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Water Crag


OS Explorer OL30 (Yorkshire Dales North)
OS Map Reference:
NY 922044
Aspect: North West
Altitude: 640m
Approach Time: 50 minutes - 1 hour

Situation and Character
Water Crag is a north west facing series of large boulders located high on Arkengarthdale Moor. Often visited by walkers who climb the nearby Rogan's Seat, the crag gives some interest to a remote moorland setting. The rock is good quality Gritstone and similar to that of Healaugh further south. The boulders themselves reach a height of 5 metres with well pocketed walls, easy angled slabs and some steeper additions. The boulders are at an elevation of over 600m above seal level so they are best visited on a calm day and ideally a sunny one as the surrounding hills can keep hold of any low cloud and any significant snow is slow to melt. With this and the limited daylight hours during the winter months the best time to visit is from March through to October. Take a brush to clean any scrittle which will no doubt be apparent on some holds. On a clear day the outlook is excellent, over to the West the Cumbrian Fells can be seen and looking North West the Galloway mountains are clearly visible. These rocks have been a destination for many years which is evident by the amount of graffiti on the top of the buttresses but there were no known details of any climbing until 2016. The majority of the problems were developed by Steven Phelps with some more recent contributions by Martin Parker and Paul Clarke.

Access and Approaches
Parking can be found at William Gill which is 2.2 miles east of The Tan Hill Inn or five and a half miles west of the village of Langthwaite. There's space for one car at the entrance to the gill but there's also parking just east on either side of the road. Follow the track south west, you'll need to negotiate 3 fords as you move up through the valley, though these are fairly low in summer. After about 35 minutes the track turns into a small path. Cross the river at the top which brings you out at the abandoned William Gill Mine works. Head off east across the moor for about 20 minutes, the crag can be seen up on the ridge. There are some white shooting posts marking a fairly dry route up towards the crag on a vague quad track, these may or may not be in place. The area is subject to moor closures at certain times of the year and at present it is probably best to keep any dogs on a lead when making the final approach.

All problems are described from left to right with the first problems starting at the largest buttress on the left side of the crag.

Water Buttress

1. Waterboy   4+
From sitting, climb direct over the small overhang on the block just left of the main buttress.

2. Watercress   2
The short wall in the gully on the main buttress. Often green.

3. Dew Rib   4
The vague rib in the centre of the wall.

4. Halloween H2O   4   *
Climb the wall past a deep pocket just left of the arÍte.

5. Water ArÍte   5+  **
From sitting, climb the arÍte on its left side with a difficult pull to the break at the start. From standing is 3+.

6. Water ArÍte - Right Side   5   *
Make another steep sit start and climb the right side of the arÍte. From standing is 3+.

7. Water Board   3
Climb just right of the arÍte.

8. Water Works   3   *
The centre of the wall.

Water Works 3 © Steven Phelps

9. Water Aid   3  *
Just right of centre on formed holds.

10. Waters Edge   4   *
Follow the right edge of the wall. Use the arÍte to reach the top.

11. The Deep Edge   5+   **
From sitting, climb the leaning arÍte on its right side. Rock around leftwards at the top. From standing is 5.

12. Sacred Cycles   6a+   *
From sitting, follow the flake in the leaning wall via pockets and crimps. Mantel direct at the top without the arÍte.

To the right is a moderate corner crack and an easy stepped slab. The next problem is on the small boulder just right.

13. Whaw Games   6b   *
From sitting, use the flake rail and a high heel to rock up to the sloping left edge of the slab.

Just below are a set of boulders. The next problems are located on an obvious slab.

Sinner Slab

1. Left Side   2
Climb up to join the left arÍte of the slab.

2. Mr Mole   3
The centre on fragile flakes.

3. Sinner   4+   *
Climb the right side of the slab.

4. Sinner Variation   4+
Step onto the slab as for Sinner. Move rightwards onto the right edge/arÍte. Follow to finish.

Round the corner to the right are the next problems.

Alcove Boulders

5. Low Lier   5+
From sitting, pull onto the block using the deep pocket above the lip and reach an edge around the corner. Mantel direct to finish.

6. Gill's Traverse   3
From sitting, follow the top of the next block as it rises rightwards. Finish up Gill's ArÍte.

7. Gill's Slab   6a+   *
Start from sitting on the right side of the long slab. Use the crimp edge on the slab to rockover to the top.

8. Gill's ArÍte   2
Climb the slab arÍte without the foot block.

The next problems are on the left buttress of the obvious alcove back up on the main edge.

The Wedge

1. Thin End of the Wedge   4
From sitting at the ledge, climb out leftwards and up the narrow wall.

2. Tethers End   4+   *
From sitting at the ledge again, climb direct up the rib.

3. Journeys End   3
Use a right hand layaway to climb the wall.

4. Wedge Wall   3
The right side of the wall.

The next boulder offers some fine problems on the undercut wall.

