Cleadon Quarry (aka Lonnen Quarry)

Cleadon Quarry Crag, White Wall
Cleadon Quarry Crag, White Wall


Mike Blenkinsop was the first to record his activities here back in 1974, including Left and Right Walls. Paul Stewart climbed Thin White CrackThe Dancer and the testing Naybrew. Paul Stewart was also involved in the development of the Black Wall with many problems including Improviserand The Rat. Many local climbers have used this compact venue for mid week training but few have “claimed” their achievements as first ascents.

Thin White Crack Font 6A
Thin White Crack Font 6A

Situation and Character

These pleasant, though small, crags are more akin to outdoor climbing walls than some of the major bouldering crags in this guide. The urban setting and southwestern aspect ensures popularity amongst local climbers however a long journey from far outside of South Tyneside can hardly be justified. The rock is Magnesium Limestone with many shell fossils clear to see. The quality of the rock is variable but all the problems described are on good quality limestone, however the more popular problems do suffer from a high polish. Quarry Crag is sheltered and can be climbed on all year round. The nearby Cleadon Crag (NZ392628) has a dozen short solos but unfortunately it is showning signs of neglect and has become more overgrown in recent years.

Slim Chance Font 3+ Cleadon Crag © Steve Crowe 2011
Slim Chance Font 3+ Cleadon Crag © Steve Crowe 2011

Access and Approaches

Quarry Crag is easily located as it overlooks the football fields adjacent to Quarry Lane in South Shields, on the edge of the Cleadon Hills. Park near the junction of Quarry Lane and Larch Avenue.

Naybrew Font 6A ©Steve Crowe 2011
Naybrew Font 6A ©Steve Crowe 2011

The Climbs

By far the best and most pleasant of the crags in the Cleadon Massif! The problems are short and generally polished. Many of the harder problems are eliminate in nature and obviously many more variations exist than are described here. Despite this Quarry Crag is a popular training area. There are two main buttresses, White Buttress and Black Wall. White Buttress is mostly used for up and down problems while Black Wall is most popular for its pumpy traverses. All the problems are about four metres high. While most climbers boulder here, there is a convenient fence along the top of the crag should a belay be required, however care should be taken not to let the rope run over the edge where irreparable damage has been caused to the soil, especially above White Wall. The climbs are described from left to right.

Left Wall Font 3+ ©Steve Crowe 2011
Left Wall Font 3+ ©Steve Crowe 2011

Mini Guide PDF

Hudeshope Boulders

Monk’s Moor and Low Carrs are short gritstone edges and blocks situated in the Hupeshope Valley above Middleton in Teasdale.

Monk’s Moor

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 may still be 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. 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 Hudes Hope. 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. A nearby gate gives access to a field east of the road. Walk upslope (roughly east) to a second gate from which an approximately easterly walk of 600m should deposit you at the boulders. By following a line from the second gate towards the left end of the outcrop gives easier going that avoids the deeper heather.

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 BUTTRESSESThe 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.

Low Carrs

Hut Wall 5c Low Carrs ©Steve Crowe 2005
First solo of Hut Wall 5c Low Carrs ©Steve Crowe 2005

Situation and Character

Low Carrs is a compact location comprising principally of several walls of excellent quality Gritstone up to five metres high. It stands on the southern edge of Middleton Common overlooking the valley of the Hudeshope Beck, both of which lie just to the north of Middleton-in-Teesdale. The outlook is magnificent and the site quiet. A visit can easily be combined with the generally less serious or difficult bouldering at the nearby Monk’s Moor Boulders (NGR 962289). A walk across the moor of about thirty minutes duration connects the two sites. Landings vary from the good to the potentially back-breaking / body-impaling and, given that the lack of traffic so far means some of the rock is lichenous and gritty, a circumspect approach is advised towards some of the problems. Some of the more serious problems have been top-roped and await better conditions for the intended solo. Burly spotters and a selection of mats would be useful. Nevertheless Low Carrs holds some excellent quality wall and arête problems.


Carol and Alan Dougherty together with Kevin Flint visited in August 2005, when the first twelve problems were ascended and recorded. The Doughertys added a further seventeen problems during two further visits later in the month.

Access and Approaches

Low Carrs lies on moorland that is 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 or via the Access Helpline on 0845 100 3298.

From Middleton-in-Teesdale take a minor road northwards up the east side of, the initially wooded and then mine-ravaged, valley of Hudes Hope. 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. Amongst other possibilities, it is possible to park a car carefully on an area of wider verge on the right seventy metres prior to this gate.

Walk through the gate and take the track (not the sign-posted footpath) which starts behind a metal vehicle barrier and runs northwards from the sharp bend in the road. The track zig-zags upwards through a large spoil heap to reach some ruined mine buildings. At this point take the left-hand fork and continue through three wooden gates. Just after passing the third gate take a sheep trod on the left, which follows the line of the dry-stone wall across the moor. Low Carrs is reached in about 500m from this last gate, having passed some smaller boulders, one of which might give a bum-scrapping traverse.

General Layout

On arrival the most obvious feature is that of the arête. To its left lies the main wall, whilst further left are the Left and Right Short Walls. To the right of the arête are the dry-stone wall remains of a ruined “hut,” which enclose the side of the hut wall and part of the back of the hut three tier wall. Further to the right is the Elephants Forehead, whilst other problems lie on The Scrappy Buttress just to the right of this feature and on The Isolated Block diagonally right, further up the slope behind. The problems are described from left to right as facing the crag.

Mini Guide PDF

Climbing at Healaugh (Crag Willas)

Friar’s Wall © Steve Crowe 2011
Friar’s Wall © Steve Crowe 2011

Situation and Character 
Perhaps the most remote of all the venues covered in the guide but well worth a visit, this collection of small buttresses and large boulders is situated in a quiet part of the East Pennines at an altitude of over 500 metres. The rock is excellent quality gritstone which has a classic rounded nature and many blind cracks. This gives rise to “smear” problems on both delicate slabs and steep walls. The situation is a suntrap in good weather and a superb quiet setting. A good place to get away from the crowds! It is comfortable to climb here from late spring to early autumn. From a bouldering/soloing viewpoint the landings are not always good, so plenty of pads and spotters could make the day more pleasant. That said and although most of the routes here have been soloed the use of a rope can sometimes be prudent on the bigger climbs.

