John : Climbing Instructor and Guidebook Author

Climbing at Salt Pans Bay, Wigtownshire

Introduction There are a number of small buttresses in the area immediately north of Salt Pans Bay on the coast west of Stranraer. This is a great peaceful area with a relatively long, but easy approach walk. There is some very interesting geology in the area, particularly at the feature known as the Breaking Wave. The rock is greywacke, but seems to be mostly of quite good quality. Routes are about 10-20m long.

Access   To get here follow the A77 or A75 to Stranraer then the A718 to Leswalt, B7043 to Meikle Galdenoch farm where there is a small parking area opposite a ruined castle. From the parking area go left on a vehicle track and pass a cottage after 100m or so. Then follow the line of a footpath along the edge of a curving field to pick up the main farm track coming form the farm. Follow this track towards the coast passing a small lochan, and keep going in a more or less straight line once it runs out. The foreshore is reached in 30 minutes. The climbing is on several areas between the north end of Salt Pans Bay and the feature known as Barneys Loup. The Breaking Wave is at grid reference NW 962620.

Dangers  These are adventurous sea cliffs with areas of poor rock and the protection is not always reliable.

After descending to the foreshore past a second wee locked bothy the climbing areas all lie to the right (northwards). First up is an interesting boulder that looks very much like an elephant. Although some see it facing landward and some see it facing seaward. In the screenshot of Google Earth below it's shadow looks even more like an elephant! It's an easy scramble round the seaward side, but looks to be challenging to climb  from any other direction.

Salt Pans Bay - Climbing Area Overview 

Climbing areas at Salt Pans Bay,  Rhins of Galloway

The Breaking Wave

The Breaking Wave is about 50-80m north of the north end of the bay, just past the obvious elephant shaped rock!. Grid reference NW 962620. This impressive feature is apparently made from "steeply inclined greywacke beds of the Kirkcolm formation that are slightly overturned, younging northwards from right to left!" ..... according to the BGS.  Routes are about 15m long. Descent is by obvious, grassy slopes to the right.

The Breaking Wave at Salt Pans Bay.

Pictured below is myself on the first recorded ascent of the wave in August 2023. It was a fun route, an easy slab to a good ledge, a very steep pull through the crest of the wave, and finally 5m of "a cheval" to reach the belay boulder!


Scart Craig

Scart Craig is about 100m north of the Breaking Wave. It is the south facing crag on the north side of an inlet, just before a low-lying guano covered pinnacle is reached. Routes are about 18m long. Once at the top of the crag descend easily by the seaward end. There is a great belay ledge at the foot of routes 1 and 2.

From here Seaward Rib climbs up the crest of the broad rib to a big ledge, then make an "airy" pull rightwards and up to finish. The second route takes the obvious diagonal fault, but veers rightwards just before the overlap to finish up a fine layback on wedged flakes. A direct finish will be possible at about the same grade, but grassier!

Routes further right are broken by a very big ledge at half height.

Scart Craig, Rhins of Galloway.

Pictured below is Linda on the first ascent of the severe up the middle of the spreading groove.

Linda Biggar on teh first ascent of a route at Scart Craig.