/ Berwick-upon-Tweed sea cliffs

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Michael Haywood - on 19 May 2017
Hi,

There is an impressive craggy stretch of coastline north of Berwick-upon-tweed, but I can seem to find any route information. Any clues? Has anyone climbed here? It all looks both loose and greasy but you've got to take what you've got in these less cliffy parts of the country!

Thanks!
spenser - on 19 May 2017
In reply to Michael Haywood:

The Souter (Fastcastle)#overview
There are some OK routes there, details in the Lowland Outcrops guide, Original Route on The Souter is quite fun. Given your proximity to Northumberland I don't think you're particularly poorly located for climbing!
David L on 19 May 2017
In reply to Michael Haywood:

There are a handful of routes here, I don't know where they are documented though. There is a sandstone stack north of the town just past the end of the golf course with at least one route (an E2 put up by Lee Clegg and Calum Henderson in the late 80's). There is also a smooth wall accessed from the coastal path south of Spittal which I think has a few harder routes on it. I can't remember much more than that, it's a long time since I climbed there!
Michael Haywood - on 19 May 2017
In reply to David L:

Ah ok, thanks for the reply, good to know. That sandstone stack you speak of I think is called the needles eye, that's the bit I fancy!
Michael Haywood - on 19 May 2017
In reply to spenser:

Thanks for the reply. Indeed, the northumbria outcrops are great, I shouldn't grumble! Yes, I've climbed in the fast castle area a couple of times. Its the bit south of there - between Eyemouth and Berwick that doesn't seem well documented alas...
DannyC - on 19 May 2017
In reply to Michael Haywood:

Michael,

I'm well up for some exploration away in the area north of the Souter and Fastcastle, especially trying to find/climb the new-ish routes at Ladywell Crag: http://www.smc.org.uk/downloads/NewRoutes2006.pdf

Tides looks ideal in the evenings next week, in fact. Give me a shout if you could be partial.

You could also return my guide - you gotta watch those Borders boys ;-)

D.
Michael Haywood - on 20 May 2017
In reply to DannyC:

Nice one Danny, yer on!!
CurlyStevo - on 21 May 2017
In reply to Michael Haywood:
I've walked a lot of this coast line looking for new spots. Mostly it's fairly climbed out but you may find the odd good route that's not been done and just about possibly a new wall or two. I thought I found a new spot but then found it in Smc new routes. The rock which isn't culm / greywacke and is just sandstone isn't really worth climbing on in my opinion.

I did find quite a significant new bouldering area but it was quite a slog to get to so I can t imagine it taking off over the county just down the road.

It's a nice part of the world though, scenic and quiet.
Post edited at 05:23
CurlyStevo - on 21 May 2017
In reply to DannyC:
Ladywell is greywacke btw. It would be an idea to take a brush for cleaning the routes IMO.
Post edited at 10:06
DannyC - on 21 May 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Cheers stevo. Did you climb any of the routes? Look ok?
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CurlyStevo - on 21 May 2017
In reply to DannyC:
No I was injured at the time so was just scouting possibilities. When I found Ladywell I thought it was something of a gold mine but ofcourse then later found it on SMC new routes. There's a few coves that way that are all close together and reasonably good rock. As I didn't have the SMC notes on me at the time I'm not sure how climbed out it is, but I would imagine there is new routes to put up there still, similarly if you go away from the more established areas in general

I think the ordinary red sandstone that typically overlays the greywacke (apart from around ladywell and fast castle) is not worth climbing on. Its extremely rare that its any good. Generally it would need to be a pinnacle or similar and then its still not that great.Further north and closer to N Berwick its probably at its best if you can call it that. Further south around Eyemouth it seemed way to chossy.

The rock is different again around St Abbs but pictures didn't look that great.

