01/01/2013 16:23:00

Words by bena

Craigdews

(NX 497 722) 200m S facing, (SMC Lowland Outcrops Guide 2004, page191)


The south-facing granite terraces of Craigdews near Murray's Monument on the A712 have been out of bounds to climbers until recently. The crag, though broken and vegetated, is bigger than appearances suggest and gives some good pitches which would benefit from more traffic. Despite it's proximity to the road it feels very much a mountain crag with all that that implies, good and bad! It is also quick to dry and quite a suntrap. Please note that there is a ban on climbing on this crag from 1st March to 30th June due to rare birds nesting. It is worth noting too that the crag lies in a goat park and the goats may take an unwelcome interest in the contents of your rucksack though they are more likely to be begging sandwiches off passing tourists. So far only the major lines have been climbed and there are still possibilities for new routes but climbers should remember that their activities are clearly visible to all and excessive gardening would be unwise. Park in the main Goat Park car park.
The climbs are reached in 10 minutes.

On the far right of the crag are THE TREE WALLS: The climbs here end on a narrow terrace from which a careful descent may be made leftwards down the right-hand side of the Ramp Slabs. Alternatively, climb easily up the wall above and descend via the Ramp. There are a couple of good pitches here, and one rather worrying one. The best thing are the route names: Cemetery Goats (HVS*), Vorsprung Goat Technique (HVS), and Amazing Technicolour Dreamgoat (E1**).

Left of the Tree Walls is the leftward-trending, bracken-covered Ramp. On the right of this and extending the full length of the ramp is a very obvious RAMP SLABS. Both its climbs are serious and wandering from the easiest line would make them more so.

Left of the Ramp, and directly under the summit, is the CENTRAL SECTION which has two large bays at its base. Flat Boulder Bay is on the right and is broad and has a large flat boulder on its floor. Central Bay is directly under the summit and is more square-cut and is bounded on its left by an easy white slab. The wide bracken-covered Half-Way Terrace divides the Central Section horizontally at 45m. Above it the largest section of rock is Main Wall which is split by a distinctive thin crack and has a small overhang (The Nose) on its left. The starred routes are well worth doing, and a bit of traffic would soon clean them up more.

Craigdews from the carpark, showing some of the main routes and buttresses.

CENTRAL SECTION
Capricorn Relish HS*   Goats of Delirium HVS*
Toga Confusion S*   Central Route VS*
Dirty Old Raingoat MVS   Nanny State E2**
Das Goat D*   Astrogoat VS*
Up Perisgoat! VS*   Pushing the Goat Out VS*
Goathouse of Fleet VS   No Goat's Toe VS
      The Dark Side VS

 

Photo Above: John Biggar on the first pitch of Das Goat (D). The route keeps moving left to gain a broken rib, before making a rising traverse right on the upper wall. It then continues to the summit in two easier pitches. Up Perisgoat! (VS) climbs the crack system just to the right of his head - the heather patch is no longer present!

 

Photo Above: Ian Magill making the first ascent of Dirty Old Raingoat on the Ramp Slabs on 16th September 2001. (Andrew Fraser)

Photo Below: Chris King making the first ascent of the superb crack line of Nanny State (E4 6a).

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Photo Left: Chris King on the crux of the second pitch of Goats of Delirium

Photo Above: Chris King on Astrogoat.

Photo Right: Chris King on pitch 1 of The Dark Side during the first ascent.

 


Photo: Murray's Monument from Craigdews.

 

WHITE SLAB, a small buttress of glacier scoured granite stands alone some way below and left of Central Bay. The rock is excellent but the belay abysmal (0.5 Friend). It has a few short routes around Severe in grade.

HISTORY
Central Route was climbed in 1959 (a good lead by George Fraser, and graded Severe at the time despite the 5a pitch of the Original Finish).

Various bits of rusting old ironmongery in the crag show that this was not the only climbing that

occurred. However Kenny and Ian Livingston's reception by the warden when, in 1984, they enlisted Jo Grove to lead the first ascent of Cemetery Goats (HVS 5a, subsequently named by Fraser), and were escorted off the crag by the local constabulary for their pains, was probably also the fate of others who tried to climb there and nothing was recorded. Given the date of this event, perhaps the route should really have been called Big Brother!