What's your Problem ©Steve Crowe collection 2011
What’s your Problem ©Steve Crowe collection 2011

Dave Staton whose routes during trips with the Youth Clubs of Darlington included those on Miners Wall and Calver Face was the first record his activities in the early 1960’s. Bruce Perry added routes to the West side of Luckys­trike Buttress. Whilst checking out the crag for the North of England Guide, Ron Kenyon climbed a number of routes in 1978. In more recent times, Karl Lunt has climbed many of the existing routes and added some of his own the best of these being On The Level and Karl’s Arête. FRCC stalwart Ron Kenyon is Mr Wobbly. Alan Dougherty continued the development during the 1990’s with his highlight being the The Emerald Isle, which was named by Steve Crowe thinking he was making the first ascent later in the same decade. Bob Bennett, Mark Turner, Steve Crowe and Karin Magog added many more routes and problems during the 1990’s. Of particular note were the ascents of Their Glorious Wealth the first route to tackle the awesomely steep west wall of the Inclined Buttress, the impressive lead of Blood Red Streets and the highball solo ascent of the classic Sin Feinn. Ian Cummings made an impressive onsight solo repeat of Blood Red Streets above a six foot covering of snow.

Old Gang Smelt Mill ©Steve Crowe 2011
Old Gang Smelt Mill ©Steve Crowe 2011


The best approach is  by the old flue running up from the Old Gang Smelt Mills. Park at the popular picnic spot where Surrender Bridge crosses Hard Level Gill. A good level track leads west from here above the north side of the river to reach the old mining ruins at NGR 974005. At this point the ruins of an old flue (looking like an old dry stone wall from a distance) runs directly up the hillside northwards over a number of false summits! The crag is not visible until just before the top of the hill. The flue squeezes between The Lumberjack Wall of the Third Flue Buttress on the left, and The Magic Buttress on the right. The approach as described, although not the shortest, is the estates preferred route and anyway may save time spent stumbling aimlessly across the heather clad moors.

The smooth Skiver 4+ smears up the centre of the slab.
The smooth Skiver 4+ smears up the centre of the slab.

Mini Guide PDF

Climbing Guide to Whickham Boulder

Whickham Thorns Boulder © Steve Crowe 2010
Whickham Thorns Boulder © Steve Crowe 2010

Situated off Market Lane, Dunston, Gateshead, Whickham Boulder was the first man made outdoor boulder park in Britain was made by Enterprise for Whickham Thorns Outdoor Activity Centre. Officially opened in October 1998 the boulder park has proved extemely popular with top climbers, regular boulderers and novices alike. The boulder enjoys a sunny aspect and its use is free and unrestricted.

Access and Approaches
Just off the A1 Western By Pass opposite Gateshead Metro Centre. Take the Dunston/Whickham exit then turn south to the traffic lights where you need to turn right. Park in the Whickham Thorns Activity Centre car park. The boulder park is easily reached in less the a minute from the car park. 

Climbing at Whickham Boulder © Steve Crowe 2010
Climbing problem two at Whickham Boulder © Steve Crowe 2010

Bouldering Etiquette
Using an old towel or rag to keep your boots squeeky clean makes good sense, it can even make the problems feel easier. NO WIRE BRUSHING & NO RESIN. Nylon brushes acceptableto brush chalk and pebbles from the holds.

The grading system used here was first used by the French for the bouldering in Fontainbleau near Paris and is becoming increasingly popular with climbers in the UK. 

Steve Crowe climbing at Whickham Thorns Boulder © Steve Crowe 2010
Steve Crowe climbing at Whickham Thorns Boulder © Steve Crowe 2010

The Problems
The boulder is one complex cirque. The problems are described from left to right first around the outside, then returning around the inside. All the problems finish on the top. Finally some traverses are described, these are given sport route grades. The first climb described tackles the left edge of the east face and is one of the nearest problems to the approach path.


Click the image above to view the Whickham Thorns Mini Guide (PDF).

Climbing Guide to Houghton Graveyard

(From Climbing in North East England by Steve Crowe Bob Bennett and Mark Turner)

Houghton Graveyard © Steve Crowe 2002
Main Wall at Houghton Graveyard © Steve Crowe

Access maps ©

OS sheet 88 NZ345505
Aspect South East 
Altitude 110m
Approach time 2 minutes

Situation and Character
The crags are found between Sunderland and Durham in a former graveyard on the north east side of Houghton le Spring adjacent to the A690 Dual Carriageway at Houghton Cut. The faces of Magnesium limestone form part of the ancient reef deposit that also surfaces at Cleadon. The climbing is situated on the best and most impressive faces, which are also the first encountered as one enters the graveyard. The rock quality on these two faces is variable, better than it looks, but it is friable and does suffer from a powdery deposit. The walls are very compact and do not run to strong features or cracks. The steep bulging nature and small fragile holds provide pumpy climbing. Most of the climbs are bolted and other lines have a lower off to enable those eliminates to be top roped. This can only be considered a local venue.

The Graveyard was originally developed as a top-roping venue. Gavin Ellis and John Boyle recorded ascents of Abiotrophy and Revenge of the Body Snatchers. Michael Gardiner and Dave Stainthorpe added Pegasus and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey. Stephen “Woody” Fleming made the only recorded ascent before the arrival of bolts in the Graveyard, with the very bold solo of Roasting the Ox. Bolts began to appear during the 1990’s. From 1996, Steve Crowe and Karin Magog added Hallowed Ground, Depression and Creative Thinking.

Houghton Graveyard © Steve Crowe 2021
Houghton Graveyard © Steve Crowe 2021

Access and Approaches
From the main roundabout below the A690 Durham to Sunderland road, exit onto the B1404 towards Seaham and take the first left turn almost immediately into Elizabeth Street. Follow this uphill to give way at a crossroads and go straight ahead. (The crag is now visible on the hill behind the allotment gardens.) Take the second street on the left and at the end, turn right into Sunderland Street. Drive up the hill to the end of the street and park at the end adjacent to Hillside farm. A path leads uphill to the old cemetery gate. Turn into this and follow a short path into the graveyard. The first crag on the left is Lower Wall whilst above and behind is the Back Wall. 

Access restrictions

The land owners wish to make it clear that they have not given permission for climbing to take place at this location. At present the land is owned by the Parochial Church Council of St Michael’s Church, with the land to be maintained by Sunderland City Council from December 2004. Groups wanting to climb at Houghton Graveyard should write to The Reverend Dr Ian Wallis at The Rectory, Dairy Lane, Houghton le Spring. 0191 584 2198. 

Climbers are reminded that this is a burial ground and are asked to be keep a low profile as relatives do still visit the cemetery to look for graves. 

Climbers are reminded that they use the crag and the in situ protection at their own risk and may be asked to leave.

Climbers at Houghton Graveyard © Steve Crowe 2021
Houghton Graveyard © Steve Crowe 2021

The Climbs
The climbs are described from left to right.

The Lower Wall
Two walls divided by a deep chimney. The left flank is a steep slab with a prominent overlap at half height whilst the main wall is a steep wall offering technical climbing up to 10 metres in height.

