01/01/2013 16:27:00

Words by bena

Glen Trool and Craiglee

BUCHAN WEST CRAG (NX 421 814 ) Alt 350m West Facing.
This small greywacke crag on Buchan Hill is the leftmost of many craglets that can be seen from the car park, though it becomes hidden on the approach. Although short, the main face is sheer and compact, and the routes are sustained. Blind cracks are common and a full range of cams with doubles around the Friend 1.5 size is advised. It gets plenty of afternoon sun, but there are a couple of seepage lines so it's best visited after dry weather. Belays are well back so two ropes are useful. The base of the crag is tranquil, the view is excellent, and the walk-in, though uphill and tussocky, is considerably shorter than most Galloway mountain crags.

From Bruce's Stone, take the signed walkers path north towards the Merrick. Where the path strikes uphill, at a sign advising walkers to take the higher path, cross the river and walk straight up the hillside until the crag can be seen in a hollow on the left. 30 minutes.

The descriptions below have been revised from the originals following a visit by the guidebook writer. This has resulted in a few less stars and some higher grades, but third opinions would be welcome.

1. Ball Ache 10m E3 5c (2007)
A poor route with poor gear.
Start under the small overhang towards the left side of the buttress. Climb the lower slab leftwards towards a blunt rib (crucial small wire way out left, hard and blind to place). From the rib make delicate moves up leftwards to the arête and follow it to the top – all rather scary.

2. Fiend's Folly 11m E1 5b * (2007)
A good line up the corner and crack above.
Climb the corner to a break and attain a standing position in it. Move up the crack to a good hold and make a precarious move to easier ground.

3. Stolen Dreams 12m E4 6a ** (2007)
A fine but bold climb up the blank wall to the right of the small overhang; technically sustained with a hard crux.
Climb easily to the lower blind crack (tiny high cam in face). Layback desperately to the break, then swing left to jugs. Make tricky moves into the upper crack and more tricky moves up it, past a jug on the left, to finish.

4. The Slither 12m HVS 5a (2007)
Follow the twin crack system just left of Pylon King Crack until forced rightwards to join that climb near the top – or make it harder by trying to see how few holds in PKC you have to use.

5. Pylon King Crack 12m HVS 5a (2007)
The main crack, just right of centre of the buttress, gives quite sustained climbing with an awkward finish up the grubby offwidth.

6. Seal Photo Liberation Front 12m E1 5b ** (2007)
The attractive face just right of Pylon King Crack gives a fine sustained route with crimpy bouldering moves or very long reaches between good breaks.
Boulder directly up to the juggy niche and continue direct to the top.

7. Of The Capsule We Are, Lord 12m HVS 5a * (2007)
Climb onto the pedestal on the right of the face, move up the crack and then traverse left (can be done at two levels) to good holds. Follow the pleasant cracks directly to finish.


Mathew Thompson making the first ascent of The Slither (HVS)

Photo: Mark Davies

To the right the crag becomes dirtier and lower before rising up a little as an easy angled slab split by a rising heather break.

8. Pillar of the Sea 8m Hard Severe 4b (2010)
The clean leaning pillar just left of the subsidiary slab is followed to an easy finish.

9. Beach Comber 8m Difficult (2010)
Start at the lowest point of the heather break and follow juggy rock slightly rightwards to the top.

10. On the Beach 8m Severe 4a (2010)
Start 1m to the right of the lowest point of the heather break and climb the slab rightwards to the top.

11. Stranger on the Shore 8m Hard Severe 4b (2010)
The central section of the slab is rather bold.

12. Just Paddling 8m Very Difficult 4b (2010)
The right hand slab gives enjoyable climbing on good holds.

First Ascents
2007 Jun 8   Ball Ache   M.Thompson
2007 Jun 8   Fiend's Folly   M.Thompson
2007 Jun 8   Stolen Dreams   M.Thompson, M.Davies
2007 Jun 8   The Slither   M.Thompson, M.Davies
2007 Jun 8   Pylon King Crack   M.Davies, M.Thompson
2007 Jun 8   Seal Photo Liberation Front   M.Davies, M.Thompson
2007 Jun 8   Of The Capsule We Are, Lord   M.Davies, M.Thompson
2010 Jun 30   Just Paddling, Beach Comber   S.Reid (solo)
2010 Jun 30   On the Beach, Stranger on the Shore, Pillar of the Sea   S.Reid, C.King


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

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

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


Bruce's Buttress

The left-hand buttress is unfortunately rather grubby, a shame as the climbs would otherwise be very good. Towards the right-hand end of the crag is a tower that is higher than the rest.

  Route Grade
BC Bruce's Chimney VS
GD The Game of Death E2
WD The Way of the Dragon E2
ED Enter the Dragon HVS

Bruce's Chimney 15m VS 4c (2010)
The shallow impending chimney 10m left of the tower gives a surprisingly good sustained pitch. Steep, but fortunately the holds and protection are excellent.
S.Reid, C.King, 17th June 2010

The Game of Death 22m E2 5c (2010)
Climb a crack at the left side of the tower to a horizontal break. Move up to a higher break and make hard moves to gain a standing position in this. Strenuous technical moves up cracks lead to the top.
C.King, S.Reid, 17th June 2010

The Way of the Dragon 22m E2 5b (2010)
Climb a crack in the middle of the tower until it peters out at a clean slab. Teeter right and make a tricky move to gain the left end of a ledge. Climb the cracks above up and leftwards to finish as for the last few moves of The Game of Death.
C.King, S.Reid, 17th June 2010

Enter the Dragon 22m HVS 5a (2010)
On the right of the tower are two cracks that form an elongated ‘A'. Start strenuously up the left hand crack but, as the holds disappear, traverse the horizontal break to the right hand one and make thin moves up to a big ledge. Climb the easier groove above to a pinnacle on the right. Step back left and jug haul to the top.
S.Reid, C.King
, 17th June 2010

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.
In 2010, the same pair added four new routes on the left-hand buttress, finding a nut abandoned by the Livingstons in situ at the top of one of them.


One man and his dog - the descent from Craig Lee.


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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