UKC

/ Heading to Scotland (from Boulder, Colorado, USA) late April

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jrenee - on 05 Jan 2018
Hi Friends,

I'm heading out for another climbing adventure in Scotland late April and curious if you have some thoughts or if someone wanted to show me some rock! I have 11 years climbing experience (with both trad and sport) and have climbed in about 2 dozen countries (I'm currently in New Zealand for a 3 week climbing trip)... any beta on your favourite climbing spots, please share!!

I will climb anywhere, but I confess that climbing near water can't be beat.
aln - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Cuillins, Cairngorms, Galloway, Glencoe
1
jrenee - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Galloway sounds familiar... that is a popular name, is it not?
Dave Kerr - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

> I will climb anywhere, but I confess that climbing near water can't be beat.

You'll certainly get that in one form or another!

Steve Perry - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee

> I will climb anywhere, but I confess that climbing near water can't be beat.

Lots of sea cliffs in Scotland and rock near to the sea. To name but a small few:
Pabbay
Mingulay
Neist (Skye)
Suidhe Biorach (Skye)
Kilt Rock (Skye)
Sheigra
Reiff
Diabaig
Sarclet
Mid Clyth
Latheronwheel
Aberdeenshire sea cliffs
Moray coastline


2
Rog Wilko on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

If you tell us your climbing grade you'll get more specific recommendations.
Well done choosing late April - probably the best time of the year in many respects.
Trangia on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Plus 1 for the Cuillins
aln - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Dumfries and Galloway, the S West Corner of Scotland. Quiet and unspoilt, great walking, lovely hills with some mountain crags, plus some quality single pitch roadside crags and some great sea cliffs.
1
nufkin - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

> Galloway sounds familiar... that is a popular name, is it not?

Possibly cropped up on your radar in this guise:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Galloway



He's probably not a climber
mal_meech on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Steve Perry:

I’ll second most of these:

> Pabbay
Pabbay
https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=6162

> Mingulay
Sula (E2 5b)
The Arch Deacon (HVS 5a)
> Neist (Skye)

> Suidhe Biorach (Skye)

> Kilt Rock (Skye)
Grey Panther (E1)
Great area, and will give you your crack climbing fix if you like that kind of thing...
> Sheigra

> Reiff

> Diabaig
Great little crag, by the sea but not sea cliff...
Diabaig
> Sarclet

> Mid Clyth

> Latheronwheel

> Aberdeenshire sea cliffs
Personally I’d spend more time in Skye on the cullin, Scottish alps on the best rock, but I’m biased ;)
Spock (E3 5c)
Integrity (VS 4c)
The Gathering (E7 6b)


> Moray coastline
Jon Stewart - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to aln:

> Dumfries and Galloway, the S West Corner of Scotland. Quiet and unspoilt, great walking, lovely hills with some mountain crags, plus some quality single pitch roadside crags and some great sea cliffs.

Never considered it and it's not for from me in the lakes. Any particular crags that would be good for a quick trip?
mal_meech on 06 Jan 2018
Jon Stewart - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to mal_meech:

Interesting. Thanks!
her_t6 - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Meikle Ross sea cliffs near Kirkcudbright are worth a visit in Galloway. Mull of Galloway sea cliffs are also alright. I would also recommend Clifton crag(not sea cliffs right enough) near Dalbeattie, single pitch granite with a good range of grades. There is other sea cliffs which are meant to be worth a visit but I can't comment personally yet.
1
Rog Wilko on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to mal_meech:

Worth going for the Tolkien-esque place names, if nothing else. Nick of Curlywee is my favourite, closely followed by Rigg of the Jarkness.
1
Minneconjou Sioux on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Scotland is still quite a big place. Where will you be based?
petegunn on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The slabs at Larbrax are superb and you can stay in the van overnight there.

Larbrax

Also theres some good bouldering at Garheugh and Monreith, again easy to stay in the van on the beach.

