Return to Home Page
About The Club
Muir Cottage
Club Activities
Meets Calendar
Past Meets
Club Membership
Club Contact Information
Club Forum
Miscellaneous Items

Last updated: 14/10/10


Alan's Cliff Peel Slough Boltsheugh Cambus O'May

Crag Details

Alan's Cliff

The section of cliff containing the Diving Board continues for some 75 metres to a cave, beyond which a low grass-topped headland reaches further seaward to a steep little wall above a diagonal inlet. The easiest descent is via a straightforward gully at the seaward end of the wall (and not the water chute as mentioned in the 1994 guide, which is green and steep at the base). This descent leads onto a platform well above the sea, from which ledges lead round to another non-tidal platform just right of the base of the water chute. This provides a good gearing-up point. It is also possible to descend moderate rocks just north of the water chute to gain this platform. Due to its easy descent and mainly low-mid grade routes, this is a worthwhile beginners crag. At all but the highest tide, most of the routes should be accessible either from the gearing-up platform or from one of two diagonal shelves descending from the landward end of the crag.

Because the routes tend to be strenuous rather than technical, grading has been difficult for the newest routes. However, the tendency has been to try to overgrade rather than undergrade, so hopefully no one will get sandbagged. All the new routes were climbed on-sight.

Just left (south) of the descent gully, there is a prominent short, steep groove with a smooth pillar to its left and easier rocks to its right.

1. Daddy Longlegs * 8m VS 4c
Start at the base of the groove and swing left over a large roof onto the face of the pillar. Finish straight up. A bit of a one-move-wonder, but it is a good move.
Stuart Stronach, Diane Giulianotti 14/9/99

2. Haven't Got a Clue 8m Severe
Start by bridging widely up the overhanging groove, but quickly step right to a sloping ledge. Continue up the right curving crack line above with a steep move to finish.
Diane Giulianotti, Stuart Stronach 14/9/99

3. Binary Boyfriend 8m Difficult
Climb the short vertical corner right of the overhanging groove and continue up easier rock to the top.
Helen Garrington, Tiana McAllister 14/9/99

4. Bridging Loan 8m MVS 4b
Start up the overhanging groove and swing left at its top to finish as for Daddy Longlegs. The original route on this section of cliff and made somewhat redundant by the more recent additions.
Stuart Stronach, Kim Hawker and Diane Giulianotti 5/9/99

To the right of the descent gully, a couple of lines have been climbed on slightly worrying rock, but are not worthy of individual mention.

At all but the highest tide, it is possible to move round south from the descent gully to the gearing-up platform. Above the platform, the cliff is lower, steep at the north end, becoming slabby and easier as you move south.

5. Kimís Ladder 6m Difficult
This route takes the most prominent line up this section, a stepped groove rising up and right, just left of a curving black streak.
Stuart Stronach 5/9/99

The black streak has been climbed at about Difficult, and other lines have also been done right again, but lack definition. The rock is less good on the steeper section.

South of the water chute, the cliff becomes steeper again and increases in height. The remaining routes lie on this section.

6. Calumís Arete  10m HVS 5b *
Start at the base of the groove immediately left of the water chute. Swing right onto the crest of the overhanging pillar using an obvious peapod pocket and continue steeply to the top on jugs. Strenuous rather than technical and unless you place a low side runner in Cobra, bold for the crux moves (nudging E1).
Stuart Stronach, Diane Giulianotti 5/9/99

7. Cobra 10m VS 4b
The right-curving groove left of the crest of Calumís Arete.

8. Grommit 10m Hard Severe 4b
Start just left of Cobra and climb steeply up and slightly left to finish up a short corner. Good climbing, mainly on jugs.
Diane Giulianotti, Stuart Stronach and Kim Hawker 5/9/99

9. Saddle Up 10m Severe
Climb the steep wall left of Grommit to gain a slabby recess. Climb the upper wall direct to the same finish as Wallace. Protection could be better.
Dave Coburn, Andy Lane 7/9/99

10. Wallace 10m Severe  **
The most well defined groove rising up and right, between Grommit and Central Corner.
Diane Giulianotti, Kim Hawker and Stuart Stronach 5/9/99

11. Cloud Number Nine 10m VS 4c
Start between Wallace and Central Corner and climb the double overhang to gain a ledge. Finish up a short corner on the upper wall (beware of the loose block at the top).
Stuart Stronach, Diane Giulianotti 7/9/99

12. Central Corner 10m Severe
The prominent black corner about 6 metres south of Calumís Arete, starting with an awkward and slightly overhanging chimney.

