Creag Dubh, Newtonmore

With commitments at home at the weekend, we’d intended to call an end to the climbing and get a good chunk of the drive out of the way, but the weather was so fabulous we couldn’t tear ourselves away. Instead we stopped on the edge of the Cairngorms, parked up above Newtonmore, and fired up the barbie (being very careful not to cause another wild fire!)

Just down the road is Scotland’s finest roadside crag – Creag Dubh. Often a retreat option from the big hills, it’s worth a visit in its own right. Unlike anywhere else we’ve climbed in the last fortnight, there’s even a path!

There are a few hundred routes up to 70m on this series of steep schist walls, with interesting strata and cracks providing square cut and often juggy holds. We started off with Phellatio (there’s a bit of innuendo about many of the route names), a two pitch HVS on Lower Central Wall that can easily be done in one. Really fun juggy climbing up what looks to be a slightly chossy diagonal line of weakness but turns out to be pretty solid.

Next up we chalked off another **** route, Inbred, also HVS but somewhat stiffer proposition, with a runout section around the obvious triangular niche. What a route!

Quite goey for the first 10m to a peg, then a complicated zigzag to get around the niche and a belay on a spacious ledge, followed by a second 30m pitch diagonally up to a tree (from which a rap gets you conveniently back to the ground).

All done for this trip, but we’ll certainly be back for more – there’s no place like it in a decent spell of weather!

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