Monreith

Garheugh Point

John Biggar has very good info and topos in the area, top bloke.

http://www.johnbiggar.com/index.asp
1
Michael Gordon - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to mal_meech:


Anyone know who repeated that? Birkett?
mal_meech on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:

Calum Muskett in 2015
http://www.muskettmountaineering.co.uk/2015/07/summer-climbing/

Not sure on the 2006 repeat
thebigfriendlymoose - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to Michael Gordon:
> Anyone know who repeated that? Birkett?

Calum Muskett repeated it a couple of years ago (and thought it was the 2nd ascent - so the 2006 repeat might be imagined).

Re the OP's post... judging by the numbers of Scottish climbers who crop up at Malham and Kilnsey in Spring, if you want to do any sport climbing, I would have a south-of-the-border contingency plan!
Post edited at 22:16
Mark Bannan - on 06 Jan 2018
In reply to nufkin:


> He's probably not a climber

I thought cats were very good climbers!

M
Robert Durran - on 07 Jan 2018
In reply to aln:

> Cuillins, Cairngorms, Galloway, Glencoe

Odd selection. Galloway is worth a day trip from Edinburgh but not from Colorado!
Eric9Points - on 07 Jan 2018
In reply to Robert Durran:

That's just what I was thinking.

If the OP likes climbing by the sea then the Old Man of Hoy is an obvious suggestion. The Old Man of Stoer and Am Bodach as well.

The Etive slabs are a world class venue that is likely to be climbable in late April/early May. Not sure I'd recommend any of the higher mountain crags, maybe still a bit damp and cold?
Michael Gordon - on 09 Jan 2018
In reply to mal_meech:

> Calum Muskett in 2015


Thanks. That guy doesn't half get out a lot!
1
Nathan Adam - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Skye for the sea cliffs alone would be well worth while, I'd add the likes of Staffin Slips and Rubha Huinish to the list of those already mentioned above if you don't mind an adventure. Neist is an absolute dream and quite often you'll have entire sectors to yourself with the best rock in the world! Some of the lower Cuillin venues might be worth while but you never know what conditions will bring, alpine-esque cragging on the south side of the Inn Pinn if you have boots and crampons with you. Suide Biorach is like a climbing wall made of actual rock and a decent spread of middle grades for the size of the crag.

Further north, Reiff is a brilliant place to spend a few days with very short routes but it's the atmosphere of the place that really stands out. I've also had friends climbing on Stac Pollaidh in April heatwaves before!
Eric9Points - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Nathan Adam:

Only go to Skye if the weather forecast is good.
atrendall - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

Another big up for Skye both sea cliffs and the Cuillin. If you want any advice or contacts get in touch since we live on Skye and check out Facebook All Things CUillin for lots of info, photos etc;

https://www.facebook.com/groups/165143940728168/
aln - on 10 Jan 2018
In reply to petegunn:

Has the Julien Lines E7 at Larbrax, Elegance, had a repeat? It's a beautiful blank slab in a lovely remote setting
1
GRUMPY MONKEY - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Would recommend the smc scottish rock climbs guidebook £25 if you don't already have it and have a look at the Scotland section of Ken Wilson's classic rock and hard rock books for inspiration.

Andy Moles - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

I feel I have to intervene, because some of the above suggestions are terrible.

First of all, in late April it is quite likely that higher mountain crags, certainly any that don't face the sun, will be too cold to be fun. This includes some of the best stuff in the Cuillin, Cairngorms and Glencoe. Don't bother visiting Galloway at all. Like, seriously, why is that even being discussed? Likewise, the Aberdeen and Moray coasts. Only go there if it's raining everywhere else.

Pabbay and Mingulay are world class, but have major logistical considerations (expensive private boat hire to remote uninhabited islands).

Don't bother with Classic Rock and Hard Rock, they are dated and half the routes aren't considered particularly good any more.

I look forward to the opprobrium I will receive for the above

Now, positive recommendations (limited as you haven't mentioned what sort of grade you're after) - all these are sea-cliffs so pretty near water!