Houghton Graveyard Topo ©

The Left Flank

1. Hallowed Ground F6a+
The central line of this buttress. Delicate climbing leads to powerful moves across the prominent overlap and up to a lower off at half height. 3 bolts to LO.

2. Alternative F6b Top Roped
It is possible to top rope an independent line about 2m R of the bolts of Hallowed Ground from the same lower off.

About 3m to the R is the prominent chimney/gully, which separates the Left Flank from The Main Wall.

3. Bushwhacking Blues F5 **
The right edge of the Left Flank, taking care to avoid the loose rock on the arête. 3 bolts to LO.

Main Wall
Just right of the prominent chimney/gully.

4. CreativeThinking F7b+
The steep wall following a line of resin bolts immediately right of the chimney. Strictly no bridging. 5 bolts to LO.

5. Revenge of the Body Snatchers F7b+
Start 2 metres right of the chimney. Fingery climbing eventually leads to a good hold 3m below the top, hard moves lead to the top. 4 bolts to LO.

6. Abiotrophy F7c Top Rope
Climb direct until a desperate move on a small under-cling leads over the small roof. Another hard move leads to the large finishing pocket. 

7. Depression F7a+ * 
Start just right of the bush. A hard start leads to hollow jugs and bolt. Delicate moves, keeping right of the next three bolts, lead to the
lower off. 4 bolts to LO.

8. The Petzl Hangers F7b+
The line of 4 Petzl hangers just L of the curving groove lead over a bulge to a chain. 4 bolts to LO.

9. Seven Sisters F7b * 
Follow the curving groove until a long reach up and left from a small pocket leads to a good small crimp. Very thin moves may lead direct to the lower off. 3 bolts to LO.

10. Evensong F7a+
About 1m R of the curving groove is a vague R facing “corner”. Four Petzl bolts lead to a single resin bolt. It is better to LO as for Seven Sisters. 4 bolts to LO.

11. Immortalised in Stone F7a
The short well-bolted line at the right edge of the wall, just left of (or under) the Ivy. Four bolts lead up first L then back R until a very thin move gains the twin bolt lower off. (Stud and three bolts) . 4 bolts to LO.

The Back Wall ©

Back Wall
This is an impressive face up to 20 metres high. The striking crack up the left end of the face consists of soft, loose rock and is not recommended. The Back Wall is split by a vegetated corner, which is towards the right side. The shorter right-hand wall has a fine arête overlooking the prominent corner.

12. Pinning The Tail On The Donkey 6a 
The poorest recorded route. It has only been top roped and is not recommended. Start at a lower level than the other routes to the left of a small memorial plaque. Climb the wall to the left of centre to a ledge. Continue up the wall above at its steepest part trending slightly left near the top. No bolts or LO.

The following routes all start from the ledge above the crypt. Pegasus and Myrrh both start at the left end of the ledge up a shallow groove behind the tree.

13. Pegasus F6c 
A top rope problem. Start as for Myrrh below the obvious scoop. Climb up the scoop. Pass to the left of the second bolt to gain a very blunt rib. Finish straight up the wall above. Sustained. No bolts to LO.

14. Myrrh F7a+ ** 
A bold start behind the tree leads to a technical finish on small holds. Climb the shallow groove for 3m step left then follow the obvious curving scoop sweeping back right to finish direct. 5 bolts to LO.

15. Good Friday F7a+ * 
A direct start to Myrrh. Start to the left of a black bulge at the base of the crag about 5m left of the corner. Climb up the wall to the left of the bulge via a prominent pocket then join Myrrh to finish direct. Originally finished further right closer to My Little Pony. No bolts in start.

16. My Little Pony F7a+ *** 
Start just left of the foot of the vegetated gully. Climb the wall to mid-height and move left through a weakness in the wall. Move back right where thin moves lead past the penultimate bolt. 6 bolts to LO.

The next route follows the prominent arête right of the corner.

17. Roasting The Ox F6b+ ** 
Start below the corner left of the narrow wall and the prominent arête. Go up the corner until moves on the right wall can be made towards the arête. Follow the arête mainly on its left to top out (or lower off the top bolt). 6 bolts to tree.

18. The Cat Crept into the Crypt F6b+
Left of The Sepulchre on the steep slab is a prominent crack. Climb the slab just right of this. Top Rope only.

19. The Sepulchre F6b+
Start below the right hand side of the steep slab up the slope at the extreme right-hand end of Main Wall. Climb the slab left of the Ivy mass. Top rope only.

The Back Wall © Steve Crowe
The impressive Back Wall is rather hidden © Steve Crowe.

Summer of Dove by Steve Crowe

2003 was the Summer of Dove

A short history of climbing on Dove Crag leading up to the awesome summer of 2003. The original article was written for and published in Climber magazine in December 2003. 

by Steve Crowe

Chris Hope onsighting Bucket Dynasty E7 6b   © Steve Crowe 2003
Chris Hope onsighting Bucket Dynasty E7 6b © Steve Crowe 2003

Dove Crag has tested the very best climbers down the years from Dolphin and Whillans, to Cleasby, Botterill, Whillance, Berzins and Foster. The long hot summer of 2003 drew the latest generation of bright young things into the shadow of the steepest crag in the Lake District. Steve Crowe was there…

It was reported in the local newspaper at the time that a doctor and ambulance were on stand-by during the first ascent of Westmorlands Route (MS) by H. Westmorland, J. Mounsey and W.A. North in 1910. While the route is still a popular outing 90 years later, nowadays a mobile phone gets a good signal on the route so even today help need not necessarily be too far away! The next major line to be climbed was Hangover (HVS 5a) in May 1939 which sought out a weakness up the very centre of the crag ‘the only possible line of ascent and must rank as one of the purest lines in the country.” Arthur Dolphin. Don Whillans and Joe Brown with Don Cowan climbed Dovedale Groove in May 1954 with one point of aid. It was 9 years before Pete Crew and Bas Ingle made the second ascent of this now popular E1 5b. Don returned with Colin Mortlock in 1960 to climb the timeless classic Extol (E2 5b), again with one point of aid, which is still a much sought after Hard Rock tick. It has been said that on the first ascent, on account of their short ropes and the long run out, that both the leader and second were climbing extreme rock simultaneously!