It was only recently that permission to climb was gained by Reid, who was unaware that Andrew Fraser and Ian Magill had had stolen the march on him and had been surreptitiously developing the crag with some fine goat inspired route names, such as Goats of Delirium (HVS 4c, 5a, 5a*)! Most of the routes listed above are theirs, though Alan Murdoch led Fraser on the somewhat Fowleresque climb of Vorsprung Goat Technique (HVS 4c). Chris King and Stephen Reid stepped at the eleventh hour of guidebook production to pick one of the plums of the crag with Nanny State (E2 6a**), and also the rather scary Dark Side VS (4b,4a), and Reid and Jill Reid contributed the short climbs on White Slab.


NEW ROUTES

RAMP SLABS
Capricorn Relish is really quite good, and adequately protected with small wires. The other routes are less good and fiddly to protect well. A useful tip is to take mid-size slings or prussik loops to tie-off around some of the marginal placements over "nodules", and probably also something to weight them down.

Toga Confusion 55m S (3c) *
Climbs the left hand side of the slab taken by Dirty Old Raingoat pasing a good lug runner at 10m to heather ledges. Good runners (large cams) can be found here. Continue up on good clean rock by a small left facing overlap. Much better than Dirty Old Raingoat.
J Biggar, I Brown, 27th September 2007

KID'S BUTTRESS
This is the tiny buttress directly under the Ramp. The obvious central crackline remains unclimbed despite several attempts.

The Goatbusters 6m E2 5c *
The cracked arete to the right of the central groove gives superb sustained climbing. Finish leftwards to avoid the heather cornice.
Chris King, Stephen Reid, 15th October 2009 An in situ rusting wire showed of at least one previous attempt.

Fourpences are Soundless 5m HVS 5b
Start on the right hand side of the buttress, just left of a small cave and make a hard pull up to get established on a crack-streaked wall. Another awkward move leads to the top.
Chris King, Stephen Reid, 15th October 2009

 



CENTRAL SECTION

Pushing the Goat Out 62m VS*
A sustained and interesting slab climb. 15m right of the start of The Dark Side is another series of rightward sloping slabs.
1 47m (4c). Start at the right end of the blank lower slab, and climb 8m to a small grass niche, then move 2m up and right into a shallow niche. Leave this on its left side and continue up for 6m to a ledge from where it is possible to move 3m up and right to another ledge. Climb the left side of the slabs above to gain the upper slab. Traverse 3m right and pad the slab to exit just right of a prickly bush. Continue up right to gain and climb the arete above.
2 15m (4c). 4m to the right is a steep wall. Climb the central nose of this, finishing to the right of the nose. Exit by scrambling up the ramps to the right.
A Fraser, I Magill, 19th July 2006


THE DARK SIDE

No Goat's Toe   50m   VS
(4c). Ten metres right of the start of The Dark Side is a steep, pale and relatively clean prow, with a recess to its right. Climb the prow, continue up mossy rock, past a vegetatious bulge, then up further walls, to belay at the top of a heather slope.
I Magill, A Fraser, 22nd July 2008
Checked by Chris King and Stephen Reid, 15th October 2009 - a good route that would be worth a star if the heather fringe was gardened. Quite hard for the grade.

Silly Billy 25m S
About 30m left of the fallen tree is an attractive-looking broken rib. Unfortunately it isn't, and the climbing (via a scoop and the left-hand rib) is both poor and poorly protected. A more direct version looks suicidal. Belay by taking a firm stance in a hollow 25m back from the top of the crag.
Stephen Reid, Chris King, 15th October 2009.




WHITE SLAB
Belays at the top are quite adequate, though fiddly to set up and requiring several cams.

JK Just Kidding HS (4b)
OM One Man, One Goat VD
The green lines are variations created by I Brown and J Biggar when making Just One More Goat (see below).
TM Three Men in a Goat S (4a)
BG The Banana Goat VS (4c)

The Banana Goat 12m VS (4c)
Start on the ledge on the left. Climb a blank slab, step 1m left, then climb a short vertical crack and easier cracks to finish.
I Brown, J Biggar, 27th September 2007

Just One More Goat 15m VD
From the lowest point, climb the slab, then the short crack right of the black chimney, finishing by the overlapping block. (this may be a mixed up with One Man One Goat, but there are definitely two lines hereabouts.)
I Brown, J Biggar, 27th September 2007
The top half of this route would seem to be the same as One Man, One Goat.



Grey Mare's Tail
25m II,3
This waterfall lies justr west of Craigdews, near Murray's Monument. It is not as famous as it's Moffat namesake but is only one minute from the road. Only the lower fall was climbed.
John Biggar, Colin Hossack, Linda Biggar, Ian Brown, 9th January 2010

 

Photo: First ascent of the Grey Mare's Tail (John Biggar collection).

 

 

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