Pictured above is Stephen Reid on the first ascent of a short 30m icefall near the left hand end of the Fleshmarket in January 2010.
A number of winter routes have now been recorded on Craignelder. The routes generally require a good freeze of three or four days at least to come into condition, and they go out of condition very fast as they face the seas and the sun. To date the icefall that forms around Kerb Crawler has not been done - it can be very fragile due to its exposure to the sun, and falls down every time we get near it. It will be quite bold, hard to protect and probably grade V, 4 See picture below of the latest attempt by Stephen Reid!
Introduction The Fleshmarket crag and The Big Gairy lie on a hill called Craignelder (also known as Craig-an-Eilte), an outlier of Cairnsmore of Fleet in the southern Galloway Hills. The Fleshmarket has excellent rock and a very nice outlook, but it requires several days or even a week of very cold weather to be a good winter venue. Cole but cloudy would be ideal, as this crag catches a lot of sun.
Access The access is pretty long, quickest by following the un-gated forestry roads as marked on the OS map up the hillside to the west of Craignelder, starting from either the old campsite at Talnotry or near Corwar crag, on foot or by mountain bike. Follow this forest road up the hillside below and to the west of the crag to the last zig-zag bend then traverse along an old forestry ride (felled on the upper side now) to the open ground, then steeply uphill to the crag. Alternatively go to the very end of the forestry road where there is a turning area, then you are almost level with the crag. This second approach is a little bit shorter and less steep, but it is over rough ground.
Dangers This is a remote mountain crag and ice climbing is inherently dangerous. Not all these routes are well protected.
For details of summer routes on this crag click here.
Linda Biggar above the crux on Gorm, grade III, 4, in January 2010, Craig-an-Eilte, Galloway
Grey Mares Tail
The nearby Grey Mares Tail burn, has two interesting waterfalls. I've never seen the top one frozen, but the lower one froze for the first time I can remember in January 2010 and gave a great 25m grade II/III climb. Not to be confused with the more famous Grey Mares Tail over at Moffat.