Boulder-hunting in the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park - The Braes of Balquhidder

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Leum an Eireannaich

See discussion page.


There is an obvious big boulder straight up the hillside from the car park. Having previously looked at this in the dark with a headtorch I thought it was OK, but not amazing. Having now looked at it in the daylight, I’m a bit more positive about it.

The lip is about 3 metres off the floor, the angle is getting on for 60 degrees and the rock is pretty good. The line goes from an undercut to a reasonably juggy left-facing flake that you can match on. From here I thought you could span rightwards to the edge of the boulder, rendering the leftwards-trending line somewhat contrived. However, this is a very big span, and on consideration the hard leftwards line probably is worthwhile.

You need to link the flake to a good left-hand crimp. This can be done directly if you’re very tall, but the line would be most suitable for folk in the 5' 10'’ to 6' 0'’ range, for whom the flake can be used for the right foot to make a deep egyptian, with two small hand holds bringing the good crimp within reach. The crux may well prove to be taking one’s feet out of the egyptian... Somewhere around Font 8a? Landing currently distinctly boggy (beginning of May) - requires a public-spirited individual to do a spot of digging. I don't think this boulder is high enough to escape the beasties unless there's a breeze.

There is an aesthetically distinctive small boulder almost in the stream just below the big boulder. It’s slightly slabby, and is covered in horizontally-aligned ripples/steps about a foot apart. Climbing straight up this face presents an unusual challenge. No idea how hard it is - it needs a good brush to see if there are any holds. The right arete looks like it will make a good small person’s problem - as would the line up the front.

In the field on the right as you walk from the car park towards the farm is an obvious loaf-shaped boulder. This has what looks to be a good traverse across the front of the boulder from right to left, about 10 metres long with a good non-boggy landing. Possibly somewhere around Font 7b. Probably a good idea to ask at the house before climbing on this.

Stob Invercarnaig

Up to the left (looking up the hillside from the Inverlochlarig car park), on a diagonal terrace directly below and to the left of some broken crags, there are some obvious big boulders. The mitre-shaped one in the middle can be seen briefly on the skyline from the cattle grid just before the car park, and from about 50-100 metres below the big boulder with the roof, described above. The rock is very good, and the boulders are a good size, but there don’t seem to be many really good lines. There’s a flat, slightly overhanging wall on the west side of the middle block, and the arete right of this looks good, shuffling up on sidepulls to reach a jug at three-quarters height - both with good landings. There are also two layback cracks on the front of the first boulder you get to coming across the hillside from the right. These have a slightly worrying sloping landing. There is an easy left-facing groove around on the right-hand (east-facing) side of this boulder. Apart from these lines, nothing really grabbed my attention. A shame, given the quality of the rock.

Creag Artair

From Imirriabhach walk up Glen Carnaig along the left-hand side of the stream. There is a long, low boulder visible on the skyline from down by the road, and other boulders in a line parallel to the road from this boulder up to Creag Artair. Just about a days worth of fairly amenable climbing (somewhere around the Font 6b-7a range, at a guess). The outlook eastwards over Loch Doine and Loch Voil to Ben Vorlich, Stuc a' Chroin, Ben Vane and Ben Ledi is beautiful. Is it high enough to escape the beasties in the summer? Hmmm... possibly. With the requisite keenness, a circuit could be made around these boulders, the boulders on Stob Invercarnaig, and down to the boulders above the Inverlochlarig car park.

The long, low boulder on the skyline is not up to much. From here, in a line up to the crags, there are two heather hat boulders, and further up there is an obvious diamond-shaped boulder. Just below this is what looks like a fairly small, insignificant boulder. Between the two heather hat boulders, over to the right, is another boulder partly buried in the ground. Further up the hill behind this is a small outcrop which has a blunt arete with a left-facing groove just left of it. This could be climbed with the holds on the arete for the right hand and the groove for the left hand - when it’s dry.

