North Gaulton Castle.

North Gaulton Castle North Gaulton Castle

North Gaulton castle is found in a lonely part of Orkney's west mainland, (GR 217134) situated roughly half way between Outertown in Stromness and the car park at Yesnaby. The most convenient approach is from mousland Farm, (GR 229128) follow the signs for Birsay as you leave Stromness then take the Cauldhame road to Mousland farm. (sign posted) From here it is about a mile walk across open fields to the cliffs that guard the stack. This stack is very much the big brother of Yesnaby Castle, as they are both of similar dimensions and composition and both are set in an amphitheatre of cliffs which guard against any approach. The only difference being that North Gaulton is almost twice the size of Yesnaby Castle.

ACCESS: The easiest way to the base of the stack is undoubtedly by boat. But for those of a more adventurous nature, abseil to the sea level platforms at the base of the cliffs to the south of the bay. (40 meters) From here it is a 40 meter swim to the wave washed platforms at the base of the landward end of the stack. Originally access to the stack was by a massive Tyrolean traverse, roped between the headlands to the north and south of the stack, with rope stretch this gave access to the top of the first pitch. The stack has since been climbed by abseil and swim, boat approach and the Tyrolean antics of the 70's were repeated in the early 90's by Mick Tighe and his crew.

ASCENT: The original/only route follows the prominent crack line on the right side of the south face. From sea level (low tide) at the bottom of the landward arete the first 15 feet of climbing to a good ledge can be problematic. This short hard section is unprotectable and has a technical grade of 5b. There is however a crack line starting under the roof, 20 foot to the left of this arete. If this crack is dry it can be led at HVS with a big move on to the ledge. On the ledge there is a drilled bolt. (which was sound June 2002) From this ledge climb up obvious cracks and horizontal breaks to a large ledge/platform on the landward arete, about 1/3rd of the way up the stack. The second pitch follows the big crack through an open book corner to the left of this belay ledge on the south face. At the top of the open book corner walk left on a huge ledge to the bottom of a well defined further open book corner/groove in the center of this huge ledge, climb this to the summit. On the last few meters the rock becomes alarmingly loose. (the same as Yesnaby Castle) Hard Very Severe, 55 Meters.

Descent: once on the summit you will find a wee cairn with a useless abseil stake sticking out the top. How we got off the stack was by using the big fangs of rock that overhang the seaward face as anchors and running about 15 m of abseil tat across the stack to the south face and abbing down the ascent route.

Looking up the route. north view.

Go to the Yesnaby Castle.

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