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Harthope Head

Alan Dougherty September 2006

OS Explorer (1:25000) sheet OL 31 North Pennines
Map Reference: NY862351
Aspect: north-east
Altitude: 600m
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.

General Layout
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