The Tauchers

(NX 458 874) 525m NE facing, (SMC Lowland Outcrops Guide page 137)

Photo: The Tauchers showing the main crags.

Please note that there is a ban on climbing on this crag from 1st March to 31st July due to rare birds nesting.

The TAUCHERS are pronounced "Talkers" (almost!). Although some of the climbing in this remote coire on Mullwharchar is rather lichenous and slow to dry, there are some excellent exceptions, most notably Behind the Mask (E1 5b***)., on the ORGAN PIPES. On the same buttress, Phoebus Mask (E3 5c**) is also clean, quick to dry and well worth the walk. The somewhat gothic experience of Brigadoon ( El 5b*) , also on the Organ Pipes, is another worthwhile climb, as are Dragon Slayer E3 6a,5b*), The Dungeonmaster (E1 5b,4b*) and The Throne (E1 5b*). The other routes though are rather vegetated.

Photo: James Kinnaird on the classic grooved arete of Behind the Mask (E1 5b***).
Photo: Some Tauchers climbing is just a little bit vegetated... Chris King somewhere on the Giant's Stairway - note the midge-net!

Photo: Chris King on the imposing groove of Brigadoon (E1 5b).

On the main crag of the GIANT'S STAIRWAY, Switchback (VD*), particularly with the new finish, makes a fine start to a scrambling ascent of Mullwharchar, as does the Couloir (M*). Of the harder routes The Raiders (HVS 5a,4c,4a*) and Solstice (E2 5c*) are worth doing, though the former is often wet, while Bugle (HVS) has a good but scary first pitch after which the climbing deteriorates. On the TIERS to the right of the stream there are many pleasant pitches some of which have been joined to make multi-pitch climbs.

The coire has an atmosphere that is almost magical and certainly unlike any other venue in the Galloway Hills and this alone repays a visit.

Photo: Dave McGimpsey on the first pitch of The Raiders (HVS) during the first ascent (Fraser).

Photo: Graham Little on the first ascent of an as yet unidentified route on the Tauchers on 13th April 1968. (Little Collection)


James McBain famously (and grippingly) recounts soloing the Couloir (M) in about 1900 in his book The Merrick and Other Hills (Ayre 1929).

There then follows a long lull until 1968 when Graham Little and Jimmy Dykes did several as yet unidentified rock climbs, a day after their momentouus ascent of The Highwayman on the Dungeon of Buchan. These route descriptions have only recently been unearthed from Little's diary.

Diary entry from Graham Little:- detailing an eight pitch as yet unidentified route on the Tauchers (click to enlarge).

Little later soloed The Couloir (I/II*) in winter.

Between 1992 and 1995, Ayr based climbers, Andrew Fraser, Dave McGimpsey, Rob McAllister, Stuart Lampard and others added many of the main routes, including Behind the Mask (E1) (led by McAllister), The Raiders (HVS), The Dungeonmaster (E1) and Brigadoon (E1), the latter having been attempted by Little in the '70s. Lampard's Solstice (E2) was originally graded HVS!

Photo: Paul Brown's meticulous diagram of his new routes on the Tauchers (Paul Brown). Click to enlarge.

Also in 1995, visiting American, Paul Brown, backrope soloed (without gardening!) several routes on the crag (and also one at Craigencallie), including Phoebus Mask (E3), which McAllister had cleaned and attempted previously, and The Throne (E1).

Finally Chris King and Stephen Reid added a few routes whilst checking the crag for the 2005 guide, the best of which is the 6a finger crack of Dragonslayer (E3), a fine lead by King.

Photo: Andrew Fraser belayed by Rob McAllister on the first ascent of Brigadoon (E1) (Fraser).

THE SLOCK (NX 457 894) is a large rambling cliff on the north-east end of Mullwharchar. It contains The Gullet (70m Very Difficult 1992), which is the right-hand of the two vegetated parallel gullies situated on the southern end of the cliff. It was first (and possibly last) climbed by Dave McGimsey and S Ravey in 1992.

GAW GLEN CRAG (NS 483 025) is an 8m high south-west facing metamorphic buttress of good clean rock situated on the east side of the Loch Doon road, about midway between the main Dalmellington road and the dam. It has five 5 lines between Difficult and Hard Severe and bolt belays, and is used by Outdoor Ed Centres. The routes there were first climbed in the late 1970s/early 80s by Davie Sproat.

Photo: Rob McAllister on the first ascent of Brigadoon (Fraser).
Photo: The "Sleeping Giant of Mullwarchar". This unusual rock can be found near the base of Mullwharchar well to the left of the entrance of the Tauchers Coire. It stands not far above Pulskaig Burn, just south and west of where it joins Gala Lane, near a large cubic boulder. It needs to be viewed from above. Approximate Grid reference is 565 872.

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