The woods around Fontainebleau have a reputation as one of the best places in the world to boulder. Thousands of sandstone boulders, with tens of thousands of boulder problems, scattered about a pretty forest that covers some 300 square kilometres. Fontainebleau also has a reputation as being a great place to take kids. That’s a … Read more Bouldering in Fontainebleau with a Toddler
“All the Grindelwald via ferrata are closed.” The woman at the tourist information office said these words in a firm, brisk tone that indicated that she didn’t realise that I would find them disappointing. I knew that there was a risk that the long, cold winter might mean that some mountain routes would still be … Read more A Little Bit of the Eiger – the Rotstock Via Ferrata
I love rock climbing. I’ve been climbing since I was a teenager (with the odd, injury-related break) and want to keep going until I’m 90. Severe is the hardest UK trad grade that I can currently lead. I’m trying to improve my climbing technique and this will hopefully help me climb at a higher grade. … Read more Rock Climbing
A via ferrata is essentially a way of enabling access to mountainous areas that would normally only be accessible to experienced mountaineers or rock climbers. It’s a metal cable that’s pinned at intervals to a mountain or rock face and to which a climber attaches themselves using special equipment that’s designed to work with … Read more Via ferrata
This is a gallery of a selection of my best photos of my rock climbing, hiking and via ferreta adventures. I update it regularly with new photos, but keep a few of my favourite photos in the gallery too.
Longsleddale was the one place I really wanted to go on my bouldering trip to the Lake District. Some people might think it a bit strange to prioritise the Settle Earth Boulders in Longsleddale over destination bouldering venues in the Lakes like St Bees or Langdale. But I wanted to go as I knew that Longsleddale is beautiful and tranquil, and, after reading the new Lake District Bouldering guide, I’d learned that it also has a great lower-grade bouldering circuit.
I’ve been to the Lake District many, many times, but didn’t know about Longsleddale until a few years ago. Read more →
I couldn’t actually find the boulders. I walked back and forth along the same stretch of grassy ridge looking at the boulders scattered around me, trying to find one that matched the photos in my new guidebook. If I could find the Ridge Stone boulder, then I could orientate myself and get on the right track. But in the mist it wasn’t easy to work out which rock was which. I felt certain I’d missed the path to Boulder Valley shown in the guidebook, and so had ended up walking too far up the ridge. The Ridge Stone was shown in the guidebook’s map as being after the start of the path I wanted. I reasoned that if I found the Ridge Stone, I would know for sure I had gone too far. I looked again at a tall boulder sitting just to the side of the path, trying to work out if its shape matched that of the boulder shown in my book. The whole situation felt ridiculous. I felt ridiculous. I was walking about in the mist, on the first day of a bouldering trip to the Lake District, unable to find the boulders I’d come all this way to climb. Read more →
The other weekend I fell off more than usual. I’ll have a go at harder problems every time I go bouldering as a way of trying to improve my climbing. About a third of the time I complete the problem, another third of the time I fall off every time, and the remaining third I’m just baffled about how to actually do the climb. However, this time, I fell just off again and again. Read more →
The other weekend I got reminded that a great walk doesn’t have to be up the highest peak, or to a famous summit that everyone wants to tick off their list. I had a brilliant time walking up a hill that’s just lovely for being in a great location, a bit different, and with an interesting character.
Crook Hill is in the High Peak area of the Peak District. It sits at the bottom of the two arms of the Y-shaped Ladybower Reservoir, where the Woodlands Valley splits off from the Derwent Valley. It’s a commanding location that makes it easy to imagine that Crook Hill was the once the site of a hill fort (although I’m not aware that it ever was). Read more →
I climbed around the rain this weekend. Rain often either forces me to not go climbing at all, or forces me to finish climbing before I’m ready. This weekend looked like it was going to go that way again when it started raining after I had only done two problems at Stanage Far Right. It was particularly annoying as rain (and snow) had stopped me climbing in North Yorkshire a couple of months ago, and for some time I’d been wanting to go back to Stanage Far Right to see if I could finish the green circuit.
Climbing Snout Groove (VB 4a) at Stanage Far Right. This was my first climb of the day, and I got rained off after completing my second.
With the weather completely changed, I went back to Stanage Far Right. Here I’m climbing Steps (VB 4a).
Climbing the fun Front Flake (V0+ 5a) at Stanage Far Right.
Pert Bloke (V0+ 5a) is a really interesting, fun problem (I didn’t even mind the sit start).
Me climbing the problem Gripple One at Stanage Far Right.
