OS Landranger Sheet: 88
Map Reference: NZ 288438
Aspect: West Facing
Approach Time: 5-10 minutes
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
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.
The climbs are described from left to right. The short wall to the left contains a couple of interesting problems...
1. Dids 5m
Follow the thin finger crack.
The Undercuts 5m 4c
The Main Wall Photo (C) Steve Crowe
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
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.
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
Follow the dogleg crack using rounded footholds.
12. The Ghost of Mr Angry 5m
An eliminate problem using the oval pocket to gain an incut ledge, ("Pint Pot Ledge").
13. Hob Hole 5m
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
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!
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
Mark Atkinson, John Yardley and Ian Hammond worked on the following lines.
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...
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.
Full details in the
North East England Guide
Frankland Crag is on the other side of the river.