13. A Bit of What You Fancy 10m VS 4c
A varied route approximating the left rib of Central Corner. To the left of Central Corner is a large overhanging wall. Start at its base and climb steeply up and right to pull onto a short slab (escape onto Central Corner). Climb the vertical wall above and exit awkwardly onto a small ledge to finish by a short groove. Poor gear above half height.
Stuart Stronach, Kim Hawker and Diane Giulianotti 5/9/99

14. The Sore Thumb 8m E2 5b *
Climb the centre of the overhanging wall on good holds to pull onto the slab above and finish up a corner. Not well protected.
John Wilson, Kim Hawker 5/9/99

From the ledges at the base of the overhanging wall, a diagonal shelf leads up and left to the top of the cliff. The following routes start at various points along this shelf.

15. Hanging Slab * 8m HVS 4c
Start left of the large overhang and climb the delicate slab from left to right. Good, bold climbing.

Left of the slab, there are two lines of weakness which break through the overhang above the diagonal shelf, First and Second Overhangs, both HVS 4b and very strenuous.

Left again, a second diagonal shelf runs parallel to the first. It provides a useful descent to the following routes and is gained by an exposed horizontal traverse left from an obvious step in the clifftop. These routes can also be gained by traversing in from the first shelf below the large overhanging wall.

16. Tiddles 10m Very Difficult
At the base of the second shelf, a pillar stands proud from the surrounding rock. Start centrally and trend right (optional exit onto a ledge at ĺ height) before moving back into the centre of the pillar to finish.
Stuart Stronach 5/9/99

17. Absolutely Barking 8m Difficult
Left of Tiddles is a smooth wall. Climb this direct, starting centrally at a short shallow corner. The crux is the awkward exit onto a sloping ledge at the top.
Diane Giulianotti, Stuart Stronach 7/9/99

18. Bad Moon Rising  20m VS 4c
A rising traverse linking successive weaknesses to create a fairly obvious line with an exposed finish. Start at the base of Calumís Arete and move steeply up and left on jugs to the slabby recess of Saddle Up. Cross this and move up to the ledge on Cloud Number Nine, which continues, descending slightly, into Central Corner. Climb the crux wall of A Bit of What You Fancy, exiting onto the small ledge and follow this round above the large overhanging wall to finish at the top of Hanging Slab. Gear is limited once you pass Central Corner.
Stuart Stronach, Diane Giulianotti 14/9/99


Peel Slough

These crags lie to the south of Portlethen Shore, on the southerly wall of a long inlet called Peel Slough on the O.S. 1:10000 map, with a cave on its south wall. Take the first turning off the A90 signposted Portlethen (just after an Esso garage). Access is from the road linking Portlethen to Portlethen village. Parking is on the verge by the Mains of Portlethen farm. Walk down the track at the right angled bend by the farm until a small path leads south round the clifftop. Follow this until it leads down a small boggy slope into a hollow (~10-15 mins from road). Alternatively, follow the road all the way to its end in Portlethen village and take the coastal path north to reach the hollow (~5-10 mins from road). All the routes can be reached from here.

Main Walls

These lie directly out to sea from the hollow There are two walls at 90į to one another, facing east and north. The east wall is 5 - 7 metres high and comprises a slabby face with an obvious Y-shaped crack in the middle, and a large orange niche at the left end. A wet recess separates this face from the north wall, which is much cleaner, 8 - 10 metres high and overhangs viciously in its central section. It is less steep at either end, and a deep chimney-groove splits the right end. The cliff is partly tidal. Easiest descent is by a simple scramble at the north end of the East Wall.

East Wall

Climbs are described right - left

1. Wall Street Diff 5m.

Slabby face at right end of wall.

2. Ledge Route Diff 5m.

Stepped ramp and wall above. Useful in descent.

3. Face Up VS 4b 5m

Smooth cracked face between Ledge Route and Broken Promise without using holds in either, finishing at a sloping ledge. Eliminate but good climbing. Poorly protected, with the crux at the top.

4. Broken Promise V Diff 7m.

Climbs the Y-shaped crack by the right fork with an awkward move at half height. Nice finish on big jugs. Left fork is Diff, stepping up and left just below the crux of the right fork.

5. Niche To Be Here V Diff 6m.

Start up ledges to right of niche, step back left to first foothold above niche and climb the left slanting crack.

6. True Faith HVS 5a 6m.

Climbs the left edge of the niche. Surmount two bulges just left of the rib and follow the edge directly to finish on platy rock. It is easier (4c), but not as good and with poor protection, to swing left onto the rib from the ledge below the niche.

