A little over a year ago I returned to climbing outside after surgery on my knee. It felt absolutely great to be climbing again, but I knew I still had a way to get my strength and technique back to what they were. I did a lot better that weekend than I thought I might, but I did feel disappointed to not get up some problems. So last weekend I returned to Burbage to try those problems again.
I’d particularly wanted to climb the problems on the That Little Piglet boulder. I’m usually good at climbing slabs, but I’d been baffled by how to get up two low grade, slab problems on this boulder the last time I was there. Read more
Sometimes rain on a climbing trip can be good thing. A couple of weeks ago, rain forced me to give up on climbing at The Roaches and instead go for a walk in the surrounding countryside. It turned out to be a great walk, going to places I had never been and seeing some fantastic sights. I hiked over Hen Cloud, past The Roaches, through the chasm of Lud’s Church, along the pretty River Dane, under The Hanging Stone, and back along the whole length of the Roaches ridge. The best bit was the amazing, clear views from The Roaches once the rain and cloud had cleared.
The next day was bright and clear, and so I got my chance to go climbing. I went bouldering for the first time at The Attic and The Cellar. 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
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 –
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.
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 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.
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