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Kepier Woods

OS Landranger Sheet: 88

Map Reference: NZ 288438

Aspect: West Facing

Altitude: 30m

Approach Time: 5-10 minutes


Kepier Woods Mini Guide (PDF (Acrobat Reader Required)



Situation and Character

A small but pleasant sandstone buttress, situated in an idyllic location beside the River Wear.   Despite its sheltered position this buttress is sometimes greasy during the winter, when the rock can also be dirty, however only the harder problems tend to suffer from this.  During the rest of the year Kepier Wall will often be dry even after periods of light rain.  Prolonged heavy rain can cause drainage but this usually only takes a day to clear, however if it has rained a boot wipe (bar towel!) and a mat are essential as the path beneath the crag can become very muddy.



"Kepier was my local crag back in the mid to late 1980's. I made some exploratory routes on the larger quarried crags that you pass on the approach to Kepier Crag. The first quarry has some crack lines that have old wooden wedges in them from goodness knows when. I put up a route which goes up to and over a triangular overhang/roof. However this needed extensive brushing at the top due to dirt and had some dubious holds. The 2nd smaller quarry has a cracked wall with a 2/3 routes HS to VS. Next is the semi circular basin which is made from shale, good in hard winter, but we don't get those nowadays. Just before Kepier Crag is the larger wall with a cave. I cleaned some routes on here but found the rock quickly became dirty and the holds were snappy. On the whole, Kepier crag is small but generally clean and solid. The other rock is more friable, but don't let that put you off!" Mark Turner



From Durham;

Follow the A690 north and take the Belmont slip road.  Just before the bridge turn left into the car park. Follow the tarmac footpath into the woods and down a bank.  Where it forks continue over a small bridge and alongside the river, passing old loose quarries (and a few poor routes), on your right.  After 5 minutes Kepier Wall will be reached.


From A1M Motorway;

From the A1M take the A690 Durham turn off and head south towards Durham.  Take the Belmont slip road and turn right at the top, cross the bridge and turn right, immediately, into the car park.  Follow the tarmac footpath as above.


Alternative approach only recommended for locals;

Travelling towards Durham on the A690, after the A1M roundabout turn almost immediately right (signposted for Maureen Terrace), across the carriageway, into a road leading to a caravan site.  Turn immediately left onto a smaller road, which, is often blocked at the bottom by boulders and regularly contains a yellow AA van!   This leads down to a field. Limited parking.


Follow the path by the field until you cross a stile and walk around the edge of the field into the woods and down by a stream and gully.  Turn left at the bottom onto the main path, which soon leads to the crag.


Kepier Wall

The climbs are described from left to right. The short wall to the left contains a couple of interesting problems...


1. Dids   5m   VD

Follow the thin finger crack.


2.  The Undercuts   5m   4c



The Main Wall  Photo (C) Steve Crowe


3.  Crucial Knee Jam   5m   5b

Start at the left arÍte of the main crag.  Facing right undercut the V-notch and knee jam to reach for a sloping mantelshelf.


Photo (C) Steve Crowe


4. Hard Labour   5m   4c

Start right of the V-notch beneath the flake. Use the rounded break to gain the flake and climb it to the top.  (It is possible to dyno from the bottom hold of the V-notch directly to the bottom of the flake at 5b).

Photo (C) Steve Crowe


5. Work Shy   5m   4c/5a

Follow the obvious thin crack line right of Hard Labour.


6. Independence   5m   5a

Wall right of Workshy using independent holds.


The side pull/flake of Workshy can be gained from the start of Independence at 4c.


7.  Sidewinder   5m   5c

The arÍte to the right, just left of Ferret, is climbed using a side pull and sloping crimp to better holds.
(The chicken head on Sidewinder has been snapped off. It is still climbable at the same grade but the description should read as above.)

8.  Ferret   5m   S

Runs up the widest crack on Kepier Wall.


9. Double Overhangs   5m   5b/5c

Mantle over both overhangs, using a pocket beneath the second. (Straight to the pocket is 6a).


10. Bobbery John   5m   VD

Starting just right of the wide crack  (Ferret), up into the short corner and then finish on better holds just to the left of the small beech tree.


11. Fitchen   5m   VD

Follow the dogleg crack using rounded footholds.


12. The Ghost of Mr Angry   5m   5a

An eliminate problem using the oval pocket to gain an incut ledge, ("Pint Pot Ledge").


13. Hob Hole   5m   VD

Start just right of The Ghost Of Mr Angry, right of the oval pocket and climb the wall directly to the finish of Fitchen.

Karin soloing Hob Hole. Photo (C) Steve Crowe


14. Tea-break Crack   5m   VD

Takes the thin crack just to the right.


15. Thatcherism   5m   6a

The wall just left of Maggie the Whip using undercuts and crimps.


16. Maggie The Whip   5m   5b

Start up the undercut then climb the awkward crack, a wobbly hand jam may or may not help!


17. Major 5m   6a

Between Maggie and the crack.  The wall.


18. Shorts Crack   5m   5a

Follow the obvious crack at the right-hand end of Kepier Wall.


19. The Overhanging Nose is reputed to be 6b


The most popular method of training of Kepier Wall is to link as many of the problems mentioned above without ever stepping off the wall by climbing up one route and down the next and traversing between. Obviously many variations are possible.  Once you think you know your way around the wall try this one, for one extra tick...


20. The Jazz Butcher Variation   45m 5b/5c

Traverse the undercuts left, dyno for the flake of Hard Labour. Reverse Workshy. Traverse into Double Mantelshelf but only climb the first overlap.  Traverse the break right, all the way right to Shorts Crack.  Down this and swing round the nose, climb down and traverse left along the bottom break to Workshy.   Up this and down and down Hard Labour.  That's just the first circuit, keep going ascending in turn all the routes from Hard Labour to Sidewinder or until you get pumped or fall off.


There is scope for more climbing and top roping to the right of Main Wall but the rock quality is poorer, take care!



The first quarry you get to if approaching from the south towards the current Kepier Crag is characterised by a large main wall with a black cave in its short north wall. Mark Atkinson, John Yardley and Ian Hammond worked on the following lines.

1. Marks Crack    8m   D 
In the centre of the Main wall. Follow the corner crack using mainly the arÍte past worn holds (Probably Chavas due to the amount of Carling cans present) to the tree. Probably best to abseil from this.
Mark Atkinson, John Yardley and Ian Hammond Friday 13th May 2005

Led on sight cleaning as I went, Seconded by both Ian and John. The seemed the easiest line on the crag, but the descent was an expedition which resulted in...

2. Friday the 13th
An enjoyable second pitch to get you off the crag. Leaving the tree ascend the slopes trending right to protection. Follow the ramp past a tree on your right traversing right past another block and up to the top.
Led by John on sight 4 bits of protection with the help of a small spade. Seconded by Mark Atkinson.

3. Sweep 10m   HS
Start just right of the cave and climb the flack on good holds. Surmount the block and climb the short chimney above
Led by John on sight till on top of block then top roped. Good route but top holds need further cleaning.

4. Mole's Main Wall Traverse   20m   4b

Starting right of the dirt mound low level traverse for left to right.

The small but obvious boulder problem. Sit start in the cave next the flake. Surmount the block to a full pull up. (4b) V0? Enjoyable with excellent holds.

There seems many more lines including Mark Turner's and the cracks with wooden pegs in. The north wall is excellent rock but the blocks look suspicious. On the main wall quality is varied with quality deteriating on some of the higher climbs.




Full details in the

North East England Guide


Kepier Woods Mini Guide (PDF (Acrobat Reader Required)

Frankland Crag is on the other side of the river.

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