John Biggar.com : Climbing Instructor and Guidebook Author

Introduction  Crammag Head is an area of mainly granite sea-cliffs south of Stranraer, on the coast of the North Channel near the Mull of Galloway. This is probably the best and most pleasant of all the sea cliff areas in Galloway. Easy access, stunning scenery, friendly route approaches and great quality granite make for an enjoyable experience. It's also a good place to see porpoises, gannets and seals. Furthermore the area seems to be particularly prone to sunshine, it is as near to tropical rock climbing as you'll get in Scotland..! There is a short 15 minute approach down a farm track and over a couple of fields. Some of the crags are tidal, but many routes are still accessible at high tide and some are completely on dry land.

 

Climbing Slockmill Pinnacle at Crammag, July 2016.

Myself climbing the arete at Slockmill Pinnacle, July 2016. The header picture above shows Ian and Kate Brown on Firearms Certificate and Linda Biggar seconding "Wiped Biped" on the Pink Slab.

Access To get to Crammag follow the A77 or A75 towards Stranraer then the A716 down the east shore of the Rhins to Drummore village. From here follow the B7041 then an unnamed minor road westwards to Slockmill Farm. Relations with the local farmer are very good and he normally allows parking in the farmyard, and can advise about which field the bull is currently in... so please be polite and considerate. The smaller outcrops at the north end of the cliffs lie directly under the obvious landmark of the lighthouse. The bigger crags are scattered from about 100-200m south of the lighthouse to nearly one kilometre south.

Guidebook   For a definitive list of all the climbs at Crammag head and nearby Crammag South see the SMC published Lowland Outcrops guidebook.

The Main areas at Crammag, from north to south are

Lighthouse Walls

Viking Zawn

Kittiwake Zawn

Carrick Walls

Pink Slab

Slockmill Pinnacle

Dangers   Crammag is a sea cliff with generally good rock, but areas of dubious rock do exist on the bigger cliffs. Protection is not always easy to find on a few of the slabby routes; small gear, including microwires, and microcams are particularly useful. This is a very open stretch of coast so the crag will be hazardous in big seas or high winds.


Lighthouse Walls

The most northerly area at Crammag is the "Lighthouse Walls". These are reached by following the concrete steps down from the lighthouse, then descending a gully over on the right  The routes here are very short, but on good quality rock.

On the right hand side at the bottom of the descent gully (looking outwards) is a steep and uneven overhanging wall with a very prominent central flake. This is Little Wall. The routes here are spectacularly steep and easy, worthwhile even though they are a wee bit short. Most of these lines have probably have been climbed before but not recorded - as indicated by the in-situ rusty wire we found on the crux of the moderate!  A couple of these routes will be hard to get to at the highest tides.

Little Wall, Crammage Head

Left of the descent gully (looking out) are the original Lighthouse Walls, with some excellent short routes and a very handy system of ledges at the base. You can climb here in all but the highest tides, or biggest seas. Marine Boy was climbed and named by myself and Linda Biggar in August 1996, but it is described as Little Flasher, (with a first ascent in 1999) in the current SMC guidebook. It and Poisoned Ocean are probably the best of the routes here. For Ocean Patrol traverse across the southern gully (Mod) then climb the slab and rib beyond.

Cramag Head - Lighthouse Wall

About 50m further south from the Lighthouse Walls is a beautiful pink slab - Hourglass Slab. Reach this by a longish scramble down either side. This area is non-tidal and is therefore accessible in all but the highest tides and/or biggest seas. This slab is due west of the lighthouse (not South as in the guidebook). If climbing several routes it will be quicker to abseil into this area. The routes here are only 10-12m long, but on excellent rock....

Hourglass Slab

Between routes 1 and 2 is an easy Severe variation through the overlap and there is also an easier Severe finish to Bully Beef up and rightwards. Also to the left of the routes on this diagram (about 10 or 20m left) is a groove, with broken blocks further up, bordered by a blocky rib on the right - both these routes are easier than they look at about Diff. The groove in particular is an excellent climb.

