The Crags are around 150 feet high (46m) and have been used for rock climbing since the earliest days of the sport. Climbing is now restricted to the South Quarry with only bouldering and free climbing permitted. This is to protect the unique geological nature of the Crags from damage by fixings or rope climbing.
The South Quarry is accessed on foot from the Radical Road, named by Walter Scott after the Radical War of 1820. Unemployed weavers from the West of Scotland had made up a large part of the disaffected radicals involved in this uprising and they were used to build the road at the writer’s suggestion. This was Scott absorbing an oppositional force into the contemporary mainstream, just as his historical novels absorbed political movements such as Jacobitism into romantic narratives. Soon, the radical libertarian form of Scottish identity would be completely overshadowed by the tartan pageantry that Walter Scott devised for the subsequent visit of George IV – a pageantry that is still with us today.