Neist Point

It’s a surprisingly long way from Elgol, on Skye’s south western limb, up to Neist Point, which represents the most westerly place on Skye (and therefore the farthest west you can get in Scotland without a ferry) – over 60 miles and a couple of hours. Skye is a big island! Arriving at the parking for the lighthouse we were amazed to find the place rammed!

“See the sunset from Neist Point” is clearly on the Lonely Planet must-do list, and there was a babble of many languages as people trooped to and fro to the headland.

The lighthouse throng was supplemented by a surprising number of climbers the following morning, as three other teams also concluded that the upper tier north of the point might provide some shelter from the icy blast from the north easterly.

Sure enough, it was relatively tolerable at the foot of the crag (though still plenty of fleece and padding in evidence!)

The crag itself is a 30m wall of dolerite, forming numerous cracks, corners and ribs, and the occasional blanker face. Picking up a pun on “DOLERite” and perhaps a sign of the times of the first ascents, the routes mostly have banking-inspired names and the crag is called The Financial Sector. We picked out those catching the most sun, and did Shocks and Scares, VS, Insider Dealing and Earthbound (both HVS). All very good, combining the jamming and bridging you’d expect on grit with a smattering of more positive face holds (which almost feels like cheating!)

Further right there’s a steeper tower giving routes of E2 and up, centered around Wall Street.

Here’s a guy just topping out on Piggy Bank.

We scooted around to the southern end of the tower to do Wish You Were Here, E2 and given the 4* treatment in the Latter guide. This is a soaring thin crack in the back of a shallow groove – the crack provides plenty of gear but not much in the way of holds, but there are sufficient knobbles and crimps either side to allow steady progress – never really desperate but continuously interesting. Recommended! Just caught this shot of the guy belaying at the top of the next route, gazing out at the Western Isles, thinking: “Wish you were here?”

Back to the van to defrost with a couple of brews, followed by chilli, as we watch the scrabble for parking spaces as the sunset crew arrives. Around 9ish we stroll over to see what all the fuss is about, and are treated to a technicolor extravaganza as the sun slowly disappears, silhouetting the whole of the Outer Hebredies strung out across the horizon.

Next morning is sunny but still only 10C again and the wind hasn’t dropped. For a change of scene we head down towards the lighthouse

… and Bay 3 of the seacliffs.

This is a very handy south facing wall (on an otherwise west-facing cliff) in a fairly sheltered bay. We did a couple of routes on the sunny seaward wall to the left of the photo above: Tinderbox, HVS (tough for the grade) and Side Step, VS. Both very worthwhile.

Another magical spot on this magical island.

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