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Oak Crag


OS Sheet: 94

Map Reference: SE684960

Aspect: West

Altitude: 270m

Approach Time: 20 minutes

Mini Guide: Oak Crag Mini Guide (PDF)



The first ten routes were climbed between 1956 and 1961 and were the work of J. Jackson, H. Piercy, T. Sullivan, W.J. Dell and J. Tilly. Unfortunately the early history is sparse and it has proved impossible to attribute individual routes to their first ascentionists. By the time of the1985 guide only one more route had been added, the delicate line of Captain Birdseye on the North Buttress, climbed by Andy Buckley in 1978. That remained the position until the preparation of this guide in October 2000 when a number of routes were climbed by Alan Taylor, Tony Marr, Mike Tooke and Frank Fitzgerald. The hardest of these is the fine line of Hungry Heart climbed by Taylor and Marr.


Situation and Character

The crag is situated on the east side of Farndale, on the 270m contour, overlooking Oak Cragg House on the road rocks below. They are in a fine isolated position and in clear weather catch the sun in the afternoon and late evening, but during the autumn and winter months the area is prone to localised fog and mist, in which conditions the rocks tend to be greasy and unpleasant. The North Buttress is steep, clean and compact and dries rapidly after rain. It has some excellent routes, which make even a short visit worthwhile. Belay stakes are currently in position on both the North and Blakey Buttresses but it is strongly recommended that these be thoroughly checked before use.


Access and Approaches

The best approach is from the Castleton to Hutton le Hole road about two and a half miles beyond The Lion Inn at a point where a line of shooting butts crosses the road. As one approaches this point a cairn is clearly visible across the moor on the left and there is a sign marking a path crossing the road. There is ample roadside parking. The crag is easily reached in 10 to 15 minutes by walking down the moor, keeping the shooting butts on the left. After rain an easier and drier approach is to follow the path linking the shooting butts which first turns south away from the rocks before joining the path below the crag; 15 to 20 minutes from the road to North Buttress


The Climbs

The climbs are on three buttresses. North Buttress This buttress faces south west, it is the cleanest and has the best climbs. The central buttress, Blakey Ridge, is at the moment heavily vegetated but if cleaned would offer possibilities and the southernmost, Oak Buttress, has the easier climbs but on closer inspection appears to be somewhat unstable.


North Buttress

Update: North Buttress currently has one (very loose) belay stake, above Digimon. Routes at the left and right hand ends of the crag have no belay - but there's a depression a few metres back from the top of the crag which at least gives something to brace against! 

The climbs are described starting from the extreme left side of the buttress.


1. Blue Peter   5m   S

Climb the broken wall below the Rowan tree and pass it on the left, using carefully the friable holds on the top block.

F Fitzgerald, M Tooke.  29th October 2000


2. Motley Crew   5m   S   *

Start about 2m to the right of the last climb. Climb the thin crack in the wall just right of the groove to escape up the corner.                                                          

A. Marr, A Taylor, F Fitzgerald, M Tooke.  29th October 2000


3. Pugwash    5m   HVS 5a    *

To the right of the last climb is a thin vertical crack in the steep wall, climb it and the wall above. 

A Marr, A Taylor, M Tooke.   17th December 2000.


4. Pokémon   6m   HVS 5c   *

Start from an embedded block 2m right of the last route. Pull over the undercut onto the wall with difficulty then climb directly to the top. Problematic and enjoyable!

A Taylor, A Marr.  29th October 2000


Franco's Traverse   E1 5c
A low level traverse of the overhanging wall right of Pokémon, going no higher than 2 metres, finishing up Digimon. Sustained strenuous climbing.
Franco Cookson - solo-  30th September 2007

The next route starts 5m further right at the end of the impressive leaning wall where a thin crack runs down the overhang.


5. Digimon   7m   E1 5c  **

Ascend direct the magnificent finger crack which cuts the overhang then leads directly to the top. A technical start leads to easier climbing. Superb well protected climbing.

A Taylor, A Marr.   29th October 2000.


6. Captain Birdseye   7m   HVS 5b   **

Climb the right-hand thin crack up the steep and delicate slab. Another excellent route but poorly protected.

Andy Buckley [Solo] 7 April 1978.


7. Popeye   7m   VD

 Climb the crack in the corner right of Captain Birdseye   

F Fitzgerald, M Tooke.  19th November 2000


8. Hello Sailor   9m   VD **

Climb the crack in the corner for 5m until it is possible to traverse left to the finishing cracks of Digimon. A delightful line.    

F Fitzgerald, M Tooke.  14th November 2000


The following climb is an extension to Hello Sailor.


9. Legover    14m   VD

Continue the traverse of Hello Sailor passing the finishing crack of Digimon, step down and around the nose into a scoop to finish to the left of a protruding block.

F Fitzgerald, M Tooke.  7th January 2001. 


