SCOTTISH ROCK Volume 2 North 3rd edition
Written by Gary Latter
Published by Pesda Press
Reviewed by Steve Crowe May 2020
I was invited to review the third edition of Scottish Rock North Volume 2 but I have decided to discuss both books. What started out as a two-year project to celebrate the 1000 best climbs on Scottish rock and write them up for a stunning selective guidebook has become a lifetime obsession for Gary Latter. By the time Scottish Rock was ready for print there was more than enough superb routes to fill two volumes. Volume One covers all the best routes south of the Great Glen, while the third edition of the popular Volume Two covers all the very best climbs on the mainland north of the Great Glen along with Skye, the Outer Hebrides and Orkney.
Both editions of the guide have 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 brief section on geology.
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. 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. 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). Each volume stands at approaching 500 pages and describing 1670 and 2550 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.
Scottish Rock North is a fantastic mixture of modern masterpieces alongside an impressive collection of timeless classics covering all grades so no one will feel short changed. For this updated third edition Gary has selected over 2550 climbs and described them all within 480 colourful pages and there is definitely enough quality climbs described here to last any keen climber a lifetime. There is a huge variety of rock types throughout the Highlands and Islands from the rough Gabbro of The Cullin on Skye, to the Old Red Sandstone famous for The Old Man of Hoy, the superb Torridonian sandstone, the excellent cracks and vertical Dolerite columns of Kilt Rock on Skye and my favourite, the multi coloured Lewisian Gneiss of the Outer Hebrides.
Specifically, for the third edition there has been 300 new routes added alongside 60 new photo topos and over 50 additional action photos too. The highlights include Super Crag Sport overlooking Loch Maree and Super Crag Trad an amazing sea cliff near Lochinver. To fit all this in Gary decided to delete all the historical introductions and about 150 less popular routes.
Being particularly familiar with many of the areas in the far north I can testify to the excellent job that Gary has done with his third edition of Volume 2. 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. Gary ought to be proud of both volumes of Scottish Rock, his love and knowledge of climbing in Scotland are present throughout the guides and help make them truly inspiring. Get your copies now.
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!”