Imagine a secret world with soaring cliffs, stunning views, a huge variety of wildlife and sealife but all on your doorstep, close to a major city and often only metres away from the main road. Add the fact that you will often have it to yourselves throw in some of the finest outcrop climbs in Scotland and an incredible diversity of rock types and you have the Aberdeenshire seacliffs. They vary in height from small friendly outcrops with sunny settings to towering gothic cliffs looming over shaded bays and provide challenges for climbers of all standards from beginner to expert.
The key areas for beginners where the crags and the approaches are more friendly and obvious are:
Around Soutar Head and Black Rock Gulch south of Aberdeen
Boltsheugh, just south of the picturesque harbour at Newtonhill
The Graip, a sunny afternoon crag at Collieston
Meikle Partans,fantastic granite, just north of Cruden Bay
For the more experienced climber and particular favourites are:
Craig Stirling and Floors Craig two steep crags just north of Newtonhill
Earnsheugh, a huge brooding crag on the wild Findon Ness
South Cove, a complex area of pink granite with boasting some of the most atmospheric climbing on the seacliffs
Arthur Fowlie, a stunning leaning wall just south of the well known Bullers of Buchan
Longhaven, an area rather than a single cliff with many buttresses and inlets and the relics of old granite quarrying
As one develops a confidence and knowledge of the area there are hundreds of opportunities to branch out to other areas with over 1500 recognised climbs. Experienced climbers will find a range of diverse and challenging climbs on rock types such as schist and granite with many cliffs being easily accessible but others requiring abseil approach. Standards match the rest of Scotland but the unique environment squeezed in hard between the coastal strip of land and the cold North Sea makes for something very special. The areas climbs are documented in the local guidebook North-East Outcrops Climbers’ Guide (Published by the Scottish Mountaineering Club, edited by Neil Morrison).
A number of local clubs provide a good way into the sport with the Cairngorm Club being particularly active or alternatively try climbing indoors first at Transition Extreme , the climbing wall at Aberdeen beach.