Don Whillans climbing Dovedale Groove with Chris Bonington

It was a team of raiders from the North East, Chris Woodall and Ritchie Clarke, that took up the challenge of the North Buttress of Dove Crag during a cold Easter day in 1969. It was generally rumoured that Pete Crew had tackled the wall sometime in the early 60’s and never got round to completing the project. Chris Woodall recalls the day “We simply climbed up to and then followed the existing gear until it ran out at about half height. We treated the route as any steep pegging line; wholeheartedly using the rusting pegs, and still found it quite strenuous, above the stance we trended left to climb a steep fingery wall and I recall resting on a small sharp spike. The right facing groove below the top was green so I came down and stepped right to struggle up a smaller steep but protectable, slimy groove. We used no aid pegs above the belay but placed two for protection. (Nuts, apart from the odd MOAC, were hardly used in those days).” Many of those pegs placed during the 1960’s still form the crucial protection for the many free climbs that followed! One of the ascents that is not well documented was that by Pete Livesey who climbed the original North Buttress route as far as the ledges with a couple of points of aid. He probably followed the line that Martin Berzins and Chris Hamper took a couple of years later (in 1977) with about the same amount of aid. Martin recalls “We carried on to the top of the cliff probably the first time the top pitch was free climbed, a scary lead by Chris Hamper. It was hard to find out from Livesey exactly what he had done. I think that he stopped at the ledges but I don’t know.” It wasn’t until 1991 that Steve Mayers unlocked the final (6c) sequence and was able to free climb the original aided line in its entirety and protected only by the ageing fixed equipment. In 1976 Pete Botterill climbed Explosion (E4 5c) with Pete Whillance; this bold line tackles the right edge of North Buttress and although it is not so steep it is run-out and it does not pay to contemplate the protection (or lack of it). Martin Berzins and Ed Cleasby climbed the first and part of the second pitch of Problem Child (E4 6a) in May 1976 thus commencing Martin’s long association with the new route development at Dove Crag. Martin remembers the day well: “Ed Cleasby had climbed the first pitch with an aid point previously. I led this pitch free and Ed continued up on the next pitch. We were climbing ground up. Ed wanted to finish up Mordor but our ground-up attempt petered out and we finished up Extol. Jeff lamb and Pete Botterill returned to complete Problem Child in June 1979. The top pitches they added were much harder and better than the bottom ones and have been unjustifiably neglected.”

Chris Hope onsighting Pail Face E6 6b © Steve Crowe
Chris Hope onsighting Pail Face E6 6b © Steve Crowe

Bill Birkett visited the crag in May 1980 with Rick Graham to explore the possibility of a free line up the centre of the buttress. Some direct aid from a nut and a precarious move off a hand placed peg was needed to climb Broken Arrow (E5 5c A1) ”Absolutely at the limit and beyond.” Bill Birkett. Rick Graham swapped leads with Bill in June 1980 to produce the first free route to tackle the centre of North Buttress, the well named Fear and Fascination (E5 6a) a bold and pumpy route that still commands respect today ‘Fear and Fascination was the first all free route up that wall, and it still takes scalps to this day – a quite visionary effort by Rick in my opinion.” Neil Foster. They revisited the crag with Dave Lyle in 1981 to climb Asolo (E3 6a) which tackles a difficult line up the left side of the North Buttress (Asolo attracted a lot of controversy at the time as it was a blatant sponsorship route name). Rick and Bill returned again in 1982 to produce the popular Fast and Furious (E5 6a), a steep and pumpy line to the right. It is amazing that their pair of E5’s were not included in Ken Wilson’s Extreme Rock and they would certainly make the cut for any future edition.

Steve Crowe on Bucket City E6 6b   © Steve Crowe collection  2003
Steve Crowe on Bucket City E6 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003

Martin Berzins and Neil Foster had not climbed Bucket City (E6 6b) until after Extreme Rock was published in 1987 but it would also be a contender for Extreme Rock – The Return of Trad. Martin coerced Al Manson to join him in 1989 and went on to continue the bucket theme producing Beyond the Pail (E6 6b) with a hard crux on the first pitch and a complimentary serious (6a) run out section on the second ‘A very worried looking Alan Manson was belaying while I climbed quite a long run-out on crap gear from what wasn’t a great belay on the first ascent late in the evening. The route was cleaned and climbed in a day. “Martin Berzins. 1990 was a productive year for Berzins and Foster. Martins powerful and technical Pail Face (E6 6b), along with Neil’s two very steep and spectacular variation finishes, The Flying Fissure Finish (E5 6b) and the photogenic Outside Edge (E5 6b), were all popular routes during 2003. The Outside Edge should not be underestimated as it continues to shake off would be leaders; E9 was proposed after two spectacular falls in 2003 – the second, from the top of the route ended 60ft down and only 4ft from the ground with five pieces of gear sliding down the rope to thwack the unfortunate flying machine, Chris Hope as he swung silently to a rest!

Karin Magog on the fourth ascent of Vlad the Impailer E7 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003
Karin Magog on the fourth ascent of Vlad the Impailer E7 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003

The fact that Martin Berzins ascent of Vald the Impailer (E7 6b) was unrepeated for 13 years says it all, hard, pumpy and committing. “Although the route was extensively cleaned on abseil it was climbed ground up getting more gear in on each try. On the different attempts that took place over a number of days I took several falls (they seemed pretty safe though as the gear is good but spaced) before eventually leading it red-point style. Typically no sooner had I done it than Neil seconded it flawlessly! The day that we successfully climbed the route it poured with rain.” remembers Martin. I asked Martin if he was confident before venturing out on such a bold lead? “I was far from sure that I could do the route and had to resort to lots of midweek hand traversing on the Henry Price buildering wall at Leeds University to get fit enough.” Martin and Neil added one more fantastic and underrated route in 1991. Bucket Dynasty (E6 6b) was repeated soon after by Dougie Hall, as Ian Carr recalls: “lt was a funny day, Dougie turned up at the crag short of some gear, Charlotte volunteered to go back for it. By the time she got back to the crag, we’d done three routes, one of them being Bucket City. I had my eyes closed for most of the time, as he was in one of his “go for it” moods. He only got 3 or 4 pieces in the whole Bucket Dynasty pitch, and on a tatty single 9mm rope. We definitely ended up at the Asolo belay as we did it afterwards (as a warm down!) so we could get some gear back.”

Craig Smith enjoying  Fast and Furious with the Flying Fissure Finish E5 6b   © Steve Crowe collection  2003
Craig Smith enjoying Fast and Furious with the Flying Fissure Finish E5 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003

During the poor summer of 2002 AI Wilson cleaned off Pail Face and The Flying Fissure Finish while the rest of his team took shelter from the rain in the Priest Hole, the bivvy cave above the North Buttress. They were all ready to go home when ‘Awesome AI’ enthusiastically geared up and set off up FastandFurious only to find himself too pumped to tackle the FlyingFissure and elected to continue directly up the easier (but dirtier) original finish! James McHaffie subsequently onsighted Pail Face declaring himself pumped after the crux – a scary thought James then decided to have a look at freeing the aid pitch on Broken Arrow. A very hard (6c) sequence was needed to pass the poor in situ peg, then Caff continued with an extremely daunting runout above which eventually joined Bucket City part way up the headwall to produce Fear of Failure (E8 6c). The first new line to fall in 2003 was the bold Fetish for Fear (E7 6b), which is effectively a direct start to the Flying Fissure Finish, being led by both Chris Hope and Duncan Booth, seconded by Alan Wilson and Jimmy Beveridge. This saw a quick repeat by myself then subsequent on-sights by James (Caff) McHaffie and Dave Birkett. 

