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Scottish Rock V2



SCOTTISH ROCK VOLUME 2   2nd edition

ISBN: 978-1-906095-46-8

Written by Gary Latter

Published by Pesda Press

Reviewed by Karin Magog 5th January 2015

Gary Latter has recently updated his Scottish Rock volume 2 and reprinted it as a second edition. For those of you who are unaware this volume covers the north of the country and includes the islands of Skye, Harris and Lewis, Orkney and the increasingly popular Pabbay and Mingulay, as well as the mainland areas of Torridon, Gairloch, Coigach & Assynt, Sutherland and Caithness. It offers a fantastic selection to some of the best climbing Scotland has to offer from big mountain crags to great roadside cragging and some of the best sea cliff climbing in the UK. Gary has done an excellent job of photographing the numerous crags, so the majority are accompanied with clear photo diagrams, plus a good selection of action photos. There are also plenty of detailed maps and good general info for each crag and area.

On first acquaintance this new edition doesn't look very different. It has the same number of pages and in fact the pages correspond exactly to the previous edition. However, upon closer inspection, the many useful amendments and additions can be seen. There are numerous grade changes, both up and down, as routes see more ascents and feedback can be passed on more easily. Typos and topo errors have been corrected and improvements in some route descriptions made. A photo-topo has also been added for the popular Pink Wall on Pabbay, a good addition and achieved by removing the lesser known Shag’s Geo. Several new routes have been added, especially around Reiff, where locals Ian Taylor and Tess Fryer continue to find high quality lines, mainly in the low to mid extremes. Gary has done an excellent job of fitting these in by tweaking the existing pages, or by removing the occasional action photo.

For those climbers wishing to visit Northern Scotland this guide is a must and has enough quality routes of all grades to keep most climbers happy for a lifetime. It also remains the guide of choice for the Barra Isles of Pabbay and Mingulay. The guide reflects Gary’s love and enthusiasm for Scottish climbing and the amount of work that has gone into producing the two volumes is very impressive. Priced a very reasonable £23 each, buying both volumes is extremely good value for money, however for a taster of what Scottish rock has to offer then you can’t go wrong with this 2nd edition of volume 2. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.


From the Foreword by Hamish MacInnes … “If you have an ambition to do all the climbs in these two Scottish Rock guides I think you’d better schedule time off in your next life. This labour of Gary’s has been of gargantuan proportions. Those of you who use the guides will benefit by his dedication and the sheer choice offered; if you divide the retail price of these by the number of good routes you’ll realise this is a bargain. Volume 1 covers a proliferation of Scottish crags up to the natural demarcation of the Great Glen. They are easier to access than most in Volume 2 and present infinite variety. I have been a long-time advocate of selected climbs and the use of photographs to illustrate both climbs and action. I’m glad that this principle has been used throughout these two volumes. It gives you a push to get up and do things. The list seems endless and if you succeed in doing half of them you’ll be a much better climber and know a lot more about Scotland – have a good decade!”



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SCOTTISH ROCK VOLUMES 1and 2 by Gary Latter

Reviewed by Karin Magog
This pair of selected guides cover between them a vast proportion of the Scottish mainland and its associated Northern and Western Isles.  First out was Volume 1, which encompasses the area north of the Highland Boundary Fault but south of Skye and Torridon. There are eleven main areas described, these being Isle of Arran, The Arrochar Alps, Isle of Mull, Glen Coe & Glen Etive, Ardgour, Ardnamurchan, Glen Nevis, Ben Nevis, Central Highlands, The Cairngorms and finally Easter Ross.  The more recent Volume 2 covers ten areas, Skye, Applecross, Torridon, Gairloch, Coigach & Assynt, Sutherland, Caithness, Lewis & Harris, Pabbay & Mingulay and finally Orkney.


The guide has an entertaining and informative introduction with headings such as Using the Guide, Accommodation, Eating Out, Access, Wild Camping, Caravans (very amusing), Birds, Seasonal Restrictions, Directions, Conservation, Ethics, Style, Quality Assessment, Climate, Tidal Information, Weather Information, Wee Bastards (aka midges and ticks), Mountain Rescue and Grades.  Following this in Volume 1 is a section on geology and as someone who’s always amazed at the vast array of different rock to be climbed in the UK I found this particularly interesting (Scotland has some of the oldest rock in the UK, as well as the best, Lewisian Gneiss being the first to spring to mind).  Each short paragraph describes how the rock was formed, what its like to climb and where it’s found in Scotland.


Now onto the climbing areas themselves and each of the sections start with a good, overall map (more detailed maps follow if required), a short intro, info on accommodation and amenities and a brief but informative history.  Next the routes and the guide is well served throughout with clear photo diagrams (an excellent effort given some of the territory the guide covers), as well as detailed written descriptions.  Presented in a well laid out, generally uncluttered style means the guide is a pleasure to use.  The route numbers in the text and diagrams appear in a coloured dot, the colour of which signifies a particular grade range e.g. green for moderate to severe, purple for E4 and above.  This makes identifying crags of interest much easier when flicking through the guide.  Amazingly each grade range is well served so whether you’re after long, multi-pitch severes or hard, technical extremes there’s enough here to satisfy even the most manic of climbers.  There’s also plenty of action pictures which are well placed in the text and cover the full range of grades and styles of climbing on offer (amazingly the sun always seems to be shining).  The cover photograph of Volume 1 is an interesting choice but highlights the diversity Scotland has to offer, whereas the cover of Volume 2 has me booking my ferry to Lewis and dreaming of sun drenched rock.  Each volume stands at almost 500 pages and describing 1670 and 2400 routes respectively they offer amazing value for money.  It also means they’ll be heavy to carry up those multi-pitch mountain routes but I reckon that’s a small price to pay.


Being particularly familiar with many of the areas in Volume 2 I can testify to the excellent job that Gary has done.  I was browsing through the book with sweaty palms and exclamations of ‘we must get back there’, ‘that crag looks amazing’, ‘I would love to do that route’, etc.  All in all two superb publications that Gary deserves to be proud of.  It might have taken him 12 years to produce these guides but they were certainly worth the wait.  His love and knowledge of climbing in Scotland are present throughout the guides and help make them truly inspiring.  Get your copies now.



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