Blantyre Towers

Climbs 16 – Rocktype Sandstone (hard) – Altitude 79m a.s.l – Faces all

Crag features
Shortly before his sad passing, much loved local activist, Willie Arrol told me about some modern sport style routes he had bolted.

These are unusual routes which can be found on the sandstone block piers of the long time abandoned Greenhall railway viaduct adjacent to the village of High Blantyre in South Lanarkshire.

The climbing is surprisingly varied and enjoyable considering the uniform nature of the stonework being climbed. Holds tend to be either crimpy or of the two finger pocket variety but the odd jug and sloper appear along the way. The routes are long and sustained by West of Scotland standards - those without EICA Ratho stamina will find the routes very pumpy. This all adds up to fantastic training for the greater ranges. Just to be clear in case there was any doubt the venue has been developed as a sport crag and dry toolers are NOT welcome. Mosquitoes, midges & cleggs (horse flies) can all be a nuisance at times in the summer, so wrap-up, take repellent or pick a day with a breeze.

Topo - A basic topo guide for the Towers can be found in the crag photo gallery on this web site.

Grades Ė the climbs have been graded for red-point ascents. Giving on-sight grades for these climbs would by default offer very inflated grades for the red-point. On-sighting here is a battle due to the high number of blind holds and the sheer number of poor holds which don't look significantly different from the good holds. Give yourself an extra pat on the back if you do manage to battle through for the on-sight as not having a bit of sequence knowledge and your favorite holds chalked-up makes a big diffrence here. I've not awarded quality stars to any of the routes. It is a matter of debate whether anything climbing a stone wall could ever merit stars but suffice to say if this was a natural crag there would be a lot of stars to be allocated.

Equipment Ė Willie typically used 86mm and 100mm long M10 stainless steel expansion bolts and longer M12 bolts at the two stainless steel lower-off rings. The routes typically have about eight bolts to the lower-off rings. It is to be hoped that anyone tempted to put up further routes will use similar high quality equipment. A 50m rope and a rack of at least 10 quickdraws is recommended.

Access notes
The piers (structure EKB/3) are the responsibility of British Rail Board Residuary Limited, who are the body tasked with annual inspections and repair of such abandoned railway structures and/or South Lanarkshire Council. They sit in pleasant woodland traversed by a way-marked riverside foot path popular with dog walkers. Iím fairly certain dear old Willie did not seek permission to place bolts in the piers. I guess he didnít feel the need on account of the towers being a long time local training venue, with many old pegs from long forgotten ascents still present. If you choose to climb Willieís routes, bear in mind the legality of climbing at this venue is at best woolly. Probably, best to be discrete and not arrange club meets and the like at this venue. Just like a natural crag, allow time for the stone to dry after rain to avoid breaking holds. Donít be tempted to manufacture additional holds if you are having difficulty with a route - climbing is supposed to be difficult, thatís why we do it.

Parking - There is spaces for cars in the small park at grid ref. NS 671 567 accessed from Stoneymeadow Road (map at http:/

From here the Towers are a 5-10 minute walk. Step over the metal barrier, cross the grass heading downhill. Find a path on the left-hand side (wooden stairs) leading down to a bridge across the river. Cross the bridge and follow the path down stream.

7aMax Scottish Sport - A Guide to Climbs from 2-7a+ (2015),
Out of print: 7aMax Scottish Sport - A Selected Guide (2012)

Climbs at this crag

Sort climbs
 Climb nameGrade
1Alouette Arete6a 48
2Alouette Eliminate6b 24
3Tetris6b+ 11
4Cheap Talk7a 9
5Jacqueville6c 9
6Arrol's Eliminate6c+ 17
7Arrol's Arete6b 51
8Andy Pandy6c+ 14
9Teeny Weeny Way-co (eliminate)6c 8
10Kop-out6b+ 4
11Livingstone6c 13
12Vuvuzela6c 14
13Orion6c 3
14Orion Eliminate6c+ 13
15Ivy League7b 13
16Closed ProjectProject 1
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Midge count still low.
JLS - 10/Jun/15
For anybody interested.The nearby tower at Craighead on the River Clyde collapsed in March 2015 for no apparent reason !
Fester - 22/May/15
Some trees felled around about the Towers have improved the venue.
JLS - 08/Apr/15
Surprisingly NOT midgey hell !!!
JLS - 10/Jul/14
Still midgey hell..
JLS - 03/Sep/13
A bit midge-y today but by no means dreadful with the usual counter measures in place.
JLS - 16/Jun/13
Recent dry tooling activity has been noted. Come on guys! This place has been bolted for sport, there are plenty other similar places you could bolt for tooling if that's what you want to do.
JLS - 26/Feb/13
Visited today. A lot of mozzies about. Would have been unpleasant without deet but was ok with.
JLS - 19/Aug/12
The swings and climbing frame mentioned in the approach description on the topo have been removed. I'm sure you'll work it out...
JLS - 29/Aug/11
Dynamite 'crag' will be back with better crimping strength hopefully!
Lamb - 14/Jun/11
I checked out the Craighead Viaduct on the other side of Blantyre. On the Blantyre side two towers have been demolished and the remaining abutment appears not to have worthwhile climbing. There is an innacessible tower in the middle of the river and on the otherside of the river (Bothwell) there are two towers that could be climbed. The best line looks like the West face of the riverside tower which looks to offer good holds and good trad gear placements if anyone fancies it.
JLS - 03/Apr/11
I'm not sure if anyone has looked at the Craighead side of Blantyre but there must be 'others' active locally that may have. Willie found bolts (at the Towers) which were likely to have been place in 2010 while he was bolting the routes listed here but I've not managed to make contact with them despite asking around and spending a lot of time there last summer. As good as the Towers are I'm not sure we need another similar venue but never say never...
JLS - 17/Jan/11
Has anyone looked at doing the same thing to the towers down at David Livingston bridge down the bottom of Blantyre?
arbickerstaff - 13/Jan/11
looks great fun.
mark mcgowan01 - 12/Oct/10
"This looks pathetic. Climbing up a man made wall. How is this climbing?" I would think that makes it a climbing wall? FOC... i'll have a glass of lemonade please.
mark mcgowan01 - 12/Oct/10
Hadn't heard that Willie had passed away - too bad, he seemed quite a character. And he did a fine job of the equipping of the piers too. I'll have a glass of lemonade please.
Fraser - 29/Sep/10
Nicely put!
RdC - 27/Sep/10
It is indeed one the great injustices that Lanarkshire isn't peppered with limestone cliffs ripe for sport climbing. When life gives you lemons make lemonade.
JLS - 26/Sep/10
This looks pathetic. Climbing up a man made wall. How is this climbing?
RdC - 25/Sep/10