01/01/2013 16:20:00

Words by bena


Plumline (E2, 5b)

(NX 483 705) 100m S facing, (SMC Lowland Outcrops 2004, page 195)

Corwar Crag is a small (30m) but steep buttress of compact granite with a beautiful outlook south-east over Bargaly Glen. It is fairly fast to dry, catches plenty of afternoon sun and is reasonably quick to approach. Protection can be tricky on some of the routes and a good selection of small camming devices is recommended. The area is seriously midge-ridden in summer but makes a good venue at other times. The Forestry Commission has kindly felled numerous trees around the crag to improve the climbing.

Access is from the A712. Turn off the A75 onto the A712 before Newton Stewart and drive 6 miles up this road to a large lay-by and look-out at the Glen of the Bar (NX 479 707). Park by the rather weird look-out, and follow a trail down and across a stream, then take a bearing of 120° (East by South-East) through woods (paint marks on trees indicate the way) to the crag (10mins). The crag sits above a forest track which can be accessed 1.5miles further south along the A712 (signed Corwar and Dallash). The Forestry Commission allow pedestrian and bicycle access along this track, but no vehicles please (25mins on foot).

The most prominent feature of the crag is the shallow chimney/groove of Bigger Than Tigger on the left. Further right, the obvious right to left-slanting break, passing a smooth black niche (which at the time of writing contains a small birch sapling), is taken by Ruta Aurelio. All the climbs here are worth doing, with The Prune (MVS), Corwar Wall (HVS), and Plum Line (E2) being well worth travelling out of your way to tackle. The latter is not paticularly technical (5b), but somewhat bold in the lower part.

Corwar Crag and the main lines - John Biggar (who was one of the discoverers of the crag)
taking a break during cleaning operations
Pinus Worship VD* Corwar Wall HVS**
Bigger Than Tigger S* Nutcase E2**
Alpamayo No More VS* Tutti Frutti E1**
The Prune MVS** The Harvesters E4*
The Peach (Grade is height dependent!) HVS/E1** Ruta Aurelio E1**
Plum Line E2*** The Midge HVS

New Route

The Return of the King 23m HVS 5a ** (2011)
Direct variations on Corwar Wall and just as good. Start 1.5m right of Corwar Wall and climb the wall directly to a small overhang, then climb up to the left-slanting break of Ruta Aurelio. Make one move leftwards along this and then launch directly up the wall above via a jug to gain the hand traverse of Corwar Wall. Stand on the traverse holds, step left into a shallow scoop and finish direct.
S.Reid, C.King, J.Kinnaird, 15th September 2011

Photo: Stephen Reid making the first ascent of The Return of the King, Corwar Crag. Photo: John Biggar

Photo: Stephen Reid making the first ascent of Plum Line, Corwar Crag. Photo: John Biggar

Photo Left: David Staton on The Prune, Corwar Crag.



Photo Right: Stephen Reid making the first ascent of Corwar Wall, Corwar Crag. Photo: John Biggar




Photos: Left, Chris King at the start of the hard moves
on Nutcase and above on Tutti Frutti.

200m further up the glen, and visible from the forest road, is a 5 metre slab of granite which gives some good bouldering.

The history of climbing at Corwar is brief. The crag was discovered lurking amongst forestry by Colin Hossack who worked for Galloway Forest Enterprise at the time. The trees were so dense that it could not be seen from the forest track, only 100 yards away. Colin informed John Biggar, and judicious felling of offending woodland soon took place. Biggar then cleaned much of the crag of the carpet of moss and pine needles that it had acquired, and Biggar (partnered variously by Andy Owen, Hossack, Linda Biggar and Lindsay Cannon), led many of the easier climbs including the excellent Mild VS of The Prune, and the heightist The Peach (HVS/E1). Biggar then enlisted Stephen Reid to lead some of the harder lines, including the classics of Corwar Wall (HVS) and Plum Line (E2). Their first new routes though were Ruta Aurelio (E1 5b) and Alpamayo No More (VS), on both of which they were accompanied by Peruvian mountain guide Damien Aurelio. Together they then cleaned up the crag (literally as well as metaphorically), leaving only The Harvesters (E4) for Dave Armstrong and Mike Hetherinton on a flying visit from Carlisle, though a direct version of The Midge still awaits an attempt.

Photo Left: John Biggar, and Right John cleaning up The Midge at Corwar Crag.
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