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Beacon Scar


Heather Moorland on the North York Moors © Steve Crowe 2005


OS Landranger Sheet: Actually it is inconveniently situated on the join of three sheets 93, 99 and 100!

Map Reference:  SE460998

Aspect: North West

Altitude: 287m                      

Approach time: 20 minutes

Mini Guide: Beacon Scar Mini Guide (PDF)


Situation and Character
Overlooking the small village of Ingleby Arncliffe and easily seen from the A19, this impressive crag is host to some of the area’s best climbs. Although many of the routes can be climbed all year round, the rocks can take quite a few days to dry after rain and it is best considered a summer crag. The climbs and outlook have improved dramatically after forestry work during 1995 cleared a number of trees on and around the crag.

Beacon Scar enjoys a fantastic outlook. © Steve Crowe 2005

The first recorded activity was in 1957 by John Clark and Norman Thompson, who added Sunnyside and Alligator Crawl as well as other routes on Scarth Wood Buttress. John Hickman and Maurice Wilson were also active during these early developments, climbing Sunset, and its companion routes on Arncliffe Slab. Terry Sullivan climbed the impressive Gehenna in 1959 and its neighbouring three star route, Beacon Buttress in 1960. Both routes were fine achievements and very bold leads as the protection was nothing more than a single soft steel piton in each, [it is worth remembering that nuts and camming devices had not been invented!]. In late 1960 Allan Austin paid a visit on the invitation of Terry Sullivan, led Gehenna without using the peg and promptly confirmed its quality. Austin mentioned his visit to Brian Evans and it was not long before Evans and his party had snatched the excellent Party Line. Mike Railton visited Beacon Scar in 1965 and succeeded where many had failed, by climbing the testing Nail File. At about the same time Bill Tate accompanied by John Phillips ascended the superb Mongol using two points of aid whilst Tony Meekle engineered his way up the artificial route The Boss. Tony Marr added Plexor and the Direct Start to Alligator Crawl during 1966. The publication of a new climber’s guide to the area in 1970 sparked off renewed interest in the crag. The first to contribute was Mike Readshaw with Flying Trapeze in 1971. In 1972 Denis Lee, Dave Ladkin, John Earl and Hugh Banner visited the crag and led Tremor without the sling for aid to claim the first free ascent. Development then slowed until early 1979 when Paul Ingham renewed interest in the crag by first climbing Mongol without its points of aid and then added a variation finish to the same climb. A few weeks later Ingham returned with Alan Taylor to produce the very bold Yellow Peril, and then with Tony Marr added Skateboard, North Aręte and Haunted Hero's. Kelvin Neal, accompanied by Alan Moss, finished off a very productive year by leading his test piece Epicentre. Developments dried up once again and it was not until 1991 that Walking on Sunshine was added by a first ascentionist whose name was indecipherable. Then in 1993 Steve Findlay and Chris Shorter contributed the hardest route on the crag to date when they enjoyed A Last Fling, just prior to Steve leaving the area. They also added Mythical Pinnacle to Scarth Wood Pinnacle at the same time. To date no further new climbs have been reported although the crag is far from worked out.

Access and Approaches
The best approach is to gain the Swainby - Osmotherly road from either the A172 or A19 and to park just south of the cattle grid at a small parking place (NGR 473003) at a junction with the Cleveland Way. Follow the Cleveland Way South West, ignoring any paths leading off to the right, until meeting a stonewall. Pass through two gates in quick succession and immediately take the small path leading northwest through the woods. This leads to a small viewpoint above Scarth Wood Buttress. A steep path leads down to the right (north). The first rock encountered is the small broken buttress with a slab at half height and some mature trees growing from it, this is: -

Approaching Beacon Scar on the North York Moors © Steve Crowe 2005

Scarth Wood Buttress

1. Penguin Crack 8m D
Start in the corner of the gully opposite the ivy wall. Climb straight up on good holds.
NA Thompson, J. Clark 1957

2. Sunnyside 17m D
Start 10m right of Penguin Crack at a chockstone forming twin cracks. Climb up the slab on the left to a tree in the gully, then traverse left to a tree on the corner and finish straight up.
NA Thompson, J Clark 1957

Sunniside (D) Tree Gully (M) and Honeysuckle Chimney (M) all started to the right but were lost following a huge rockfall in 2005.

3. Sunnyside Direct 8m VS 4b
Start just to the left of the chockstone and twin cracks, at a prominent groove. Climb this with interest to gain the slab. Finish up the corner on the left.
T Sullivan 1960

Ian Peerless climbing Sunnyside Direct VS 4b after the rockfall in 2005


4. Tree Gully 12m M
Start as for Sunnyside. Climb the gully to the tree. Finish by climbing up a crack in the short wall and then up left to the top.
NA Thompson, J Clark 1957
Sunniside (D) Tree Gully (M) and Honeysuckle Chimney (M) all started to the right but were lost following a huge rockfall in 2005.

