Salisbury Crags South Quarry

Page Type
Edinburgh, Scotland, Europe
Route Type:
Bouldering and short solos
Time Required:
Everything from a moderate or two to some strenuous stuff, at least UK6b

Route Quality: 3 Votes

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Salisbury Crags South Quarry
Created On: Sep 13, 2005
Last Edited On: Sep 13, 2005


Salisbury Crags is the impressive volcanic sill hanging over Edinburgh city centre, a seperate formation to the main mass of Arthur's Seat, with a distinctively different geology. There's a nice walk along the top of the crag (beats the routes to the summit of Arthur's Seat hands down), and a busy track along the bottom known as the Radical Way. The bouldering area is reached from this track, which can be accessed either from the Holyrood end, or from the south end of Salisbury Crag, where the rocks dip to a low col at the foot of Arthur's Seat itself.

The South Quarry is the first major bay set back from the Radical Road that you reach on approaching from the south. You can't miss it: the back wall is about 60m long (at a guess) and 12m high. There are chalk marks everywhere, and usually several climbers in-situ.

The next much taller quarry is currently off-limits to climbers, as are the natural non-quarried buttresses all along the rest of the crag. This is a shame, as there are some excellent-looking lines. The park authorities have their reasons for banning climbing (which is officially illegal!), but they seem a little spurious to me. Given Scotland's generally excellent and progressive access legislation, and the crag's prominent position right above our new parliament (the source of said legislation), Holyrood's access bylaws seem a tad anachronistic. Perhaps they could be renegotiated? There is a great deal of climbable rock all over the park, which would make Holyrood perhaps the best city centre climbing resource in Europe. What a shame! OK, rant over...

Officially, you need to obtain a climbing permit from the park office at Holyrood (free, but an inconvenience) practise few locals have ever had one, and I can't remember the last time a ranger checked mine (long since expired). Oops, hope they don't read this! Someone please tell me if you think I should diplomatically drop this last paragraph entirely...

Route Description

A full traverse of the quarry's back wall is a good warm up, with a couple of short crux sections and otherwise generally easy climbing. The most popular line stays within a metre of the ground, though you can traverse at any height: one good route stays about 2 or 3 metres above the ground all the way. There are plenty of individual problems and eliminates on the back wall too, plus obvious potential for full-height solos. Some of the more obvious lines go at about Severe. If indulging in this, beware the more friable dark rock band at the top. Quickest way down (other than falling) is an obvious blocky corner towards the north end of the wall, Moderate

The right-hand wall of the quarry has a lot more strenuous bouldering, including some very pumpy and sequency traverses at various heights. Friendly locals may show you a few problems. There's enough here to keep all but the very best climbers happily occupied. Don't try to scale the entire height of the black wall, which is reputedly very friable.

Round the corner is a whole bunch of other stuff, though this is officially beyond the bounds of the permited climbing area.

Essential Gear

The quarry is a sheltered sun trap, and I've often climbed topless here on sunny days in January.

I think it's just possible that ropes and trad gear are officially permitted here, though few of the routes are over endowed with potential protection, and there's nowhere to belay on top. I've never seen anyone doing this however. Soloing is the way to go.

Miscellaneous Info

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Salisbury Crags South Quarry

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