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Monthly Archives: June 2011

Originally posted on Hot Aches Productions blog:

Yesterday at 20:40 Dave Macleod was sat on top of St John’s Head having just completed the first ascent of Longhope Direct. The full route, at 500m, took Dave and Andy just under 10 hours to complete.

The Guillotine pitch - Lukasz Warzecha

When asked about the grade, an elated Dave said that he isn’t entirely sure just yet, but knows that it’s definitely harder than Rhapsody (E11 7a), the route he climbed at Dumbarton Rock in 2006.

Dave on Rhapsody - Hot Aches Productions

Upon hearing the news, Jon Arran stated that: “I find it incredible that this route has seen only three ascents in over 40 years and has never been repeated (or even attempted?) in the style of the previous ascent.”
He continued to explain that the route was first climbed by Drummond and Hill using any means available to complete the route. After that the face went unclimbed for 27 years until Arran and Turnbull climbed it free, taking a different route between the two arêtes to make for a line that could be more easily free climbed. It is only now, after 14 further years, that Dave has climbed the entire face whilst incorporating the original aid crux in to his line.

Moving through the start of the crux pitch - Lukasz Warzecha

The route itself is fairly inaccessible, with access to the bottom of the line involving a 400 metre descent through a fulmar infested gully on steep overgrown terrain.

The Lost World: St John's Head from the beach - Matt Pycroft

It becomes even more daunting when you consider that working the 8b+ crux pitch involves shunting on an overhang suspended 400 metres above the rocks below. When you also factor in the inaccessibility of St John’s Head (a pathless, heather infested moorland covered in dive bombing bonxies) it becomes clear that any line on the face is inevitably going to be a real adventure. Dave has been taking trips to Hoy for a while with the aim of working Longhope Direct, and yesterday was the first time he had linked the pitches together. Dave has just posted a detailed account of his ascent on his blog, and has stated that what he wanted from the route was a “super hard long route that was bold, loose, birdy, hard to climb in a day – as pure as possible.” He says that “that’s absolutely what Scottish sea cliff climbing is about.”
Guy, Lukasz and Diff filming Dave on the crux pitch. – Matt Pycroft
The Hot Aches crew all had a brilliant day, and needless to say we dragged our aching bodies through the doors of ‘ME Cottage’ that evening with grins from ear to ear. Guy, Lukasz and Diff all jugged a fair distance yesterday, and Guy was forced to make a speed ascent of about 50 metres to catch Dave traversing through The Vice. I spent the morning slipping and sliding my way down
A video of Diff filming on ropes on the crux pitch can be seen on the Hot Aches Facebook page.
The ascent is currently being discussed on the UKC forums.
Posted by Matt

Well the first few days on Hoy have been pretty exciting. The ‘ME cottage’ we are staying in is really swish, and is by no means the rundown bothy I was expecting.

'ME Cottage'

After arriving on Thursday night we packed our bags and grabbed a few hours sleep before heading out towards the crag on Friday morning. Between us we have a huge amount of kit, and as a result the walk in on Friday morning was a painful one when coupled with the initial section involving 400m of height gain on 45 degree terrain.

It's hard to keep up with Dave Macleod - Photo by Paul Diffley

Once we had made it to the coast, Diff and I shot some footage of Dave and Andy arriving at the crag, as well as capturing the moment where Andy saw the route for the first time. The crag is the biggest continuous sea cliff in Britain, and is an incredibly imposing piece of rock. From the promontory where I will be shooting some of my wide shots the line looks extremely impressive.

The view from the peninsula

Diff, Guy, Lukasz and I spent much of the day scouting out shooting locations and angles, whilst Dave and Andy checked out the route and had one last look at the moves (which, incidentally, was Andy’s first chance to catch a glimpse of the line close up).

Guy, Diff, Lukasz and Dave on the route

Whilst hammering in the stakes for the ropes at the top of the crag, there was a minor setback. I’ve put together a quick edit of the mishap below:

As everyone became confident that they were ready for the shoot, people started to filter off back to the ME cottage to sort out gear and pack bags. It got to around 10pm and eventually it was just Dave and I left at the crag. After sorting out our gear we started to wander back towards the car. The sunset was stunning, and considering the crag is West facing it made for some great footage as we walked out.

Sunset over Hoy. Hard to beat.

We spent Saturday just chilling out and resting to be fully prepared for the shoot today (Sunday), but unfortunately we woke up this morning to an island coated in drizzly mist. Dave and Andy reluctantly called it off at around 10am, and we made the decision to head up tomorrow, weather dependant.

Dave and Andy, having just called it off.

An interview with Dave Macleod will follow this post on the Hot Aches Facebook:

Check out the team’s blogs here:



I’m writing this from the office of Hot Aches Production boss Paul Diffley the night before we head off to Hoy. I’m working as a cameraman on the film that is aiming to document the ambitious ascent of the Long Hope Route on St John’s Head by Dave Macleod and Andy Turner.

We will hopefully (signal dependant) be blogging from the island, and you will be able to keep up with the filming and the progress on the route on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as on Dave’s, Andy’s, Lukasz’s and Hot Aches blogs.

For a detailed write up of the trip, check out