5. Honeysuckle Chimney 15m M
The chimney and slabs 3m from Tree Gully are climbed.
NA Thompson, J Clark 1957
Sunniside (D) Tree Gully (M)
and Honeysuckle Chimney (M) all started to the right but were lost following a huge rockfall in 2005.

The next climbs start 10m further right across the broad steep gully, close to a large boulder.

6. Alligator, Direct Start 14m VS 4b
Start 4m left of the large boulder and climb the corner crack to finish up the chimney above.
Tony Marr, Ken Jackson 1966

7. After Hours 13m VS 4b
Start 2m right of the direct start to Alligator Crawl. Climb the crack system, cross Alligator Crawl and continue direct to the top.
Alan Taylor, Paul Ingham 28th April 1979

8. Alligator Crawl 17m VD
Behind the large boulder is a wide crack, which is followed to a ledge. Traverse left along the ledge and up the narrow slab and final chimney.
NA Thompson, J Clark 1957

To the right is an impressive yellow wall this is:

Mongol Wall

9. Yellow Peril 17m E3 6a
Climbs a slanting groove and crack on the wall left of Mongol. Climb the groove with a difficult move to get established on a rounded ledge. Small tree runner. Continue up a crack. Bold and not well protected.
Paul Ingham, Alan Taylor 28th April 1979

About 10m right of the large boulder is an impressive Y shaped crack, which is Mongol.

10. Mongol 23m E2 5c ***
Climb the steep crack system until hard moves lead to a ledge high on the right. Continue up the groove above. A superb climb, steep and strenuous but well protected.
F.A. Bill Tate, John Philips 1965 (2pts. of aid).
F.F.A. Paul Ingham, Alan Taylor 21st April 1979
Karin Magog climbing Mongol E2 5c at Beacon Scar © Steve Crowe 2005

11. Mongol Variation Finish E2 5c *
Follow the obvious left fork of the Y shaped crack. Harder than the normal finish, also steep and strenuous.
Paul Ingham, Alan Taylor, Dave Wilson 28th April 1979

12. A Last Fling 23m E5 6a
Start up Mongol then make hard moves right past an in situ peg to a sloping ledge. Holds lead right to a spectacular position on the undercut aręte. Layback up this to finish. (In need of a major clean up with a sweeping brush!)
Steve Findlay, Chris Shorter 1993 “A Last Fling was actually called "Fat Bastard's Last Fling" by Steve (there were arguments about the position of the apostrophe!) but it was censored by a sensitive soul by the time it first appeared in print.” Chris Shorter
Karin Magog climbing A Last Fling E5 6a in 2005

Immediately around the aręte is an impressive sculptured wall of soft sandstone. One route (with the inspirational name "Choss Fest") has been climbed up the obvious crack line at E2 5b. (Rick Graham 1975) but it is not recommended for health reasons! Even Rick has finally managed to blank the whole experience from his memory. Local climbers are tactfully requested not to pester Rick with any questions about this route.

Further to the right is the unmistakable Boss, an awesome rock bulge. Just to its left is a large prominent slab split by four good lines.

Arncliffe Slab
The large slab flanking the left of The Boss.

13. Sunset 20m HVD *
Start 2m from the left edge of the slab. Climb onto a shelf at the foot of the slab then up to an obvious protection slot, trend left then up the edge to finish up the final groove on the left. Poorly protected.
John Hickman, Maurice Wilson 1957

14. Evensong 20m D
Start from a rock embedded in the roots of a tree. Climb the short/wide crack onto the block, continue up the groove. Finish directly up the wall.
John Hickman, Maurice Wilson 1957

15. Vespers 17m D
The crack 2m right of Evensong is climbed finishing either side of the protruding block.
John Hickman, Maurice Wilson 1957

16. Matins 17m D
Climb the corner to the left of The Boss.
John Hickman, Maurice Wilson 1957

Next is the first of two aid climbs in this guide

17. The Boss 23m A2 *
Start beneath the huge overhang. Free climb to the roof (HVS 5a), cross this on bolts, then continue free to the top. (Note: the bolts currently in place are the originals, which are in very poor condition). This roof will never go free!
Tony Meekle 1965

17a. Res Publica E6 6c  *
Dynamic moves on gastons and pockets lead out left from just below the crux of Nail File and onto the slab above the boss. large cams in Nail file protect the crux perfectly and the following easier moves adequately. Easier for the tall.
Franco Cookson, Dave Warburton (ground up) 01/05/2011

Res Publica E6 6c

18. Nail File 20m HVS 5b *
Starting under the roof at a small cave. Climb the crack then the impressive corner immediately right of The Boss. A strenuous climb that can now be well protected with large camming devices. Superb climbing and high in its grade.
Mike Railton 1965

