I’ve been climbing at the Roaches many times and never bothered to look at the other climbing venues just next door. The Roaches is just so big and has so much great climbing that I never felt the need. I did some brilliant bouldering there on Saturday, climbing problems I had wanted to do for a while and pushing my grade a little. Unfortunately, the weather forecast for Sunday morning showed that it would begin and end with showers (plus “the chance of thunder”). I therefore looked through my guidebook for a bouldering venue with a very short walk-in so that I could walk-out quickly if need be and I found Newstones. It’s a small series of boulders and little buttresses a few miles from the Roaches. The rock has great friction and some strange veins running through it that I’ve never seen before on gritstone and which made for sharp edges and flakes. This helped make the bouldering interesting, varied and fun. Despite the great climbing and a pleasant location, Max and I had the place to ourselves the whole time we were there.
This weekend showed me that the big climbing venues are brilliant, but that I need to flick through the pages of my guidebooks more.
One of the things I like about bouldering is that it’s great when all you want to do is pootle. That’s all I wanted to do last weekend at The Roaches. I had a creeping cold that was developing a cough. The gritstone was green, wet and strong, blustery winds made sitting belaying at the top of a crag look a bit unappealing. So I spent my time wandering around the boulders, doing low-grade routes that looked interesting and weren’t so slimy and wet that my feet would skate off them. Moving at a gentle pace and just focusing on how to move on the rock really cleared my head and relaxed me.
To make the weekend even better, I got to see the inside of the Don Whillans Memorial Hut. I’ve been past that iconic oddity tucked into the rocks at the bottom of The Roaches so many times and wondered what it looks like inside. With some friends staying there, I got to see and it is an amazing building (particularly the kitchen).
In the end, the tiredness caused by my cold and the limited number of boulders sheltered enough that the crash pads wouldn’t blow away brought an end to my climbing on Sunday. I didn’t mind. I finished my lovely pootle by ambling off to the nearby tearooms.