/ Advice on great sport climbing locations in Scotland, please!
A friend and I are planning a 5 to 7 day trip in Scotland and are looking for some tips on great places to climb (and camp if possible). We've been reading and reading, but there are so many options I was hoping someone with more knowledge and first-hand experience might be able to help us narrow down the choices.
We're looking mainly for sport climbing routes in a range of mid-level beginner and intermediate grades. Is Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park a good area for that or should we look more to Glencoe or North Berwick Law Quarry?
One other thing (I know, I know, I'm demanding - sorry!) For work/legal reasons we're unable to make the trip during Scotland's driest months. We're planning for early to mid September. Will we find any dry rock?
Thanks so much in advance, any advice is appreciated! :)
The best place to sport climb in the 5s and 6s in Scotland is Ratho : world class indoor climbing and a small amount of outdoor sport. North Berwick is OK for an afternoon if you live in Edinburgh, Kirriemuir has much more than North Berwick but I wouldn't travel from another country to climb there.
For a holiday in Scotland and assuming you don't want to climb trad you would find better hillwalking and scrambling options than sport.
September is usually pretty good, especially for sport climbing where seepage can be less of an issue than trad. It can get a bit fresher than July/August which can be harsh for sitting around at a crag getting eaten by midges.
I don't see the logic in travelling somewhere on holiday to go sport climbing indoors (ie Ratho). But on the other hand I haven't personally (in my limited experience) found any lower grade sport in Scotland that I've really found exceptional, I think you have to do trad to really get that.
A good call might be (with the Scottish Sport Climbs book) just tour from venue to venue until you find something you really like. Me and a mate were once done with Dunkeld for a day so we took a punt, guide in hand, and went off to Ley Quarry in Angus which was a pretty surreal sandstone wall with routes beginning at the edge of the water. We didn't expect anything beforehand and had a brilliant day.
The east is a hotbed for sport climbing - venues tend to be more sparse in the Highland and often they've been bolted because they're rather hardcore.
If you haven't already read this have a look http://davemacleod.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/scottish-sport-climbs-guide-is-here.html and get the guide, because it's absolutely fantastic.
I can vouch that although good for a day out Kirriemuir is never going to set the world alight. There is quite a lot of Sport climbing to be had on the east-ish side of Scotland (Arbroath etc). I have a great guidebook that details reams of sport locations.
To be a bit blunt, I can't really see the logic in going to Scotland on holiday and going sport climbing. Not to say it's entirely rubbish, but unless there are some very well kept secrets then there's a great deal of genuinely amazing other stuff that I'd want to do before I started to look for some bolts...
As has been mentioned, there are a relatively large number of sport climbing venues in NE Scotland, with Kirrie Hill (http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=3904) the most popular (it's a quick-drying suntrap with a lot of lower grade routes). The rock isn't the best and the routes are short, but if you're happy with quantity over quality then you'll have an enjoyable day there. The other crags are grotty quarries or will have access restrictions when you'll be there. There are some scattered sport climbing crags on the coast around Aberdeen, but they tend to be in the higher grades.
Another option to consider is the Inverness area, with Moy Rock (http://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crag.php?id=3457) in particular being worthwhile (again, a south facing suntrap but a big bigger than Kirrie), and other sport climbing options nearby including Creag Bheag, Silver Rock and the Camel (though this is probably too hard for the grade range you're after).
The Gairloch area has a few options too if you want to combine west coast scenery with sport climbing - Creag nan Luch, Kuhjo Crag and Goat Crag giving you some choice, though with few options in the lower grades. Midges might be a problem, but they're usually in decline by September.
There's not that much on offer around Loch Lomond as far as sport climbing goes but you might consider the Crieff area (Lower Glen Lednock, Dunira, Weem and Benny Beg). There are some parking/access issues around Glen Lednock and Benny Beg is hardly an inspiring crag, but again, it's still an option for you.
Hope you get the weather - if it's wet then Ratho is worth a visit but I would hardly describe it as the best place to sport climb in the 5s and 6s in Scotland, and there are obviously plenty of other indoor walls to let you get something out of a rainy day.
Glencoe only has trad or one excellent harder sport crag.
If I was you without a doubt I would be heading to the north, there is some great sport climbing there both on the east and west and on good rock gneiss, conglomerate or Torridonian sandstone, e.g. Moy, Loch FLeet, Camel, Brin and the NW, e.g around Tollie, Goatcrag and Glutton.
Angus is quite good too, (Kirrie is popular) and coastal sport at Elephant and Arbroath is good too.
Loch lomond area is very nice (try Ardvorlich) but a bit limited for a longer trip.
North Berwick is nice and if you can deal with snappy hobnobite Balgone round the corner is fun. Several new sport routes in Ratho not far away worth a visit too.
That's alright I was feeling a bit blunt in my own post.
Ardvorlich is a lovely wee crag on the edge of Loch Lomond. There are only a few routes but the rock is excellent, it would be a good place to start.
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