Hills: Creag nan Clag and Tom Bailgeann
Date: Sunday 12th September 2010
Company: Andy and Chris
Weather: Pretty good
Author: Chris Gamble

Creag nan Clag

With a good weather forecast yesterday, Andy and I went out for a spot of Marilyn-bagging. As we drove towards Creag nan Clag, we were both impressed by its steep rock faces. A couple of cars were parked beneath the crags - one pair of climbers were already making progress, another pair were just arriving.

Creag nan Clag from the roadside:

We soon hatched a vague plan of attack for our Marilyn summit bid. We would try to ascend through the cleft seen between the two rock faces in the photo. This meant first walking up past the climbers, allowing us to say hello and see them in action.

A climber making his way up:

The climber from below:

The climbers were very friendly, so we chatted for a good while. Apparently this crag (‘The Camel’) is pretty useless as a traditional climbing venue, due to the conglomerate rock it is made of. However, during recent years it has been developed for sport climbing, with protection permanently bolted into the rock. At least eight routes have been created so far.

The climber heading up the route ‘Stone of Destiny’ (yes, the crag does overhang slightly):

And again, with the ‘Stone of Destiny’ itself seen just below the climber:

After soloing a couple of the routes, Andy and I turned our attention to our ascent cleft. This started out easily enough, but soon a perilous chockstone seemed to block all passage.

Chris negotiating the perilous chockstone:

Now deep inside the chasm, our escape to the safety of the plateau above presented itself. This was not pretty however; a sheer wall of dripping rock and gravity defying moss, barely a good hold to it. An E7 climb at least ;-). Valiantly we tried to get up it, pushing ourselves to our very limits. But in the end, reluctantly, we admitted defeat. Plans changed accordingly, we now dropped back beneath the climbers, and traversed southwards below the crags.

Further south, the crags became smaller, but still made upwards progress difficult:

Traversing beneath the crags:

Another overhanging section:

Looking back northwards:

The crags petered out eventually, at which point we gained access to the summit above. The highest point of this Marilyn is apparently the southerly of its two tops. We visited both tops though, just in case . The views were fantastic.

Tom Bailgeann from Creag nan Clag:

Stac Gorm above Loch Ruthven:

Stac Gorm again - a fine looking wee Marilyn:

For our descent, we followed Creag nan Clag’s broad and heathery north ridge. The views remained excellent. We passed the top of the cleft we were in earlier, which gave a great glimpse of the climbers again.

Loch Duntelchaig, with Kessock Bridge in the distance:

A climber getting ready to be lowered back down (with sport routes, apparently the norm is to be lowered off the top anchor[s] by your belayer below, then the two of you would usually swap roles):

We continued north, until we were past the end of the crags. The car was then only a short distance away.

Andy descending the heathery slopes, with Tom Bailgeann behind:

Looking back up to Creag nan Clag:

Tom Bailgeann

By this point, Andy was in serious need of his radiation fix, so insisted that we visit a mast. Happily, the nearby Marilyn Tom Bailgeann provided us with one. There was nothing fancy about our route up this hill - just a case of following the landrover track there and back again. The track is marked on the 1:25,000 map, but not the 1:50,000 one.

The landrover track winding its way uphill (dog walkers may wish to know that the gate was locked):

The mast in all its glory (the summit trig point can be seen to the left of the paraphernalia):

We walked over to the 462m top, which is only a short distance from the trig point (464m). This was well worth it though, as it provided us with a wonderful view of Loch Ness.

The cairned 462m top:

Loch Ness:

Loch Ness again, with the Moray Firth to the right:

Zooming in to Kessock Bridge, Inverness and the Moray Firth:

Andy on his way back down, with Loch Duntelchaig below:

These two hills are little crackers. Together, they provided us with a most enjoyable outing