The lines to go for are the short overhang on the back of the first heather hat boulder and the arete on the insignificant-looking boulder just below the diamond-shaped boulder. The landing at the first heather hat boulder is a little boggy at the moment (beginning of May), but the landing at the small boulder higher up is fine. Both are flat. The main slightly overhanging wall on the first heather hat boulder has some particularly large protruding quartz crimps - so, if that’s your thing, this would be quite cool. Definitely needs a brush. The boulder stuck in the ground up to the right has a particularly boggy landing. Aforementioned PSI with shovel required for some digging. Lines not spectacular but looks like very nice amenable climbing. There is a vertical wall with a zigzagging flake line, more flakes to the left, and left again an arete with so many holds (pinches and slopers) that there are probably a dozen different ways of doing it.

Inverlochlarig Glen

The approach into the glen isn’t as long as you might suspect when you look up it from the farm, and it is along a Land Rover track. With a bike it would be about fifteen minutes to the end of the track. There are scattered boulders along the east side of the glen. These are the first things you see as you go up the track. There are also quite a few boulders up in the left hand side of the coire (here) about another ten to fifteen minutes walk from the end of the track.

When you get to the boulder right by the right-hand side of the track look across the glen and you can see a small group of boulders. There is one worthwhile problem here for adults: a blunt vertical arete with a line of quartz protrusions enabling the climber to layback up the arete facing right. Slightly dodgy stepped landing and a sharp rock sticking up from the ground - spotter useful.

The obvious big, oblique roof about 100 metres further up on the same side of the glen will be good and looks like it won’t be too hard - but it has a fresh dead sheep right under it (early May 2010). The boulder directly downhill from the roof is worthwhile but not amazing. There are a left and a right-hand start to reach a juggy pocket at the foot of a slab just over the lip of a short overhang. Mantel the pocket and shuffle up the slab. Left of this is a short, steep arete starting from a sharp undercut jug. Fairly boggy down by this boulder - ground sheet useful.

Further up the glen at the same height as the big roof is a fairly long, steep outcrop (here) which has - for a bit of variety - a fresh dead deer under it (early May 2010). It’s normal bouldering height at the right-hand end but the central section is getting into highball territory, and the landing has a fair smattering of medium size stones - not impossible to move. The rock here is fairly good, and pretty well featured, but there isn’t really anything you’d call a line. Perhaps a closer look and a scrub from a rope will reveal more.

The best boulder on the east side of the glen is about 50 metres down to the left of the steep outcrop, right by the stream (here). There’s a short, steep prow facing south, and to the left of this a strange diagonal ramp/prow feature with some undercuts below it, and a big horn jug at the top right end of the ramp. Looks like good technical climbing, somewhere around Font 6c-7a? An extended start could be made from the arete. Round the corner there is a regulation flat slightly overhanging wall facing the stream (north) - about Font 7a? Left of this is a reasonably amenable-looking arete with sharp quartz mini-jugs jutting out of it. Good landings all round, not particularly boggy, and of a good height - though the prow round to the right is short.

The big boulders over the other side at the back of the coire under Cruach Ardrain are too soft. Further up where the glen narrows there is a boulder jumble on the west side of the glen. Some climbable stuff here, but nothing that rally catches the eye. A fair bit further along on the east side under Stob Binnein is a prominent boulder where the glen drops done to the north. Could be one of John's, accessed from the Glen Dochart road.

There are other boulders near to the farm buildings. There's an obvious tall heather hat boulder, which is not worthwhile, and the boulder up behind it is too small.

Meall Gaothach

About 7 metres tall with a big steep prow sticking out in space over the edge of a large drop. The whole boulder is balanced on an area only a few metres square right at the edge of the drop. Would be a fall on to steep grass - but about 10 metres. Rock quality is adequate. Absolutely gob-smacking line.

Haven't checked the other boulder on the other side of the fence nearer to the lochan.

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