Sally Bennett on the crux moves of the very pleasant Razamatazz, HVS, Crammag Head, Mull of Galloway.

Sally Bennett on the crux moves of the very pleasant Razamatazz, HVS, Crammag Head, Mull of Galloway. Warm rock and great light in February. Picture courtesy of Stephen Reid at Needlesports.

 


Viking Zawn

This area lies south of the old coastguard lookout, which itself is about 100m south of the lighthouse. It is immediately to the east of the long narrow (S-N) inlet of Gabarrunning, which is marked on the 1:25,000 OS map. The north wall of Viking Zawn can be reached by traversing in from the west, at most states of the tides. Start by climbing down a short steep wall and stepping over onto a big promontory. Alternatively abseil down the chimney of "Pillage" off a large block. The south wall, seen on the right in the photo below, is trickier to get to requiring a long abseil to small ledges.....

James Kinnaird pulling up steep jugs on the excellent pinnacle of Fallen Star. Picture courtesy of Stephen Reid at Needlesports.


Kittiwake Zawn & Carrick Walls

These two areas are a little bit trickier to get to, the cliffs are bigger and there are more problems with seabirds in this area. The walls are located maybe 100m or so south of Viking Zawn. A picture of Kittiwake Zawn below, the climbing doesn't look all that inspiring. The Carrick Walls reputedly have some very good routes but its very hard to get a good photo of them from dry land.

Kittiwake Zawn at Crammag Head.

Kittiwake Zawn at Crammag Head.

The Carrick Walls at Crammag Head.

The Carrick Walls at Crammag Head.


Pink Slab

This crag and the Slockmill Pinnacle are about 15 minutes walk southwards on the coast from the lighthouse. The Pink Slab has some excellent but quite bold climbing on a huge granite slab on the north side of a narrow inlet (Zawn Off Shotgun). The routes are about 15m long, a bit longer than described in the guidebook. To get here from the lighthouse head east over the hill of Crammag Head (called Carrick Hill) to reach a small inlet called Sloucheen Slunk, southeast of Crammag Hill. From the head of the inlet walk about 200m south parallel to the shore and you will be right on top of the slab, in fact you'll be right over the top if you shut your eyes. Access to the first two routes is by a fairly tricky (Moderate) scramble down towards the seaward end of the slab, then a traverse along a long narrow ledge about 2-3 metres above the high tide line. For routes 3 and 4 abseil to the sloping big grey ledge, this abseil approach also works for Wi-ped Biped.


Slockmill Pinnacle

Just a hundred metres south of the Pink Slab is the Slockmill Pinnacle. The pinnacle itself is good quality Greywacke, resting on a plinth of granite. There are a couple of good climbs on the pinnacle including an excellent V.Diff. up the west face. Access to these routes is easily by scrambling down from just to the north. The routes are a bit longer than listed in the guidebook, more like 16m. Descent by abseil off the pinnacle, usually is a sling in place.

Big Sandy lies just off the picture to the right. It climbs a granite face passing a big black crystalline hold, then moving out right along an awkward crack, then back left and upwards. Not very well protected. Between Big Sandy and the pinnacle are a couple of easy (Mod.) scrambles.... Scotlands most southerly granite routes.!

Slockmill Pinnacle, Crammag Head, Galloway.

Slockmill Pinnacle, Crammag Head, Galloway.


A busy Sunday on the Lighthouse Walls at Crammag Head, the climbers are on Firefly HVS 5a and Marine Boy VS 4c.

A busy Sunday on the Lighthouse Walls at Crammag Head, May 2013. Linda and Graeme are on Firefly HVS 5a *, and the other pair (from Glasgow) are on Marine Boy VS 4c ***.

Graeme leading the delicate final moves of "The Barricades of Heaven, HVS 5a *** on the Pink Slab.

Kate Brown leading the very pleasant Hourglass Slab, VD, on Hourglass Slab.

For information on tourist services in this area see the Mull of Galloway website.

 

 

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