The far right hand end of Stanage is a brilliant place for easier bouldering. The problems are varied, interesting and (usually) above good landings. The views are brilliant. It’s also only a ten minute walk from the car parking (which is a definite plus when there’s a chance you might get rained off). Read more →
On my trip to the North York Moors last weekend I saw snow, rain, high winds and bright sunshine. I was disappointed that the snow and the rain meant I couldn’t go bouldering, but I still had a great time walking along the coast, in wooded valleys and over the moors. Here are the highlights of my trip –
The beautiful view of Robin Hood’s Bay from Ravenscar.
I was amazed to find a lizard hiding from the cold on a standing stone on Howdale Moor. The cold was probably the reason he stayed very still.
I always really like visiting waterfalls on rainy days. This is Mallyan Spout, in the valley below Goathland.
Mallyan Spout and West Beck.
The stone row (AKA stone alignment) on Simon Howe Rigg in the snow.
Simon Howe – a round barrow (burial mound) on Simon Howe Rigg. Round barrows such as this date from the Late Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age.
Windy, wet and grey – last weekend had a lot in common with other weekends I’ve spent in the Peak District at this time of year. It was still fun though, particularly as I set out to go to bits of the Peak District I’d not been to before. This meant heading around the edge of the moors to the East of Kinder Scout on Saturday.
My route up Grindsbrook Clough.
Walking up Grindsbrook Clough to get onto a windy Kinder Scout.
Looking down Grindsbrook Clough.
One of the many fords I crossed when walking around the edge of Kinder.
Looking across to Grindsbrook Clough from the edge of the moor.
Look towards Jaggers Clough, with Ladybower Reservoir just visible in the distance, from Crookstone Out Moor. I didn’t get much further than this before I got the full force of the wind and decided to turn around.
By Sunday the wind had become so strong that walking around the tops looked impractical (and certainly like a lot of hard work). Read more →
My hands dry out really easily after climbing and in cold weather (two things that often go together in the UK). This means that I’m always interested in hand care products for climbers. When I came across adverts for KletterRetter hand cream, I decided to give it a go.
KletterRetter is German made and has been selling there since 2013. It relatively recently started being sold in the UK. The name apparently roughly translates into English as “climbing saver.” Read more →
Sometimes the day works out better than you expect. The forecast last weekend was for low clouds and showers. That’s certainly how the day started out, but by the time I’d walked up to the edges and tors above the Derwent Valley a low autumn sun had broken through to create one of the best days I’ve had in the Peak District. Read more →
Rock climbers are advised to work on their weaknesses in order to get better. The trouble is, since my injury, I’ve had quite a few weaknesses.
A piece of advice that I’ve read in lots of different places is that you should work at getting better at the things you are weak at if you want to become a better rock climber. The thinking behind this is that people tend to avoid the things they’re not very good at. A lack of practice means that you don’t get better at the thing they’re shunning and so continue to avoid it. In rock climbing, you could be avoiding something because you find it’s too physically hard and/or you cannot master the technique. For the first few years after I started climbing my particular weakness was smearing. It felt insecure, unnatural and unsafe. So, I tried to climb routes using as little smearing as possible. This was a bit of a challenge as I was doing a lot of gritstone climbing at the time. However, somewhere along the way I did enough smearing to get the hang of it. It went from being unnerving, to being another useful way of getting up a climb, to being fun. I now really enjoy smearing up a featureless gritstone slab. Read more →
It’s been a year since I climbed on real rock and six months since the accident. After lots of physio exercises, surgery and weekly sessions at climbing walls to remind my body how to climb, last weekend I finally got back to climbing outside. It brought a smile to my face and reminded me of why I love to climb.
The accident was stupid. One of those seemingly minor things that have surprisingly big consequences. Read more →
Winter was ending by the time I turned up. The weather system nicknamed The Beast from the East by the media had combined with Storm Emma to bring freezing conditions, blizzards and strong winds to the UK. This late season storm had been the last blast of winter. It had been gone a week when I visited the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons, but I could see the remnants of this wild weather. Read more →
Forecasts of 45mph winds, with gusts up to 65mph, meant that it didn’t seem like a good idea to climb a mountain in Snowdonia last weekend. So I decided to do some fairly low level walks. On the Saturday I walked from Capel Curig to the pass near Crimpiau, and down to Llyn Crafnant. I then walked around the western shore of the lake, before heading over the ridge to Llyn Geirionydd. From there I walked through the woods back to Capel Curig. Every so often bright sunshine broke through to create more rainbows than I have ever seen on a hike. Read more →