Altitude 208m a.s.l
Some say dry tooling is the devil's work... © Chris Prescott
Newtyle Quarry (AKA Birnam) is a unique climbing venue. In a short history it has been host to the development of a few good middle grade rock climbs, both trad and sport, and also some aid projects in the deep amphitheatre, The Tube. The rock here is Slate, which is pretty unusual in Scotland.
In 2003 a further spate of development has seen the establishment of some hard routes of several styles. Side by side in the Tube now sit a dry tooling route D13, a sports route F8b and a trad route E7. There are also three sport routes above the tube, aswell as a tooling route.
Since Fast and Furious was completed by Scott Muir further dry tooling routes have been established, and now a variety exist ranging from an amenable D4 to a savage D13.
Please do not dry tool any established rock climbs, or any new lines that are rock-climbable.
Particularly do not dry tool Spandau Ballet. The rock is soft and tools will damage the finger crack.
The rock is loose and chossy. It is also quite soft. Placements, especially slots in seams, will sometimes blow out.
Experience has shown that it is worth wearing a helmet when belaying. This is because of both loose rock being knocked down, and also the occasional axe being dropped.
Over the past two years, the quarrying activity at Newtyle has increased. The quarry material is being used for the current A9 Dualling work.
As of 1st October 2019: Beginners Slab is buried; the bottom 2-3m of Doorjamb Slab (including Spandau Ballet) is buried, and only a small strip of ground exists below it before a 5-10m drop to the now much lower quarry floor; access to Happy Hooker Wall is lose; the path from Happy Hooker under Pantile Slab and Main Slab doesn’t exist anymore; you can still access The Tube, but only by going up the boulder field at the back of the quarry workings; the normal access path from Deans Park has two large barrier fences across it with “No Access” notices on them.
We have been in contact with the company doing the extraction on behalf of the landowner. Their view is simple: the quarry is a working quarry site, and access rights do not apply here. They will ask anyone entering the quarry to leave and request that the climbing community respects this. They are currently working the quarry Monday to Friday, and on occasional Saturdays for maintenance.
Importantly, the company do recognise the importance of Newtyle as a climbing venue, and they have said that they are very keen to work with the climbing community once their work is finishing to improve the venue, and that this could include improved access, landscaping the area, and cleaning off areas of newly exposed rock to create much longer routes. They are currently unsure of how long they will be working the quarry, but it could be anywhere between 6 months and 18 months.
The current view of the local climbing community, and Mountaineering Scotland, is that we work with the quarry company and aim for a longer-term “post-quarrying solution” for Newtyle which has the potential for a much improved venue with longer routes
Cheers, Simon Yearsley
UPDATED 10th OCTOBER 2020
Quarry still being worked Mon-Fri with now more frequent work on Saturdays as they try and catch up with time lost during March/April lockdown. Access to the Tube area still currently unaffected. Access to the rest of the sectors varies week by week, depending on how much of the lower sections have been altered/removed by the quarrying. Personally, I'd urge patience.... this important venue will still be here next year, when hopefully the quarrying will be finished and we've all managed not to annoy the company carrying out the quarrying work, and thus they then help by landscaping the site to all of ours' benefit once thier work is finished.
UPDATED 23rd DECEMBER 2020
The company doing the quarrying at Newtyle is becoming increasingly annoyed and frustrated by people accessing the quarry to go tooling on days when they are working the quarry. They are also very much aware that climbers are accessing The Tube area, possibly in the mistaken belief that they have gone unnoticed and that the quarrying company either can’t see them, don’t know they are there, or aren’t bothered. Wrong - they do notice, and are bothered, but do not want to be confrontational with the climbers. A group of local climbers, along with Mountaineering Scotland, have worked very hard over the past two years to protect the long-term access to this unique Scottish climbing venue. The local climbers have also refrained from accessing the quarry to protect the access. So, please can we act as one as a climbing community, and keep this very very simple: if the quarry is being worked (in whatever quarrying area), DO NOT CLIMB ANYWHERE IN NEWYTLE. If you don’t do this, we run the very very real risk of losing access for ever.
UPDATED 10th JANUARY 2022
Over the past four years we have been in contact with the contractors doing the quarrying. The work in the main quarry is now slowly winding down. We will soon be starting discussions with the contractors about access and possible landscaping once they have finished extraction work. Mountaineering Scotland, local climbers and The Scottish Dry-Tooling Club will be involved as these discussions progress. We are not clear yet on the timescales of these discussions, but it is hoped that 2022 could see a return to climbing at Newtyle. In the meantime, it is imperative that, as a climbing community, we continue to understand that the quarry is a working quarry site, and access rights do not apply here. PLEASE CONTINUE TO RESPECT THE CURRENT APPROACH: “DO NOT CLIMB ANYWHERE AT NEWTYLE”. Thanks for your support in getting this far….