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CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

CRAIGMADDIE BLOC The UK’s most northerly gritstone venue! Well, it’s a form of gritstone, specifically the ‘Namurian Millstone Grit series’, which finds its most solid example on the moors above Mugdock, known as Craigmaddie Muir, just north of Glasgow. The rock is a soft gritstone which degenerates in places to a softer conglomerate, but the small crags mentioned here all provide solid bouldering and allow the tired Dumbarton aficionado a chance to toughen up the skin for a visit to the Peak. It has been a quiet bouldering secret for years and ‘rediscovered’ recently by a few Glasgow boulderers, including Mark Philp, Malc Fletcher, Fraser Harle, Peter Roy, Colin Lambton, John Watson and others. Willie Gorman had cleaned and climbed some routes here over the years but never recorded anything, so ‘first ascents’ must be considered in historical perspective.

The Crags There are 6 main crags obvious from the road, on two tiers. The Lower Walls are composed of two impressive roofs, the left one is best left as a sheep pen, whereas the right provides some of the best roof problems here. The rock is good and the atmosphere something like a Peak venue. There is a small crag above this (Jawbone) and to its left the Main Crag right of the trees above a grassy bay. The High Crags sit under the main escarpment of the moor, with an excellent high tier on the left, a roof in the middle and a slabby wall on the far right. Please be discreet and follow the ‘rules’ for this venue to keep relationships with the farmers cordial. The outlook of the crag takes in the whole glory of Glasgow – including the tower blocks - and the pleasant twittering of birds is offset only by the flight path to Glasgow airport, which informs some of the problems. There are many easy problems not mentioned here that provide good circuit lines: take a small mat and rag to keep your feet dry and enjoy yourself – it’s a superb evening venue for a relaxed climb.

Approach Notes Go north through the Glasgow suburbs of Bearsden and Milngavie on the A81, until you pass a reservoir embankment on the left and country club on the right, the road finally twisting into open country. After a series of bends in the road, there is a right turn (3-way junction) signposted Bardowie. Take the high B-road, not the south low road. Continue uphill through the forest, past the houses until the road opens out to a view of the city over the fields. Pass the North Blochairn farm with its wall-embedded millstone and continue downhill for a kilometre to a parking layby on the right, with room for three cars. Walk down the road to a gate by an old WW2 bunker on the left and cross the fields towards the obvious crags, but please take care at gates, walls and fences. The Lower Crag is the first encountered, just to the right of the forestry plantation. Best to start at the Upper Crag and work down! ‘The Rules’ 1. Do not climb here after rain, as the rock is brittle – give it a few drying days. 2. Bird ban on the main crag March-June – a Barn owl is oft in residence. 3. Respect the farmers’ working rights and do not disturb stock. 4. No stripping of vegetation, it just grows back. 5. No climbing on the ‘Auld Wives’ Lifts’ – it has historical carvings.


CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE UPPER CRAG MAIN CRAG ROOF CRAG

JAWBONE

SLAB

LOWER CRAG

CRAIGMADDIE NS 586 763

CRAIGMADDIE MUIR

6

AULD WIVES’ LIFTS

A81

5 2

4

3 1

GATE

WALLS

GATE

1. LOWER ROOF 2. MAIN CRAG 3. JAWBONE CRAG 4. SLAB WALL 5. ROOF CRAG 6. UPPER CRAG

Fraser Harle on ‘Farmer’s Trust’

