01/01/2013 16:46:00

Words by bena

Galloway Climbing

Traitors Gait (VS), Dungeon of Buchan

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.

Hill-Walking in Galloway
A few good links to the wonderful rugged hill-walking, plus other general information about the area, including links to other interesting information sites and the two local
Mountain Rescue Teams

The Merrick
Little rock climbing but some good winter routes. Includes Craig Neldricken and the
Grey Man of Merrick
The Tauchers
A remote and atmospheric coire in the north of the range.
Includes The Slock and Gaw Glen Crag.
Dungeon of Buchan Superb but remote south-facing multi-pitch crag.
The Rhinns of Kells Developing winter venue. Includes Craig Michael.
Little rock climbing but one magnificent winter route. Includes the Slabs Memorial Crag and Snibe Hill.
Glen Trool & Craiglee
Micro-routes in picturesque settings.
Includes Bennanbrack.
Easy access crag near Clatteringshaws Loch.
Also includes Clatteringshaws Crag.
Otherwise known as the Goat Park - the full mountain experience only 10 minutes from the road.
Corwar Crag
A small crag of excellent rock near Newton Stewart. Handy for Autumn and Spring evenings.
Loch Grannoch Crag
Pleasant south-facing slabs in a remote setting.
Ski-Touring in Galloway
Lots of possibilities - just add snow!
Clints of the Spout
Very remote winter coire with a tremendous atmosphere.
Clints of Dromore
South-facing easy access cragging in the lower grades.
Craig an Eilte
High mountain crag with remote atmosphere.
Also includes Big Gairy.

Bird Restrictions: Springtime bird restrictions to protect nesting pergrines and/or eagles may exist on several crags in the Galloway Hills. These are The Tauchers, Craigencallie, Craig Dews, Loch Grannoch Crag and the Clints of Dromore. The restrictions all end on 30th Jun, except the Tauchers which ends 31st July. However, what is not mentioned is that the restriction may be lifted if the birds do not nest or nest on a part of the crag that climbers do not impinge on. Thus in 2009, climbing was allowed on the Clints of Dromore "on Black & White Walls, Central Buttress and Black Streaker Areas". Check the Mountaineering Council of Scotland website for details but if the crag you are interested in isn't featured, do contact the MCofS and/or Scottish Natural Heritage and enquire - you might be lucky!

Golden eagle being mobbed by a raven.

New Routes & Comments: This site is maintained by Stephen Reid, to whom all new routes and comments can be sent. (All photos and content © Stephen Reid 2001 onwards unless mentioned otherwise).

Details of all new routes in Scotland and other comments should also be sent to Andy Nisbet who records such information on behalf of the Scottish Mountaineering Club.

Updates since the last Guidebook: Routes Date
Dungeon of Buchan Cooran Gully (III/IV) Feb 2012
Corwar The Return of the King (HVS) Sep 2011
Dungeon of Buchan Dauntless Heart (E1) Jul 2011
Craignaw - Point of the Snibe Two new routes Apr 2011
The Clints of the Spout One new route, Smear Test repeated! Dec 2010
The Merrick Two new winter routes Dec 2010
Craig Lee Four new routes Jun 2010
Craignaw - Point of the Snibe Loads of new routes May/Jun 2010
The Merrick Loads of new winter routes Winter 2009/10
Rhinns of Kells New winter routes Winter 2009/10
Craigdews Grey Mare's Tail Jan 2010
Craigdews Three new routes Oct 2009
Craig Lee Three new routes Sep 2009
The Clints of the Spout Three new rock routes Sep 2009
Clints of Dromore Two short new routes Sep 2009
Dungeon of Buchan King's Kingle (E1) Sep 2009
Craig an Eilte More new routes Sep 2009
Craignaw - Point of the Snibe The Arete Direct (E3) climbed! Jul 2009
Craig an Eilte Seven new rock routes in a day! Jun 2009
Craignaw Slabs Four new rock routes Jun 2009
The Clints of the Spout Five new rock routes Apr 2009
Craignaw - Point of the Snibe One new route Apr 2009
The Merrick One new route Feb 2008
Craigdews Three new routes Sept 2007
Craignaw - Point of the Snibe Numerous new routes Nov 2006 - Aug 2007
Buchan West - New Crag! Numerous new routes June 2006
Clints of Dromore Two short new routes Sept 2006
Craigdews Pushing the Goat Out July 2006
Craignaw - Memorial Crag Numerous new routes June 2006
The Merrick Three new routes Mar 2006
Clints of Dromore Three new routes Feb 2006
Craig Michael Five climbs from S - VS July 2005
Dungeon of Buchan Jailhouse Rock (HVS) June 2005
Rhinns of Kells/Cairnsmore of Carsphairn New winter routes Winter 2004/5

An apology! Unfortunately I no longer seem to have the time to keep these Galloway pages up to date with regard to new routes – though plenty have been done in the Galloway Hills in recent years. All of these are reported in the SMC Journal each year and the new routes sections are available on line at https://www.smc.org.uk/new-routes .
One particularly good new development is Wee Gairy, a 25m west-facing granite slab within easy reach of the old Talnotry campsite (near Murray’s Monument). A PDF guide to Wee Gairy is available on line.

Benyellary and the Merrick from Clatteringshaws Loch

Selected Bibliography
Author Publisher Date
The Highlands of Galloway Colin B Philip SMC Journal 1891
A Gallowegian Wander Edred M Corner SMC Journal 1900-1901
The Merrick and the Neighbouring Hills J M'Bain Stephen & Pollock of Ayr 1929
The Galloway Hills John Dow SMC Journal 1938
Rock Climbs in Galloway AG Waldie SMC Journal 1958
Climbers' Guide to Central & Southern Scotland Jerry Handren SMC 1986
Galloway Inner Sanctum Graham Little SMC Journal 1991
The Dungeon of Buchan Stephen Reid FRCC Journal 1992
Lowland Outcrops Tom Prentice, Grahame Nicoll et al SMC 1994
The Spout of Clints and Smear Test Stephen Reid FRCC Journal 1998
Dow Spout Stephen Reid SMC Journal 2003
Lowland Outcrops: Rock & Ice Climbs
(Galloway Hills by Stephen Reid)
Edited by Brian Davison & Tom Prentice SMC 2004
Dungeon Days Stephen Reid SMC Journal 2005

Climbing Links
https://www.johnbiggar.com/ John Biggar
Local activist John Biggar has many pages of information and photographs on climbing in Galloway and Dumfrieshire on his website, including Clifton Crag and Meikle Ross.
https://dandgbloc.blogspot.com/ Craig Henderson
Bouldering in Dumfries & Galloway.



Scottish Climbs

Roddy MacKenzie

Various on-line bouldering guides.
The Rankin Boulder

Weather Links
Southern Uplands Forecast MWIS
The folk who run Mountain Weather Information Service actually live in Castle Douglas.
Cairnsmore of Carspahirn Forecast Accuweather
A forecast based on the summit of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, which lies east of the Rhinns of Kells at 2499 feet (762 metres).
There are many more General Links on the Walking Page.