Dunagoil - 35m
Friday 8th July 2011

Weather/Conditions: Sunny weather (again!)
Distance/Ascent/Time: 1.7km / 70m / 1h 05m
Accompanying: Dad

Dunagoil, the last Top of Bute I had left to climb. I left the smallest and arguably most interesting too.

Dad and I drove to the south of Bute early in the morning since we'd be taking the ferry home at lunchtime. We parked up at the layby, crossed the fields and made our way toward the hummocks that culminate in the lowly Dunagoil. It is the lowest listed top on my website at 35m, which should seem ridiculous at first glance. But it's prominence just cuts 30m, so it's in!

It's a seaside Top, a projection of rock unique on this island with a great block overhanging the north side. While we were in Bute, I'd been looking for places for possible rock climbing exploration. I hadn't seen much at all. Any crags (and I could count them on one hand) were loose, vegetated or simply too broken to be of interest. I checked out the great slabs of rock on the north-eastern flanks before going to the top and here it was - probably the only place to climb on Bute: Dunagoil, who's flanks and slabs of rock are of a sound nature.

Dad and I climbed to the top - and there we were on the summit remarkably quick. Well, it's on 35m high. With that, my trip was completed, I'd climbed everything on Bute. It felt really good.

We explored the cliffs a lot. Dunagoil and the surrounding coast and hillocks are a really interesting part of Bute, completely different from the rest. There's nothing on the island like it. I imagined the 15-metre E-grades on all the slabs, which may have already been climbed if they were closer to Glasgow. (You never know, maybe someone's been here before?) But Dunagoil is mainly known as being the site of an old fort rather than as a venue for climbing...

With regards to the whole week, I felt a sense of achievement entirely disproportionate to the challenge I'd completed. 27 Tops climbed, usually just 100-200 metres in height, over a course of six days. I think I learned a lot more than I'd expected to. It was like a great walk in miniature - starting out as a fun idea, continuing in innocent ticking, resulting in I'm-only-climbing-this-to-tick-it, and finally experiencing a great deal of pride and satisfaction at the end. I discovered that tops averaging 100m aren't pushovers, they were remarkably harder to climb than my expectations. Not that they were so physically difficult (there was often that too) but there was so much to negotiate in the way of fences, fields, bog, rivers and cows (the eternal problem for the field-hopping traveller). Most prominent of all was the lush vegetation and miles of trackless ground (none more so than on the Torran Turach day) and that more than anything made it sometimes difficult.

I got out on my bike a lot, and found Bute's roads quiet and accommodating. I also saw a hell of a lot the island. On my last visit in 2006, I came away with the impression that it was a green island, thick in farmland. By searching out the high areas this time, I've come to see the island as having it's fair share of rough moorland and hills.

When dad and I were back at the car, we drove back to Rothesay, packed up and were on our way home shortly after. As we were driving back, rain clouds began coming up from the south and by the time we got on the ferry, it had strengthened into a downpour.

So just as well we'd caught Dunagoil when we did.

360° Panorama

Times (Time relative to 0.00)
(0.00) 9.10am Parking
(0.20) c. 9.30pm Dunagoil (followed by some exploration!)
(1.05) 10.15pm Parking

Written: 2012-01-25