I have lived in Glasgow for a few years, and I have to admit that I have always thought that Scotland was a little crap for decent bouldering. Blocs that are too small and rock that’s second rate… I was shown the best local bouldering, from Dumby (this actually is a great spot) to Glen Croe – a smattering of problems within an hour’s drive of Glasgow. Sure the problems are sometimes great and the scenery often bar none, and not for a moment am I taking away from the efforts of those climbers that made these problems possible for people like me. But I live in a city surrounded by big hills, deep lochs and lots and lots of rock. For years I would always drive south come good weather, to the Lakes and Northumberland – great spots but often busy and the drive can drag on a little. Anyway fast forward a few years and my friend Cody and I started exploring round Glasgow. We found a few things and put up a handful of pretty average problems… below is a picture of one of the better lines in Weem: from memory I think its called ’40 min man’ and is about 7a+(ish) (Pic-Cody Cox) Moving forward even further and something changed, luck. Typically, the rubbish Scottish weather means I spend many hours moving around the local hills, and for a spell this year, almost every time I went out I found new boulders! It seemed like I couldn’t walk a forestry track or run a ridgeline without finding some hidden blocs. To cut a long story short, I’ve been out lots this year, about 20-30 times, and only once gone to an established venue and never having returned without climbing a new problem. Now this is going to sound very cheesy… but right now I think we are in a bit of a golden era Scottish bouldering. The other day I went to Torridon for the first time. I loved it and it really is one of the best places to climb in the UK, but I couldn’t help thinking about what it was like some time between 2009 and 2012 when so many problems seemed to fly up due to the efforts of a few dedicated people. Crag classics were put up left right and centre, and they were right there for the taking. You just had to have the right combination of weather and motivation. Well, right now that’s what is happening around Glasgow – problems are going up left and right and every time you wander down the same track to brush the chalk of a thousand other climbers off the crux hold of your project just remember that right at that moment people are levelling out landings, scrubbing off moss and piecing together some of the best new problems in the UK. And if you live in Glasgow they are just down the road. In a few weeks I’ll post some topos. Big thanks to the other motivated few that are getting to it amongst the moss! John Watson, Cody Cox , Alan Cassidy and the elusive Mr Varian to name just a few.
Below are a few of the highlights from he last couple of weeks. First off is a problem that I found when I was 14 and I used to catch the bus from Perth to Aberfeldy, trying some of the existing problems and walking around the woods looking for more. Once I managed to drag my friend Andrew Simpson along and we came across this amazing wave of rock. It was way too hard for us then, but fast forward nearly 10 years and I decided to give it another look. A bit of work on the landing and one of the best problems I have ever climbed was born! Or maybe it’s an average problem with a story that means something to me. The Problem is called Bro-Down and the grade is medium hard , after working out the bata it felt more scary than hard, the video doesn’t do it justice but the landing is crap and its pretty high.
Next is a bloc that I should have done a while ago. Some of the best rock in Scotland at a venue that is really unique. I came very close to finishing it last year but a broken foothold and a trip to America got in the way. It’s on big slopers in a large roof with even bigger moves and a walk-in that’s under 20 minutes to boot! The venue seems to have only produced pretty hard lines, but it really does have some of the most striking boulders in the uk! The name is, ‘Jenny’s Bay’ and this bloc felt really tough last year but again a small beta tweak and it went in a few goes first session of the year.
This next one isn’t really a boulder problem, it’s a whole boulder just out the back of Glasgow, and it’s about as good as Central Belt sandstone is going to get with about 6 problems, 2 of which are great! If you live locally it’s well worth a visit, just make sure it’s been dry for a while beforehand. But the bulk of my efforts have been going into a big new venue. I’m working on the topo as we speak but by the time it’s all climbed out it could have close to 100 problems… more on this soon! below is me on the second ascent of a Cassidy problem, probably one of the best lines in Scotland.
Below is one of the harder blocs I have managed at the venue, as always it looked easy and turned out to be hard, the move pictured is the start of the 2/3 crux moves , it involves compression and toe hooks, a little low ball and similar in style to ‘Bear Trap Prow’ in Glen Nevis, but for me tougher.