Tighnabruaich Viewpoint

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To the north of the village of Tighnabruaich lies a splendid viewpoint overlooking Loch Riddon and the Kyles of Bute. The crags themselves lie directly below this viewpoint. Who could ask for a better location, close to the road, down hill walk-ins and breath taking scenery.


The crags themselves lie below Tighnabruaich Viewpoint some 5 miles north of the actual village of Tighnabruaich. Two methods can be used to approach from Glasgow. Either, drive to Gourock and take the small car ferry to Dunoon (where cheap ferry tickets can be bought from shop). From Dunoon follow the A815 North onto the B836 through Glen Lean to Auchenbreck. Drive a short way up the A886 turning left onto the A8003 leading to Tighnabruaich. Alternatively, take the A82 out of Glasgow past Loch Lomond to Arrochar. Drive through rest and be thankful pass toward Glen Kinglas where a left turn onto the A815 is made. The A815 is followed to Strachur where a right turn is made onto the A886 through Glendaurel. Finally a right turn can be made onto the A8003 leading to Tighnabruaich. If in doubt find a map and look-up (NS 000 775), though most good maps have the viewpoint itself marked.


Please park at the extremities of the layby. An amazing amount of traffic stops in this area, including multiple tourist coaches. Don't make their stay any longer due to negotiation of bad parking.


The sparse pace of development at Tighnabruaich has been due to the usual Scottish Horrors. Frequent rain in summer aids lush greenery, humidity and midges, which can be a sport climbing nightmare!

Therefore climbing is recommended here from late September to early May, as crags take very little seepage through winter. Climbing from May to September requires a very good breeze to be pleasant, so make sure you get a good forecast before a visit. And bring the usual gear, a change of clothes (wet undergrowth), midge gear and insitu chain smoker.


Legend has it that (not that) long ago the beautiful Tighnabruaich viewpoint was complemented by an overhanging arete over the road. It was this memory that brought Michael Tweedley back to Tignabruich in 1998 along with Dave Redpath and Mark Somerville. However the group was dismayed to find a scene of destruction! No more was the steepness blessed to a million tourist photos. Instead blow to pieces and deposited down the hillside by some unknown assailant.


It was the look over the fence that changed the next 5 years of the groups life. Burrowing through the trees and bracken the toe roofed Savage Slab was the first find, followed by Jerusalem buttress and eventually the Kraken (which Redpath walked right past). The ominous Lost World hung through the trees of the parking layby was an obvious signal of the potential.

First of in 1999 Mark Somerville completed 'Ya Butey' F6b+, a wee warm up route for his project which he completed a few visits later 'Bananas in Pyjamas' F7b. In the meantime Redpath was preoccupied equipping and cleaning every 3* piece of steepness in sight! An exception being the excellent 'Jerusalem' F6a+, which climbs the center of an obvious slab feature. That year some of his projects fell, notably 'Psychosis' F7b+ (featuring a campus first move), 'Moments of Enlightenment' F7a+ (amenable passage up the Kraken steepness) and 'Against the Wall' 7b+ (the chain grab blankness finish compensated by perma dryness). Later, Somerville finally succeeded on the blank technical challenge that is 'Moonbeams and Honey Dreams' F7b+ on Savage Slab.


Returning in 2000, development continued with routes being equipped on Lost World and the Savage Slab roof. No doubt lying awake at night, Mike Tweedley decided to return in late 2000 to explore the Kraken roof. Extremely steep and improbable, the line off weakest resistance was equipped though rock and moves were questionable at this time. An alternate exit was also equipped by Redpath, exiting the steepness onto the front face.

Early 2001 brought Redpath back for his Kraken Groove project. Inability to complete a very hard move that year led him to equip the hanging arete to the right. 'Clash of the Titans' F7b+ was completed very quickly, its pet name superhero's (later changed) coming from the dynamic nature of gaining the jug rail. Redpath continued with his drill, equipping the steepness of Savage Slab, and Lost World, but no further lines were completed at this time. A combination of bad weather, midges and travel expenditure threw the Edinburgh team's motivation elsewhere for the next two years.

Late 2003, spurred by rumor, Dave MacLeod tempted Michael Tweedley to bring him along on a visit to Tighnabruaich. Gifted the righthand Kraken exit by Redpath, Macleod went on to swiftly complete 'Hand of Andromeda' F8a+. After the pair played on the roof exit, both were convinced it could be freed in the not to distant future.


Spurred by public release of the venue and more pressure from Macleod for inclusion in the forth coming Scottish Sport Climbing Guide, Tweedley and Redpath returned in 2004 to compete their projects. First of on a very cold February, the Savage Slab roof project fell to Redpath, to give 'Event Horizon' F7c+. So named after he took 7 Redpoints to complete the finishing rockover (after the crux). Through the spring both men persisted on their Kraken projects. Tweedley reaching within meters of the end of the Kraken roof on Redpoint. And Redpath continued to scratch his head on the lip of the groove project. Redpath's perseverance with the groove project finally led to success to give 'Shield of Perseus' F8a. A combination of cleverness and rock boot technology aiding the crux he had been unable to consistently perform in the past.