19. Party Line 20m VS 4b **
Climb the short corner 3m right of Nail File. Move left to a junction with Nail File, then climb diagonally right over a bulge to another ledge and continue to the top. An excellent route with good positions. Protection is sparse on the upper section, which can also be dirty after rain.
Brian Evans and party 1963

20. Plexor 17m E1 5b
Climb the corner to the wide crack splitting the overhang. Gain the small ledge above then finish up the sandy crack.
Tony Marr, Ken Jackson 1966

21. Stump Corner 13m VD
Climb the steep slab a few feet right of Plexor. Climb to a ledge below a short corner and, climb this to an awkward exit.
John Hickman, Maurice Wilson 1958

22. Walking on Sunshine 12m S
The narrow slab between Stump Corner and Stump Crack.
Signature indecipherable! 9th July 1991

23. Stump Crack 10m D
An obvious crack a few feet right of Stump Corner.
John Hickman Maurice Wilson 1958

24. The Flying Trapeze 50m VS 4c
A high level girdle of The Boss.
4a 17m Start to the left of The Boss up the left end of the slab, as for Sunset, then climb across the slab to belay 5m below the top of the corner of Matins.
4c 23m Move out right above the lip of the overhang to a good foothold on the edge. Move on to the slab and cross it to a good spike. Pendulum from the spike to Nail File and descend slightly to belay. Brilliant!
4b 10m Finish diagonally right over a bracket as for Party line. Good rope technique, and a competent second are essential.
Mike Readshaw 1971

To the right a rickety bridge leads over the watercourse.

North Face
About 10m right of the central watercourse is the obvious line of North Aręte.

25. Routon Ridge 13m S
Start 10m right of the watercourse on the left flank of North Aręte. Climb a crack choked by a tree to a good stance. Move leftwards to an incline, which is climbed on small holds.
Pre 1960 Unknown

26. North Aręte 13m VS 5a
Gain the prominent aręte right of Routon Ridge from the left and follow it direct to the top. Poorly protected.
Tony Marr, Paul Ingham 7th May 1979

27. Birch Wall 13m S
Start on the right flank of the ridge in a shallow corner. Ledges lead diagonally right to a slab. Traverse left to a groove and up this to the top.
Pre 1960 Unknown

28. Dead Wood Slabs 12m S
Same start as Birch Wall, climb the lower slab on small holds, then climb the upper slab on the right.
Pre 1960 Unknown

29. Skateboard 10m VS 4c *
Climbs the slab and aręte 3m left of Skaters’ Corner. Move up left to the aręte then to a pocket hold, step onto the ledge then back left to escape. A fine route with poor protection.
Paul Ingham, Tony Marr 7th May 1979

30. Skaters’ Corner 10m HS 4b *
The corner 7m right of Dead Wood Slabs. Follow this to finish on the left.
Good climbing but unfortunately often dirty.
Pre 1960 Unknown

Beacon Buttress

The vegetated groove at the left end of the buttress is Excavator (D). It doesn't warrant attention, the variation start however does.
Tony Marr 7th May 1979 [Ascended and cleaned to allow the variation start to be climbed].

31. Excavator Variation Start 11m HVS 5b *
The fine leftward trending finger crack unfortunately leads into the groove. Continue DOWN the groove to regain the ground.
Paul Ingham, Tony Marr 7th May 1979

32. Gehenna 13m HVS 5a **
A contender for the best route in the area. Takes the obvious crack to the right. Strenuous but well protected climbing following the crack in its entirety. More testing since the demise of the block and high in its grade. Take care with the stability of the block at the base of the niche.
F.A. Terry Sullivan, John Monaghan. February 1959. [1 Peg for protection only].
Sullivan and Monaghan had been to an all night party in Middlesbrough but were still determined to have a day climbing. Sullivan had spotted the route sometime earlier but was convinced that another team were also after it so he persuaded Monaghan, who owned a motorcycle to take them to Beacon Scar. They sped toward the crag in typical February weather, cold and damp! The whole crag was more open in those days with very few large trees so the climbs looked very impressive and exposed above the steep hillside. Sullivan set off up the crack cleaning tufts of grass and loose stones as he climbed. At about 5m there was an awkward move around a block where the crack slants left [the block has now gone] Sullivan placed a peg for protection before making further progress to a doubtful chockstone a few metres higher, which he threaded with a sling. With his last piece of protection in place Sullivan fought his way up the final section of the crack to claim the first ascent of this superb route. The climb had taken several hours in far from ideal conditions, Sullivan’s hands were battered and bruised and he was physically drained from his exertions, the climb had been hard won and it deserved an appropriate name - Gehenna [a place of perpetual torture].

