Compiled and co-authored by veteran climber Grant Farquhar – author of The White Cliff (2018) and Crazy Sorrow (2019) – and with contributions from a range of voices within Scotland’s close-knit climbing community, A’ Chreag Dhearg traces the rich climbing history of the Angus Glens.
Although less frequented than the forbidding ramparts of Glencoe or Skye, the crags and gullies in this unique area of the Cairngorms harbour classic summer and winter lines that have attracted some of Scotland’s most respected climbers over the course of a century. In this engaging collection of vignettes and photographs, the origins of many of the glens’ best-loved routes are described in intimate detail in an entertaining style that will appeal to both local climbers and those seeking new venues to explore. The authors have woven the distinctive dialect and humour of this corner of Scotland into the narrative, imbuing it with a quality that is, by turns, both edgy and wistful.
‘Like a wreck that once held high office, the fine corner of Monster Crack suffers from a lack of grander context. If it were set like the Hoodie Groove amidst Carn Dearg Buttress, fame would be assured. But tucked in a shady recess of Lower North-West crag in Glen Clova, it is a connoisseur’s pitch. Bridging, stemming or laybacking with good technique or bad it is possible to imagine, just for a few moves, that you are poised in one of the great corners of Britain’s crags, with the walls of the Cromlech stretching out on either side, or the sweep of Shelter Stone Crag falling away ten pitches below. Refocusing with a shake of the head and a sigh, you wipe damp mud off your fingertips, wiggle some loose flakes and continue.’
Despite the deceptively narrow scope of this story, the breadth with which it is considered here captures the way that climbing has developed in Scotland over time, and how this history is often exceptionally localised. A’ Chreag Dhearg is both a tribute to Victorian pioneers and latter-day trailblazers and a poignant reflection on formative, youthful endeavours.