500 M


CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

 LOWER ROOF CRAG

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Lower Roof 1. Filth Font 5+ The left roof is filthy and friable. Gain a slot in the right hand side of the overhang and dyno for jugs on the lip, work right to top out. 2. Chockstoner Font 5+ From the stone-choked chimney at the back of the crag, yard out to the arête using heel locks (or not), cut loose and climb! 3. ‘What Sheep?’ AKA ‘Abracadabra’ Font 6c+  From a crouching start at the block under the right roof (no block on right), heel hook back to the lip, gain the large pocket and good flat holds, then traverse left along the lip to a tough mantel finish on the nose. 4. The Plinth Font 6c Sit start on the left side of the plinth at a hidden undercut and RH sidepull, snap up to crimp sidepull and slap again for slopers above the loose block, smear your feet on and lunge for the top. 5. Farmer’s Trust Font 7a+  Peter Roy’s direct line from the central lip holds finishing right through the annoyingly distant two-finger pocket. Linked with the right cave start it is a hard 7b. 6. Alakazaam Font 7c  Mike Lee’s full traverse from the right along the slopey ledge to drop down through Alchemy to finish along What Sheep/Abracadabra. Long and fingery and technical. 7. Alchemy Font 7b+  The hardest straight-up here, done by Ben Litster in 2008. Crouch start at block in cave, gain the pocket and climb the wall above the plinth: cross to crimp, then clamp hard on the ramp hold to a final lunge to the top. 8. Warm-Up Problem Font 5+ Fraser Harle’s ‘warm-up’ traverse - start on the far right and traverse the rising lip of the crag all the way, feet on the ramp, to finish at the groove.


CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

 JAWBONE CRAG 10

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Jawbone Crag The short roofed wall above and right of the Lower Crag has a few good circuit problems. 9. Jawbone Font 4 Step onto the ledge by left arête and mantle right onto the slab. 10. Jawline Font 6a  Step on at Right Wall above plinth, traverse left along lip with long stretches between finger-holds to reach the left arête. 11. Right Wall Font 4 Climb the right wall careful with the landing. 12. Far Right Font 3 Climb the far right walls along their lips across the gap. 13. Left Traverse Font 5+ Traverse the low left wall round the corner to finish up the blunt arête. 14. Diversion Font 6a Sit start the higher low roof on the left and mantle out the slopey lip via a ramp on the right.

Main Crag The main crag is situated just to the right of the forestry plantation and is the most highball. Care is need as the rock is a little softer and the top-outs are on large holds but be wary. The landings on the best problems are good. No climbing here between March and the end of June as a Barn Owl is often in residence. Very snappy after rain. There is a low roof on its right which has a pocketed roof problem but no present escape via a vegetated mantel! 15. Fuel-Injected Shrimp Font 5  Starting at right end of the slabby, uphill wall, climb the blunt arête to gain the good horizontal ledge. Make an entertaining move to reach and then surmount the projecting prow direct. Airy. 16. Rocket Shrimp Font 6b  From the good incut under the arête of Fuel-Injected, dyno direct to the ledge. 17. West Wall Font 6a  The west-facing wall left of the roofed grooves. Gain a LH sidepull and lunge up and right to a corner hold, find a crimp for the left hand and race up through the jugs above. Excellent footwork problem.


CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

 MAIN CRAG

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18. Roof Arête Font 6c Sit start under the left hand roof at the break, gain slopers on the wee hanging corner, then a hard pull on the hanging right arête might allow the feet to be brought up to the lip. Finish left across the easy groove and up West Wall. 19. Owl Traverse Font 6c Start at the right end of the roof and traverse the lip to the slopers under the left arête, then use a mono pocket to reach up to better holds and finish up West Wall. 20. Owl Traverse Complete Font 7a  Start in the cave and pull on at the roof lip, traverse hard left along this, keeping as low as you can round the corners to a crux section through West Wall and under a fin of rock (usually wet), step hard left into the scoop to finish up the arête of Fuel Injected Shrimp, jump off here. 21. Flight Path Font 6b  Overhang start from back of the troughed recess, then awkward and strenuous moves through the bulge via the cleft. Bottle and strength often run out simultaneously.

Slab Wall Up right on the high tier is a pale high slab above an undercut start.

 SLAB WALL

22. The Pale Slab Font 4+  Try not to go pale on this - it is a highball special! Step on to ledge at left, then undercut right onto slab - climb it direct on polished crimps. 23. Right Slab Font 4 From the undercut cave corner, pull onto the slab with an awkward move to easy crack.