10. Playtex   20m   HVD (maybe HS 4a)   *

A girdle from left to right of the main part of the buttress. Climb Blue Peter until at about half height step right below the tree to the ledge and continue across the wall by the easiest line, round the corner and finish up Popeye.

F Fitzgerald, M Tooke, 20th February 2001

Update: “I might not have found the easiest line, but whichever line  you take, the crux is completely unprotected.  Not a huge distance to  the ground, but directly above a couple of pointy boulders.  (It's possible that a gear placement has come off, there was what might have  been a recently broken bit of rock).  I'd give it HS 4a, and a star.” Simon Caldwell November 2006


11. Centre Route   8m   HVD

Start from the foot of the buttress, which protrudes from the face, and climb straight up.

Pre 1960


12. Get Yer Coat    7m   HVS 5b

Climbs the slab to the left of Cote Crack. The rib leads to pockets and then the top.

Steve Crowe, Karin Magog 3rd April 2005


13. Cote Crack   7m   VS 4b   *

Starts from a recess 3m right of Centre Route. Surmount the overhang following the crack to the top. Distinctly awkward but worth the effort.

Pre 1960


14. Rigg Slab    7m   D

Starts near the right end of the buttress and climbs the slab.

Pre 1960


About 50m to the right of North Buttress is:




15. Mountain Master    9m   HS 4b

The wide crack left of Stump Crack is more awkward than it looks!

Steve Crowe, Karin Magog 3rd April 2005


16. Stump Crack   10m   VS 4b

Start directly below the mature birch tree sprouting from the top of the crag. Climb a short crack choked by a tree stump onto a recessed ledge, follow the crack past a tree to the top. (The crack is still dirty at the moment but the climbing is worthwhile).

A Marr, M Tooke, F Fitzgerald.  7th January 2001.


17. Heather Crack   12m   VS 5a

Climb the central heather filled crack.

Steve Crowe, Karin Magog 3rd April 2005


18. Roger the Cabin Boy   13m   HVS 4c

Climb the wall to the left of Wall And Crack. The initial difficult moves are followed by a bold finish.

Franco Cookson, Nick Warburton, Dave Warburton All Solo  15th April 2008


19. Wall and Crack   14m   HS

Starts from the cave. Climb the strenuous crack leaving the cave to gain the wall, continue by following the wide chimney crack to the top.

Pre 1960


The next route climbs the impressive arête and is one of the best outings on the crag.


20. Hungry Heart    11m   E2 5b   **

Either tackle the arête direct or as for the previous route and climb to gain the obvious rising shelf about 4m up the arête. Climb the left hand side of steep upper arête with increasing difficulty. Excellent climbing with adequate protection.

A Taylor, A Marr.   17th December 2000


21. Blakey Traverse    11m   VD

Start just around the corner to the right of the last climb. Cross the short wall to gain the arête then follow the rising shelf to finish up the short chimney of Wall and Crack.

Pre 1960


21a. Hungry Mind   10m   E2 5b   *
Climb the slab right of the arête, continuing up as the wall steepens. Top out to the left.
Sam Marks, Matthew Ferrier, Jack Hodgson 29/Jul/2012


22. Twin Cracks   8m   HVS 5a

Climbs the corner cracks to the right of Hungry Heart. Avoiding the booming flakes being the crux, belayer be warned!

Steve Crowe, Karin Magog 3rd April 2005


To the south is:


The Old Sheep Pillar
The free standing pillar found between blakey butress and oak butress.

Sheep Can't Climb   6m   VS 4c
Climb the left arête on its right side.
Sam Marks solo o/s 24/Jul/2011 "Named after we found a dead sheep in a hole down the back of the buttress on descent."

Cadbury Flake   6m   VS 5a   *
Climb the flake in the centre of the steep wall direct.
Sam Marks solo o/s 24/Jul/2011

Sheep Can Boulder!   5m   4c
Climb the shelf and rib right of Cadbury Flake. Hard topout.
Sam Marks 24/Jul/2011


A little further south is:




Areas of rock on this section of the crag are of a shattered and potentially unstable nature, therefore caution should be exercised.



22. Ash Groove   8m   D

Start about 2m in from the left-hand side of the buttress. Climb the obvious groove choked by a tree.

Pre 1960


23. Ash Tree Wall   10m   HD

Start just right of the last climb in a cleft then climb the wall direct.

Pre 1960


24. Oak Traverse   13m   D

Climb from the cleft then across the wall behind the oak to finish up the short chimney.

Pre 1960


25. Oak Wall   12m   D

 Start below and to the right of the oak. Easy rocks lead to a shared finish with the last climb.

Pre 1960


26. Daffodil Slab   11m   S

Start 5m to the right of Oak Wall. Climb straight up the slab to a ledge, finish up the difficult wall above.

Pre 1960



More details regarding the bouldering at this venue at betaguides.com