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
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 →
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 →
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 →
I may not have been able to see very far on my walk up The Black Mountain (Y Mynydd Du) last Saturday, but I could still enjoy looking at the pretty colours of the grass.
Walking on The Black Mountain.
Marcus crossing Afon Twrch on The Black Mountain.
The Black Mountain and Fan Brycheiniog.
Broken limestone near Castell y Geifr.
On Sunday my circular walk over some of the classic peaks in the Brecon Beacons started by walking through Cwm Llwch.
The sun broke through the cloud as I walked along a ridge towards the summit of Corn Du.
The mountains looked very pretty when the cloud cleared enough to see the summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du.
The view back to Llyn Cwm Llwch and Cwm Llwch from the side of Corn Du.
After climbing Corn Du, it was up and then down Pen y Fan.
Then up again on to Cribyn, which is where I got this view of Fan y Big. Frustratingly, something had gone a bit wrong with my knee and I was in a lot of pain and so I decided not to walk up Fan y Big that day and head back to the car.
I really enjoy exploring new climbing venues. They’re not new in the sense that they are untouched (I don’t climb that far off the beaten track). They’re just new to me and that makes them intriguing. That is part of why I enjoyed bouldering at the RAC Boulders in Snowdonia for the first time last weekend. It really felt like a discovery because I’d driven past the RAC Boulders fifty or more times before and never realised they were there.
The Marsh Boulder and the Frontside Boulder at the RAC Boulders.
Me bouldering on the Marsh Boulder at the RAC Boulders.
Bouldering on the Marsh Boulder at the RAC Boulders.
Me on the problem named Scoops (F4) on the Marsh Boulder at the RAC Boulders.
What I found was that the RAC Boulders are brilliant fun. There’s interesting and varied climbing on a couple of boulders with a good selection of lower to middle grade routes (which suits me). It’s also, conveniently, only a few minutes from the road while being surprisingly quiet and tranquil. Read more →
I paid the price for going, but going was worth it.
For days in advance of the trip to Exmoor I had been hoping that the rotten cold I had for two weeks would go away. When it didn’t, I decided to go anyway. I wanted to see Exmoor again and not miss one of my limited opportunities to do walking that was more adventurous than a London pavement. But I paid the price in aches, snot and coughing. The grottiness was worth it though for the pretty walking through wooded combes, along rocky headlands and over freezing moor.
Gnarled and bent trees in Worthy Wood near Porlock.
Walking through Worthy Wood.
An old groyne on Bossington Beach.
Walking towards Bossington Hill along Bossington Beach.
Dead trees sticking out of the march behind Bossington Beach.
The old coast guard lookout at Hurlstone Point on Bossington Hill.
Bossington Beach seen from Hurlstone Point.
Little Rowbarrow (on the left) with Dunkery Beacon in the distance.
Marcus playing his ukulele on top of Dunkery Beacon.
Badger Rock is a famous boulder that I’d been eager to climb for years. Its reputation is built on providing great climbing, across a range of grades, in a picturesque, quiet Lake District valley. If that wasn’t enough to make it popular, Badger Rock is also only about ten minutes walk from a car park. I’ve been waiting for a chance to climbing on Badger Rock since I first saw it three years ago when walking the classic Kentmere Horseshoe. Last weekend looked like it might finally be my chance to climb on the Badger, but all of my hopes of climbing rested on it staying dry. Read more →