When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
Dreamed of pabba- pabba- pabbaydise
Pabba- pabba- pabbaydise
Pabba- pabba- pabbydise
Every time she closed her eyes

On Saturday morning I feel my way into the shower, eyes mostly shut from sleep. It’s too early for the weekend! Nevertheless we gulp some tea down and throw our things in Russell’s van. We all have so much stuff. Top of my worries: will we really eat this huuuuge duffel bag of food we’ve packed?!


All packed!

Driving through Scotland it pisses it down. Classic. I decide to have a nap and wake up when we’re almost in Oban. The ferry to Castlebay on Barra is four and a half hours of very choppy sea. I feel a bit ill so I sleep some more. We arrive in Castlebay to rain, a bone-chilling wind and feeling pretty hungry. Doubts creep in as to whether spending a precious week of holiday in Scotland instead of the Mediterranean was really a good idea.


Castlebay on Barra

Thankfully we wake up on Sunday to clearer skies and the biting wind having abated. Donald and his vessel the ‘Boy James’ picks us us up at midday and we wave goodbye to civilisation. The journey to Pabbay takes about an hour and its a team effort to lug all our stuff up to the camping area. The campsite is gorgeous, I should mention, the sandy white beach looks like it belongs in the tropics. The weather wasn’t exactly tropical however, but I shouldn’t complain as there was no rain, ticks or midges all week!

After setting up camp we were determined to get a few gneiss routes in before dinner. After walking the wrong way across the island we finally found a crag and did a bit of scrambling around, before getting lost again on the way back to camp!


Corncrakes for Breakfast – First route in Pabbay (very windy!). Photo: Annelies Sarrazyn



The Great Arch!


Walking back to camp. Despite rumours of a notorious bog covering the island I kept my feet dry in trainers every day. Photo: Tim Newton

Over the next few days we did some of the best routes I’ve ever done (no exagg here!), on some of the gneissest rock, in some of the best situations. I won’t go into detail about all the amazing 3 and 4 star routes we did because the list would be too long! I will say that a combination of soft grades and the routes being very much ‘my style’ (steep, obscenely juggy, good gear) meant that the climbing really helped me regain some of the trad confidence which I’ve been missing for the last few months.


U-Th (E3) on Grey Wall Recess. Steep, pumpy fun. Photo: Mick Fowler


Belaying below the final pitch of Spit in Paradise (E4). Photo: Tim Newton


Sugar Cane Country (E4). Photo: Lucas Falch


Soph and Guy on Prophecy of Drowning (E2)


Tim on the totally class E1 Spring Squill

Oooh do I love sea cliffs. However, I also love showers and beds and food which isn’t boiled mush; which means that I was not completely sad to leave the rock in the sea. Also my arms and legs were completely exhausted by the end of the week, I can’t remember the last time I climbed seven days in a row!

Thanks to Justin for organising, Russ for driving Tim and I, Donald for taking us to Pabbay, and everyone else for the good times on the island!

We did eat all the food.


3 thoughts on “Pabbaydise

  1. Truly beautiful rock formations. Makes me miss climbing so badly, thanks for reminding me we live in the swamp… Just joking thanks for motivating.

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