Undercut Boulder

5. Rack and Ruin   6b   *
From sitting, move up the left arÍte to a sloper. Be careful of the block just left. Finish on improving holds.

6. Broken Ties   6b+   **
Start from sitting at some small holds just right of the arÍte. Move to a sloping right hand crimp and a left hand slot. Now pop for a sloper and a small edge to a jug. Finish as for the last problem.

7. Scuppered  4
From the block, climb the wall past a hollow sounding flake hold. A variation starting form the next problem and joining at the flake is Scuppered Variation 6c.

8. Cherry Wall   6c   ***
Hang the ledge below the hanging wall. Reach out to a sloper and climb the wall direct past good edges. Pass a left hand flake near the top.

Martin Parker on Cherry Wall 6c © Steven Phelps


9. Man's Best Friend   6c+   *
An eliminate. Start as for the last problem but this time reach a better hold near the prow. Make a dynamic stretch to gain a hold on the prow just before the break. Finish on good holds.
Martin Parker 14/05/2017

10. Vega Prow   6b   ***
start on the ledge again. Reach out and climb the prow using holds on both sides to a composed finish. Can also be climbed using holds on the right side once positioned on the prow at a slightly easier grade.

Steven Phelps on  Vega Prow 6b  © Steven Phelps

11. Hanging Groove   4+
Hang the ledge once more. Reach out and follow the flake in the groove.

12. Due Process   4   *
Climb the vague rib starting with the thin flake. Finish using sloping holds.

13. Punchard Wall  3   *
The centre of the high wall on knobs.

14. The Perfectly Sewn Squirrel Pouch   6c+   **
Start from sitting on the boulder in the gap. Pull up following the blunt rib using the upper block only. Probably easier for the tall.
Martin Parker 14/05/2017

15. Platform Wall   6a
From sitting, move up the scooped wall. From standing is 2.

16. Platform ArÍte   3
The arÍte on its left side.

17. Platform ArÍte - Right Side   3+
The same arÍte on its right side.

16. Grim Wall  4+
The centre of the left wall of the corridor with a long reach for the top.

17. Reaper   5
From sitting, climb the left side of the arÍte/edge at the end of the corridor.

Back Yard


1. Back Hander   3
The centre of the other wall is less grim.

2. Notcher   3
The line on the wall just right aiming for the notch at the top.

3. Hard Luck Left Side   5+
The left side of the leaning arÍte with a cramped sit start.

4. Hard Luck   5+   *
The leaning arÍte from sitting mainly on its right side. There will be a very hard problem on the wall to the right.

5. Tough Luck   6b+   *
From sitting, pull onto the wall with the right hand pocket to reach a crimp directly above. Finish using the break out left.

The next problems are located 10m to the right.

Ghost Buttress

1. Mystified   3
The left edge of the boulder. Often green.

2. Ghost Groove   5+   *
The technical groove using holds on either side.

3. Giving Up the Ghost   5   *
The centre of the wall with a tricky mantel at half height.

4. Ghost Eliminate   5
An eliminate using the crack and the holes.

5. Spirit ArÍte   4   **
The left side of the arÍte. From sitting adds a few stiff pulls at 5+.

Steven Phelps on  Spirit ArÍte 4 © Steven Phelps

6. Spirit ArÍte Right Side   4+   *
The right side of the arÍte to a tricky mantel finish.

7. Fright Night   6a  *
Start with a right hand flake. Climb the wall just right of the arÍte. Finish as for the last problem.

8. Dark Eyes   5
Start just to the right and climb the scooped wall.

9. Ghost Protocol   4+
Climb up to and over the capping stone.

10. Voices   6a
The right edge/arÍte of the wall with a cramped sit start. From standing is 4.

11. Pikelet Man   4
The left edge of the next block on its right side using a ledge.

12. Wham Bar   5
Start with a left hand sloper and a right hand pinch. Move up the wall past a juggy rail.

13. The Rib   6c   *
From sitting, make awkward moves up the blunt rib starting with a left hand crozzle and a far right hand pocket. Move up past the sloping break before using a hidden right hand pocket near the top to finish.
Martin Parker 14/05/2017

14. Potcakes   4+
The centre of the sidewall from a sitting start on the boulders.

15. Toast in the Machine   4+
The right arÍte on its left side.

The next problems are located on the obvious flake boulder.

Flake Boulder

1. Consumer   4+
From sitting, start at the smaller flake on the left. Climb direct reaching good holds.

2. The Flake   3+   *
The big flake thing from sitting.

3. Flake ArÍte   3
Follow the arÍte on its left side.

Back up to the main edge to the next problems.

Tan Hill Boulders

4. Lyrid Prow   5+
From sitting, climb the prow moving leftwards to finish.

5. Lyrid Dyno   5+   *
From sitting, pop for the top from the crimp edge on the wall in the gully.

6. Syncopate   2
The opposite wall in the gully with use of the edge/arÍte.

7. Tan Hill ArÍte   6a+   **
From sitting, use a wide pinch on the arÍte and an obvious right hand hold to climb to a pocket. Finish past another pinch and a crimp edge in the break. From standing is 5.

