Rosehearty is a pleasant village near the far east of the Moray Coast, only a few miles from Fraserburgh. Not an obvious spot for a visit, but it held twin attractions for us. Firstly, the community-run “suggested donations” overnight spot at the boat house is a great place to spend a peaceful night, with a warm and helpful welcome from our host Peter.
A stunning evening was followed by a less spectacular but promising morning and we headed over to explore the other Rosehearty attraction: “A superb cliff with the best selection of mid-extremes in the North East.“
There seems to have been some confusion over parking in the past, but we just followed the guidebook directions to drive through the farm (being sure to close the gates) and got a friendly greeting from the farmer. Here’s the GPS for the parking (next to a pile of rubble that was the military hut) 57.683285,-2.160445 and a view of the parking in relation to the crag:
A 5mins recce wander along the cliff top (obvious path on the seaward side of the fence) revealed the first couple of sectors,
… and after scouting out the easy walk-in descent I excitedly returned to the van to report back to Helen and grab the gear – but then the rain started. Half an hour later, and with no sign of relenting, I consoled myself with the usual mantra: “Time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted”.
The Met Office rain radar suggested that it was indeed set-in for the afternoon, but raised the possibility of an outflanking manoeuvre to take advantage of the rain-shadow and hop over onto the east coast before the rain arrived there. Half an hour later we were parked on top of Meackie Point just south of Peterhead. Another short walk-in approach brings you to a large tidal platform at the base of an immaculate wall of golden granite.
We were in something of a race against time to salvage a YECTOYD from the day, and the 3* Flurry, HVS 5b, was the obvious route for us. It takes the leftwards slanting groove in the centre of the wall (visible in the shot below). You gain entry by a bold-feeling traverse, then grapple with the tough layback groove, before launching up the top wall on an act-of-faith on surprising hidden holds. Great route and you wouldn’t argue with E1.
There’s an absolute maelstrom of bombarding birdlife (though happily the crag itself is free of nests or guano) and we also had a couple of seals patrolling back and forth. Magical spot, and definitely a crag to come back to on a sunnier day.
Checking out possible overnighting options I stumbled on the fact that the BrewDog brewery was just a few miles down the road in Ellon, along with its acclaimed Dog Tap bar and eatery, with the added bonus of stopover parking!
We managed to exercise some restraint in our beer tasting, so in the end we didn’t take up the option of on-site accommodation, but it’s worth knowing it’s there. Instead we stayed a couple of miles away at another “suggested donations” stop at Collieston Harbour, and were lulled to sleep by the crashing waves on the breakwater.
The weather pattern reversed the following day, so we could put our Rosehearty recce to good use. It’s another of those remarkably handy crags that offers sunny climbing despite being on a north-facing coast. The first two crags you see are formed by the opposite walls of a square-cut, non-tidal zawn. The seaward side faces south east and so gets the sun until early afternoon, at which point the landward crag catches the rays.
Although you can walk in down the landward ridge and boulder hop across the zawn, it’s convenient to set up a rap if you plan to do a few routes. Although it was catching the sun, and you’d imagine it would be sheltered, somehow a bitter wind was sneaking into the zawn – we were frozen!
Here’s Helen rapping down the line of Living Through the Lambada, E2 5c, and you can get a feel for the routes – steep black sandstone slab riven by cracks (reminiscent of some of the Culm crags like Compass Point)
We did a couple of 2* VSs, Nitrox and Exhale (felt like HVS but that could have been the cold and the damp) and another which was considerably easier and just as good: Another Tick on the Wall. We were chilled to the bone by now, and the sun had departed, so rather than prevail on Helen’s charity on belay bunny duty I shunted the E2, which didn’t feel a lot harder than the VSs.
The opposite “South Wall” was now catching the sun, but it overhangs at about the same angle as the North Wall leans back, and is home to a bunch of multi-starred E4-6s. We were about to call it a day and head back to the van to defrost, but I thought I’d just nip down and check out the sea-facing walls for a future visit (assuming they’d be being blasted by the freezing gale). I was amazed to find it basking in the sun and without a breath of breeze, and whats more it looked stupendous!
I whizzed back up to the top of the crag to tell Helen the good news!
The access is very straightforward along a mostly (?) non-tidal ledge
These walls also overhang by about 5 to 10 degrees and give sustained stamina-fests. In amongst the big E numbers, the jewel in the Rosehearty crown is the 4* E2 5b of Afterglow which takes the obvious slanting crack towards the left of West Wall (one of only three 4* routes in the whole NE guidebook). It really is outstanding, with a tough sequence to get established in the crack followed by steady steepness on great holds and exemplary gear. Shivering in double belay jackets to tops-off climbing within an hour – don’t you love Scottish weather!
A bit of lingering dampness in the cracks is probably par for the course and made any of the other easier routes pretty unappealing, but wandering back out Helen spotted an attractive ramp/groove line on the edge of the leaning tower of East Buttress – but couldn’t make any of the guidebook descriptions fit…
It seemed a shame not to give it a go, and it turned out to be a really enjoyable experience at around Severe (the climbing is probably VDiff but there’s no gear for the first 5m or so, and some of the holds need treating with care). It’s almost certainly been done before, but just in case we’ve pencilled in Rosemite (in homage to that other Leaning Tower).
Another crag to come back to – the steep bits have many of the ingredients of Lower Sharpnose and that’s a pretty strong recommendation!