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Low Carrs

OS Explorer (1:25000) sheet: OL 31 North Pennines
Map Reference:  NY948303
Aspect: west to south-west
Altitude: 530m
Approach Time: 30 minutes
Author: Alan Dougherty August 2005

Situation and Character
Low Carrs is a compact location comprising principally of several walls of excellent quality Gritstone up to five metres high. It stands on the southern edge of Middleton Common overlooking the valley of the Hudeshope Beck, both of which lie just to the north of Middleton-in-Teesdale. The outlook is magnificent and the site quiet. A visit can easily be combined with the generally less serious or difficult bouldering at the nearby Monk’s Moor Boulders (NGR 962289). A walk across the moor of about thirty minutes duration connects the two sites. Landings vary from the good to the potentially back-breaking / body-impaling and, given that the lack of traffic so far means some of the rock is lichenous and gritty, a circumspect approach is advised towards some of the problems. Some of the more serious problems have been top-roped and await better conditions for the intended solo. Burly spotters and a selection of mats would be useful. Nevertheless Low Carrs holds some excellent quality wall and arête problems.

Carol and Alan Dougherty together with Kevin Flint visited in August 2005, when the first twelve problems were ascended and recorded. The Doughertys added a further seventeen problems during two further visits later in the month.

Access and Approaches
Low Carrs lies on moorland that is designated Access Land under the
Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Under that Act dogs are excluded currently and 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.

From Middleton-in-Teesdale take a minor road northwards up the east side of, the initially wooded and then mine-ravaged, valley of Hudes Hope. The road leaves Middleton-in-Teesdale from opposite the fish and chip shop and is sign-posted Stanhope. After 300m avoid the right turn to Stanhope and continue straight on – sign-posted Snaisgill. Some three kilometres along the road from Middleton-in-Teesdale a gate is reached, just before a sharp left bend. Amongst other possibilities, it is possible to park a car carefully on an area of wider verge on the right 70m prior to this gate.

At the eastern head of Hudeshope a Public Footpath sign will be found where the road turns sharply. The path leaves the road at GR 954292. Follow it up the spoil heap to meet an access track which is followed until it splits at GR 955294. Take the right-hand track (which is the line of the Public Footpath). Pass through a boundary gate at GR 956294 and follow the wall northwards until it meets another wall at GR 955299. At this point cross the boundary with care and follow the moor wall north-west to the crag.

General Layout
On arrival the most obvious feature is that of the arête. To its left lies the main wall, whilst further left are the Left and Right Short Walls. To the right of the arête are the dry-stone wall remains of a ruined “hut,” which enclose the side of the hut wall and part of the back of the hut three tier wall. Further to the right is the Elephants Forehead, whilst other problems lie on The Scrappy Buttress just to the right of this feature and on The Isolated Block diagonally right, further up the slope behind. The problems are described from left to right as facing the crag.

Crag Photo of Short Walls

Photo (C) Steve Crowe

Short Walls
At the left-hand end of the crag area pair of short walls split by a chimney.

1. Left-Hand Short Wall   2m   4c
1m in from left side of wall is a crack. 1m further right is a small nubbin of rock protruding at head height. Use this for the right hand and climb centre of wall.
CLD 6.8.05.

2. Lanky Bastard   2.5m   5c
(Unless tall or springy)
Just to the right of the previous route is an alcove feature with an ovoid shaped hold at its top left. Use this to dyno for the top.
KSF 6.8.05.

3. Silly Hat   2m   4a
Climb the front of the pillar between the alcove and the chimney.
CLD 6.8.05.

4. 2m   5a
Ascend left side of arête to awkward mantelshelf finish.
CLD 6.8.05.

5. 2m   5a
Layback the right side of the arête to awkward mantelshelf finish.
CLD 6.8.05.

6. 2m   6a *
Climb the wall 0.5m right of the arête using a small flaky edges to gain a tiny and tenuous pinch-grip, just to the right of the scoop feature, from which reach for the top.
APD 6.8.05.

7. 2m  6a
Ascend centre of wall above right-trending edge.
APD 7.8.05.

8. 3m   6b   **
Climb wall, on tiny holds, just left of the incipient crack. Could be easier for the very tall who might be able to reach through for the top but this would miss the point.
APD 7.8.05

9. Girdle Traverse of Both Walls  5a
Using the top for hands. The last section around the corner is above a serious blocky landing but the handholds are good.
APD 6.8.05.


Crag Photo of Main Wall

Photo (C) Steve Crowe

Main Wall
A 5m high wall between a descent gully (beware wobbly block) on the left and a short section of dry-stone wall on the right.

10. 4m   5a   *
Follow the thin crack directly. Using a scoop foothold to right at 1.5m reduces the quality (and grade 4b).
CLD 6.8.05

11. 5m   4b  *
From a tricky start, climb directly the obvious wide crack; harder than it looks. An ability to jam helps. Using any footholds outside the crack reduces the quality and grade.
CLD 6.8.05.