Martin Parker on Tan Hill ArÍte 6a+ © Steven Phelps

8. The Dog's Paw Print   7a   *
Start sitting from the arÍte again. Make difficult moves to get the pocket with your left hand and pass the break in the wall above. From standing is 5+.
Martin Parker 14/05/2017

9. No One on Earth   6b
From sitting, pull onto the wall to any of the pockets using the flake over to the right. Finish direct.

10. Block and Tan   6c   *
Step onto the dirty scoop and traverse the wall from right to left using the sloping break. Finish up The Dog's Paw Print. Sustained!
Paul Clarke 26/05/2017

The next problems are located on the slabs to the right which seem to stay rather green.

Edge Slabs

1. Just Breathe   2
The left side of the blunt arÍte.

2. Exhale   2+
The right side of the arÍte past a dirty ledge.

3. Function   3+
Climb the next slab and overhang on its left side.

4. The Flow   3
The centre up the juggy fault.

5. Grot Slab   3
The right side on good but dirty holds.

6. Dribs   4+
Start on the next block. without the foot ledge on the left, climb direct to a mantel finish.

7. Drabs   1
Climb the slab just left of centre. Easier the more right you do it.

8. Make Way   3
The short sidewall.

9. Green Wall   4+
Climb the wall using the rib for the right hand.

10. Green Rib    2
Follow the rib.

11. Green Slab   2
Up the front slab moving rightwards.

Just below is an obvious boulder with an arÍte.

Flex ArÍte

12. Flex ArÍte   5   *
From sitting, climb the leaning arÍte to a mantel finish.

About 10m below is a cube boulder. It holds some nice problems often from cramped sit starts.

The Cube

1. Geometric   6a+
Use the flake and some good footwork to reach a crimp edge near the arÍte. Urgently finish.

2. Cube ArÍte - Left Side   5   *
From sitting, climb the left side. From standing is 4+.

3. Cube ArÍte - Right Side   5+
From sitting, climb the right side. From standing is 5.

4. Cube Slab   6b   *
From sitting, make a cramped start using crimps and side crimps to a good flake hold which allows the top to be reached.

5. 3rd Dimension   6b
From sitting, use the foot block, a far left sidepull and the arÍte to reach a shallow pocket on the right of the groove. Make a long reach for the top and finish.

Back up to the main edge and several tall boulders.

Tilted Block

1. Tilt   2
The narrow wall direct.
Paul Clarke 26/05/2017

2. Small Town Girl   5+   *
The arÍte direct using a sloper to an awkward exit.

3. Tilting at Windmills   4+
The right arÍte to another awkward finish.
Paul Clarke 26/05/2017

Scoop Block

4. Scoop of the Day   6a+   *
The obvious scoop to the right using two opposing side crimps and popping for the top. Mantel to finish.
Paul Clarke 26/05/2017

Paul Clarke enjoying Scoop of the Day 6a+

5. Ledge Hammer   5+
Pull onto the rib using the ledge. Use a knobbly crimp on the right wall to reach the top.

6. Wallflower   4
The centre of the sidewall on some elusive holds.
Paul Clarke 26/05/2017

Onto the next problems which start on the sidewall of the larger block.

Sloper Block

7. Fancy Free   3
The centre of the sidewall on decent holds.

8. Side Affection   5+
The right side of the wall with a long reach from obvious holds to a high crimp edge. Finish direct. Better than it looks!

9. Flat Earther   5   *
Follow the left side of the arÍte with use of holds on the wall to start. Finish as for the last problem.

10. No Way Back   5+   **
Climb the right side of the arÍte which requires positive approach.

11. Cosmology   5   *
Climb the vague rib from an obvious ledge. Make long reaches between good holds to a nervy exit rightwards.

12. The Big Empty   6a   *
Reach for the sloping shelf. Make a difficult pull to juggy flakes and another nervy finish.

13. Orbiter   5
Pull onto the leaning rib using the hole. Pass some jugs to a delicate finish.

14. Enceladus 5
Climb the right side of the block to finish up a short groove.

There's a possibility for more development on the boulders to the right. The last problems described are about 100m to the west on a decent sized boulder near the fence.

Far Block

1. Far Fetched   5+
Start under the left side of the roof at the front. Climb out past a horizontal flake.

2. Faren Right   5+
Start under the right side of the roof. Climb out past a good hold near the top.
Paul Clarke 26/05/2017

Paul Clarke on Faren Right 5+ © Steven Phelps

3. Withiness   5+
From sitting, climb direct from the boss up a faint groove on the left side of the west wall.

4. Far Flung   6a
Start sitting in the small cave. From a left hand head height hold and a right hand low pocket, make a stiff pull past sloping edges near the top. Keep off the boss.

5. Far and Away  4+
From sitting, climb the right side of the wall on the platform.

6. Far Flake   2
From sitting, climb the short 'one move wonder' flake on the south wall.