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CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

 HIGH TIER ROOF CRAG

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The Roof Crag The main roof between the two higher crags has a deep cave with a common start for many problems. 24. BA Font 6a+ Left of Easyjet. Sit start under the left side of the roof, pull through on sloping crimps to rockover left to a big pocket and easy finish along slab. 25. Easyjet Font 7a From flat holds under left of roof, throw in a twisted heel hook and gain a LH pinch under the lip, slap right along the lip crimps to join Buzz and rock over. Not easy at all, also ruined a pair of John Watson’s 5.10’s on first ascent. 26. Buzz Font 6b From the central cave sit start jugs, gain a sharp crimp and lunge left for the jugs on the lip of the roof, pullover and finish up slab. 27. Oxygen Mask Font 6c  The superb traverse rightwards out of the cave. From the low cave jugs go right through a contorted sequence through the brushed sloper crimps to a lunge for the jugs on the lip. Cool conditions needed. 28. Cryanair Font 6b  From good holds under arête break left through the painful sloper crimps to lunge for the sharp juggy lip. Nice addition from Colin Lambton. 29. Emirates Wall Font 6a Straight up the scooped wall on the right using crimp presses, go right to hole. Short but tricky. ‘The Project’: mantle the hanging lip via pocket and somehow gain the slab. Has repulsed all-comers so far and is considered fair game for anyone supple enough! Pic: Peter Roy.

30. Plinth Arête Font 5+ The right arête of the roof crag has a low plinth. Sit start on this and slap up to jugs on the arête and downclimb the corner to finish.


CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

Steven Ireland on Right Arete, High Crag

Colin Lambton on ‘What Sheep’ AKA ‘Abracadabra’

Colin Lambton on ‘Owl Traverse Complete’ Main Crag

 HIGH TIER LEFT WALL

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CRAIGMADDIE - A STONE COUNTRY BOULDERING GUIDE

Upper Crag Continue up past the main crag towards the higher moor onto a plateau. This crag is the highest left wall, with a distinctive vertical face and provides good technical, crimpy climbing. The landings are perfect and many eliminates can be created between the problems. 31. The Mantle Font 6b  Lots of air miles will be gained on this! Climb to the slopey ramp on the left and mantle direct, no holds out right. 32. Pocket Eliminate Font 5 Stuart Burns’ worthwhile eliminate. Sit start at the deep pocket and crimp between The Mantle & Left Crack. Climb up to the wee hanging corner to the right of The Mantel without using any holds in Left Crack. 33. Left Crack Font 4 The obvious crack just right of the high shelf. 34. Right Crack Font 5 Pull on at the jugs and gain a RH sidepull on the wall, use this to step up onto the jugs and gain the top. 35. Flake Wall Font 6b The wall to the right. Use holds in the flake to twist up to a very sharp LH crimp, then dyno for the top. 36. Undercutter Font 6b  Undercut the flared crack on the wall and twist up to crimps, finishing direct to the top. 37. Right Arête Font 6a+  Using the crack and left wall crimps, slap up right around the bulging arête and rock up on the nose jugs, finish up the arête. 38. Twister Font 6b  Start hanging on slopers of wee right roof and go left to a crossover sequence to the arête via a crimp and pocket, slap up the arête to gain a standing position. 39. High Crag Traverse Font 6b  First done by Malc Fletcher as a left to right version along the break line at about head height. Crux is an undercut sequence to reach the final lip on the far right. 40. The Roof Font 5 Just left of the main crag is a hanging roof feature, monkey left then back right to mantle out. 41. Footloose Font 6b Further left again. Low right to left traverse of the wee overhang and chin-high wall. Sit start under nose on the right wall, travel to far left to a mantle finish. Better than it looks. Peter Roy on ‘The Mantle’, High Crag Edited by Fraser Harle & John Watson © Stone Country Press


Craigmaddie Bloc