12. 5m   5b   *
One metre right, start directly below the obvious pocket at three-quarters height. A fingery start allows a good foothold to be attained at head height. Continue via the pocket.
APD 6.8.05.

13. 6m   5c   *
Start mid-way between two incipient cracks. Follow the gang-way leftwards until small holds below the left-hand crack enable a good foothold to be gained. Either follow continuation of gangway to left (easy) or climb directly up the line of the crack (harder unless you’re very tall)
KSF 6.8.05.

14. 5m   5b
Ascend the wall between the two thin cracks. The upper part, above the obvious ramp, gives fine fingery climbing.
APD 17.8.05.

15. Main Wall Arête 5m 5c **
Takes the left hand side of the obvious feature, which starts above the dry-stone wall. The crux is a long reach from a right-hand pinch to gain either the wider part of the mostly blind crack which runs just left of the arête or through to jug at top. The rock is still a bit lichenous and gritty, and the wall is a serious landing that deserves respect.
APD17.8.05. TR   (Steve Crowe and Karin Magog solo 2006)


Steve Crowe soloing Main Wall Arête 5c

Photo (C) Karin Magog

Side of the Hut Wall
Situated just around Main Wall Arête is another fine wall.

16. Arête Right-hand 4m 5c
Start from on top of the dry-stone wall. Lay-away with the left hand on the arête, to finally reach an excellent jug at the top. Again the landing that demands respect.
APD17.8.05. TR   (Steve Crowe and Karin Magog solo 2006)

17. 4m   5c   **
In the centre of the wall above the “hut” is a line of flaky holds that give an excellent problem with the crux near the top. The dry-stone wall below and metal spikes on the adjacent wall add to the seriousness and should be padded.
APD17.8.05. TR   (Steve Crowe and Karin Magog solo 2006)

18. 4m   5c
The wall just on the right using the right-hand arête for hand-holds might appear an easier option but is awkwardly off-balance in the upper section; and nearer the metal spikes.
APD17.8.05. TR   (Steve Crowe and Karin Magog solo 2006)

Back of The “Hut” Three-Tier Wall

19. 4m   5c
Start just right of the left-hand metal spike. Attain the horizontal break. Gain the slab directly, and with some difficulty, then reach for good hold just left of the top block. It is sensible to pad the spikes with sacs
APD 17.8.05. TR   (Steve Crowe and Karin Magog solo 2006)

20. 5m   5c
Start between the two metal spikes. From the horizontal break (which would take gear) trend right and gain the slab above with some difficulty. Continue up the front face of the upper boulder. Again, it is sensible to pad the spikes with sacs. APD 17.8.05. TR

21. 5m   4c
Start at the entrance to the “hut.” Layback the crack above to ascend a green stained wall and establish oneself on a good foothold at the head-height break. Continue up crack and edge of block above (which feels fairly highball but escape is possible to the right).
APD 7/8/05

22. Between the Cracks   2m   5b *
Ascend the wall and slab without recourse to either crack. A splendid undercut / semi-mantle-shelf problem.
APD 7/8/05

23. 2m   4a
Follow the bilberry choked crack and slab above, immediately left of The Elephants Forehead.
APD 7/8/05.

24. Carol’s Traverse   5m   5b
Start under the right-hand iron peg at the back of the ruined “hut.” Follow the rising break rightwards. Either exit up crack to left of the Elephants Forehead (easier) or, for the full effect, continue round the neb, via blind moves, to reach good flakes. It is sensible to mat the gnarly landing of the last section.
CLD / APD 6.8.05.

The Elephants Forehead

25. Forehead Left-hand   3m   6b
Tackle the left side (facing in) of the forehead on tiny holds but thankfully above a better landing than the next problem. Unfortunately it is possible to bridge leftwards to easier ground but for the full effect all temptation should be resisted.
APD 17.8.05

26. Forehead Direct   4m   5b
Climb directly up the nose, with better holds on the right, above a blocky ankle-breaking landing.
APD 17.8.05.


Karin Magog soloing The Elephants Forehead Direct 5b

Photo (C) Steve Crowe

10 m right of the Elephants Forehead is a block split by two horizontal cracks which gives three rather scrappy problems – beware loose flakes.

The Scrappy Buttress

27. 2m   4a
Follow crack-line on left of arête
APD 7.8.05

28. 3m   4b
The arête direct
APD 7.8.05

29. 2m   5b
Climb the middle of the right face using a small handhold.
APD 7.8.05

Some 50m east (115 degrees magnetic) and diagonally upslope from the Elephants Forehead is a small leaning block which provides an entertaining problem.

The Isolated Block

30. 2m   5b
From a SDS under the front face, a gymnastic high step / rock-over / semi-mantle-shelf should gain the sloping top.
APD 7.8.05