The Castle and Monolith Valley, Budawang National Park

Monday 31st May 2021
So today we are planning to climb to the Castle Summit and hopefully hike through Monolith Valley. After enjoying the early morning sunrise across to Pigeon House Mountain, having a spectacular outlook on the cliff edge for breakfast we made a few decisions about today’s walk.  We decided to go with minimal packs to the first difficult section and then let David carry one small pack up the crazy part. We headed off about 9.45 knowing it was going to be a very physically challenging day. So up we went the first 500m of stairs back up to the crossroad, this definitely got the heart pumping but it was lovely to have left our big packs behind. Once we got to the crossroads we headed towards the Castle, it was incredibly difficult terrain again, made ever so slightly more pleasant to not have our big packs. We came to the first chasm which was a rock climb as well as a squeeze through, ending at a rope climb down the other side. So the adventure begins, with a little stress for David who felt a little responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety. He was very particular with checking all the ropes and always went first. We all made it safely down. It was a great adventure climbing up another 7 ropes, some more sheer and arduous than others, but all checked and double checked by DB before we negotiated them. It took 2 hours, all our strength, agility and strong minds to complete and was very exhilarating to make it to the CASTLE SUMMIT. Yay team, with encouragement by all at every stage we made it.

Now a little time (1.5hrs) to explore the top, enjoy the view, rest and snack before the next stage – going back down which we all believed would be a little bit more difficult. And we were right, but yet again we rose to the challenge and all successfully negotiated the seven rope descents. It was an amazing achievement and we all were very happy with ourselves. It had taken us two hours to climb up the 2km. And then 1 hour 40 mins to get back down again. We enjoyed a lunch break once we got back to our small packs and then headed down to the Monolith Valley which was very different terrain wit another rock climb with chain assistance. We walked until about 3.30pm when we decided it was time to head back before dark.

What a great day hiking 10.5km over 6 hours to The Castle Summit, then through the Monolith Valley and back to Cooyoyo camp for another night under the stars.