

The weather has been terrible up north for a month. Some respite on the way hopefully. I managed a good trip up the North West with Mike Binks while the sun was still shining.

The Ullapool Stornaway ferry from Rhue

There's a full article about our NW trips on the Rock + Run Info site

Pat and I have been busy in the Elves Workshop churning out lots of exciting new products. We've started making some bike products for Mike Bikes in Aviemore in addition to all the usual stuff for Rock + Run.
Mikes Bikes Saddle Bag

BASOC, my local Orienteering club managed a shock 1st and 2nd place in Scottish Champs Relays last weekend. Video by Callum Scott below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aviemore to North Uist

It should have been further but my back axle broke near Lochmaddy necessitating a return by boat and bus.

The first two days with Andrew Stoker were excellent; cutting cross country from east to the west coast.

Day 1: Over the Gaick to Glen Garry, road to Kinloch Rannoch and Rannoch Station followed by a tough 10 miles across Rannoch Moor to The Kings House. 70 miles

Day 2: Road to the end of Loch Etive. Very rough for a couple of KM on the north side of loch followed by gradually improving track leading onto good forest road and eventually tarmac. 37 miles. Ferry to Castlebay, Barra.

Day 3: Up Barra to the Eriskay ferry. 40 miles on wind assisted tarmac to within 10 miles of Lochmaddy 50 miles-ish.

All very nice but a bit disappointing that we didn't managed the full trip through to Ullapool, XC to Alness, Inverness and back over the Monadhliath.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Escalada en Sierra Espuña

What makes a good climbing trip? Well, these days, apart from the obvious such as good weather, great rock and routes, I look for venues which are less frequented by main stream euro craggers than I perhaps might have done 20 years ago. The obvious destinations such as Calpe, Sella, El Chorro and Kalymnos are most definitely off the radar.

I visited the Sierra Espuña region with Jonathan Lagoe in 2006 while competing in an orienteering event. We managed a bit of climbing but time was short and my motivation was pointing in different direction. I made it back 5 years later with Cynthia Grindley and Colin Moody, this time just for the climbing.

Apart from the first day we barely saw any other climbers all week and had the crags to ourselves most days.

The guide book: Escalada en Sierra Espuña

Where to Stay: Camping Sierra Espuña

Colin Moody's images: Spain

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cairngorm South Side

An excellent day skiing the the south side of Cairngorm Mountain with Hamish Irvine and Graeme Ettle. A bit windy, snow tricky in places but great to be out before the thaw sets in next week.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kingussie to Carrbridge

Ski touring has activity has been curtailed somewhat with my labyrinthitis/middle ear problems; comes and goes but has alarming symptoms when it strikes, which put me off heading into the winter hills on my own. Turns out my sister, unbeknown to me, has also been suffering from vestibular disorder for the last 2 years. It last struck her down while descending the Puig Campana in Spain.

With a big dump of snow and a couple of days for it to consolidate I couldn't resist another attempt on a Monadhliath  traverse from Kingussie to Carrbridge. Good conditions are not that frequent as the hills are all relatively low and ideally you need good snow down to strath level for the long easy angled run into Carrbridge.

I was lucky; apart from a 45min walk from Kingussie Station to the forest gate I kept skis on all the way to the forest gate just west of the saw mill at Carrbridge. A 20min walk got me into the village centre.

The route passes the site of the proposed Allt Duine Wind Farm which, in true NIMBY style, I'm strongly opposed to. This is what Cameron MacNeish has to say about it: Another giant windfarm for the Monadh Liath

7.23am train from Aviemore to Kingussie (12 mins)
45 min walk to the forest gate.
Arrived at the Cairn Hotel Carrbridge at 4.55pm
Skis: Fischer 109
Wax: Swix Red Special 0'C to -2'C

View Kingussie to Carrbridge in a larger map

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tele Self Analysis

A day of good snow at Cairngorm which makes a change from the icy conditions. Cynthia came over from Glencoe which gave me the opportunity to do a bit of self analysis on my tele technique.

Strange how you think you're doing really well until  you see yourself on video. I know what I need to improve on; hands further forward, more movement, face down the fall line, but in practice I’m really struggling to make it all happen.

The vid is shot with a GoPro Helmet Hero; Seems really good but needs some care on camera angle as is evident with the short section of Cynthia skiing.

Brutal criticism welcome.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Les Contamines

I had a week of telemark instruction in Les Contamines with The Telemark Ski Co. Any pretensions that I might have had about my telemarking ability were quickly demolished on the first morning. By the end of the week I was feeling a lot more confident and, while still fairly crap, I know what I need to work on.

Booking on a course goes against the grain a bit for me but it was definitely money well spent. Excellent instruction from Ian Johnston and a friendly bunch of fellow students.