HEAD QUARRY (WEST)
Alan Dougherty September 2006
OS Explorer (1:25000) sheet OL 31 North Pennines
Approach Time: 1 minute
Situation and Character
An old quarry-working, situated on the Tees / Wear Watershed that can offer
some water-ice pitches after a prolonged freeze. Itís probably the highest
located of the easily accessible ice in the northern Pennines but once below the
level of the surrounding moor, the quarry can be quite sheltered. A stake, or a
couple of warthogs, might be found useful for pitch-top belays. The lower tiers
offer some dry-tooling practice. Itís not the Northern Corries but you are
unlikely to upset rock-climbers.
Alan and Carol Dougherty found good conditions during the March/April cold
snap in 2006. It is likely that local climbers have visited before.
Access and Approaches
Harthope Head Quarry (West) lies on moorland that is designated Access Land
under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Under that Act the land can be
subject to temporary closures of up to twenty-eight days a year. These are
likely to be applied for during the Grouse nesting season. Notification of
closures should be posted at Access Points locally and, prior to a visit, can be
checked on www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk or via the Access Helpline on 0845 100
3298. Under the CRoW Act, dogs are banned on this moorland.
Approach can be made, on the minor road, from either Langdon Beck (in Teesdale)
or St. Johnís Chapel (in Weardale). In winter this could be an exciting or even
impossible drive! The quarry is situated (not surprisingly!) to the west of the
high-point of the road and is seen easily from the convenient lay-by. The quarry
floor (which contains pools of water Ė beware!) is reached most easily from its
northern (Weardale) end.
The far wall, facing the road, gives the best and steepest pitch. In 2006 an
attached boss of ice formed below a niche where surface drainage entered the
quarry. This gave a fairly steep pitch, split by a loose sloping ledge, at about
technical 4. The wall also abounded in free-hanging features but none looked
substantial enough to climb.
Carol Dougherty below
the best of the 2006 ice.
Photo A P Dougherty