Galloway sea-cliff climbing meet, July 17-19

Well what can I say about the second official LMC meet since lockdown eased. The weather, the company and the craic were all excellent and my only regret was that I had to return to the hot sweaty Central Belt on Saturday evening, leaving the rest of the group to enjoy the beauty of the Galloway area.It was a great turnout and testament to Marco’s enthusiasm as meets secretary that attracted eight members, with two new ones – Richard and Loic. Harry had arrived at the campsite just outside Newton Stewart around mid-day on Friday and went for a cycle in the afternoon around Loch Trool. I met him about 5pm and we hung about chatting until Danny, followed by Marco and Richard, Loic and then Flo and Tom turned up. Handy Andy turned up in the morning and went back to same day which was quite impressive considering the distance. I think Flo and Tom’s tent deserves a special mention here. It was massive and more like a mini-marque. Apparently they have a woodburning stove that goes in it as well. I didn’t go inside, but from the reports I received, it had sheep skin rugs inside it and was proper glamping.

There was some discussion about what to do the next day when most of the group had arrived and settled in. The plan was for one group to go to the sea-cliffs at Meikle Ross and the other group to go to the inland Dungeon of Buchan area. However when Andy arrived the next day, he said it was not advisable to go to the Dungeon area as he’d read it was the nesting season; so we all went to Meikle Ross.

Because Danny had been to the area before he lead the way, and despite what anyone else tells you to the contrary we didn’t get lost. I think we started on Fox Craig and Danny lead something (no clue what it was) that turned out to be a bit harder than first imagined so he backed off it. Harry meanwhile climbing with Loic did Curving Arete (severe **), Alligator Crawl (hvs) and a variation of Tin Man (severe). I am not sure what the other parties did, but after about an hour we headed over to Red Slab where we met Flo, Tom and Richard (I think). Harry and Loic did Mental Block (VS***) and then a variation of Coffin Crack which he reckoned was a severe. I lead the first section of Access Ridge (V diff), then Danny lead the second part of it. Again, I’m not sure what the other guys did, but it was nice to see Marco back into the climbing.

It was a good choice to come to Meikle Ross as the cooling breeze off the sea was very welcome and the visibility was excellent. We could see the shadowy outline of The Isle of Man, and the hills in the Lake District. There were a number of seagulls about, but they were well behaved and added to the atmosphere of sea cliff climbing.

We must have spent a good seven hours in the area and saw the tide go out to reveal an every changing coastline.

It as decided to stop in Newton Stewart for a fish supper on the way back and eat it on the benches in the town square. Marco and Danny had food back at the campsite so ate there. Andy and me headed home but I believe some of the remaining group headed off down to the pub for a couple of drinks. According to one eye witness in the group, “it was quite a lively night” with girls in skimpy outfits and guys with gym muscles celebrating some ones 21st birthday party. You’d have to ask those who went to the pub what it was like, but apparently there were some slightly sore heads the next day.

Not sore enough though to stop a group heading up the Merick on Sunday, in what I believe was another very hot and Sunny day. I think Harry, Flo and Tom went home earlier – maybe they had sore heads?