Book Review: ‘The Great Sea Cliffs of Scotland’

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Will Harris reviews a lavishly-produced new book from Scottish Mountaineering Press

There is a strong tradition of beautifully-produced coffee table books showcasing the best of the climbing that the British Isles has to offer, and Guy Robertson’s latest tome offers an excellent example of such a publication. Like his earlier book focussed on Scotland’s great mountain crags, this volume collects writing from many of the country’s most active climbers, mixing them with photography of jaw-dropping quality. Each chapter combines an introduction to a cliff alongside a personal account of the climbing there, with the relationships between the developers of the routes and the cliffs a central and successful theme throughout the book.


As an island nation Britain’s best climbing is found along its extensive shoreline, and this is as true in Scotland as for the perhaps better-known sea cliff venues found south of the border. Some of the cliffs featured in the book, such as the jewels to be found on the outer-Hebridean islands of Pabbay and Mingulay, have risen to prominence in recent years, much deserving of the attention that they get. Others, such as the wildly adventurous crags found in the far north such as Clo Mor and Nebbifield, point to the possibility of deeply exploratory climbing on kilometres of unclimbed cliffline.


The broad geographical coverage spans the nation, drawing attention to venues that have long been considered central to local climbing scenes but which have escaped wider appreciation and highlighting them to the potential visitor. This is particularly true of the cliffs on the east coast. The grade coverage is equally diverse, with moderately difficult routes at friendly venues featured alongside some of the world’s most challenging traditional climbing, making for a book with achievable options however hard you climb. With international travel currently difficult, Robertson’s effort points to a lifetime’s worth of world class climbing and should provide inspiration to any trad climber.

‘The Great Sea Cliffs of Scotland’ is available for £35 from Scottish Mountaineering Press

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