(1:25000) sheet: OL 31 North Pennines
Aspect: west to north-west
Approach Time: 30 minutes
Author: Alan Dougherty August 2005
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.
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
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.
Photo (C) Simon
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 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.
1. 2m 4b
The left-hand (northerly) face to mantelshelf finish. Take care with loose
block at top.
2. 3m 4b
Climb the left side of the front face.
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)
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.
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.
6. 3m 4a
At the right-hand side of the alcove is a block split by two obvious
horizontal cracks. Climb it.
7. Dr. Flint’s Flying Buttress 3m 5a
Wall at the far right of the alcove. Climb the marked prow feature above a
Fifty metres further right (five metres before the left-hand wall of the
sheepfold) is a slightly protruding block above ankle crunching landings:
8. 2m 4c
The left-hand face.
9. 3m 4c
The aręte / nose from a sit-down start.
10. 3m 4c
The right-hand face. (S.D.S. 5a)
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.
12. 4m 5b **
Climb the wall direct via an incipient crack.
13. 4m 5a
The right-hand side of the wall via a large ledge.
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.
15. 3m 5a *
Wall just to right of aręte.
16. 4m 5a
Centre of wall via pocket at three-quarters height.
17. 4m 5a
Just to the right of the previous problem via an edge feature.
18. Gate-post Aręte
Move off the leaning stone gate-post and climb the blunt aręte.
19. 3m 4c
The scoop to the right of the gate-post.
20. 3m 4c
Rib one metre further right.
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.
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
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.
23. 4m 5b
The face just to the right of the previous problem. Continue up the scoop
above the ledge.
24. 4m 5b
Nose just further right.
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.
26. 4m 5b *
Faint crack just to left of nose. Finish boldly in a direct line above the
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.
Huthwaite making the first ascent of the sit start.
Photo (C) Simon
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.
29. 4m 4b
Climb the right edge, just before the chimney with chock-stone, and continue
up the corner of the top block.
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.
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.
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.
33. 2m 5b
The aręte of the Second Block from a SDS with initial fingery moves.
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.
35. 3.5m 4b
The crack of the Third Block direct. Only 4a if you drift leftwards for an
easier mantelshelf finish.
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.
37. 3m 4a
The right-hand aręte of the Third block is very straightforward until the
38. 2m 4b
On the Fourth Block the obvious prow, just right of the gully, from a SDS.
39. 2m 4b
At the right-hand end of the Fourth Block a faint crack / flake line,
undercut at its base.
40. 2m 5a
The left aręte of the Fifth Block from a SDS to awkward finish.
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.
42. 2m 4b
The, scoop featured, left aręte of the Sixth Block.
43. 2m 4b
On the Sixth Block, the face between the aręte and the little corner from a
44. 2m 4b
Also on the Sixth Block, 1m right of the little corner from SDS.
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
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
The Larger Inclined Boulder
Lies immediately to the right of the right-hand end of the ONE PLUS TWO
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.
47. Straight to the Point 2m 5b
Start under the apex of the front face. Reach for positive finger holds on
the top surface.
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.
49. Veering to the Right 6m 5b
Start at the left end of the front face and traverse the rising edge
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.
51. 4m 4a
Follow the central curving feature.
52. 4m 4a
Slab between the central curving feature and right-hand aręte.
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
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.
The Little Inclined Nobbly Block
This is the upper most block directly behind the Big Boulder
A powerful pull from a SDS should gain good holds above the leaning lower
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.
Directly via the big pocket.
Follow the incipient crack avoiding the pocket and any large holds.
The central block, direct, not using the edges.
The right-hand protruding block, just right of a marked crack. Edges on the
left of the block allow the top to be gained.
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.