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Monk's Moor

OS Explorer (1:25000) sheet: OL 31 North Pennines
Map Reference:  NY962289
Aspect: west to north-west
Altitude: 560m
Approach Time: 30 minutes
Author: Alan Dougherty August 2005

 

Situation and Character
This venue is a collection of boulders and small edges standing at the top of Monk’s Moor, an area of moorland situated north-east of Middleton-in-Teesdale. It is well suited to bouldering. The rock is good quality Gritstone but, as no brushing was undertaken during the development, is still a little lichenous. The problems have been graded as of their current state. Landings are variable in quality and, generally, a mat would be sensible. The outlook, which encompasses the High Pennines, is superb and, given the westerly aspect, Monk’s Moor should provide a pleasing afternoon and evening venue. So far the obvious lines have given easier or mid-grade problems but the potential for harder variations (especially traverses) suggests some interest for those seeking greater technicality. A visit can easily be combined with the generally more serious and difficult bouldering which can be enjoyed at the nearby Low Carrs (NGR: 948303). A walk across the moor of about thirty minutes duration connects the two sites.

History
Long before climbers explored Hudeshope the valley it was exploited for its minerals and there is an interpretative display and self-guided trail based around Coldberry Mineshop . The most prosperous period of lead mining spanned almost the whole of the nineteenth century, creating one of the largest mine complexes of the North Pennines. This industry transformed forever the landscape of Hudeshope Valley. Scattered around the valley are numerous mine entrances and associated buildings that suggest the extent of the intricate system of shafts and levels that exist below the surface. On the valley sides are reservoirs and the remnants of a man-made water system that was used to power the mine machinery. Coldberry Gutter, the largest hush in the North Pennines, cuts through Hardberry Hill to form a distinctive scar on the horizon that can be seen from miles around.

Alan Dougherty and Kevin Flint visited in late July 2005, when the first twenty-five problems were ascended and recorded. Three subsequent visits, during August of that year, by Carol and Alan Dougherty, resulted in the discovery of a further thirty-four problems.

Access and Approaches
Monk’s Moor is now 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.

The area is covered by several conservation designations. Prior to development our intentions were run past English Nature. Their main concern was the possible disturbance of ground nesting and other birds.

Approach takes a comfortable thirty minutes. From Middleton-in-Teesdale take a minor road northwards up the east side of, the initially wooded and then mine-ravaged, valley of Hudeshope. 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. Prior to this gate it is possible to park a car carefully on an area of wider verge.

 

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 and continue until GR959297, at which point another gate should be seen in the fence to the right. Aim for the gate and follow the shooters’ track south-east towards the obvious Monk’s Currick.

Monks Moor

Photo (C) Simon Huthwaite collection

 

General Layout
Prominent near the centre of the edge is a multi-penned, partly derelict, dry-stone walled Sheepfold that has been built against the SHEEPFOLD BUTTRESSES. The left extremity of the boulders lies some twenty metres north of Monk’s Currick, a round cairn come shelter on the moor above the edge. The furthest right of the boulders THE SHOOTING BOX GROUP lies close to the, also semi-derelict, hut - the Shooting House. All of these three features are marked on the 1:25000 OS map.

The Climbs
The problems are described from left to right as facing the crag.

Although some small boulders of little interest lie further north, the first problems described are some twenty metres to the left (north) of the Monk’s Currick on a boulder with a small “cave” at its base.

Cave Boulder

1. 2m 4b
The left-hand (northerly) face to mantelshelf finish. Take care with loose block at top.
KJF 27/7/05

2. 3m 4b
Climb the left side of the front face.
KJF 27/7/05

3. 3m 5a
Ascend middle of the front face up a groove feature. (Using a nearby block on the floor reduces the grade to 4b)
KJF 27/7/05

Twenty metres to the right (south) are a group of boulders around an alcove below the cairn / shelter feature:

Monks Currick Group

4. One Move Wonder 2m 4c
Takes the left hand mini “buttress,” via a thin crack, to an awkward finish.
APD 27/7/05

The central boulder gives a VDiff. problem.

5. 3m 4b
Ascend the middle of the face to the right of the central boulder, above a poor landing, to a hollow sounding finish.
KJF 27/7/05

6. 3m 4a
At the right-hand side of the alcove is a block split by two obvious horizontal cracks. Climb it.
KJF 27/7/05

7. Dr. Flint’s Flying Buttress 3m 5a
Wall at the far right of the alcove. Climb the marked prow feature above a poor landing.
KJF 27/7/05

Fifty metres further right (five metres before the left-hand wall of the sheepfold) is a slightly protruding block above ankle crunching landings:

The Nose

8. 2m 4c
The left-hand face.
APD 27/7/05

9. 3m 4c
The aręte / nose from a sit-down start.
APD 27/7/05

10. 3m 4c
The right-hand face. (S.D.S. 5a)
KJF 27/7/05

Twenty metres right of The Nose and above the second wall of the sheepfold is the slightly impeding:

