Sunday, 20 June 2010

How to: Pabbay/ Mingulay

For anyone who likes the sound of our trip, i just thought i'd add this follow up with some information on how to get to Pabbay/ Mingulay.

I'll also add in a little overview on what kit we chose to take and why.

Getting to Pabbay/ Mingulay is actually surprisingly easy.
Firstly you need to make your way up to Oban on the west coast of Scotland. There are obvious signs throughout the town indicating the directions to the ferry terminal.

We dropped our bags off here with a couple of people and the headed into town to leave the cars in a safe place.

The ferry costs £22.80 per person return. This is for a walk on passenger only. This realistically means that you have to carry your entire trips kit in one go onto the boat! No easy feat with 300litres of baggage each!

This is the link to the ferry time/fare table page: Oban-Barra Ferry

The next 4 hours can be spent in any way really. We chilled out and read guides and watched the various landmarks pass us by.

Upon arriving in Castlebay on the island on Barra, you don't exactly have to go far. There is a small area of heathland where you can camp overnight. The is a nice pub as well!
The next stage of the journey is to catch a small fishing boat out to the islands. The boat ride is provided by a guy called Donald. He is easily contacted through the link under Donalds name.

I think it is best to pre-book this section of the trip. It costs £100 per person for the entire journey. This includes being taken to Pabbay. Then being picked up and taken onto Mingulay, and then being taken back to Barra. All in all not a bad price.

The boat journey over to Pabbay

From then on its easy. You're provided with a radio just in case of emergencies. All you have to do is make sure your packed up and ready to leave for when Donald returns to pick you up. You don't have to pay him either until he drops you off in Barra after your stay.


To climb on these cliffs you require quite the sizeable rack. Below I have made a list of what I took. This may seem like a lot and it probably is, however I placed most stuff and ran out of quick draws on one pitch.

17 x Quickdraw 18cm
5 x Extendable Quickdraw 60cm skinny sling type
1 x Wallnut set (1-10)
1 x rocks on wire half set (1-7)
1 x Alloy Offsets (7-11)
1 x Brass Offsets (1-6)
2 x set of cams (2x0, 2x0.5, 2x1, 2x1.5, 2x2, 2x2.5, 2x3, 1x3.5)
1 x set of micro cams (1x000, 1x00, 1x0, 1x1, 1x2)
2 x 120cm sling (for belays)
6 x lightweight screwgate
6 x 60cm sling with snapgate
2 x 60M Dry treated half ropes 8.5mm
1 x 100M Semi static abseil rope 10.5mm
1 x 240cm nylon sling (rigging abseil)
1 x Assortment of kit for abseil inc screwgates, wires, hexes etc
1 x Length of abseil tat. (Just in case)
3 x Rope protectors (Very Important!)

Rich with some of our rack

Just as a quick note. I would like to mention a couple of bits of kit which i see as being the most useful bits of kit on the trip.
Firstly I think that the Alloy offsets couldn't possibly be any better. My life went from wobbly runner to bolt! in just £45.00
Secondly having so many quickdraws means a lot of weight......Unless of course you've got something like the Dmm phantom which weigh in at only 64grams per 18cm draw.

I think this about sums up everything. However i think that there was a lot of kit that we took which performed brilliantly. If anyone wants some more detailed advice please feel free to drop the shop a line and discuss the pro's and con's etc.



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