Creag an Dubh Loch

Climbs 100 – Rocktype Granite – Altitude 750m a.s.l – Faces NE

Crag features

This huge, imposing cliff stretches for over a kilometre and gives excellent mid/upper grade routes, of up to 300m. The collection of extremes on Central Gully Wall is unrivalled anywhere else in the country.

With the demise of Cougar's third pitch, the most popular routes are Cyclops, Black Mamba, Goliath, Mousetrap and King Rat. Voyage of the Beagle is the pick of the mid-extremes and Cannibal and Origin of the Species are ones to test you when you've honed your granite weirdness skills. Routes to tempt instead of Cougar include Vampire and Alice Springs (when its dry!) or a link up of Sous les Toits, P1 of Sans Fer and then Masque for lots of E2 climbing up the full height of the cliff. The harder routes, despite some of them receiving little traffic, seem to stay pretty clean and a dearth of logged ascents shouldn't put you off. There are some exceptions where going armed with a brush might be advised - Flodden (although it did get ascents in 2014) and Range War (first pitch possible to by-pass - see guide). Some pegs are now absent or in a poor state. For Perilous Journey this may be problematic but for others, including Naked Ape, there is no change to the original grade.

Some parts of the cliff take a while to dry out, notably Broad Terrace Wall, but other parts, including much of cliff from The Shetlander through to Raptor dry out relatively quickly and will not be affected by an odd day of rain in an otherwise dry spell. The Buff Slabs seem to dry quickly as does the smooth barrier wall on False Gully Wall although wetness may be encountered higher on the routes. If there really is nothing dry, there is always Eagles Rock with a few excellent slab climbs.

Winter climbing at the Dubh Loch has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent years with a whole host of ice routes to be recommended on Broad Terrace Wall. These sit just along from the already classic Labyrinth and Hanging Garden Route. Giant also came fleetingly into condition in 2013/14 and can probably be added to the sought after Goliath for routes that only come into condition every 30 years - time will tell. Vertigo Wall seems to be fairly regularly in condition and may be a good early season target following a cold spell. Ice is a theme that links all these routes.

Approach notes

Taking a bike to cruise along the smooth track on the North side of Loch Muick makes the approach pretty pleasant. The walk in from the end of the loch is short and steep on a good path and is quite scenic with waterfalls and wee crags and birch trees dotted about. So no whinging please. Then the cliff appears and your jaw drops, particularly if its your first visit. 

Most routes, including Cyclops and Black Mamba, are best approached by walking along the North side of the Dubh Loch and ascending to the routes from the base of the Central Gully talus fan.

Those approaching from the South could consider parking at Glen Clova, cycling up towards Bachnagairn, climbing over the flank of Broad Cairn to drop into the Dubh Loch from above - potentially you could suprise an Aberdonian by beating him to the base of his route this way.

Access notes


Scottish Winter Climbs (2008), Scottish Rock - South (2008), The Cairngorms (2007), Rock Climbing in Scotland (1990),
Out of print: Cairngorms Vol. 2 (1998), Scottish Winter Climbs (1996)

Climbs at this crag

Sort climbs
 Climb nameGrade
1Valentine's ButtressI/II 2
3Souls on FireIV 5 * 
4Dark SoulsIV 4 *2
5South East ButtressM 3
6South East ButtressII * 
7South East GullyI **15
9The Snow DesertV 6 2
10Eye of AllahE3 5b, 5c **2
11Alice SpringsE2 5c ***8
12The BedouinE4 6a **1
13The Last OasisVS 4c *1
14The Last OasisVI 6 ** 
15Take the ThroneVII 6 ***2
16The Sword of DamoclesE2 5b ***3
17The Sword of DamoclesVIII 9 ***2
18DevolutionE6 6b **1
19Range WarE4 6a ** 
20Range War (winter variation)X 10 ***1
21FloddenE6 6b *** 
22CullodenE2 5c * 
23CullodenIX 9 ***1
24Defence of the RealmVII 7 ***2
25The StingVII 6 **3
27The AqueductV 4  
28Bower ButtressV 5 3
29YetiV 4 1
30Hanging Garden Route (Left Fork)V 4 10
31Labyrinth Left-handV 5  
32Labyrinth DirectVII 6 11
34Labyrinth EdgeIV 5 1
35Dinosaur/Pink ElephantHVS 5a **13
36The White ElephantVII 6 **1
37Blue MaxE1 5b **25
38CyclopsHVS 5a ***41
39Slithy ToveE3 6a *2
40Black MambaVS 4c **49
41Theseus GroovesII  
42BuddhaE7 6c **2
43Central Gully ButtressII 4
44Central GullyI ***30
46Treeline GrooveIV 5 *2
47Sabre CutIV 5  
48The ShetlanderE6 6c ** 
49The Wicker ManE3 6a **9
50Vertigo WallVI 7 ***12
51Vertigo WallVS 4c * 
52The VapouriserVIII 8 ***1
53GorillaE6 6b ** 
54BombadilloE4 6a **2
55The IsraeliteE4 6a ** 
56GoliathHVS 5a **46
57The GiantE3 6a **11
58The GiantV ***2
59The Naked ApeE5 6b ***10
60The Origin of SpeciesE6 6b *** 
61The Ascent Of ManE5 6b ***2
62Perilous JourneyE6 6b **1
63Hybrid VigourE6 6c *** 
64CannibalE6 6b ***2
65Voyage of the BeagleE5 6a ***13
66CougarE3 5c ***34
67VampireE2 5b **7
68RaptorE2 5b * 
69PredatorHVS 5a * 
70The MousetrapVS 4c ***92
71Dubh Loch MonsterE1 5c **12
72Black DiamondE4 6a 3
73King RatE1 5c ***59
74Waterkelpie WallE1 5c * 
75GulliverE2 5b 2
76CaymanE2 5c *3
78The Holiday BoysE3 5c * 
79NakedE4 5c **1
80BuffyE6 6b ** 
81StarkE3 5c * 
82BareE5 6a * 
83Sous les ToitsE2 5c *2
84Forte DecliviteE5 6b * 
86MasqueE2 5c ** 
87The SnakeE4 6a **2
88Fer de LanceE6 6b *** 
89The Improbability DriveE6 6c *** 
90SlartibartfastE5 6b ***1
91An SpearagE6 6c ** 
92Sans FerE4 6b **3
93Iron in the SoulE4 6a ** 
94Sans Fer / Iron in the SoulE4 6b ***3
95FalsefaceE2 5c *2
96The GatheringE3 6a * 
97The QuickeningE4 6b * 
99North West GullyII **17
100JezebelE3 6b * 
101BaalE5 6a ** 
102Late Night FinalHS *3
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Cycled in from the car park at the Spittal of Glen Muik to just past Glas Allt Shiel. Definately the way to do it. Great trip. Great crag.
climberuk - 20/Sep/09