The northwest and far northwest is stunning. Diabaig is not quite a sea-cliff but it's got some stellar climbing on immaculate rock, 1-2 pitches. Reiff is the most popular area, a low-lying peninsula with lots of good short sandstone routes and great views inland. Sheigra gives steep juggy climbing on Lewisian gneiss. For a sea-stack adventure, the Old Man of Stoer is fun.

On Skye, you've got dolerite crack climbs at Neist and Kilt Rock, and steep pocketed sandstone at Elgol.

There is a bunch of good sea-cliff action in beautiful quiet surroundings on the west coast of Lewis.

Orkney is famous for the Old Man of Hoy, though it's worth being warned that the stack itself is sandy and birdy and is less about the quality of climbing than the experience. Yesnaby has short routes and better quality rock, more akin to Reiff. If going to the northern isles, the Caithness sea-cliffs like Sarclet are worth a look too. But don't hang around inland Caithness, it is a waste land.

There is a plenty of other good stuff inland and plenty to look at in the hills if the weather cooperates, but I find too many recommendations can be overwhelming. That should be enough to get started on!

Post edited at 19:46
Robert Durran - on 11 Jan 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

Spot on. The idea of travelling half way round the world to climb in Galloway or the Aberdeen sea cliffs (good as they are as options for locals) is madness except as a last weather resort. Even though Pabbay and Mingulay give probably the best climbing in the UK, they are probably unrealistic for a short trip unless the OP can find a place on someone's trip (a post on UKC might bew worth a punt?). The Lewis sea cliffs are a great suggestion - arguably the next best thing with some equally amazing rock and stunning ambience. You are right that, except in exceptional conditions, mountain crags are generally a non starter in April,though I would make an exception for Sron na Ciche in the Cuillins - there is enough daylight in late April to get great climbing on Cioch buttress in afternoon sunshine given the weather.

Andy Moles - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Further advice. The thing about 'four seasons in a day' can be very true in Scotland. It is rarely perfect weather for more than a day or two consecutively, but it is rarely a washout for many days in a row either. A good thing about a lot of these sea-cliff venues is that they dry quickly - I have had successful trips to the northwest and the islands in pretty showery weather. In late April/early May you can get just about anything from snow on the hills and bitter wind to glorious sunshine, so be prepared to be flexible.

It's cool to hear of American climbers coming over here, I've recently spent some time in the southwest States trying to give US climbers honest recommendations for UK climbing, from the perspective of those who are used to big immaculate granite or perfect sandstone splitters or big impressive venues like the Black. I do think that for unique quality, sea-cliffs are probably this country's strongest appeal. I hope you have a great trip!

mal_meech on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

Agree The shortlist needed drastically shortened, There have been so many side conversations the OP request got a little lost occasionally.

For Skye, I’ve had great days on  Sron na Ciche around 1st May. I’ve also seen it covered in snow till nearly June.

While nobody spelled it out the OP needs to understand that anywhere in Scotland at that time will be weather limited. The North West (Skye and upwards) would give the best areas with the most diversity of climbing that’s the best you can find. It also looks fairly pretty if it does nothing but rain for a month. ;)

jrenee - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to Minneconjou Sioux:

That's a great questions.  I'll let you know when I know.

jrenee - on 12 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Thanks everyone for the beta!!  We have four seasons in a day in Boulder - it just makes your pack heavier since you have to bring all the possible weather gear...  

I'll reach out before coming and find out if anyone is looking for an adventure partner.  I can travel to any neck of Scotland.

Thanks!

aln - on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to Andy Moles:

> Don't bother visiting Galloway at all. Like, seriously, why is that even being discussed?

Because it's a beautiful underrated part of Scotland and at that time of year the weather is really mild. I've climbed mountain routes there in March. 

 

???

2
Minneconjou Sioux on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

FWIW, the best place to base yourself will be Kingussie or Newtonmore from a purely "access to all areas" perspective. If you want to be in a city then I would go with either Inverness or Glasgow. Just my 10 cents.