Dusting of his bolt gun, Redpath returned to Lost World to equip a dry entrance to the roof rampline eyed by Somerville in 2000. This was soon completed to give 'Crouching Tiger' F6c+ an excellent combo of styles leading to the beginners mind ramp traverse out into the tree canopy. Dave Macleod also paid a visit to equip the steep wall on the left side of Lost World. After equipping and cleaning Dave quickly flashed the first ascent to give 'Distant Cries' F7b+. Redpath cleaned up a final project from previous years with his ascent of 'Vanishing Point' F7b. This time the roof being breached at its high point via a sneaky exit egyptian.

Savage Slab

On crossing the fence from parking layby the obvious steepness that lies in front is Savage Slab. Descend boulder jumble (arete wreckage) and various garbage moving to the right (looking out).

1. Ya Butey 10m F6b+
Mark Somerville - 9/05/99
The first bolts reached on approach.

Savageslableft topo.jpg
Savageslabright topo.jpg

Moving round, the apex of savage slab is defined by a small cave.

2. Event Horizon 12m F7c+ **
Dave Redpath - 22/2/04
Heel hook along the lip to a flat jug from the starting holds of the following route. Now lay one on for a pocket on the roof lip (crux). Gaining a standing position above the roof is blocked by a rock over on a series of small holds. Time may well stop before the route is redpointed!

3. Project - Closed
A desperate start remains to be climbed into Event Horizon from the back of the roof, ask Dave Redpath.

4. Psychosis 12m F7b+ *
Dave Redpath - 09/05/99
Campus move to a crimp past the lip, then wriggle to gain a standing position on the slab (crux). A stylish move followed by an equally unstylish one. The slab is completed with continued interest.

5. Tools of the Trade 15m VS 4c *
Dave Redpath - circa 2001
Follow the diagonal crack out to the sport L.O. Named because it was climbed using assorted cleaning gear tied off into the crack... A contender for a sport route, but a crack?

The middle of Savage Slab has potential for many easier traditional or sport routes but will require much cleaning. The next three routes lie at the top of savage slab before it disappears into a cave.

6. Project - Closed
The shallow groove is climbed direct, ask Mark Somerville.

7. Bananas in Pyjamas 12m F7b *
Mark Somerville - 09/05/99
A difficult route, with a crux involving some finger pockets and a very small sloping sidepull. Dynamic moves to a press (crux) may let you gain some better holds, then again...

8. Moon Beams and Honey Dreams 12m F7b+ **
Mark Somerville - 23/05/99
Similar to previous route. This time a long reach and strong fingers may get you to the very slopey letterbox (crux).

The Kraken

Descending to the right (looking out) of savage slab leads to a scruffy buttress. Breaking back left the nose of the Kraken can be seen through the trees. Descend over a series of green boulders. Be careful of the drops!

Krakenleft topo.jpg

The Kraken is characterised by its impressive 5m long roof which sticks directly out of the hillside toward Bute. The first routes are on he undercut wall which forms its left face.

1. Moments of Enlightenment 10m F7a+ **
Dave Redpath - 20/03/99
A powerful move is required to get established on the wall (crux). Keep probing the quartz to find a comfortable clipping position. Move up the wall until a hand traverse leads to the arete.Direct Finish: Smoke on the Water F7b *: Instead of hand traversing, continue steeply through the steep bulge using a hidden pocket (crux).

The next three routes tackle the steepness directly!

2.Elysium- 15m F8a***
Michael Tweedley - 09/2006
Climbs obvious hanging ramp.Follow Andromeda to the jugs. Then undercut out left to obvious hanging ramp(crux)climb this via some funky moves to better hold then head to arete wher easy climbing leads to lower off.

2a.Apollo- 15m F8a+**
Dave MacLeod - 09/2006
The horizontal groove in the Kracken roof, pulling over right on the beak. Follow Andromeda to the jugs. Pull into the groove with hard moves on undercuts. Follow the groove undercuts to a good hold (technical and brilliant moves). Pull over onto the easy slab to finish. Horizontal the whole way!

3. Hand of Andromeda 15m F8a+ ***
Dave MacLeod - 12/04
Start on the ledge below Moments, traversing into the roof. Some jugs out in the roof split hard moves in the steepness. Without resting to long for photos, bail out onto the right face (crux). Follow crack past some final hard moves to LO.

The next 3 routes move up to the ledge which is gained by the following route.

4. Head of Medusa 10m F6b+
Dave Redpath - circa 1999
After fighting past the Rhododendron bush (Medusa!). Grab some jugs on the left and stand up on the wall. Move through the overlap with difficulty (crux) to finish on the ledge, alternatively continue up one of the next routes...

