Skip to main content


Michael Tweedley crimping the Tombstone, Ben Ledi

Scotland is notorious for 'invisible' repeats, that is, folk doing problems and moving on quietly, which in many ways is a humble and respectful response to climbing, what does it matter as long as you enjoy it?

Still, I believe a good boulder problem should be given a nod occasionally. Also, it is often hard to guage where Scotland is in terms of bouldering development. Dumbarton may be the test-tank for the hardest problems and well-documented and repeated (or not!), but who is out there repeating the stunning lines around the rest of the country? Well, plenty it seems.

Niall McNair is an opportunist. He won't mind me saying so - it reflects his on-sight philosophy, one of the few Scottish traditional climbers who takes any opportunity to climb as he finds it, attracted by 'the line'. In bouldering terms he has been quietly repeating the classic lines around the country: last year he repeated King Kong at Dumby, Kayla at Portlethen & the Thirlstane's Chinese Democracy - as well as bagging the first ascent of Tombstone (Font 7b+) at Ben Ledi. This year he nearly repeated (the last hold was soaking) the hard Out of the Blue at Loch Lomond in 'picnic-style' ie. while out walking (no mat/beta/brushes etc.), he also despatched The Victorian and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels at the Trossachs on a single visit... all these done Bristol-fashion!

Niall McNair on the Narnain boulders

It's good to see Cubby back in action after his injuries and operations... Dave Brown visited him in Glen Etive, where he repeated his own 7b problem on the Micron boulder by the shores of Loch Etive. This crimpy, slopey granite testpiece looks a cracker and is a good low one for those of us with less-bouncy knees and hips! Hopefully we'll see some topos or more bouldering photos from Cubbyimages - the site now has some galleries and photographic prints can now be bought direct online.

Cubby's traverse on the Glen Etive boulders...pic Hotaches

In the North East, Richie Betts has been scouring the backwaters of Strathconon and Strathspey, bouldering away, putting up some fine new lines (a new Font 7a+ at Duntelchaig, for example). He also repeated Malcolm's Arete at Torridon, followed shortly by Lee Collier... these Celtic boulders are some of the best in Scotland and Malcolm's Arete (named after a nonchalent flying ascent by Malcolm Smith a number of years ago) is becoming a classic... try standing underneath it and you'll see how steep and slopey it really is!

Richie Betts on The Mission, Torridon

Michael Tweedley has also returned from injury and made short work of some classic new lines, repeating the Lost Valley's Helicopter - a crimpy dynamic 7a on the Leaning Bloc. He also completed The Zealot at Glen Ogle, a fine roof 7b, and the Rose Traverse at Cullen, another testpiece 7b.

It is good to see the remoter corners of Scotland receiving some higher grades... Ardgour, Glen Nevis, Torridon, Portlethen all showing promise and continuing development. What with the youth coming through strong at the climbing wall comps and on the sports crags, let's hope we see some cutting-edge bouldering escaping the confines of Dumbarton in the future (no disrespect to those who have achieved so much there!).

Any other news or repeats, please let me know


Popular posts from this blog

Plato's Cave

In his famous 'allegory of the cave', the Greek philosopher Plato pondered the artificiality of reality in imagining how we could be fooled into thinking shadows on the wall (i.e. virtual reality) could be seen as 'real' life. I'm paraphrasing, of course. What has this got to do with climbing? Well, I was pondering this myself recently while sitting on an artificial concrete boulder at the new Cuningar Loop bouldering park in Glasgow. Does it really matter that a boulder is made of concrete, surrounded by plantation and skirted with kind gravel traps rather than tree roots and spikey boulders? Isn't the 'real' thing so much better: the isolated erratic bloc deposited by geology's long-term aesthetic artwork? Well, yes, that's entirely up to you, but sometimes the artificial saves the day ... I was scuppered by Glasgow's cross-town traffic and turned back to my local artifice that is Cuningar to climb the blue circuit I had imagined as

Timeline Walks of Scotland #Culbin Sands

The Moray Firth’s sand-bitten southern coast, between Findhorn and Nairn, is home to Scotland’s most cautionary tract of land. Now a wilderness of maritime forest, dunes, salt marsh and spits of sand, its human history has been dated to the Bronze Age, around 1300 BC, but it is a territory that since glacial times would have been mobile and mutable. The Laich of Moray is the fertile strip of plain squeezed between the foothills of the Cairngorms and the Moray Firth’s south coast. In Gaelic it is called Machair Mhoireibh (the machair of Moray), a perfect habitat for golf courses and rich arable farmland, threaded by the glacially-rivered straths of Nairn, Findhorn and Spey. Culbin is an old parish which is now buried under 28 square kilometres of duneland and recent forestry. Sweeping east of Narin and curving in to rise up to its greatest heights above the estuary of the River Findhorn, it is now managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, but it is notable that this is a humanl

Scottish Bouldering #New Glasgow climbing wall: The Prop Store

The Glasgow branch of The Climbing Academy (TCA) is just about to open its new bouldering and lead-climbing centre on Glasgow's north side. Its south-side twin ('The News Room')  is already a popular bouldering centre, but the new site will bring fresh inspiration to climbers on the north side of the Clyde. Situated in Maryhill, not far from the West End, this new centre is named after an old BBC prop warehouse, so it's been named ' The Prop Store '.  The centre feels roomy and spacious with a long profile. The holds and panels are super-grippy and there are some free-standing boulders to mantle out as well as an impressive offering of angles, roofs, slabs and subtly sweeping walls.  There is also a section of lead wall with auto-belays for top-roping practice, and a training centre upstairs. They should be open this December, but here are some preview shots.