Gairloch cragging

Kinlochewe lies some two miles south east of the head of Loch Maree, a very strong contender for the title of Scotland’s most scenic Loch (according to Undiscovered Scotland and who am I to argue?) The campsite there would be a great base to explore the iconic Munros of Slioch and Ben Eighe

The A832 not only affords stunning vistas along Loch Maree but also delivers you to Gairloch, with a more climber-friendly climate and a clutch of convenient cragging, which we explored over a couple of days whilst the big hills were a bit less clement.

Creag nan Luch is a great-looking bit of rock with a good concentration of sports routes from 6a to 8a and a concentration around 6c/7a. I say “great-looking” as we recced in the early evening of an overcast day, and the midges were already in evidence on this NE facing crag. It’d be a different prospect in the morning sunshine.

Instead, we turned our attention to Creag nan Cadhag (a.k.a. Stone Valley Sports Crag) which overlooks Loch Maree and is easily accessed in about 10 minutes from the A832. This cracking wall of Lewisian Gneiss gets evening sun and is seamed with cracks, pockets and crimpy edges, also giving a good spread of grades (including a bunch that haven’t made it onto the SMC / Rockfax yet – check out ukc to make sense of all the extra bolts!)

Fab outlook towards Gairloch and the Outer Hebrides. Here’s Helen on The Lone Triathlete

and Born to Run

Perhaps the pick of the easier routes is Bovnahackit, 6a+, and not a giveaway at that. Superb though!

The steep, smooth, wall right of the arete is taken by Battle Axe, 6c (also very good and pretty tough) and the obvious ramp line and overhanging crack right again is The Deaf Violinist, 7a (hardly worth mentioning that it’s equally excellent and tricky… There’s a bit of a pattern there!) Anyway, a great evening venue and enough of a breeze to keep off the wee beasties.

Next day we went for a trad-sport double-bill of Aztec Wall and Grass Crag. You can link these conveniently in a triangular walk – don’t expect a beaten path but you will hopefully pick up a worn trod if you refer to the map below (note Aztec Buttress is marked as Creag Ruadh on the OS map, and Grass Crag is nowhere near the coordinates mentioned in the SMC guide – Trust Gary Latter on this one!)

Aztec Tower is a characteristic wedge of partially metamorphosed sandstone on the skyline viewed from the coast road

We did the couple of starred H/VSs (Human Sacrifice and Inca Trail) and Conquistador, the E1 up the arete (a bit sketchy!)

Views towards Skye and the Hebrides

… and over the back of the crag you can clearly make out Grass Crag

Here’s a team starting up a 5 on the left hand wall

Here’s Helen on Invest Wisely, a tough 6a (they’re only tiny routes, but they pack a punch!) and I did The Dump, 6c (MUCH better than the name suggests!)

Great views out to the coast, with the Black and Red Cuillin clearly visible over the back side of Aztec Tower.

Plenty more convenient trad and sports crags in this gorgeous and not too-travelled corner of Scotland – you could easily keep yourself amused for a week

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