5. Shield of Perseus 18m F7c+ **
Dave Redpath - 01/05/04
Break out left from the ledge into steepness. Now using very small holds gain the finger jug above the shield (crux). Blast up remaining steepness into exit groove. Benefits from being perma dry.

6. Clash of the Titans 22m F7b+ **
Dave Redpath - 17/02/01
The overhang wall above ledge leading to hanging arete is tackled directly. Crimps lead to a dynamic move for a jug rail (crux) after which arete is passed on left side. A resting position can be gained on the right, before an evil step back around arete to LO. Note: To reduce rope drag its worth clipping in on the ledge. Rope can then be pulled through and a loop dropped to belayer far below.


Diagonally below and left (looking out) of savage slab lies a wedge shaped slab. Descend either from Savage Slab or from traverse left in from the Kraken.

Jerusalem topo.jpg

The left side of Jerusalem buttress has a small cave/gully, in which lies the following route.

1. Killing in the Name of 8m F7b+
Dave Redpath - 23/05/99
Climb the steep gully wall up to a break. A hard move lets you grab the chain (crux). Benefits from staying dry in the rain.

2. Room With a View 15m F6b **
Michael Tweedley - 23/05/99
Start at the left toe of the wedge. Climb boldly to gain some bolts. Passing a small overlap gains a better situation. Carefully move to the L.O.

3. Jerusalem 15m F6b ***
Dave Redpath - 09/05/99
Start at the right toe of the wedge. Some small quartz pockets need to be negotiated (crux) to gain the slab proper. Some good footholds split Minorly worrying slab climbing. Excellent!

The Lost World

Lost world buttress can be seen vaguely through the trees directly south of the parking layby. Walk back toward Tighnabruaich for 50 meters, jump the crash barrier and break through the trees into a clearing above the crag. The Lost World is best described as adventure sport climbing, requiring abseil approaches hanging belays and bushwhacking if something goes wrong. But dare I say this is a worthwhile expense for extremely good routes. Easiest access of all routes is by abseil from the top, so bring an extra rope and some jummars just in case. Before committing check your inline with some bolts first. Access is possible from below but much unpleasant bushwhacking is required from the Savage Slab approach.

LostWord topo.jpg

The crag is characterised by an impressive arching roof which fades on the right side. The first route climbs the steep wall just to the left of the start of the roof. Approach is possible from below, but a hanging stance at it base still required (scrambling required).

1. Distant Cries 20m F7b+ **
Dave MacLeod - 17/05/04
The curving roof arcs downward at the left end of the buttress. Climb the continually overhanging wall into a groove/roof near its top. The groove is deceptively difficult (crux) and the roof, well as you'd expect really!

The next two routes start from the bolt belay far below the hanging ramp.

2. Crouching Tiger 20m F6c+ **
Dave Redpath - 17/05/04
An excellent line taking the obvious hanging ramp through the three-meter long roof! Move left from bolt belay following an overlap to a groove. Use a slopey hold to gain a very hollow sounding flake (crux), flat crimps gain a jug at the back of the ramp. Now navigate onto the ramp, which maybe difficult considering handholds are at foothold level!

3. Vanishing Point 20m F7a+ **
Dave Redpath - 17/05/04
Move up the slab to roof on slopey schist sidepulls to good holds under steepness. Knarley pockets gain a small flat hold, exit left through the roof (crux) to a long move for some small quartz ripples. A long clip on the roof bolt might make the onsight/redpoint a little less terrifying.

Final Notes

Existing Projects: Please respect remaining projects marked by this guide. You may one day be in this position yourself having cleaned and equipped a sport project. Recent comments on ScottishClimbs have confirmed people's feelings on this matter, doing someone's project constitutes theft! Well, maybe not, but that's what it feels like!

Further Developments: The development of the crags of Tighnabruaich was never about quantity. Thus far the team has done the only the very best and very hardest lines. On a first come first served basis I'll send potential new routers on the right track on the condition that you tell us what you've done so we can update this guide for everyone.

Savage Slab: Large slab area between existing sport routes broken by many breaks, requires much cleaning but grade ranges are F3-F6b. The Kraken: Large groove in center of buttress with capped roof, F6b-F7b depending on chosen exit, also arete on right of buttress. Jerusalem: Obvious line up middle between existing routes. Lost World: Dreaming that we're hard climbing heroes we still couldn't see any lines through the roof directly, can you? Lines left of the F7b+ remaining, also a traverse above the roof. Others: Below Jerusalem is a small crag with a steep start, we considered it too short. Take a drive on the opposing side and you'll see another crag at water level just south of Ormidale Lodge. Not seen it with my own eyes, but access is difficult and requires wet feet or a chain saw to get to its base.

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