Slackdhu - 496m
Wednesday 7th April 2010

Weather/Conditions: Sunny all day, with wind and passing rain showers. Snowfields remain on the hills although it's in a state of thaw.
Distance/Ascent/Time: 6.8km / 500m / 3h 10m
Accompanying: Alone

Another great day on the old haunt. I headed up the usual lower slopes with intent on reaching the cliff bands that hold so much interest, but today I was looking at potential routes up the main cliff face of Slackdhu. So I ascended right beneath them up the rubble left over from the colossal landslip of December 2006 and headed to the base. I was weary of getting too close - rock fall probably isn't uncommon here (the rock is notoriously loose) and the scree and alluvial fans show that the rock face is coming away in quantities.

All this is good reason not to climb on the cliffs, but I wanted to have a look anyway. I'd never been right beneath the cliffs - they're very impressive, especially if streaked in snow - and I went as close as I could without risking being hit by toppling stones. The peppered snowfields are a good indication of the dangerous areas.

Owing to the landslide, the lower slopes of the cliff bands are extremely steep and loose, so it would make them difficult to climb. Still, if you're looking to climb the steep bits, at a push, grassy ramps could be followed to near the top. The last few tiers of Slackdhu cliff are vertical, loose and almost impassable, so these would have to be omitted. One of the top grassy tiers however offers a fairly uncomplicated (although exposed) escape to the right hand side.

I headed up the right hand side of the cliffs and ascended to the accessible grassy ledge near the top. The exposure is mental, and much harder to traverse with snowfields in the way. I didn't go far before bottling out, but headed up and onto the top of the cliffs. Here I stayed close to the edge, looking at the cliffs from above, walking into the direction of Coffin Gully. I wanted to view the cliffs from above them too, understand the topography a bit better. I arrived at Coffin Gully and walked around the opposite (west) side, eyeing this up as a possible future climb, but knowing not to as long as that car-sized boulder sits poised on the edge at the top.

I headed to the summit since I was close by, then went south east to a lochan high on the hill. I then cut back towards the cliff bands and ended the day in the Jenny's Lum area. It was good to see some sound rock and I may come back here with climbing gear. This was a super-enjoyable walk, not only because of the good weather and exploration, but also because I was walking with the sound of Brian Eno and Mike Oldfield's albums in my ears. You pick the right songs and sound and listening to music on the hills is a great experience.

Then I charged down the slopes and back into Strathblane, not without seeing my share of dead sheep (they're everywhere) and a dead cow reeking of the stench of death in the burn. I just wonder for how long it'll lie there.

Up to the Creag Dhu

Climbing up beside the cliffs on the eastern side

Moving out onto the cliffs

Along the top

Long Gully (west of cliff bands)

Slackdhu summit and south easterly descent

Jenny's Lum region

Descending back to Strathblane

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 2.20pm Strathblane
(2.05) 4.25pm Slackdhu
(3.10) 5.30pm Strathblane

Written: 2010-05-11