01/01/2013 16:25:00

Words by bena

Craigencallie

Adder infested bracken jungle on the Craigencallie approach
(NX 500 783) 350m E facing, (SMC Lowland Outcrops 2004, page 187)

Craigencallie from the carpark, showing the main buttresses.

Craigencallie is one of the few easily accessible Galloway mountain crags and has several imposing buttresses. The rock is superbly solid epidiorite, a much finer grained granite than is found elsewhere in the range, but it suffers from an unfortunate excess of moss and vegetation which, coupled with the lack of traffic, means that only a few of the routes are really worth doing. Those few however make for at least one fruitful visit for any party whatever their ability.

Please note that there is a ban on climbing on this crag from 1st March to 30th June due to rare birds nesting.

 
Photo left: Main Wall, Craigencallie. Delta of Venus takes the obvious cleanest area of rock just left of centre.

 

The most impressive piece of rock is the steep MAIN WALL on the right-hand side which is easily identified by the large roof to its right – unfortunately most of its routes are very overgrown, the exception being the classic Delta of Venus (E4 6a***). A second notable area is FLAKE BUTTRESS which is on the right wall of the obvious grassy gully at the left-hand side of the crag, the best routes here are Thumbs Up (HVS 5a*) and The Empty Quarter (E2 5b**). However elsewhere, Alligator (VD*), Tree Sanctuary (VS 4c*) and Across the Barricades (E4 6a** & very bold!) are also well worth doing, as are the Whirling Dervishes (E2 5c*) and Old Mortality (E2 6a*). Deviator (VS 4c) would probably merit 3 stars if clean. FAR SLAB BUTTRESS provides some good, though rather bold, easier lines.

Photo right: Chris King on the superb Delta of Venus (E4).

Photo right: Chris King on Whirling Dervishes (E2).The route traverses left around the arete into the capped groove up which it finishes. Old Mortality takes the groove up to his right.

Photo left: Chris King & Tony Mawer on Corbie Steps (HVS)

 


Photo Left: Chris King on the first ascent of the Direct Start to Empty Quarter which gains the slab via the pillar under the roof. The original route traversed in from the left.

Photo right: Chris King high on the Empty Quarter (E2).

Photo Above: Andrew Fraser making the first ascent of the very bold Across the Barricades (E4) in 1992 (Fraser coll.).

 

HISTORY
The history of early climbing at Craigencallie is rather vague. Gordon Waldie (Rock Climbs in Galloway, SMC Journal 1958) wrote "Craigencallie... offers a fine challenge to experts on greasy granite as they pass below it on their way to Loch Dee. One (80 feet) Very Difficult climb has been made on one of its walls, which if climbed throughout would give 200 feet of hard work. Some shorter routes of more Moderate standard have also been made here". Unfortunately he left no other record. It was not until 1977 that Graham Little soloed Cranium Edge (VS 4c) and then promptly returned with his brother to lead Deviator (VS 4c) and Eliminator (E1 5b).

In the mid 80s Adrian Plumb and Sandy Aird explored the more slabby left-hand side of the crag and contributed several pleasant routes, however it was really Andrew Fraser and friends who developed the crag to its full potential. In April 1991, he and Robin McAllister made their first addition with Alligator (VD**), and McAllister also soloed Decaffenator (VS 4c*).

The following year Fraser returned with Dave McGimpsey and McAllister for the audacious Across the Barricades (E4 6a**), and in June '93 a big Fraser inspired team of Mike Reed, Fraser, James Freeman, McAllister and Donald Gibson visited the crag with first ascents of Tree Sanctuary (VS 4c**), The Grey Man (HVS 5b) and Gibson's fine lead of the classic Delta of



Photo Above: Donald Gibson making the first ascent of Delta of Venus (E4) in 1993 (Andrew Fraser) - wonderful tights!

 

 

Venus (E4 6a***) the result. Just prior to that though Plumb had returned to his earlier stamping ground, and with Andy Scougal in the lead, had put up the best of his routes, Thumbs Up (VS 5a*)(Scougal had told Plumb that he'd never done a new route before, and promptly got pointed at one!).

A year later, another notable lead of Fraser's was The Empty Quarter (E1 5b**, 1994 - later given a Direct Start at E2 by Chris King), was climbed with Stuart Mearns, and The Corbie Steps (HVS 5a) with Kevin Douglas. In October, Fraser McAllister and Willie Todd added Heinous Venus (E3 - McAllister led) and the fine corner of Old Mortality (E2 6a*).

In 1995, visiting American Paul Brown (who had already climbed several routes in similar style on the Tauchers, back roped soloed The Heretic (E3 6a), alas now overgrown, and in 1998, Fraser displayed some canny lateral thinking with The Whirling Dervishes (E2 5c*): Alan Murdoch braved both the midges (from which the route derives its name), and the traverse, to follow him.


OUTLYING AREAS

There are no climbs recorded in the unattractive quarry opposite Clatteringshaws Dam, but on the hillside above this lie the easy angled vegetated slabs of CLATTERINGSHAWS CRAG (NX 549 754) which is best reached by taking the first left turn 100m down the Raiders' Road and then striking directly up the hillside. The sole climb is Dam It a pleasant 25m Moderate (S.Reid (solo) 2002) which takes the rib formed by fallen blocks on the left of the crag.

Left: Pete Brown's diagram of the Heretic (E3 6a, 1995). The note (top right) reads "3 hrs to clean, hvy moss, lichen and vegetation - backrope soloed the same day". Unfortunately the climb has become rather overgrown again since.

Craigencallie as seen from the far side of the River Dee
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