Tag Archives: gritstone

The Peak District. It was very windy.

9 Jun

Another Bank Holiday weekend, another climbing trip.  Life is hard!  A bunch of us went up to the Peak District – we braved the gusting winds and constant promise of rain to camp in the corner of Eric Byne’s Memorial Campsite field (only £3 per person per night, but no showers or hot water and it’s a half mile walk from the car park to the camping field).  We shared the field with a large number of youngsters (I can say that, now I am old!) who kept leaving the gate open.  As a result the farmer’s sheep kept getting into the camping field during the night and stealing people’s food, and in our case, a wooden spoon.  One of the guys in our group heard the 2am munching and got up to chase the sheep away.  At 2am I would have given anything to see the completely innocent sight of a man in his boxers chasing a sheep!!*

On the Saturday we climbed at Stanage.  At approximately four miles long it’s the longest inland cliff in Britain and is quite a sight.  The grey gritstone, beloved of English trad climbers for its immense friction, stretching as far as the eye can see.  Unfortunately it was horrifically windy that day, and quite rainy, on and off, so we climbed a few routes and Jim flashed his E1 5b lead of Kirkus’s Corner, before a couple of us bribed the others off the Edge with talk of scones and hot chocolate.

Stanage Edge, stretching into the distance

Unfortunately we had fibbed a bit about the scones and hot chocolate as the shop was quite out of the way, and we took them to a limestone quarry instead, where the routes were polished and the rock was loose, but worst of all (according to some) it was SPORT climbing!  GAH!  They were not impressed, but at least it wasn’t raining and it was much warmer as the sides of the quarry sheltered us from the worst of the wind so we managed to bag a few more routes before heading off to the pub for a well earned beer and to warm up.

The second night was equally windy, the tent walls flapped around us all night and the sound of sheep stomping around woke me up periodically.  At 7:30am on the dot the farmer turns up and shakes all the tents requesting “camp fees please!” in his strong Derbyshire accent.  He must be about 95 years old and deaf as a post but is clearly tough as old boots because even on the last morning after it had been raining incessantly since the wee small hours, he was still up and requesting “camp fees please!” and talking about the rotten weather through our open tent door!

The next day we cried off Stanage as it was still really windy and likely to be wet so we headed off to Lawrence Field, another disused quarry but at least the rock was gritstone and the climbing was trad (kept some people quiet – you know who you are!)  Lawrence Field is very beautiful, with slim silver birch trees rising directly out of bright green grass.  Here and there sheep wander through the trees, their lambs bounding joyfully behind them.  The climbing here was really good, although the routes were slightly limited given the numbers of people who had also decided that being sheltered from the weather was a good idea!

Birch trees at Lawrence Field

Despite the fact I have easily led HS on gritstone I have been suffering from a lack of confidence due to my mental block at building belay stances.  I led a nice VDiff with no problems placing the gear, and then created a horrific monster of a belay stance at the top of the route – it was safe but pretty messy.  I’ve since promised myself some practice at building stances and hopefully this will help in building confidence at lead climbing on trad as well.

We’ve all agreed that whenever the weather looks dry this year we’ll whizz to whatever crag looks good (in between weddings, christenings and birthdays) because nothing compares to climbing outdoors with a great bunch of people!

* The wooden spoon was later recovered, with minimal damage to sheep or spoon.

%d bloggers like this: