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Kidnapped, Climbing on Erraid

Jo tussling with the skin stripping rock above Tinkers Hole, Erraid

The setting for Robert Louis Stephens ‘Kidnapped’ couldn’t be a more idyllic spot. The isle of Erraid a small island off the end of the Ross of Mull just under the island of Iona has some superb rock climbing and white sand beaches and often very few people. Its rough pink granite is a joy to climb on well protected with great views out into the Atlantic to Jura, Iona and dozens of skerrays and small isles dotted as far as the eye can see.

Getting there in itself feels like a good adventure with ferries from Oban to Mull a great drive to the southern end of Mull and a final wade across the sound of Erraid to gain the island itself all comes together to give a slightly edge of the world feel.

The climbing there is generally short routes and quite punchy crack climbs but with good gear and anchors a plenty. There is plenty of climbing in this area which you will notice as soon as you start approaching the southern end of the Ross of Mull. Around Bunessan the basalt crags and outcrops give way to pink and white granite. Around the port of Fionphort where you catch the ferry over to Iona is littered with superb bouldering. Take not of the split block in the bay. From here its short drive down to the roads end at Knockvolygon farm where the last few kilometres need to be made on foot. We headed down through a stunning set of beaches and inlets that lead over to the Isle of Erraid where a short walk of about 30 minutes brings you over to the bay on the seaward side of the island. Tinkers hole as its named is a popular spot for boats and yachts sheltering from the elements while timing a trip across the Atlantic.

There are three main areas surrounding the bay, the first a steep wonderfully coloured crag sitting high above the bay and white sands gives steep but well protected climbs from about severe to E2. Beware the severe’s as they will feel pretty tough for the grade. As will most of the routes here. Looking out from the bay there are routes to the right which drop into the sea giving some DWS routes and short pitches. Out to the left a short scramble out of the bay leads to a perfectly positioned crag on terrace looking out to sea. Here a similar mix of steep crack lines on a white granite.

Blue skies and great rock

If you keep your eyes peeled out to see then seals, Dolphins and Sea Eagles can all be spotted. The one really annoying bit of wild life at the moment is the amount of ticks and there are plenty so make sure to check on return. It is an area that could have a midge issue but there often a wind coming in off the sea so often not an issue.

We climbed enjoying the routes before taking a swim in the deceptively looking warm waters in Tinkers Hole below. I have put this together with a few images as a bit of a guide and some inspiration to visit a new areas. Its well worth the visit, its not really a day trip area but its a good weekend. There is camping near by at Fidden campsite just before the road end. Nicely set on the beach with great views out to sea and the island of Iona. Logistics wise the best bet is to head for Oban and book a Cal Mac ferry which takes about an hour to Craignure on the Isle of Mull and then drive to the southern tip. If coming from further North then its better to head to the Lochaline to Fishnish ferry which takes about 20 minutes and is very regular. The only issue here is that the Corran Ferry which links Fort William to Ardour has broken and can only take foot passengers at the moment making it quite a long drive round.

All the routes and areas can be found by getting the SMC guide to the inner Hebrides this has everything on the island. If you have the time then its worth having a look at the Basalt climbing which can be found all around the Ross of Mull before you reach Bunessan. Again short but fun routes. If its a bit wet to climb or you want to let the skin grow back on your hands for a day then the boat tours out of Fionphort to the Isle of Staffa are well worth it. Puffins and Fingals cave are all worth a look including a look back from the boat to the impressive coastline of Mull.

A traditional scene in the Hebrides, metal gradually breaking down. Knockvolygon Farm

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