Dave Birkett onsighting Fettish for Fear E7 6b © Steve Crowe
Dave Birkett onsighting Fettish for Fear E7 6b © Steve Crowe

Initially abseiling in to clean off Vlad the Impailer, Alan Wilson was distracted by a line of holds that led up the leaning headwall above Vlad. AI left Chris and Duncan to sort out Fetish and started to clean off a line that was soon to become his stunning Dusk ’til Dawn (E7 6b). His belayer Chris Hope was straight in for the flashed second ascent of the incredibly pumpy (F7c+) line, confirming the grade and quality. Neil conceded that was one amazing line that the Berzins/Foster team had missed out on!

Awesome Al Wilson on the first ascent of  Dusk til Dawn E7 6b   © Steve Crowe collection  2003
Awesome Al Wilson on the first ascent of Dusk til Dawn E7 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003

Karin Magog and I climbed several links between existing routes, with Inside Out (E5 6b) (Fast and Furious into the hard Outside Edge) providing a very pumpy but possibly a safer way of tackling the soaring arête of Outside Edge. This was followed quickly by a sweeping girdle traverse. The Brasov Incident (E6 6b) starts as for Bucket Dynasty before breaking out right below the roof to then take in the crux’s of both Fear and Fascination and Fast and Furious before finishing either up the Outside Edge or the Flying Fissure Finish, the choice is yours.

Al Wilson onsighting Inside Out E5 6b © Steve Crowe
Al Wilson onsighting Inside Out E5 6b © Steve Crowe

The hardest route on the crag, Caff’s route from 2002, Fear of Failure (E8 6c) was quickly repeated by Chris ‘The Flying Machine’ Hope. After powering through the technical crux, on his second attempt, Chris went very quiet on the “harrowing” traverse above! Meanwhile, while AI was looking for holds to brush in the exit niche on Vlad the Impailer (E7 6b), he became frustrated when it wasn’t obvious how to climb it or even what needed cleaning! No beta could be gleaned from Berzins or Foster despite numerous emails the following week. Was it that they couldn’t remember or just that they didn’t want to make it too easy for us? On his first attempt on Vlad the Impailer, AI just jumped off, frustrated, unable to unlock the crux sequence. Next up was Karin who soon made it to Al’s high point where she shook out below the crux for nearly an hour, unable to either climb up any further, or reverse to the ground but reluctant just to give up! She eventually spotted the crucial hold, which was in need of the brush treatment, just as she fell off from exhaustion. This hidden hold proved to be the key. Promptly returning mid week Alan Wilson clinched the second ascent of Vlad the Impailer and I flashed the third. Karin claimed the 4th ascent the following weekend. Chris Hope also led Vlad the Impailer but not without falling frustrated out of the demanding and problematic niche on his first attempt. Chris made up for his disappointment by flashing the 3rd ascent of Bucket Dynasty (E6 6b) thinking it to be top end E6. Personally, I’m sure that Bucket Dynasty deserves E7, it’s in the same league as Vlad the Impailer and Dusk till Dawn for sure!

Steve Crowe onsighting Vlad 'til Dawn E7 6b © Karin Magog
Steve Crowe onsighting Vlad ’til Dawn E7 6b © Karin Magog

‘Awesome’ AI had one last link-up in mind by climbing the headwall of Dusk ’til Dawn starting up Vlad to give the biggest, pumpiest E7 on the North Buttress. Two routes not repeated during 2003 due to the poor condition of the in situ protection were Beyond the Pail (E6 6b) and North Buttress (E6 6b) and they would probably both merit E7 in their current state as well. The world of the internet meant that news of our activities travelled fast and soon queues formed on Fast and Furious but curiously not for Fear and Fascination, whereas Bucket City must have been the most climbed E6 in the Lake District in 2003.

Chris Hope on the second ascent of  Fear of Failure E8 6c   © Steve Crowe collection   2003
Chris Hope on the second ascent of Fear of Failure E8 6c © Steve Crowe collection 2003

Bizarrely many of the team commented that the walk-in felt further and harder as time went by (53 minutes was the record for the walk in, an hour and a quarter the norm) however the climbing was a different matter as we would take turns leading the Flying Fissure so that everyone else could warm up on it. Towards the end of the summer our knowledge of the cliff grew and our aims became more defined, so we would meet at the Beetham Hut to sort out a specific and lightweight rack for the team for the day. The North Buttress comprises of a unique matrix of routes which share only three common starts and the team shared their increasing insight and knowledge along with a combined trad experience of over 100 years, and as our fitness grew so did our confidence. It wasn’t all plain sailing, however, and some spectacular falls were taken off the Outside Edge (E5 6b). Expectant father Duncan Booth took a 40ft swoop from the crux luckily suffering no more than a bad headache. Not to be out done Chris (The Flying Machine) Hope took the previously mentioned 60ft fall, the maximum possible. Everyone else on the crag decided that was it for the day and were discussing abseiling Fast and Furious to retrieve some gear when Chris just dusted himself down and offered to climb up and strip the route for them.

Ian Cummins on The Brasov Incident E6 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003
Ian Cummins on The Brasov Incident E6 6b © Steve Crowe collection 2003

Where was Dave we asked, could this be the end of the Birkett Dynasty? Well, Dave Birkett arrived on Dove Crag late in the summer but soon worked his way through the routes flashing everything he tried, including Fetish for Fear a very serious E7; also Vlad the Impailer and the Vlad into Dusk link, two very hard and pumpy E7’s. After abseiling off the incredibly steep Vlad the Impailer Dave’s body language expressed the effort that the ascent had taken as he quietly shrugged his shoulders, sighed and rolling himself a tab he acknowledged “Aye, that was hard. “Dave topped all that with a stunning onsight ascent of James McHaffie’s route from 2002, the hard and serious Fear of Failure (E8 6c) after finding a painful knee-bar rest that enabled him to recover below the crux after sorting out the crucial gear. The ferocity of the steep and strenuous lines, the extreme sustained and technical difficulties, the long run-outs and the overpowering atmosphere of the place all combine to make climbing on Dove Crag an unforgettable experience. But what I will always remember most from the summer of 2003 up on Dove will be Awesome AI’s insatiable enthusiasm (especially with a brush), the tremendous team spirit and the shared trad experience. Oh and the bottle of Jack Daniels that we found in the Priest Hole. Cheers!