Andy Moles - on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to aln:

Sorry, I was a bit rude there. But I think that the best Scotland, and Britain in general, has to offer from a well-travelled visiting climber's perspective is most likely not in the idiom of off-the-beaten-track mountain cragging. As much as I think our mountain routes are brilliant, if you peel away a parochial bias and the warm feeling of accumulated good memories, they are not all that impressive compared to the best of the Alps or the States or Norway. Plus, if someone is here for a short trip, there is not a great chance of finding them in optimal condition. That's why for a experience that (as far as I know) is quite unique to Britain and also has outstanding quality climbing, I recommend the sea-cliffs. In the Northwest especially, you still get the grandeur of the mountains woven in there too.

Andy Moles - on 13 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

By the way, if you want to get one guidebook to get inspired ahead of your trip, I would go for this one: https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/book.php?id=563 (there is a newer edition with a different cover, which has ironed out a bunch of errors from the edition pictured).

Post edited at 08:41
aln - on 16 Jan 2018
In reply to aln:

> Has the Julien Lines E7 at Larbrax, Elegance, had a repeat? It's a beautiful blank slab in a lovely remote setting

Why would someone put a dislike on this question? 

Jon Stewart - on 16 Jan 2018
In reply to aln:

Fat thumb?

Emily_pipes - on 17 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

I'm from Boulder and I live in Scotland.  So given that, I would totally agree with Andy that you should go to the far Northwest and/or Skye.  They have some of the best routes in the country, completely different from anything in Colorado. If it pisses down, the hiking in those areas is fantastic.  Being used to big, spectacular country, it will make you happy.

Galloway is pretty and has some nice crags, for sure, but it isn't grand, awe-inspiring, like Scotland's Northwest, or the Rockies, or the Western slope of Colorado. 

As others have said, sea cliffs are a good bet and my favourite are the ones at Reiff.  It's also worth keeping in mind that the Skye ridge and the Northwest mountains of Torridon and Assynt are incredible places, some of them with glorious mountaineering, knife-edge ridges.  But in April, there might be snow lying on mountain crags.  Or not.  You never know (one of my best skiing days in Scotland was in April), but you'll expect that anyway because the Rockies are usually still in winter nick in April. 

Or for a cultural experience, there is Auchenstarry quarry, near Glasgow.

Growing up in Boulder, we joked about "four seasons in a day," but for changeable weather, Colorado's got nothing on Scotland.  It can be wetter and windier, with delightful horizontal rain that really wasn't a thing a home.  Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine per year.  Scotland gets....  less.  Every time my parents come out here for a visit, they are always a little bit like, "Why?" 

The terrain hiking to a mountain or crag can be far boggier than anything you imagine and you will only have a trail if you're lucky.  Lots of trackless bog-hopping.  Lots of people hike to crags in approach shoes but be prepared to get wet, depending on where the crag is.  The upside to that is you generally don't have to worry about access in most places here.  Scottish land access law means you can cross property within reason to get to where you're going (don't trample crops or walk through someone's yard) and no one will come running out at you branishing a shotgun. 

The other good news is that you generally don't have to worry about afternoon thunderstorms, getting eaten by mountain lions, or a rattlesnake sitting on the ledge where you wanted to put your hand.  In April it's light until 9 or 10 and as big thunderstorms are preetty rare, you can have a lazy start and come down in the late afternoon or evening. 

Post edited at 12:39
CurlyStevo - on 17 Jan 2018
In reply to jrenee:

Can you ice climb? Ben Nevis can still be good at that time of year (although typically better early April.

I agree with other posters that say most the high up routes are off the cards. Anything over 1000 meters I'd forget about. Under that its generally best if its south facing. The islands also tend to be milder.

As suggested the north west is Ace and has a mix of great venues. You could even get some mountain routes done too if the weather allows as there are a bunch of smaller mountains up that way.

One real plus to late April is no midges and its normally the most stable weather

jrenee - on 17 Jan 2018
In reply to Dave Kerr:

I said climbing NEAR water, not climbing IN water.

Colorado has over 300 days of sunshine, so I'll make sure to bring some of that with me to Scotland.  Sunny days guaranteed while I'm there!

jrenee - on 17 Jan 2018
In reply to CurlyStevo:

OMG I forgot out midges.  Sounds like late april is perfect.


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