/ Heading to Scotland (from Boulder, Colorado, USA) late April
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.
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!
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.
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!
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. ;)
That's a great questions. I'll let you know when I know.
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.
> 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.
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.
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.
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).
> 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?
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.
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
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!
OMG I forgot out midges. Sounds like late april is perfect.
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