Galloway Climbing

Galloway welcomes careful climbers - a sign on the A75!

The Galloway Hills lie well off the beaten track in South-West Scotland and, despite rumours to the contrary, offer some wonderful climbing, particularly to lovers of remote solitude. Crag approaches are generally long, though there are some notable exceptions, and the going is exceptionally rough and boggy. A mountain bike, wellies and a cheerful disposition solve these problems to some extent.

All the major crags lie along the Mullwharchar Range, a broken ridge of hills that bisects the Galloway Mountains from north to south. The rock is granite, usually solid, clean and quick drying except where noted otherwise. It is seamed with cracks, often rounded ones, so that on many pitches a double rack of cams is well worth carrying. Midges can be a serious problem in summer - insect repellant and a stiff breeze are advised.

The Round and Long Lochs of the Dungeon with the eastern flank of Craignaw on the right.

It should be noted that the term "lane" in the Galloway Hills means a large and often unfordable stream, rather than an easy means of passage. Thus the term "Gala Lane" does not indicate a pleasant path, though the real path may not be any drier, and in fact probably does not exist at all.

The guidebook required is the SMC Lowland Outcrops (2004), and page numbers given relate to this guide.

For the occasional visitor, the SMC Scottish Rock Climbs (2005) selected guide describes a few of the best climbs on the Dungeon of Buchan and has good colour photo topos of two of the buttresses that are only illustrated by black line drawings in Lowland Outcrops.

Maps required are Ordnance Survey Landranger sheets 77, 79 and 83 or, alternatively, OS Explorer maps 318 and 319 which give excellent coverage of the entire range, though unfortunately forestry firebreaks, so often used for access, are not shown.

These pages give a brief description of the main Galloway Crags as well as details of new routes recorded since the last guidebook and a few that have not been previously recorded properly. It does not cover the Galloway Seacliffs or Dumfrieshire Outcrops - however many of these can be found on John Biggar's website, Climbing in Galloway.

As a general rule, routes that are already described in the current SMC guide will not be described here unless they have been poorly described. This means, I'm afraid, that you will have to buy the guidebook: but as all the SMC's guidebook profits are ploughed back into further guidebook production, or given to worthy environmental and access causes, I hope this will not prove too great a burden.

Merrick in winter, taken from the tourist route.

Every attempt has been made to be as accurate as possible but there will no doubt be some errors. As always in mountaineering, proceed at your own risk. As these notes will form the basis for the next SMC Lowland Outcrops guide, notification of errors or omissions would be much appreciated, as would information on grades and stars of all routes, if only to confirm the current rating is correct.

The map has been provided courtesy of South-West Images who have an excellent website on walking in the Galloway Hills.

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