Steve Crowe onsighting Bucket Dynasty E7 6b © Karin Magog 2003
Steve Crowe onsighting Bucket Dynasty E7 6b © Karin Magog 2003

Gordale Adventure Routes

Gordale Scar © Steve Crowe 2005
Gordale Scar © Steve Crowe 2005

Gordale by Karin Magog

For me Gordale is a very special place to climb, both intimidating and awe inspiring at the same time.  Entering the gorge early on a sunny summer’s morning is always memorable.  One minute you’re strolling along the path, enjoying the sun then you step round the corner into the shade, the temperature plummets and the overhanging rock faces glower down on you.  It also seems to act as a wind funnel so it’s rarely too hot – I always take my down jacket and a hat! Fortunately the sun does a good job and picks out virtually all the walls in the gorge at some point of the day so if you time it right you can always enjoy its warmth.  As it moves across the Left Wall the shades it creates are amazing as various gargoylian faces materialise in the rock and glare down at you. I first climbed in Gordale in 1995 but was a bit overwhelmed by the place and it wasn’t till the following summer that I felt confident enough to take on some of the classic trad routes. The rock in Gordale is an interesting mix of top quality, Malhamesque limestone and a looser more flaky variety that demands a bit more respect. My first big route was the classic E3 Face Route and a good example of the adventurous climbing Gordale offers. As you start up the route you quickly learn not to pull out on the holds too much, instead palming down and careful footwork is the key, whilst trying to convince yourself the gear you placed in the usually damp crack is good. Interesting moves on wobbly undercuts through the roof, past some ancient pegs, lead to easier climbing and a sigh of relief as the rock quality also improves. The second pitch is a real contrast, hard moves on more compact rock, but with a choice of sequences success can seem like a gamble. This style of climbing can be seriously addictive and a few weeks later I found myself setting off up Solstice a Mark Radkte classic and one of my earliest E5’s. The route is mainly peg protected, with the guide mischievously informing you that the peg by the crux is the worst but gives no clues as to where the crux may be. This added nicely to the intimidation I felt as I slowly inched my way upwards, taking great care not to pull too hard and testing footholds before I stood on them. I eventually started to relax and enjoy myself when suddenly the crux arrived. The peg looked just like all the others below me, best not to think about  that really and just concentrate on sorting out the moves. After much shuffling up and down a perplexing and awkward sequence led to better holds, a sigh of relief and more relaxed climbing to the belay. Cave Route RH was my next challenge and at E6 it was certainly a step-up. This is truly an amazing route up the searing crack-line, endurance climbing at its best. Unfortunately for me my endurance wasn’t quite up to the on-sight and with my feet skittering on dirty smears and my elbows up by my ears my forearms failed me just a couple of moves from the sanctuary of the final crack. But even though it took me 3 red-points before I finally reached that sanctuary it was perhaps the moment that my love of Gordale was truly born. The best years have been the dry summers of 1997 and 2003 when the place was a hive of activity and routes were getting climbed left, right and centre. These are the years that really stand out in terms of achievements.

Karin Magog leading The Cause E5 6b, Gordale © Steve Crowe 2002
Karin Magog leading The Cause E5 6b, Gordale © Steve Crowe 2002

However, my most memorable lead was The Cause (E5 5b,6b,6a) back in 2002. Gordale was looking a bit neglected, the routes hadn’t had much traffic what with a damp summer following on from the Foot and Mouth year, but I was busy reading Lynne Hill’s autobiography and felt inspired to take on a challenge. The first pitch is shared with Jenny Wren and at 5b sounds like a breeze. However, it is a good exercise in self-preservation with decaying pegs and tottering rock – Gordale at it’s best! The main pitch above is superb. After finally committing to the tricky moves over the overhang I gingerly stepped right into the bottomless groove, quickly placing a couple of small wires before briefly glancing down to admire the drop to the stream below. The fight then began. Dirty holds, quite a bit of dampness and marginal gear all added to the experience. Any negative thought was banished by thinking about how Lynne would have relished such a challenge and it was by sheer determination I got up that pitch. I still rate it as one of my best on-sights. The route wasn’t over yet though and the fierce 6a finger crack above could have put a dampener on things. However, I wasn’t going to be so easily defeated and after a short battle the difficulties eased, good holds arrived and I lead the last few metres to the top with a huge smile on my face.

Karin Magog climbing Huecool 8b © Steve Crowe
Karin Magog climbing Huecool 8b © Steve Crowe

Gordale by Steve Crowe

The short stroll through the idyllic campsite does not prepare you for what you are about to encounter further up the gorge. The atmosphere changes dramatically as you turn the corner the pleasant sunny slabs contrast sharply with the dark and threatening overhangs, the foreboding walls of Gordale are certainly not a playground for the faint hearted. Some of the very best sport routes in Yorkshire are found here juxtaposed with some harrowing Gordale Adventure routes.

My relationship with Gordale began in the summer of 1986 with an ascent of Court Jester a popular E2 on the lower left wing. Well protected powerful climbing followed by big run outs on rattling rock and already I am beginning to understand the meaning of the term “Gordale Adventure Route”! Face Route is a superb and popular E3 6a that thoroughly deserves is classic status, I enjoyed it so much that I’ve climbed it more than once.

Face Route E3 6a Gordale © Steve Crowe
Face Route E3 6a Gordale © Steve Crowe

Things got more interesting in 1992 when I decided to try Solstice given E5 and protected mostly by pegs it sounded straight forward however this was when I began to understand the term Gordale Adventure Route. My log book simply states “11 peg runners, some are good.” Ten years and many routes later I could no longer avoid the challenge of Cave Route Right Hand (E6). I set off with a huge rack and great confidence fiddling in many wires to back up the dozens of rotting pegs. After 25m and 25 runners later my forearms gave out and my scream echoed around the gorge! All told I had placed 35 runners before I reached the sanctuary of the cave. My next ambition was to attempt both pitches of Pierrepoint (F7c+) in one huge runout. My first attempts with a single rope were thwarted by horrendous rope drag. Success on this powerful pump fest came when I decided to use two 9mm ropes. This time with less resistance, I was able to latch the long slap to that hidden hold and I was filled with a great sense of achievement as I reached the top of one of Yorkshire’s classic sport routes. By the time I had reached the ground however I was already pondering with some trepidation at what would be next?

The long hot summer of 1997 was one of great confidence and many successes that I am still very proud. Masochism Tango at E6 6c was a massive challenge up the line of depressions to the right of Revival and the stunning white wall above. I remember the crux was a powerful and a perplexing sequence between the first and second depression. The second pitch was more straightforward, simply enduring a screaming forearm pump to snatch my hardest trad onsight ever! 

