Moray Coast – Logie Head and Cummingston

“Scottish climbing” conjures up images of big days on The Ben and huge walk-ins to remote crags, but away from the big hills there’s a whole other dimension – Scotland’s seacliffs. We’ve been exploring these over the last few years, but apart from a side trip to Elephant Rock a few years ago, we’d never visited the Moray and Aberdeen coasts. From Dundee up to Peterhead and across to Nairn, that’s around 200 miles of coastline – enough to fill a guidebook. With a wet week forecast in the west, we took the plunge and invested in the NE Outcrops guide – we’re heading out East!

First stop, Logie Head. You park on the outskirts of the village of Cullen (the birthplace of the eponymous Skink apparently) and access a very attractive coastal path that drops down to sea level and skirts a bay to arrive at the crag in about 20 minutes.

The first sign you get of any climbing is a modest pinnacle on a spit of rock, but the main crag lies hidden beyond this. A set of well-crafted stone steps leads over the neck of the promentory and all is revealed:

The routes aren’t huge (10 to 15m max) but the rock is outstanding – really solid, steep sandstone splintered by cracks and breaks making for exhilarating but well-protected climbing. A perfect spot to hone your trad skills.

To add to the convenience, the routes on the Embankment sector are completely non-tidal and largely bird-free, and despite being on a North-facing coast enjoy a sunny SE aspect. Designer seacliff cragging!

We did a bunch of fun routes, including the route-of-the-crag Cullenary Delight, 3* VS 5a (you can see Dan and Jess on this in the first couple of shots above), Poacher, VS 4b, Bladder Wrack, S 4b, Mousehole, S 4b:

and finished off with No Hands Crack, E1 5b in the rain.

Talking of the perfect spot to hone your trad skills, it was great to see Jess making her first trad leads – here she is cruising Fisherman’s Tail.

Cummingston, just north of Elgin, is the other most popular Sandstone crag on the Eastern end of the Moray Coast – it was like a sunny Sunday at Stanage when we arrived (admittedly it was a fairly sunny Sunday). Handy clifftop parking next to the kiddies playground gives easy access to the wonderful Moray coastal path / cycleway along a disused railway line,

… and a short stroll west along this brings you straight to the crag.

The Prophet Walls, on the right as you arrive at the crag, are probably the premier sector. Three imaginatively named corners: Left, Right and Centre, give good VS/HVSs (there’s a team on Centre in the shot below):

… and here’s me on Left:

I also did the eponymous The Prophet, E2 5c, a really nice mix of thin technical arete followed by a burly pull over a short roof. Here’s a shot of the arete taken from inside one of the natural caves and arches that are characteristic of the beach:

The other popular area seemed to be the Stacks Area, which looked to be worth a return visit.

If all that convenient seaside cragging wasn’t incentive enough for a visit, we also spent a very pleasant evening in the Windswept Microbrewery Tap Bar – highly recommended!

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