Fold Left-Hand Wall

11. 4m 5a
Takes the aręte, jagged crack and flake line which starts near to the gate hinges that have been leaded into the rock. The airy finish is above a serious landing but the holds are good.
APD 27/7/05

12. 4m 5b **
Climb the wall direct via an incipient crack.
APD 27/7/05

13. 4m 5a
The right-hand side of the wall via a large ledge.
KJF 27/7/05

To the right of a gully lies:

Fold Right-Hand Wall

14. 4m 5a
Initially straightforward aręte, to right of gully, with a harder finish.
APD 27/7/05

15. 3m 5a *
Wall just to right of aręte.
KJF 27/7/05

16. 4m 5a
Centre of wall via pocket at three-quarters height.
KJF 27/7/05

17. 4m 5a
Just
to the right of the previous problem via an edge feature.
APD 27/7/05

 

18. Gate-post Aręte 3m 4c
Move off the leaning stone gate-post and climb the blunt aręte.
APD 27/7/05

19. 3m 4c
The scoop to the right of the gate-post.
KJF 27/7/05

20. 3m 4c
Rib one metre further right.
KJF 27/7/05

21. 12m 5a *
Girdle traverse of the Fold Left-hand Wall and Fold right-hand Wall. Start up the aręte at the left end of the Fold Left-hand Wall to gain the break at three-quarters height. Follow it rightwards without stepping on either of the gate-posts - strenuous.
APD 27/7/05

 

Two-Tier Boulder
Some 100m to the right, beyond some smaller rocks of no interest, is an obvious two-tiered boulder. The large ledge at two-third’s height separates a technical lower wall from easier finishes but adds some seriousness to the problems.

Two Tier Boulder

Photo (C) Simon Huthwaite collection


22. 4m 5b
Step off a block to climb the left-hand aręte. Mantle-shelf onto the ledge and continue straight up the nose above.
APD 27/7/05

23. 4m 5b
The face just to the right of the previous problem. Continue up the scoop above the ledge.
KJF 27/7/05

24. 4m 5b
Nose just further right.
KJF 27/7/05

25. 4m 5b
An “eliminate” up the middle of the lower wall is easier than it looks. Continue up the centre of the top block by a faint crack.
APD 27/7/05

26. 4m 5b *
Faint crack just to left of nose. Finish boldly in a direct line above the ledge.
APD 27/7/05

 


Two Tier Boulder

Photo (C) Steve Crowe


27. 3m 5c
Start about two metres right of the nose. Climb tenuously to the obvious pocket. Hand-traverse right and then gain the ledge.
KJF 27/7/05

 

Simon Huthwaite making the first ascent of the sit start.

Photo (C) Simon Huthwaite collection

 

27a. The Noodle 6b (Font 6C/V5)
A sit start to problem 27. Pull on with a slopey boss (RH) and a weird downward pointing spike (LH) pull up and make a hard move to a decent left hand hold then sort feet out on various poor holds before making a big move to a good hold just below the lip. 

Simon Huthwaite 5 April 2015
As for a grade, the pull on is quite tricky and might make it 6C/V5 (the British tech grade maybe 6b).


28. 4m 4c
A faint crack-line at corner 1m left of right edge. Continue up scoop / corner of the block above.
APD 18/8/05

29. 4m 4b
Climb the right edge, just before the chimney with chock-stone, and continue up the corner of the top block.
APD 18/8/05

30. Traverse from the Faculty of Going-on About 9m 6a *
Step off the block under the left-hand aręte and follow the line of pockets rightwards, using neither the ledge above or any larger footholds low down. Fingery climbing eventually turns the corner, followed by a sustained section across the right face, to gain positive finishing holds in a horizontal crack. APD 18/8/05

The Six Block Group
An edge of blocks starting 5m to the right, and slightly above, the TWO-TIER BOULDER. They offer short problems and an extended traverse. The First and Second Blocks join at a marked square-cut corner. The Third Block is split by a wide crack and is separated from the Fourth Block, which has a large ledge across part of its base, by a gulley with perched boulder. The Fifth and Six Blocks join at an open corner with double cracks.

