Kirriemuir: Home of Peter Pan Park, and a (Sports) Climbing Neverland
Updated: Mar 23, 2019
OK, let's back right up. A "Climbing Neverland" she says? What exactly does that mean? The original Neverland was a place where children didn't need to grow up and could experience the joys of their childhood indefinitely. Well, here is the synchronicity: this website is for parents who want to be able to climb with the enjoyment they felt in their pre-kid years, whilst looking after their little ones safely at the crag. And in this sense, Xani's dad says he can't think of another rock where he has felt so much at ease tackling the routes, whilst knowing his 2-year-old tot is in a safe environment where he could also explore and still remain in view. The crag is down a hill just along from the Peter Pan Park; a flat field bordered by the rock face on one side and a sparse grove of trees all around. No road in sight, and the level of the field meant Xani really was visible at all times. The biggest danger was the patches of nettles which proliferated around the site, but we managed a whole day unscathed, and we do have a very wobbly kid!
Kirriemuir is a total sun-trap, if you are lucky enough with the Scottish weather to hit a sunny day. It was May and yet surprisingly very hot in the area around the rock face. Out of a climbing party of around 15 people I was the only one who remembered to bring sunscreen (because: Toddler!) and my Factor 50 was gratefully received by every member of the group, notwithstanding a few shoulders and arms that had fried red before the day was out. Graeme, Xani and I set up camp with a beach-shade/half-tent, and I don't think we could have managed without it, as Xan spent the bulk of the day sitting in the only shade in the whole area provided by that canvas. As the afternoon wore on, he got braver and more comfortable, and decided to explore a little bit. And yet, given how big the field was, it was amazing that he was in sight and in safety at all times.
As for the technical stuff: this is one of Scotland's most popular sports climbing crags. The climbs range from 3+ to 7b and all the routes are covered in the guidebook "7A Max: Scottish Sport". The rock is a mixture of pleasant sandstone and conglomerate, and although the stone is soft, contains some surprisingly good pebble-pulling cruxes. There are also plenty of interesting climbs, even on the easier grades. In fact, it is a great place to begin your lead climbing career as there are some ridiculously easy climbs, but even the die-hard climbers in our group seem to revisit this place every year and find something to satisfy.
We finished the day with a BBQ as we always do, and the whole day was just sun-bathed, toddler-happy, climber-exhilarated joy. The sign of a great climbing day is when people are still messaging about the various quirky tales attached to each person's sends even two days later: how Andy ended up on a boogie-board slab of rock on his belly, how Gunda was flying up those routes despite being 7 months pregnant, and how Graeme free-solo-ed up a neighbouring route in bare feet to pass over a piece of gear because someone-who-shall-remain-nameless had forgotten their last quick draw and got stuck at the top.