John Biggar.com : Climbing Instructor and Guidebook Author

Rock Climbing in Galloway Index page

Minor Crags in Galloway

This page deals with the smaller rock climbing venues, for the smaller winter climbing crags see here.

This page gives brief details of some of the crags of Galloway that are less good or less popular. We also have a large index page detailing the more important Galloway Climbing areas. 

Details of most of these crags can be found in the definitive guidebook - the SMC published "Lowland Outcrops" guidebook, 2004 edition, available from Needlesports

Star ratings used here are as for the main index. Places I have no personal experience of have not been rated, but they may deserve stars.

Trouble choosing the perfect crag?? See our Galloway Crag Chooser page for tips about the best venues for serious adventures or mellow barbecues and picnics, and the best venues for an evening trip and worst venues for midgies and loose rock.

Balcary Seacliffs no stars Loose and scary. I wouldn't go there....
The Big Gairy * A big rambling overgrown heather and granite mass but not entirely unpleasant. Photo here
Burrow Head Seacliffs at the foot of the Machars, near Whithorn with a reputation for being loose and intimidating. They are. Check out this picture  if you don't believe it...!
Buchan Crag ** A very small but clean and steep buttress, just north of Loch Trool at grid reference NX421814. There is a small crag diagram and description on the Needlesports website here....
Cat Craig ** An excellent micro-crag near Castle Douglas with nine routes from Easy to 5b. But it really is micro. It's probably best as a bouldering venue of local interest only. See here... for a photo-topo.
Clawbelly Hill ** An excellent slab for beginners and kids near the road just north of Clifton. The compact granite has no gear but there are tree stump belays at the top. Several easy lines at Mod, Diff and V.Diff. See photo
Clints of the Spout *** A big rambling cliff on the east side of Cairnsmore of Fleet split by a big 160m VS gully - the Spout of the Clints, a.k.a. Lost Pilots Gully, this is quite nice, mostly scrambling but with short sections of 4c. In winter this route and the neighbouring Smear Test give excellent *** routes at grades V and IV respectively. Access begins from the Fleet railway viaduct (as for Loch Grannoch initially).
Craigmichael * A small crag seen on the north side of the valley as you drive to Forrest Lodge from Dalry. Only about 8m high with relatively poor rock, but a nice setting. There are about 5 short routes at S or VS. See below for a photo.
Kiln of the Fuffock *** A great name for this venue on the coast of the Rhinns south of Portobello with a large number of E3's and E4's. Reputedly very good rock but I'll never be strong enough to hang on to it for long enough to find out...also the improbable looking Penguin Parade at Diff.! see below for a photo.
Lions Head * A small crag above the village of Palnackie near Dalbeattie. Quite nice climbing at VS and HVS, with routes up to 30m long, generally with poor protection. I have never been back since seeing the debris from a massive rockfall one spring. See below for a brief topo.
Money Head   About ten severe's and VS's at this venue. Less highly rated than other cliffs in the area by those who know it.
Monreith * A small sea-cliff accessed from the beach at low tide. I found the climbing here to be quite poor and quite loose though its a very nice beach. Most of the ten or so routes are S or VS. See here below for brief details of one or two routes I have done.
Ringford Obelisk   ** A 12m high monument to the inventor of the Hotblast process, makes an unusual ascent. Details here....
Quarries   I have looked into numerous disused quarries all over Galloway for many years and never found anything nice. Some hugely impressive holes in the ground on the moors above Creetown, lots of small venues near Dalbeattie etc, but almost all of them are dangerously loose.
The Tauchers ** A large rambling crag on the  north side of Mullwharchar, some nice rock and some good pitches here and there, but a long bird ban and generally damp and midgy conditions make this one of the more "difficult" venues. Fortunately the Taucher's are not technically in Galloway at all (but in Ayrshire) so at least they can't drag the great reputation of Galloway climbing down....  The best of the routes are Switchback, VD on the Giants Stairway, the 200m Mod. Couloir first climbed in 1909 and the good corner of Behind the Mask, E1 5b ** on the Organ Pipes. There are another five or so E1-E3 routes plus a few Severe's and VS's. There are crag diagrams, photos and descriptions on the Needlesports website here....

For details of the major crags in Galloway please go to our Galloway Climbing Index page.

