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Northern Limestone


Northern Limestone

ISBN: 9-781-873341-92-6

Written by: Mark Glaister

Published by: Rockfax

Reviewed by: Karin Magog 3rd February 2015

The eagerly anticipated guidebook to Northern Limestone has arrived and it certainly doesn't disappoint. Itís a pretty weighty tome with an action packed 376 pages, providing comprehensive information on the popular limestone crags of Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire, and certainly meets the standard we have come to expect from Rockfax who are now producing up to four guidebooks a year.

Northern Limestone does an excellent job for sport routes of covering the major limestone crags of Malham, Kilnsey and Gordale (which between them offer some of the best sport climbing in the UK) as well as covering other well established venues such as Yew Cougar, Trollerís Gill, Giggleswick and Trow Gill. However, there are many newer or less well known venues in the guide, many offering more amenable sport routes, such as Robin Proctorís Scar, Panorama Crag, Moughton Nab, Hull Pot (although this does have a very recent 8a as well) and Castleberg Crag to name a few. Over in Cumbria the guide covers the excellent Chapel Head Scar, as well as the other worthwhile venues of Scout Scar, Mill Side Scar and Humphrey Head, whilst down in Lancashire Trowbarrow Quarry, Barrow Scout Cove and Witchesí Quarry are all included.


If itís trad climbing youíre after then check out Blue Scar, Kilnsey and Gordale for the Extremes, or Twistleton Scar, Crummackdale, Giggleswick, Attermire Scar or Malham for a better spread of grades. All crags are covered with very clear photo diagrams (except parts of Chapel Head Scar which has sketch style topos due to the trees) and brief route descriptions as well as the expected intro on access, approach and conditions, plus the quick guide to number of routes per grade band at the crag. There are a good variety of action shots, some showing off the climbing, others the crag situation, but with an even spread across the various grades. However, I was disappointed that there weren't more stunning shots, although I did particularly like the one of Naomi Buys cutting loose on Green Lipped Mussles and Buster Martin putting some effort in on Bat Route. I find it useful when the photo caption has the route grade and associated guidebook page number, as this guide does. One minor error I noticed was the photo on page 3 is actually Groovy Baby and not The Groove as captioned.

The guide also includes plenty of useful subsidiary info, such as suggested pubs, cafes, campsites, climbing shops and local walls (although it seems a shame that City Bloc was missing when the other Leeds based walls of The Climbing Depot and Leeds Wall are included). It has a very detailed Destination Planner, a useful Route Index at the back (which also includes route grade, number of stars, page number of any action photo as well as the actual page the route can be found), and two selected graded lists, one for trad and one for sport. These are best argued over in the pub or cafe, however, I was disappointed Bullet didn't make the sport list as I think itís a great route. I also must question the logic behind putting Renaissance higher up the 8a list than Breach of the Peace, given that to climb the latter correctly you need to successfully climb the former, which surely presents a bit more of a challenge. However, if Renaissance isn't your bag you can climb the roof section of Breach via Free íní Easy as Uneasy Peace at 7c+ or via Climb of the Century as Cover to Cover at 8b. (See our controversial alternative Graded List)

Mark Glaister has put in an enormous amount of effort to produce this very comprehensive Northern Limestone guide and although not cheap at £29.95, I highly recommend it. Iím sure it will sell extremely well.



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