31. 2m 5b
A SDS 0.5m right of the aręte of the First Block is below some small stepped flakes. Interest and difficulty is added if intermediate holds are used before reaching for the top.
APD 11/8/05

32. 2m 5b
Start 0.5m left of the corner between the First and Second Blocks. A SDS with hands as low as possible gives a number of fingery moves.
APD 11/8/05

 

33. 2m 5b
The aręte of the Second Block from a SDS with initial fingery moves.
APD 11/8/05


34. 2m 5b
Start below a flake in the centre of the front face of the Second Block. From a SDS, a fairly powerful pull gains side-pull at the flake.
APD 18/8/05

35. 3.5m 4b
The crack of the Third Block direct. Only 4a if you drift leftwards for an easier mantelshelf finish.
CLD 18/8/05

36. 3m 4b
Right of the central crack of the Third Block is a green stain and small wobbly block. Take this line to a classic mantelshelf finish.
APD 18/8/05

37. 3m 4a
The right-hand aręte of the Third block is very straightforward until the mantelshelf finish.
APD 18/8/05

38. 2m 4b
On the Fourth Block the obvious prow, just right of the gully, from a SDS.
APD 18/8/05

39. 2m 4b
At the right-hand end of the Fourth Block a faint crack / flake line, undercut at its base.
CLD 18/8/05

40. 2m 5a
The left aręte of the Fifth Block from a SDS to awkward finish.
APD 18/8/05

41. 2m 5b
Right of the Fifth Block aręte, a low foothold near the right edge and undercling on the horizontal break are the initial holds for a reach to the top and subsequent mantelshelf.
APD 18/8/05

42. 2m 4b
The, scoop featured, left aręte of the Sixth Block.
CLD 18/8/05

43. 2m 4b
On the Sixth Block, the face between the aręte and the little corner from a SDS.
CLD 18/8/05

44. 2m 4b
Also on the Sixth Block, 1m right of the little corner from SDS.
CLD 18/8/05

45. The Road Goes Ever On 28m 5b
A left to right traverse of all of the Six Blocks using the top for hands but avoiding the large ledge on the Fourth Block. The start, across the First Block side wall, and the finish are the hardest sections. Probably more energetic for the mat-wallah leap-frogging mats along the mostly gnarly landings!
APD 11/8/05. Harder variations are possible.

A further 5m to the right, and slightly down, across a slope of small blocks is the ONE PLUS TWO GROUP, of which the Left Block has a vertical face above an alcove, whilst the Right-hand Pair present leaning walls. Five metres down-slope of the Left Block is a small block which provides excellent introductory mantle-shelf practice; a technique much used at this venue.

Thirty metres directly down-slope of the Sixth Block is a five side boulder which can offer interesting, if rather contrived, traverses by omitting the larger holds.

The Larger Inclined Boulder
Lies immediately to the right of the right-hand end of the ONE PLUS TWO GROUP.

 

46. Western Roll 2m 5c
SDS 1m left of the apex below a flaky, iron-stained area of rock. Use flakes (which are not above suspicion) to reach through and attain the sloping top. For those familiar with old school high jumping techniques the name suggests a possible appropriate technique.
APD 18/8/05

47. Straight to the Point 2m 5b
Start under the apex of the front face. Reach for positive finger holds on the top surface.
APD 9/8/05

48. Just to the Right of Centre 2m 5b
One metre right of the apex a high step with the right foot enables progress to an awkward finish.
APD 18/8/05

49. Veering to the Right 6m 5b
Start at the left end of the front face and traverse the rising edge rightwards. Sustained.
APD 9/8/0

Shooting Box Group
Some 25m right of The Larger Inclined Boulder is a selection of boulders adjacent to the semi-derelict corrugated iron shooting hut. Probably not a good place to be during high winds!

The Big Boulder
The large(!) boulder closest to the shooting box. The west face has a marked curving feature in the centre from half height.

50. 4m 5a
Slab between the left edge and central curving feature.
APD 9/8/05

51. 4m 4a
Follow the central curving feature.
CLD 9/8/05

52. 4m 4a
Slab between the central curving feature and right-hand aręte.
CLD 9/8/05

53. 4m 4a
The aręte direct. The sit-down start is worthwhile at 5b
CLD 9/8/05 (APD 9/8/05 sit start)

54. 4m 4b
Climb the narrowing south face just to the right of the aręte, mostly on shallow pockets.
CLD 9/8/05

55. The Aręte Traverse 6m 5b *
Start on the west face, under the central curving feature, and traverse rightwards at low level around the aręte. Gaining an initial position on the south wall is the crux.
APD 9/8/05

The Little Inclined Nobbly Block
This is the upper most block directly behind the Big Boulder

56. 5b
A powerful pull from a SDS should gain good holds above the leaning lower wall.
APD 9/8/05

SDS Area
A series of small faces some 10m south-east, and slightly above, the Big Boulder give short problems enjoyed best from sit-down starts.

57. The Left Edge 5a
Start with a two pocket pinch for the left hand and an under-cling for the right. Avoid the obvious flake to the right.
APD 9/8/05

58. 4b
Directly via the big pocket.
CLD 9/8/05

59. 5a
Follow the incipient crack avoiding the pocket and any large holds.
APD 9/8/05

60. 4c
The central block, direct, not using the edges.
CLD 9/8/05

61. 5a
The right-hand protruding block, just right of a marked crack. Edges on the left of the block allow the top to be gained.
APD 9/8/05

62. 6m 5c
Traverse all of the blocks from left to right, not using the top, which is markedly more difficult for the last few moves.
APD 9/8/05