The following weekend remains one of my most memorable. It began with a successful redpoint of the crimpy stamina route Supercool my first grade 8 sports route and was followed by my first E7 onsight the next day. I had been looking at Bliss all summer from every possible angle but mostly lying in the sun beside the stream in between attempts on other routes. The time had come to try it. No more excuses. The first pitch is shared with Bite it and Believe It which I had done before but it still felt hard the second time! The thin overhanging crack leads to a long runout up very steep grass and the belay. The guide states that the main pitch requires cool, cunning and considerable confidence. I set off hesitantly and shaking but with growing confidence I reach the huge roof. I remember looking at the row of three pegs below the roof and wishing I had three ropes. I knew that I needed to extend the runners to reduce the rope drag if all went well but as I struggled to reach out to the lip of the roof I was wishing that I hadn’t. My fingers were playing along the lip like a piano player searching for “The Lost Chord”, then suddenly I found something, I cut loose and swung my feet up and pulled on to the headwall above. My heart was pumping hard as I struggled to place a micro wire desperate for any possible hint of protection. However by the time I got my second runner in I began to relax and realised that I could actually take my hands off. The situation eased, fear subsided and relief turned to pleasure. The ultimate Gordale Adventure Route safely in the bag – Sheer Bliss! 

Rob Fielding on Solstice E5 6a,  Gordale © Steve Crowe
Rob Fielding on Solstice E5 6a, Gordale © Steve Crowe

Gordale Adventure Routes

Cabaret E1

A light hearted introduction with spectacular views of adventures to come!.

Light E2

It’s worth doing a warm up first because the hardest moves are encountered immediately with powerful moves up the steep crack. Take your time over the superbly positioned second pitch and savour the exposure as you stride across the bottomless chimney.

Face Route E3

A classic “Gordale Adventure Route” where a good head and a confident approach is required to push on past the remnants of rotting pegs. The second pitch has a perplexing but well protected crux.

Thriving E4

A commiting start up the delicate wall leads to a fine groove. Saunter nonchalantly up this before attacking the well protected roof and headwall above. The best E4 in the gorge!

The Cause E5

Perhaps less well known that it’s famous neighbour Rebel but certainly well worth seeking out for the superb middle pitch up the groove

Comedy of Errors E5

A great introductory E5 with a bold and committing lower wall which then leads to a superb crack in the steep headwall. Top tip: take lots of mirco wires!

Jenny Wren E5

Low in the grade but not to be under estimated. The highlight is some delicate traversing with sparce gear in extremely airy positions. Top tip: Take a competent second!  

Solstice E5

Protected by many pegs but are they any good?

Cave Route Right Hand E6

Probably the most sought after route in Gordale follow the prominent sweeping crackline. A superb endurance route.

Cement Garden E6 6c/7c

Classic hybrid mostly bolted but some wires/cams needed for the final section which leads powerfully to a good bolted lower off.

Mossdale Trip E6 

I decided to try the classic rattler Mossdale Trip (E6) in 1999. I pondered over the wisdom of this decision many times on that long lonely lead while seeking out the most solid holds with my ropes swirling worthlessly in the breeze! Top Tip: Write your Will.

Bliss E7

The ultimate “Gordale Adventure Route” with a little bit of everything. Rarely repeated!

Adventures on Lundy

Rock climbing on Lundy remains one of this country’s last great adventures, it is not a place for the faint-hearted. A trip requires careful planning, a certain commitment and the climber is guaranteed to be rewarded with some glorious and long lasting memories. Be warned that this could become a life long commitment, returning year after year for your Lundy fix.

Lundy is a gem of finest granite sat in the Bristol channel 12 miles from the nearest landfall at Hartland Point. The island is 3 miles north to south and 1 mile east to west with the majority of the best climbing situated on the 100-metre-high west facing coast. Three walls; Quarter Wall, Halfway Wall and Three-quarter Wall serve as important landmarks. The latest (2008) Climbers Club Guidebook to Lundy includes an excellent separate 1:15,000 scale map which details all the important crags. Many crags are banned from 1st April until 31st July so the best time to climb here is August and September.

MS Oldenburg,  Lundy © Steve Crowe 2007
MS Oldenburg, Lundy © Steve Crowe 2007

Weather and Tides
So goes the rhyme: Lundy high fine and dry, Lundy low, rain and blow. The tidal range is a phenomenal 15 metres so pay attention to the tide times and always belay yourself to the base of the cliff in case of freak waves.

Puffins on Lundy © Steve Crowe 2008
Puffins on Lundy © Steve Crowe 2008

Lundy Island is internationally famous amongst birdwatchers, indeed the name is Norse for Puffin Island. Up to 35 species have been recorded nesting on the island including of course the Puffin and over 140 different migrant species visiting every year.

Camping on Lundy © Steve Crowe
Camping on Lundy © Steve Crowe

While it may be years before you can get a booking for The Barn or some of the 24 other more salubrious properties, the campsite can often be booked at the very last minute. For details regarding booking, camping or accommodation and sailing times of the ferry, contact; The Landmark Trust, Shottesbrooke, Maidenhead, Berks SL6 3SW or call 01628 825 925
 The Marisco Tavern is the hub of island life offering meals and coffees all day and one of the highlights; their own unique ales; Lundy Experience 3.9% and The Old Light 4.2%. Be aware that they strictly enforce a ban on the use of electronic devices so you may well have to rely on the ancient art of conversation. It’s also worth knowing that you can run a tab at the tavern and pay by credit card at the end of your stay.
 The island shop is well stocked with all the basics but be sure to bring as much crag food as you can manage with you (within your 20kg baggage limit).

Busy Day at Landing Craft Bay © Steve Crowe 2007
Busy Day at Landing Craft Bay © Steve Crowe 2007

Getting on to the island on the MS Oldenburg is just the start of your adventure. Take all your climbing gear in your hand luggage so that you can go climbing as soon as you arrive on the island. The rest of your baggage will be delivered to your accommodation but it can take quite a while for it to arrive. 

While there are almost 1000 climbs on these well weathered granite crags to choose from most first time visitors have a similar tick list. There are routes of every grade from Difficult to E9 including the superb Devil’s Slide HS to the steep and spectacular Flying Dutchman E7 the majority of the best climbing is VS and above.

Golden Gate E4 is a terrific pitch tackling the arête of Focal Buttress at the very southern tip of Lundy. The superb crackline of The Great Divide E3 and the fantastic sweeping Olympica E5 combine to make a memorable day out.  