Map of Dumfries and Galloway showing rock and ice climbing areas

 


Kiln o the Fuffock

Kiln o the Fuffock

Kiln O the Fuffock, Rhinns of Galloway.

An impressive sea cliff in a nice setting , with good rock for Greywacke, but pretty serious grades.


Cat Craig

This is an excellent but very small micro crag in the Urr valley, near Kilquhanity School, just 10km north of Castle Douglas. It is more or less just a big boulder in a field, but with four different faces and nine routes from 5m to 8m long it's OK for a quick evening visit by locals. Drive north past Kilquhanity School and take the first left for Parton, cross the Urr and continue for a 100m or so until you can see the crag across a couple of fields to the south. A short rope might be preferable for the longer routes, and if you bring gear a few mid-sized to large nuts and cams will be plenty!. It would  make a better easy bouldering venue if the re were not quite so many nasty landings.

This is an excellent but very small crag in the Urr valley, near Kilquhanity School, just 6 miles north of Castle Douglas


Lions Head

A very overgrown crag near Palnackie, just south of Castle Douglas. It's a lovely spot but the poor quality rock, rampant vegetation and general air of neglect make climbing here less than pleasant the now.  Snout Direct is a 50m route up the front of the face, left of this are several HVS 4b's and risky E routes with little or no protection and many loose holds.

Lions Head, Planackie

 


Craigmichael

This small crag near Dalry is clearly seen on the north side of the river as you drive up the minor road towards Forest Lodge. It appears to be a reasonably large outcrop quite a short walk form the road.... but the laws of physics are pretty weird around here and it is in fact quite a small crag a long way from the road..! As further discouragement there are rare nesting birds and the rock is not great.

craigmichael

Several short 5-8m routes have been recorded here plus some bouldering, but it is not really worth visiting other than out of curiosity.


Burrow Head

The picture below is of the big scary 30-40m high main cliff at Burrow Head, near the Isle of Whitorn. It is now very loose and would need some attention before it will be safe to climb here again  - the pale and reddish are at the right hand end all fell down in the last couple of decades..! We don't think anyone was attached at the time.

This is the big scary main cliff at Burrow Head


Monreith

A nice spot about 2km south of Monreith village in the Machars. The crag is on the shore by the golf course. Access to the routes is directly form the lovely sandy beach,  but only for 1 or 2 hours at low tide. It's a five minute walk form the end of the road. The routes are 15m long or so but are generally a bit loose and exciting, maybe the bouldering would be a better thing to come here for, since the landing is good.

A nice spot about 2km south of Monreith

Just north of this, and pictured below  is the larger 30m high Main Wall behind a pinnacle in the foreground  - I haven't climbed here

the larger 30m high Main Wall


Clawbelly Hill

A grand wee venue though there is little to interest the serious climber. It is however a good venue for beginners with easy slabby climbing at grades like Mod, Diff and V. Diff, relatively quick and easy access and tree stumps at the top to belay on. The easy angled slab is over 15m high (long?), but there are no runners anywhere that I have seen yet.

The slab is on a minor road north of Clifton, on the east side of Clawbelly Hill about five minutes walk uphill from the road from possible parking at the entrance to the Dumfries Gliding Club.

Clawbelly Hill


Grey Mares Tail, Moffat Hills

This waterfall, on the lower slopes of the 822m high hill, White Coomb, gives one of the best ice-climbs in the whole of Southern Scotland, but comes into condition very rarely. In ten years in this area I have never seen it formed well enough to climb. It is a fairly scary and dangerous route even when it is formed, due mainly to the unstable nature of the ice.


Ringford Obelisk

This 10-12m high monument to James Neilson, the inventor of the Hotblast process, makes an unusual ascent. It sits on top of Barstobrick Hill just north of the A75 at Ringford. The obelisk was certainly climbed quite regularly in the 1990's by staff from Barcaple and other locals and for many years there was an  in-situ sling around the top for belaying/abseiling.  The south face, pictured below, is HVS 4c, the climbing gets harder (and more exposed) near the top. For the full ethical ascent a hanging belay on the summit can be personally  recommended.

Whilst there is obviously a right of access to the foot of the monument and in general access rights apply to natural crags, I'm not sure about the legality of climbing man-made structures.

This 10-12m high monument to James Neilson, the inventor of the Hotblast process, makes an unusual ascent. It sits on top of Barstobrick Hill just north of the A75 at Ringford.

 

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