Glen Trool & Craiglee

BUCHAN WEST CRAG (NX 421 814 ) West Facing.
This small but good crag tucked away on the hillside to the north of Loch Trool is visible from the carpark but hidden on the walk-in. Although short (gritstone-size), the face is sheer and compact, and the routes are substantial for their length. The rock is unusual - it is not typical Galloway granite but instead a flakey rhyolitic type. Blind cracks are common and small cams useful. It gets plenty of afternoon sun, but there are a couple of seepage lines so it's best visited after dry weather. The base of the crag is tranquil, the view is excellent, and the walk-in, though uphill, is considerably shorter than most Galloway Hills crags.

Take the minor road towards Glen Trool running East from A714 Newton Stewart to Girvan road. Follow this minor road to Loch Trool and park at the end by Bruce's Stone. Take the obvious footpath North towards the Merrick. When the path deviates uphill from the river, cross the river where convenient. Navigate the hillside up and right through tediously tussocky terrain until the crag pops into view. 30 mins or so.

All routes were abseil inspected to clean them and check out gear potential. They are all clean enough to onsight and the grades are estimated for that style. They are all about 12m long.

1. Ball Ache E2 5b
Makes the best use of the rock on the left of the face. A worthwhile route with a nice crux, but the awkward gear and proximity to the gully detract. Climb the lower slab leftwards towards a blunt rib and vague protection at it's top - there is a crucial small wire way out left, hard and blind to place. From the rib make delicate moves to a good rugosity and an easier finish.
Matthew Thompson (unseconded), 08/06/07

2. Fiend's Folly E1 5b **
An good line up the corner and twin cracks, that feels surprisingly unnerving. Climb the corner direct (still a little mossy) to the good break, then swing out to use the right crack to stand up. Make a precarious move to a good hold (HVS 5a if you can reach it before) and finish with more good holds.
Matthew Thompson (unseconded), 08/06/07

3. Stolen Dreams E3 5c ***
The route of the crag taking the thin disjointed crack - reasonably protected but technically sustained with a hard crux. Excellent throughout. Climb easily to the lower blind crack (tiny high cam in face). Layback desperately to the break, then swing left to jugs and gear. Make tricky moves into the crack and more tricky moves up it past a jug on the left to finish.
Matthew Thompson, Mark Stephen Davies, 08/06/07

P. The clean smooth wall is unclimbed - so far!

4. The Slither HVS 5b *
Sneaks up the twin crack system just left of Pylon King Crack - although close to that route. It offers good safe climbing that is independent but for one foothold. Climb pleasantly up the twin cracks until the left one gets too thin, then make thoughtful moves to gain some classic jams to finish.
Matthew Thompson, Mark Stephen Davies, 08/06/07

5. Pylon King Crack VS 4c **
The line of the crag up the blatant crack. Good traditional climbing with good gear. Climb directly up the crack passing a tricky move low down, to the wide finish which is surprisingly pleasant.
Mark Stephen Davies, Matthew Thompson, 08/06/07

6. Seal Photo Liberation Front HVS 5b **
The attractive face just right gives a fine route with crimpy bouldering moves between good positive breaks. Boulder directly up to the juggy niche and a good cam break. Crimp fiercely to the next cam break, and onwards to finish left of the plant.
Mark Stephen Davies, Matthew Thompson (both led), 08/06/07

Mathew Thompson making the first ascent of The Slither (HVS)
Photo: Mark Davies

7. Of The Capsule We Are, Lord HVS 5a *
A devious and deviant route that gains some good climbing on the face to the right. Climb onto the pedestal on the right of the face, move up the crack slightly then swing due left to good holds. Stand up strenuously to gain a pleasant direct finish. A direct start would be possible at 6a/b, but out of character with the route.
Mark Stephen Davies, Matthew Thompson, 08/06/07

SOUND CLINT (NX 461 797) 475m W facing, (SMC Lowland Outcrops 2004, page 185)

The low (531m) picturesque hill of Craiglee is situated immediately north-east of Loch Dee. The quickest access is from Glen Trool via the Southern Upland Way to its high point where a vague very boggy path can be followed to the summit (1hr 45mins, 1hr 15mins using a mountain bike).

Sound Clint is a small wall of fine crystalline granite and is situated just south of the summit of Craiglee. Although the climbs are short (nowhere more than 13m high), the flat grassy base, good sustained climbing, superb views and excellent rock make it a worthwhile venue. A double rack of camming devices is recommended, and belays are fairly well back so it is worth setting one rope up as a belay rope and climbing on the other doubled. The routes need no real description, and anyway they are all in the guide now - except the latest three!

Craiglee - the left-hand side of the main crag.

WP Wee Pals Wa' E3/4 5c/6a * PW Pernicketie Wa' E1 5b *
PR Pecher's Redemption E1 5b/c * KH Keep yer Heid VS 4b *
TS Tippertaes Stravaig HVS 5a * HS Heidstane HVS 5a *
HH Hoo-Haa S 4a * TB Tak a Brek HVS 5a
PW Pauchler's Wa' HVS 5a * NC Neb o' the Clint VS 4c
CC Caw Canny VS 4c * HG Heeliegalerie/Direct M/D
SW Skelf Wa' VS 4c *

Photo: Chris King on the first ascent of
Wee Pals Wa' (E3/4).

Photo: Stephen Reid making the second
ascent of Caw-Canny (VS) and about to
add a direct finish.

Photo: Stephen Reid on the second ascent of
Keep yer Heid (VS).

Photo: Chris King making the second
ascent of Pernicketie Wa' (E1).

Craiglee has a very short history of exploration. John Biggar and Stephen Reid visited the crag in 2003 and did a load of routes, only to find that Kenny and Ian Livingston had beaten them to the ascent of Hoo-Haa by a decade!

In 2009 Stephen Reid returned with Chris King and three new routes were added, including King's fine lead of the blank wall to the left of Pecher's Redemption. Two other climbs, Pecher's Redemption and Caw Canny, were straightened out with direct finishes.

Photo: John Biggar on the first ascent of
Keep yer Heid (VS).

One man and his dog - the descent from Craiglee.

Two icefalls have been climbed on the northern flank of BENNANBRACK (NX 439 784). Tack it Easy (60m II/III, 2003) takes the main fall, whilst Bit o' Fun (60m II, 2003) is the lesser fall slightly lower down and 100m to the right. They lie not far above the Southern Upland Way and can be reached from Glen Trool in an hour. Both were climbed by Kenny MacKay, Alan McFadzean, Gordon Anderson on 11th Jan 2003. The names stem from these climbers' membership of the Tackity Bits Mountaineering Club.

There are also some Grade II waterfalls above the treeline in the Shiel Burn (NX 435 788).

Photos: The Bennanbrack icefalls: Top: Kenny MacKay on the first ascent of Tack it Easy (II/III).
Bottom Left: Alan McFadzean on the steeper section of Tack it Easy).
Bottom Right: Gordon Anderson also on Tack it Easy
(All photos, Kenny MacKay).

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