A few hundred metres north of The Old Light is the non tidal Wolfman Jack Wall. The well protected central crackline is followed by the popular Wolfman Jack E3Venus Flytrap E2 is a brilliant pitch finding the easiest line up the right-hand side of the wall. 

Karin Magog on Wolfman Jack E3 Lundy © Pat Nolan
Karin Magog on Wolfman Jack E3 Lundy © Pat Nolan

Landing Craft Bay is a popular area with easy access. This is home to the steep and well protected The Indy 500 E1, the superb jamming crack of Destiny E2, the powerful and exciting Rampart E3 and the very popular Shamrock VS which is quite steep but has good holds and is well protected. Supercharged E5 is an excellent technical route that follows a superb slender groove.

Steve Crowe warming up on Shamrock VS, Lundy © Pat Nolan 2007
Steve Crowe warming up on Shamrock VS, Lundy © Pat Nolan 2007

The Flying Buttress is the huge granite arch which lies directly below The Battery an old gun emplacement.Double Diamond HVS is a high quality and more sustained version of the popular Diamond Solitaire VS, The Cullinan E5 and it’s excellent variation Flying the Colours also E5 are both bold and compelling, while the Flying Dutchman E7 is one of the finest hard routes on Lundy and indeed in the South West.

The miniature sea stack of Needle Rock provides a selection of routes on superb rock. Intergrity HS stands out as an impeccable climb in fine positions. A short way along the beach is The Punchbowl Cliff where there are a selection of popular single pitch routes including the delightful and well protected Promises E1.

Karin Magog on Antiworlds E5 Deep Zawn Lundy © Mark Edwards
Karin Magog on Antiworlds E5 Deep Zawn Lundy © Mark Edwards

A visit to Jenny’s Cove requires careful judgement of the fast approaching tides if you intend to tackle the unique Devil’s Chimney HS which is Lundy’s answer to Napes Needle. The Fifth Appendage E1 provides delicate climbing in an impressive situation while the brilliant and varied Promised Land E3 is one of the the islands major undertakings. An complex and improbable line. On a failed attempt to climb Promised Land we approached by a slippery and frankly dangerous boulder hop across far too many greasy boulders only to find the start just too damp. A better approach is by abseil a 100m static from the boulders above as mentioned in Paul Harrison’s definitive guide on page168.

The harrowing sounds of adventure echo around the huge Deep ZawnThe Serpent E1 offers a gentle introduction to the zawn, Quartermass E2 is the most popular climb tackling the prominent twin crack system. The excellent Supernova E5 climbs the perfect thin crack splitting the ochre tinged headwall, while Antiworlds E5 is an outstanding challenge, sustained climbing on excellent rock with good protection throughout.

Directly below the Halfway wall and The Cheeses are the gold and black streaked Egyption Slabs where you will find the delightful and popular Immaculate Slab HVS which tackles the left side of this sweep of perfect granite

Grand Falls Zawn is home to the atmospheric American Beauty HVS and stunning steep wall of Mal de Mar E4. The brilliant Cithaeron E4 is a great introduction to The Parthenos where only the strongest climbers will seek the explosive Ex-Cathedra E6, the uncompromising Too Precious E6 and the exhilarating Earthsea Trilogy (part 2) E6  

Further north is the unmistakeable 120 metre Devil’s Slide which is by far Lundy’s most famous cliff. The Devil’s Slide HS needs little introduction as it is by far the most popular route on Lundy. The magnificent Albion VS takes the corner formed by the left side of slide while the extremely bold Satan’s Slip E1 can be protected by many small and micro wires. Although Redspeed E2 is hard for the grade it is worth seeking out around the Back of the Slide as the gear and rock are exemplary. 

Karin Magog on Redspeed E2, Lundy © Steve Crowe 2007
Karin Magog on Redspeed E2, Lundy © Steve Crowe 2007

The Diamond is a superb steep blank looking face sparkling with classic’s. Widespread Ocean of Fear E5 is a much sought after natural line up the face, Watching the Ocean E6 is a very bold and sustained slab climb however the continuous crackline of Diamond Life E4 is probably the most popular route on this excellent face.

Steve Crowe on Ace of Diamonds E5 6a Lundy © Pat Nolan
Steve Crowe on Ace of Diamonds E5 6a © Pat Nolan

When I climbed the classic Controlled Burning E3 on the steep and complex Torrey Canyon Cliff I found it unpleasant, rather gritty and altogether disappointing, however it fell down a few weeks later so that explains why! It has since been reclimbed and now makes a slightly harder but still stunning crack climb at E4. Wall of Attrition E5 is a steep and dramatic crack climb while The Ocean Dosen’t Want Me Today E4 follows a tenuous line up the overhanging capped corner.  

The Headline Promontory of Arch Zawn is over half a kilometre north of The Devil’s Slide. It has a collection of fine routes with the highlight being the intricate Headline E1 which makes the long walk worthwhile. Access to most of the sea cliffs is usually down steep grassy slopes then often by abseil so a 100m static rope and many rope protectors are recommended. 

Current Guidebooks
There are three popular guidebooks that cover climbing on Lundy, one excellent definitive guide and two very selective books. West Country Climbs by Mark Glaister (Rockfax 2010) includes little more than a graded tick list with no topos, it would be impossible to find any of the routes with this guidebook. South West Climbs volume 2 by Pat Littlejohn (Climbers Club 2014) includes about the same number of routes, this time 45, but there are also good photo diagrams and supporting information enough for a weekend visit. The only realistic guide for a longer trip is the excellent definitive Lundy by Paul Harrison (Climbers Club 2008) which we have reviewed here.


Old Light, Lundy © Steve Crowe 2007
Old Light, Lundy © Steve Crowe 2007

Lundy Classic Climbs

E7 Flying Dutchman
E6 Watching the Ocean, Ex-Cathedra
E5 Olympica, Antiworlds, A Widespread Ocean of Fear 
E4 Diamond Life, Cithaeron, Mal de Mer, Controlled Burning 
E3 Rampart, Wolfman Jack, The Promised Land 
E2 Redspeed, Venus Flytrap, Destiny, Quartermaster 
E1 Satan’s Slip, The Indy 500, Fifth Appendage, Headline  
HVS Double Diamond, American Beauty, Immaculate Slab 
VS Albion, Diamond Solitaire, Shamrock 
HS The Devil’s Slide, Horseman’s Route, Integrity

Further Information

The Landmark Trust own and manage the island of Lundy

Lundy by Paul Harrison (Climbers Club 2008) review

Lundy by by Dave Henderson

Lundy – UK Climbing Destination Guide by Rob Greenwood
The Ultimate Tick List is an exhaustive list of all the very best rock climbs on Lundy.

The Ultimate Lundy Tick List
The Ultimate Lundy Tick List