Ever since moving to southern Scotland it never ceases to amaze me both the level of diversity and the volume of shy climbing venues right on my doorstep. Perhaps its on the fringes of what is considered southern as its just north of Perth, but an example of the splendor of some of these crags is exemplified perfectly by the unrivaled beauty and tranquility of the crags around Dunkeld. Set within an ancient wooded forest on the steep flanks of valleys carved by water and ice and on a south facing slope too, Craig a Barns is a great place for late season exploits with the best bit being that the walk-in is less than 10 minutes! The crag plays host to a plethora of mid-grade single and multi pitch classics including Kestral Crack (S), The Groove (VS) and The End (VS). The nature of the metamorphosed sandstone is very compact with the majority of the more accessible routes following cracks and weaknesses however even these can sometimes be quite a bold affair which definitely felt the case of The End which has gear where you need it but perhaps not always where you want it!
Just round the corner, Cave Crag also provides some serious sporting endevour of a more challenging variety, offering some of the best sport climbing in Scotland. Its also got a few notable trad routes, one of which even features on the front cover of the new SMC Highland Outcrops South Guidebook! The rock here is similar to Craig a Barns except its slightly less compact and perhaps a bit more disjointed which is why quite large sections of the crag have been bolted. None the less, the crag had a great outlook and i can't wait to get back there next year and maybe try some of the harder lines.
Another recently discovered gem is the Reid Craigs area of Glen Clova. Like Dunkeld, Glen Clova is situated in the extreme south of the Cairngorms massive and is also a product of its icey past with perfectly flat valley bottoms guarded by steep sided valleys rising straight up onto wild and heathery moors. The criss-crossing of dry stone walls and endless miles windy rural roads make it almost reminiscent of the dales of the Lake District, with the picture completed by the presence of a series of fantastic micro granite crags situated just up the hill sides. Perhaps even more so than Craig a Barns, the Reid Crags are a paradise for the mid-grade climber with a whole series of quality lines ranging from VS to E2, with the pick of the bunch being Proud Corner (VS), Wandered (HVS), Red Wall (E1) and Zig Zag Double Direct (E2).
2018 has been a great year for trad and finishing the season with trips to these venues has been a really great way of topping it all off.
Fingers crossed this winter was as good as the last. I've put some pictures from the last few weeks below.
|Just after the crux on the second pitch of The End (VS 5a) at Craig a Barns (photo Credit Iain).|
|Nicholas seconding The Groove (VS 5a) at Craig a Barns on a perfect autumn day|
|The brilliant and wide jamming crack of Coffin Corner (HVS 5a) at Cave Crag near Dunkeld (photo credit Iain)|
|Ben seconding the first pitch of Red Wall (E1 5b) at Reid Crags, Glen Clova (photo credit Gregor)|
|Gregor on the second pitch traverse of High Level Traverse and Direct Finish (HS 4b) at Reid Crags|
|Ben finishing the final few tough moves on Wandered (HVS 5a) at Reid Crags|
|Another shot of Red Wall with Ben leading the second pitch (photo credit Gregor)|
|Ben leading Proud Corner (VS 4c). Definitely not very corner like but totally brilliant none the less..|
|Embracing the changing seasons over to sea to Skye|