North Wall

Climbs are described right - left

7. Cold Fire HS 4b 4m.

Undercut crack with awkward start

Slab to left is a handy descent route (Moderate).

8. Snakedance Severe 8m.

Chimney-groove with overhang at 1/3 height.

9. Talk With Your Hands Hard Severe 10m.

Climbs the undercut rib directly, with the crux over the initial bulge. Escapable above, but pleasant climbing if the crest is adhered to. Cleaned by abseil and rope soloed prior to first ascent.

10. Wages of Sin Severe 10m. *

Hanging corner started from directly below. Corner climbed on right wall.

11. So Be It HVS 5b 8m

Gain the obvious ledge using an overhanging flake crack and climb the shallow hanging corner above using a small hold on the slab to the right to reach a jug at the top of the corner. The corner direct is 5c but artificial. Strenuous, but escapable onto Wages of Sin at the ledge.

12. Talk Hard E3 5c/6a 8m ***

A good climb taking the right hand of the parallel overhanging cracks, with strenuous reaches between edges and slots. Protection is excellent but tiring to place. Care is needed with one or two holds. Cleaned and inspected by abseil and top-roped twice prior to first ascent.

The left hand of the two parallel cracks, about 2 metres left of Talk Hard looks possible but thin and bold.

13. Keep the Faith E2 5c 9m. *

The rising left - right flake crack left again, on the less overhanging section of wall. It is bold and strenuous with a fingery crux. Further cleaning required.

14. Phreeqey VS 4c 10m  *

Follow the overhanging corner of Laybacking on a Sunday Afternoon until a large, thin flake leads right under the final overhang. Hand traverse this to an awkward exit over the top bulge. An exciting route.

15. Laybacking on a Sunday Afternoon Severe 6m.

Overhanging corner at left end of wall. Finish up jugs on the left.

16. Far Out Moderate 6m.

A scrappy and worthless route taking the easy wall left of Laybacking on a Sunday Afternoon.

A short but good low level traverse goes right - left from Talk Hard to Laybacking on a Sunday Afternoon (5b)

The Cave Slab

This is the partially cleaned slab just east of the cave on the south wall of the inlet. Easiest descent is by abseil down the slab from the hollow, but the base of the slab can be reached at low tide by descending the grassy slope at the back of the inlet and scrambling round ledges, with an awkward greasy wall to be negotiated. There is a huge non-tidal platform at the base of the area, but a pile of greasy boulders must be crossed to reach the slab itself. This may be tricky at high tide, but abseil approach should always be possible except in very rough seas. There is scope for several more routes in this area, but further cleaning is required.

17. Sutika Severe 10m. *

Pull over a bulge to gain ledges at the base of the slab, and climb the obvious crack and the wall above on unusual holds.

An excellent traverse has been made between the main walls and the cave slab area at V Diff.

18. Peanuts E2 5b 10m.

Midway along the traverse, it passes under a large roofed corner. Peanuts climbs the corner to the roof and then traverses boldly right to pull onto the Cave Slab.



The crag is located south of Dykes Cliff at Newtonhill. Park as for Dykes Cliff but instead of heading east, take the track leading south round the clifftop. After a few hundred metres, it degenerates into a path and crosses a muddy area. Just after this, the top of the crag can be seen on the left. Descent is by easy rocks to the north of the main area, or by ledges between the two main walls. The base of the crag is set well above the sea and is non-tidal (though big waves can affect the place in wild weather!).

The grades given are out of George Ridge's Scottish Sport Climbs Spring '96 guide. The grades in brackets afterwards are perhaps more realistic (?). George's guide covers all the sport climbs in Scotland and at £2.50 is a good investment.

Routes are described from north to south (right to left when facing the cliff)

The first bulging section faces south east.

1. F7b* Deadheads. Short and brutal. British 6b+/6c.

2. F6c* Aches in Provence The arete. Steep! Best done with a sitting start and someone to spot your back. (F6b)

3. F6a+ Crossroads. A bit of a reach at the start, but otherwise no problems (F6a+)

4. F6c Little Creatures. The steep line just right of the obvious crack (The Enemy Within, HVS 5b) (F6b/6b+)

5. F7a Traverse of the Cods. Link the first bolt on 4 to the second bolt on 3, then a bolt of its own and finish up 2. The longest and best route here!

Easy rocks separate this from the next section, which faces north east

6. 6a The Dregs. The rightmost line. Much more fun than the name suggests!

