My regular climbing partner Mark Garthwaite had been trying to put together a team to go visit the remote Outer Hebridean island of Mingulay for years, but every year we made our excuses. The amount of effort involved seemed disproportionate to the rewards since we’d all heard tales of teams who were left stranded in their tents for the entire trip. But with Garth’s persuasion and the help of our captain, Patrick Trust, we set sail from Ardfern in June 08. Patrick certainly lived up to his surname by asking a bunch of sleep-deprived climbers to help him sale through the night, but we arrived safely on the shores of Mingulay the next morning after a memorable cruise.
Mingulay is entirely uninhabited and the plan was for Dave Pickford, Simon Tapin, Charlie Woodburn, Garth and myself to do the Robsinson Cruso act, and for Partick to collect us a week later. There was nowhere for the boat to dock so we rowed our dinghy ashore, found a perfect place on the beach to pitch our Basecamp tent and set about exploring. We bagged a couple of worthwhile easy routes that evening and returned to base to prepare for the main event. The next day dawned clear and we charged off to do battle with the legendary Dunne Mingulay, which is described in the guide as ‘arguably the UK’s best sea cliff’. It didn’t disappoint and the E4 I did with Garth called Ray of Light was truly outstanding. The only snag was that a horrendous storm set in that evening and we spent the next 5 days in our tents! It was still worth visiting Mingulay for that brief glimpse of trad climbing Nirvana, not to mention the joy of sharing our base camp with seals and puffins, and being escorted home by a convoy of dolphins, but would I chance it again? Hmm. We’ll see.