The souter area looks to be the cleanest decent rock in the area to me and definitely worth a visit. Fastcastle head less so. Midden and Ladywell probably worth a visit but there wasn't a tonne of stuff that looked both good and clean to me. Its a nice place to spend the day in any case. You will have a problem with birds on a lot of the routes at this time of year though.
Post edited at 11:17
DannyC - on 21 May 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Thanks for that - very helpful. Good point on the birds too. I'm not sure if birds nest at Ladywell. I'd guess it's likely and it might be a no-go for a while, although I see some of the FAs were in April and May so perhaps worth a look.
CurlyStevo - on 22 May 2017
In reply to DannyC:
ladywell and midden are quite complex in terms of rock layout with quite a lot of the crags sort of free standing /separated from the main cliff / grass bank. I'm sure if you pick your routes there will be some bird free too.

The area is quite well know for suffering from bird problems though and I noted a fair amount of guano around even in January.
Post edited at 10:54
DannyC - on 25 May 2017
In reply to Michael Haywood:

Just in case anyone stumbles across this thread looking for Ladywell Craig info in future.

We did two routes: Shortbow* on the Lower Crag (which was pretty serious for Severe - it'd be best to bring tat and ab off the pinnacle rather than finish up the last loose grassy bit. The old tat is not usable) and the pretty good HVS 5b* right-hand crack on the Upper Crag Left, which deserves a name really. The other clean crack to its left looks okay.

Upper Crag Right looks bad and not worth the effort. The Lower Crag is best, but the rest of the routes were covered in a thick layer of green bearded lichen. So thick it looks and feels like a green doormat. It did look like a couple of the routes underneath it might be okay (in an esoteric way), but they'd definitely need a good scrub first with a yard brush on ab.

Oddly, I can't find any record of routes on the lichen-free crag in the bay around to the left of Lower Crag. There was an ancient, thin and untrustworthy stake well back from the crag-top, suggesting someone has climbed or had a look here before - but I'd guess before the big 1997 stake was put in on Ladywell Upper Crag Left. The rock was quite poppy as you'd expected for unclimbed greywacke, but certainly no worse than the other routes. We did one possible new route - probably E2 5b. I'll write it up later in the week if I still can't see any mention of it. As far as I can see from the guidebook and SMC new routes logs there are no routes on this cliff.

The climbing at Ladywell is not great, but it's a beautiful, quiet place, which was in the sun for a long time last night. No birds at all on the routes.

Danny.

CurlyStevo - on 25 May 2017
In reply to DannyC:
Nice one. I forget the exact layout but is the bay you describe sort of square cut and also featuring a sort of fin to the front right.

I'll put this out there but if anyone is interested in some bouldering then there is a lot of development that can occur in this area on the ladywell side of midden. Go at low tide. Probably the mean grade of the probems is about 5b/5c but there looked to be a fair amount of easier and harder stuff too. It is a slog to get in and out of though so all in all its not closer to the bouldering from Edinburgh than just carry on driving to Northumberland. Different rock mind.

If it was 5 mins from the car I can see it would be pretty popular, the rock is mostly fairly clean on the boulders.
Post edited at 11:17
JdotP - on 25 May 2017
In reply to Michael Haywood:

Routes are described in the SMC lowland outcrops guidebook, and those put up since the guidebook came out are described in the lists of new routes available on SMC website. Stuff has been climbed (including by me) in the Burnmouth - Eyemouth area. You get a good view of many of the cliffs from the train.
DannyC - on 25 May 2017
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Yes, that's the same bay. Do you happen to know if anything's been climbed there? It seems strange that it was overlooked when the Lower Crag was developed, given it's free from the dreaded green lichen.

That whole coastline is beautiful and I agree about the potential for some easy-ish bouldering. The tide was out last night, and there were some fairly big, solid boulders that looked like they could offer a couple of hours of fun.

D.
CurlyStevo - on 25 May 2017
In reply to DannyC:
As you walk further along there is more boulders maybe 15 or more with potential routes on....

I don't know if anything has been climbed in that bay or not but it did look like one of the more promising areas along that coast that may have been potentially unclimbed.

The green hairy lichen would come off pretty easily with a stiff brush when bone dry but I guess it would just regrow quite quickly and maybe not worth the effort given how hard the crag is to access compared with the Souter.
Post edited at 13:14

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