7. F6c+ Automatic. Pumpy, with the crux right at the top.

8. F6c* The Dark Side. A technical lower bulge leads to a steep finish.

9. F6a+ Mo. Gain and climb the sloping ramp.

10. F4+ Miney. Easy line of big jugs. The bolts have been chopped on this route.

11. F5+ Meany. More jugs

12. F5+ Eany. Similar climbing to the two previous routes, except the jugs are smaller!

Further south, past a large cave are two lines taking the next big wall. Neither are particularly worthwhile.

13. F5+

14. F6a

About 100 metres south again is a fine steep wall. The next route climbs this.

15. F6c Down Under. Takes the wall above the rock pool with a steep finish

To its left is a project up the short bulging wall.


Cambus O'May

Directions: From Pass of Ballater, head back towards Aberdeen. After a couple of miles you'll find The Willows hotel/cafe on the left, just before a sign for a forest walk. After pigging out on the fantastic cakes in The Willows, go up the track to the start of the forest walks. Go through the gate straight ahead and go straight on until another gate is reached. Through this gate and follow the path trending L where the path splits. Keep plodding on till you reach the leftmost quarry 'Idiot's Quarry' at the end of the track.


Routes are described clockwise from the L, looking in.


The easiest route here up the tilted slab.


The painful wee route to the LO on the balanced boulder. No pain, no gain the LO. Try it and you'll see! The boulder has recently fallen off!


If you are going to chip holds, you might as well chip pro. as well. Needs bolts.

4 EDGELANDS F7b* FA N. Morrison

Up to third bolt on Idiot Savant, L and up via a long reach.


The obvious L to R diagonal crack. Follow it to near its end then up to LO. A good natural line. Mmm...


Wall right of Idiot Savant.


Climbs the slab between the two cracks direct.

8 DEATH WISH 2 F5+ FA ???

To the right of the slab is a dodgy looking hanging block. From the block, climb over a roof then up another wall.


Start as for the last route, gain the overhanging arete then finish delicately up right.


From the stepped block right again, climb up and left to below the overhanging wall. Climb the wall left to join Suicide Bat.

11 MAGIC BUS F5+ FA ???

Up Pinball Wizard to 1st bolt, left to below overhanging arete, up the corner to the roof. Head left then finish direct.


From the stepped block, move up and right to the 1st bolt. From here go right then finish direct.

13 HEINOUS DE MILO F7b ** FA N.Shepherd

Good manufactured route up the left side of the big wall.

14 SUN CITY F7a+ *** FA N.Morrison

The big wall direct.

15 TORNADO OF SOULS F7b+* FA N.Shepherd

Up wall to hanging corner groove.


Micro-crack and flakes to R. OK, go on, use the boulder, see if I care - see if it makes the slightest difference.

17 INDIAN SUMMER F6c+ FA J. Wilson

A bolt stud marks this. Left side of Sharp Practice flake.


The flake has a hollow ring to it but the crux seems solid enough, especially if you are short. Soft touch for the tall.


Long reach on the lower wall, then follow the arete.

20 BONSAI F6a FA G. Ridge

The petite route directly under the tree on the ledge.


The central line is one.


The line to the R.

On the ledge above Bonsai Pipeline, from L to R.


The left most line.

24 STUMP F5+ FA N. Morrison

Straight up above the tree.

25 QUALITY STREET F6a+ FA N. Morrison

Line to right of 'step' in ledge. Up then L followed by crux to LO. Last moves are thin and the bolt seems miles away. Proceed with caution...

26 ROSES F5 FA N. Morrison

Right most route. A pleasant introduction to a style of climbing that grows on you.

The next climbs are in the furthest R quarry. Go down the track about 30m from Idiots to a track leading off left at a level below the quarry detritus. Follow the track for a few hundred metres till you find a cleaned arete.


There is a bird ban during the nesting season - CLIMBING ONLY ALLOWED HERE JULY - DECEMBER. Please don't climb outside this or the whole of Cambus O' May may be banned.

The left wall.

1 BOY N' THE HOOD F6A+ FA N. Shepherd

The short L arete of the quarry. The midges were a bit too friendly that day!


The slight groove to the R. A fine technical problem that should get loads of attention.

3 THE CRIMP TEST F7A+ FA N. Shepherd?

Right of The Herd Instinct is another constructed line. Short and sharp.

The back wall.


Flakes L of the obvious borehole in the black granite slab. Unfortunately short and unfortunately not as easy as it looks.

5 THE RUNNEL F5+ FA G. Ridge

Can you find this one by yourself?

6 MAY FLY F6C FA ???

Corner with bird droppings. Scary in a bolt route sort of way


Hairline crack up wall to finish R of hanging flake/boulder. A jumped up boulder problem.


Crack R again. Crux at the top.


Rightmost line. Rock not 100%.