Arran Bouldering Guide

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Bouldering on the Isle of Arran

Transcript of Arran Bouldering Guide

  • ARRAN Bouldering

    A STONE COUNTRY GUIDE by claire youdale & john watson

  • Arran is a stunning geological jewel stuck in the middle of the seafaring clutter that is the Clyde. Its classic rocks are the excellent granite erratics and boulders on the north of the island, but it also has old red sandstone bouldering and some gabbro bouldering on the south coast, as well as the odd bit of limestone.

    Caledonian MacBrayne operate regular ferries from Ardrossan, winter and summer, so its easy to take the boulder mat over for a days bouldering and catch the last ferry home. It takes no more than two hours fast stomp to the highest boulders in Glen Rosa, whereas the coastal bouldering is all extremely accessible from the bus routes that tour the island - some of the drivers even know the names of the stones!

    Take a mat and some hefty brushes for cleaning holds. The scope for bouldering on this island is extensive and limited only by how far you are prepared to walk.

    1. The Mushroom NS 026 387 - an old red sandstone outcrop in the woods of Brodick Castle grounds. May be under an access ban due to fungal tree disease - check for signs on trees.

    2. Corrie Boulders NS 024 420 (Clach Mhor GR) - four excellent granite erratics on the road verges between Corrie and Sannox. A classic circuit of granite problems.

    3. Sannox Boulders NR 996 455 - hidden boulders in a small gully underneath Cnocan Donna, accessible from Glen Sannox. Hard to find, but lots of project stones!

    4. Glen Catacol NR 918 488 - a pleasant stone on the northwest of the island in Glen Catacol, known as Clach a Chait. May be some more bouldering in the area if hunted down.

    5. Glen Rosa - the whole glen, from the bridge at the Garbh Allt (NR 982 386) to the higher Fionn Choire (NR 972 424) is littered with excellent boulders which improve in quality with altitude.

    6. Kildonan NR 022 208 - a geological hot-point at the south of the island, these gabbro outcrops are obvious on the shore. Some of the gabbro is crumbly but there are some good lines. 7. Fallen Rocks NS 004 482 & Laggan NS 004 482 - conglomerate bouldering giving way to some fine limestone at Laggan Cottage. Pleasant walk and interesting rock features. Under development.


  • The Mushroom

    This giant red sandstone monolith lies in Merkland wood in the National Trust grounds to Brodick Castle. It used to be hidden by the rhododendrons until cleared recently for path-making. Now it is easily accessible, lying twenty metres from the road. Its still easy to miss however, so from Brodick head north along the coast road past the brewery and the castle entrance. Continue past an entrance signed Merkland Wood Walks until a gravel layby on the right 1km later (good seal-watching spot). Park or leave the bikes here, walk north up the road for 100m and hop the wall on the left. Bash through the vegetation to the Mushroom under the pines. The rock is a juggy, laterally banded old red sandstone, with steep jug-hauling through roofs. It is also highball so many problems are safer as traverses and jump-offs at lip jugs. The north east wall has the best rock, the wee Fern Boulder opposite the Mushroom is excellent and there are some hard projects to go through the various roofs and caves. Needs dry conditions, but is quite cool even in high summer.

    The Mushroom - North Wall

    1. Cave Traverse Font 6b+ Start low on the left side of the left cave, crank up to a juggy rail and continue right mostly footless until a finish up problem 3 can be made.

    2. Highballer Font 6bA juggy start between the caves leads to a hard pull through to jugs above the lip jump off or gain crimps and get established (and scared) on the headwall.

    3. Invasive Species Font 6b Pull on just left of the righahnd capping cave to find good edges under the roof, heel-toe left to allow a long reach over the lip to a good hidden hold, pull further to jugs and rock on to the (often green) headwall or jump off for 6a. FA Claire Youdale 2007.

    4. Third Cave Font 6aClimb out of the dank cave to ramps on the right. Jump off at jugs. Often green and wet and really not worth bothering about unless its been dry for ages.




  • The Fern Boulder

    Just opposite the Mushroom is a short wall with good rough rock. All problems from a sit start. Some of the rock may be a bit snappy so watch out for sudden breakages, especailly after rain. All in all pleasant entertainment for those who like their problems non scary and who just love sit down starts.

    1. Left Arte Font 6b+Climb the left arte from a sit start without using the big jug up and right.

    2. Petit Tiroir Font 6a From good sidepulls just right of the left arte, slap up to a sloping ramp, match this and traverse to the far right to a rock-over at jugs.