2nd Ascent Allan Austin Late 1960
Sullivan had invited his friend and rival Allan Austin to stay with him for a weekend and sample the best routes in the area. Gehenna was high on that list and Sullivan was keen to see how the “Gritstone Master” would deal with it. Austin tied onto the rope and set off up the crack, he ignored the in situ peg continuing instead to jam effortlessly upwards with the rope trailing behind to complete the climb. Austin had made a faultless ascent in superb style and had not placed any protection. Needless to say Sullivan was suitably impressed by the ascent.
Karin Magog leading Gehenna HVS 5a Beacon Scar 2005 © Steve Crowe

33. Haunted Hero’s 14m HVS 5a
Climb the wall on the right via a shallow groove line, which leads into the route Beacon Buttress. Finish up this.
Paul Ingham, Tony Marr 3rd July 1979

34. Beacon Buttress 14m HVS 5a **
Just round the aręte from Gehenna is a slab below an obvious corner. Climb the slab and corner to a ledge, swing around the prow to another ledge on the right and a difficult finish. It is also possible to continue at the same grade up the groove passing some dubious flakes. A superb natural line, high in its grade with only adequate protection.
Terry Sullivan 1960 (1 peg for protection)
Another bold and impressive ascent with only one peg for protection in the whole route.

35. Epicentre 13m E3 6a
Start just right of Beacon Buttress. Initial protection is taken in the flake of Tremor. Climb the slab until a long reach leftwards gains a small pocket just right of the aręte. Pull up onto a small resting foothold. Move diagonally leftwards up the hanging slab in an exposed position to a small ledge below the left hand of two grooves. Continue up this groove to the top. A problematic route with good positions. This route can also be enjoyed at E2 5b by starting up the crack of Tremor and stepping left onto the hanging slab.
Kelvin Neal, Alan Moss September 1979
Variation Start Paul Ingham, Tony Marr, Dave Wilson April 1980.

36. Tremor 13m E2 5b **
Start in the alcove 3m right of Beacon Buttress. Climb the steep crack system issuing from the left side of the alcove. Strenuous.
F.A. Tony Marr, Eric Marr 14th May 1968 (Sling for aid)
F.F.A. Denis Lee, Dave Ladkin, John Earl and Hugh Banner, Summer 1972

Karin Magog

37. Green Wall 10m VS 4c
Follow the groove forming the right side of the alcove to the slab above. Continue up the cracks that run diagonally right to the top.
Tony Marr, Eric Marr 4th June 1966

38. The Groove 10m HS 4b
Start in a groove 2m right of the alcove. Climb the groove passing the bulge on the left then follow cracks to the top.
Tony Marr, Eric Marr 4th June 1966

39. Solo Wall 9m E2 5c
The short steep wall to the right leads with difficulty to a dirty slab above. The climb is unprotected and requires a confident approach.
Paul Ingham, Allan Taylor, Ian Dunn 7th May 1979 (all solo) Originally graded VS!

15m further to the right is Worm Hill Buttress, this is heavily vegetated but one route has been recorded, Helter- Skelter (Moderate) up the slabby left side. Lying further right are more vegetated rock outcrops, some climbing has taken place here but nothing was recorded.

Scarth Wood Pinnacle
OS. NGR 463 003
This isolated pinnacle is in Scarth Wood, 500m to the north east of Beacon Scar. It has three recorded routes. The pinnacle once had an open aspect and was reasonably clean, unfortunately it is now surrounded by a mature forest, which prevents the rock from drying quickly, and the climbs therefore are often green and greasy. Approach as for Beacon Scar but on arriving at the stonewall do not pass through the gate but follow the wall to the right for approximately 250m to another gate in the wall. Pass through the gate and follow the descending track for 150m to where a horizontal break leads to the right, follow this and after about 30m the top of the pinnacle should be visible just below the track.

The Original Route 11m D
Start in a chimney in front of the pinnacle. It leads up and through to the rear of the pinnacle.
Sloping holds lead to the summit.
Maurice Wilson, John Hickman 1957

Mythical Pinnacle 10m E3 5c
Climb the front face of the pinnacle. Poorly protected and bold.
Steve Findlay, Chris Shorter 3rd July 1993

Mordicus 10m S
Start just left of the chimney of The Original Route. Gain the obvious broad crack and follow it with interest to a dirty shelf, finish up the short wall.
Tony Marr (Solo) September 1993

Graded List

A Last Fling 5a

Yellow Peril 6a
Epicentre 6a
Mythical Pinnacle 5c

Mongol 5c ***
Tremor 5b **
Solo Wall 5c

Plexor 5b

Excavator Variation Start 5b *
Nail File 5b *
Gehenna 5a ***
Beacon Buttress 5a **
Haunted Hero’s 5a

North Aręte 5a
Skateboard 4c
The Flying Trapeze 4c
Green Wall 4c
Sunnyside Direct 4b
Alligator Direct Start 4b
Party Line 4b



Full details in the

North East England Guide


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