Rubha Coigeach

I woke on the fourth morning, in the same way as the first three of our trip - listening to the rain drumming on tent. The wind had dropped a notch or two however from the previous day's F7 and it seemed the sun might just make an appearance by late morning, so we enjoyed another leisurely start, packing up camp and having a final recce from the cliffs beyond Reiff where a confused sea littered in white caps was running in front of a F5 westerly. Yet as the cliffs turned slightly to the east, it seemed the sea looked more regular - and the wind was due to drop.
Image: Tim Pearson
We sorted the kit at the road head beside the burn that drains the Loch of Reiff, once again using a small river for our launch... sheltered bay to enter this time however - almost immediately the sea state picked up as we crossed the reefs, before we entered the heavy clapotis that would continue for the next 4km.
Passing the first of the cliff's well known climbing areas, I glanced over at a familiar route - this image taken from a hanging belay near the cliff top, looking down on Simon leading the appropriately named: Barrier Reef (HVS 5a). A lovely climb protected by small wires, with beautifully balanced moves through the Barrier or small roof.
Image: Tim Pearson
A short while later we entered the calmer waters of Camas Eilean Ghlais, paddling deep into the bay...
...where I was keen to inspect another old favourite - Route Cavity (also HVS 5a).
At only 10m in height, I remembered this as a route that felt out of all proportion with its size. Superb climbing. This image taken by Karl - Simon belaying as I make the moves across and up onto the 'headwall'. These days I enjoy looking at the lines, and feel a very real affinity with those crags where I have climbed, but am generally quite happy to pass beneath.
Image: Tim Pearson
We moved on, out into the chop once more, making rapid progress north, at times some distance off shore... others closer in where deep water adjacent to the cliffs allowed us to enjoy the spectacular wash of the swells rolling up the sandstone slabs.
Tim approaching the point of Rubha Coigeach...
...and another route climbed years ago: Cyclops (E2 5c). I took the image above leaning precariously over the edge of the cliffs to the left of the detached pinnacle, the outer arete of which provides this dramatic route. Karl has just threaded the eye which gives the route its name and is looking for a line through the bulging, rounded breaks above. An exciting climb.
Off the headland itself the northerly swell became increasing noticeable and gave rise to some explosive clapotis...
...before it eased in height as we turned our bows south - though it still broke with impressive power on the low angled slabs hereabouts.
Image: Tim Pearson
Further on the swell had dropped sufficiently to allow a little exploration of the intimate rock gardens...
Image: Tim Pearson
...though a careful eye was required as we ran into a series of narrowing channels - the image here doesn't show the wave that funnelled into the gap ahead, surfing us through the bottleneck behind the small stack. A little further and the swell had eased a again, allowing more leisurely exploration of the quiet corners beneath the low cliffs...
...where we caught this otter napping, before watching him enjoy a good scratch. Unconcerned by our presence, he rolled repeatedly before settling back to enjoy the sun.
While the wind had all but disappeared and the swell was far less noticeable, it still gave beautiful conditions which we enjoyed close in for the last few kilometres...
Image: Tim Pearson
...before landing through low surf at Achnahaird.
There remained the walk back to the car at Reiff - we hitched but were rather glad not to get picked up, such was the beauty of the still, warm evening...
...backed by the mountains of Assynt.
While the pictures above capture something of the beauty of that day, it was simply too rough to risk the camera in many paces which was a shame as there were some stunning pictures to be had as the swell broke against the cliffs.
I have also left quite a few of the better shots out of this post, as I hope they will appear in a forthcoming issue of CKUK with a more detailed account of the paddle.