    3. The Hole Font 5From sharp central jugs, sit start and pull up through an inset pocket, then traverse left to the finishing jugs on the left arte.

    4. Eliminator Font 7a+ From jugs under the right roof, gain an eliminate crimp on the lip, then power left to the inset hole, traverse left to finish.

    5. Fern Traverse Font 5+ From jugs under the right roof, monkey left along good slopers and jugs to finish at problem 1.


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    Claire Youdale on The Mushroom - Invasive Species

  • Corrie Boulders

    Delightful granite boulder erratics which are extremely accessible to say the least. They provide a satisfying circuit which gradually gets harder. From Brodick pier, catch the North Island bus to Sannox (ask to get off at the Cat Stone) and walk back via the boulders, which are all close to, or actually on, the main road. The rock is a superb ochre granite with solid holds and slopers with technique often winning the day on the classic problems.

    1. The Cat Stone NS 020 444 - lies on the road between Corrie and Sannox. Watch for traffic and set up the problem when it goes quiet! A mat is useful to pad the drainage ditches and some boggy ground. 2. Clach an Fhion NS 023 429 - this boulder stands by a layby in the centre of Corrie, on a grassy verge, south of the bad bend harbour. It is a distinctive prow of granite with limited but superb problems.

    3. Clach Mhor Druim a Charn NS 024 420 - this giant boulder is on a mezzanine just south of the last village house. Walk up through the field to climb a short slope, or cross right from the Roof Boulder.

    4. Roof Boulder NS 025 418 - an obvious roofed boulder on a slope about 20m above the road. It lies above a forest track and path just south of the start of Corrie village, to the left of a burn.




    Goatfell Path

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    John Watson on The Roof Boulder at Corrie

  • Cat Stone

    1. Roadside Slab Font 3Step onto the slab by the shot-hole and step right to finish up the wide crack.

    2. South Arte Font 3+Climb the blunt south arte via the scoop to finish leftwards at the descent flakes on the back.

    3. Shothole Direct Font 4From the roadside shot-hole, use a polished crimp to gain good holds above and follow the flakes to the top.

    4. Shothole Traverse Font 5+ From a sit start at the shothole, pull left through polished sidepull slopers to match crimps, then crank up through big edges finishing rightwards.



    Clach an Fhion

    5. Hero Slab Font 6aStep on to the slab just left of the easy flake crack, using a poor RH pocket, aiming high and left for another pocket and bigger holds.

    6. Roadside Arte Font 6a Climb the cracked arte to a wobbly finish. Sit-start is good (6a+).

    7. The Fhion Gaston Font 6b Sit start at the obvious pockets on the right, walk up the ramp and use the blunt arte to gain a high Gaston press through the crack to the top - technical and good.

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    The Cat Stone

    Cllach an Fhion

  • The Roof Boulder

    11. Left Wall Font 6a+Sit start at the horizontally cracked left wall, gain jugs on the lip, then mantle up left to a big pocket.

    12. The Roof Font 6c Sit start at a shelf under the left-central roof, use shelf crimps to dyno up to a good edge, then work left through slopers to a tricky direct mantle over the top. Butch. A direct mantle has been done at 7a.

    13. Right Arte Font 6c Sit start at a pocket and use the plinth for feet, gain the arte then a good LH pinch allows a rockover to the blank lip. Tiptoe left and finish by a precarious mantle direct over the lip. FA Chris Houston 2009

    14. BST Font 7b Climb the right side of the roof and grunt through to the top on poor holds. FA Niall McNair 2009

    Clach Mhor Druim a Charn

    8. The Slab Font 4 Highball and excellent. Just right of the cheatstone crack is the steepest part of the slab. Climb it direct from a flake ledge, aiming for the good high pockets.

    9. The Snare Font 6c The steep back wall direct through the obvious sidepulls. Gain a high sharp pocket, try not to snare your fingers and crank left to sidepulls and a smeary escape left.

    10. The Balance Font 6a+From the ledges left of the saplings, balance upwards using a blunt arte hold and go direct to a hidden ledge above on the lip. Mantle out right to finish.

    Cllach Mhor Druim a Charn Cllach Mhor Druim a Charn - west face





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    The Roof Boulder

  • Sannox Boulders

    NR 996 455. Hidden boulders in a small gully underneath Cnocan Donna, accessible from Glen Sannox. Walk up the path past the old cemetery, past the lead