9 evening crags that catch the later light

Posted by Peter Burnside on 24/03/2016
Enjoying the last of the evening light at Stanage. Photo: Alex Messenger.

Daylight saving time (DST) is upon us and unfortunately we’ll be losing an hour of sleep. But all is not lost, as we’ll be springing forward into evening light and the prospect of after-work jaunts in the countryside.

This Easter, households across the UK will move their clocks forward for the 100th time since we adopted the clock-changing plan of William Willet in May 2016, albeit slightly modified from his original proposal of setting clocks ahead by 20 minutes on each weekend of April. Despite the deviation, we still switched for the original reasons: to save energy in a bid to take pressure off an economy that was in the midst of war. Therefore, the Summer Time Act of 1916 was introduced and is still upheld to this day.

While times have changed and we burn less coal or candles than in 1916, we still put the clocks forward every spring and lose an hour of sleep in the process. While I’m usually the biggest supporter of staying in bed for longer, I actually look forward to British Summer Time – as it means we have light in the evenings for much longer and can go on more after-work adventures. So to celebrate and to help you make the most out of your evenings of light, here’s nine crags (and a load more) that you can count on to catch the last rays of sunshine.

But before you rush off, don't forget there are sometimes access issues in Spring and Summer, often due to nesting birds. So make sure you know what’s in and what’s not by looking at our Regional Access Database (RAD).

Lake District

If you’re able to get out into the Lake District after work, well, I can’t lie I’m very jealous. But you’ll find no sour grapes here, as we’ve listed two crags that are ideal for summer evenings.

Shepherd’s Crag, Borrowdale.

Shepherd’s Crag faces west and catches the evening sun until it sets behind the Catbells.

This crag is hugely popular and for good reason: a brilliant range of good quality routes combined with a relatively easy walk-in. There’s something for all levels of trad climbers here, with top-notch Diffs and VDiffs all the way up to three-star E2s and beyond.

With a huge volume of routes to discover, there’ll be no room in your evenings for anything else for months to come.

Black Crag (Wrynose), Langdale

Around 150 climbs ranging from easy to hard trad (Vdiff to E5) and some steady bouldering.

Although, be warned, the walk-in takes around 20 minutes so take head-torches with you in case you just can’t let go of the rock until the last of the light has well and truly gone.

WATCH: Early 20th century Lake District bouldering on BMC TV

Avon Gorge, Bristol

Okay, we’re also jealous of climbers in Bristol who basically have access to a top quality evening crag in their own city, the Avon Gorge. This long-stretching crag of quarried limestone is quick and easy to reach while soaking up all the evening sun you could possibly want; it really might be the perfect crag for summer.

There’s a handful of different areas along the gorge that boast plenty of classics, but be warned a number of these areas don’t have much in the way for beginners. Despite that, if you look around enough there’s something for everyone – such as the Sea Walls area, which has some easier routes including multi-pitches.

Peak District

There's so much to go at in the Peak that we can't possibly name them all. There's some that go without saying, like Froggatt, Curbar, and Stanage High Neb, but there's we'll also go into a bit more detail about some of our favourites. 

High Tor

Often described as the UK’s finest outcrop of limestone, High Tor contains a huge range of pleasing routes for the evening cragger. But be mindful, the bulk of the climbing starts at around HVS so it’s not for the beginner.

In recent years, a number of lines have been bolted for those that prefer not to fiddle with nuts. However, there’s not really enough sport climbing here to warrant leaving your trad rack at home.

If you’re competent at leading HVS and the low Es, then a single trip will only serve to whet a new-found debauched fling with trad limestone this summer. We could wax on about this premier crag until the likes of Mr Miyagi told us to shut up, so we won’t; just make sure it’s on your destination list this summer.

Roaches and Hen Cloud

These two pinnacles of Staffordshire grit are perfectly situated to bask in the evening light. What’s more, they’re top notch climbing venues to boot. Either crag offers more than enough to go at in all the grades, and there’s a great deal of bouldering to be had at the Roaches too.

Watch out for the midges in summer, perhaps the Roaches Upper Tier is best if you’re under attack among the trees of the Lower Tier. And don’t forget to check out the Skyline and the Clouds too.

WATCH: A short film of the great Roaches VS, Valkyrie on BMC TV

Helsby

One for the Liverpudlians and the Cheshirians (is that a word?), the sandstone crag of Helsby overlooks the River Mersey and offers some high-class routes on compact rock. The venue holds a smattering of bouldering, but most climbers will be making the trip for its diverse range of trad climbing throughout the difficulties.

From the motorway, Helsby often looks to be green and slimey (and it can be in the winter months) but the crag is actually quite exposed and comes into good condition after a spell of dry weather. The sandstone here is much harder than that found in the south, however, it’s usually wise not to trust any marginal placements as you might on other rock. For some, top-roping is the norm, but others can and do go for the lead.

Idwal Slabs (Cwm Idwal)

This prime west-facing venue is plonked right in the midst of some of the most stunning scenery in Wales. If you’re a slab master, why haven’t you already visited this crag? Here you’ll find mainly multi-pitch slab routes at all grades that make for an excellent day out.

However, the walk-in takes a bit less than 30 minutes and so you’ll need to get a move on if you’re heading there straight after work. Nevertheless, this excellent spot also has some steeper areas with something for those looking for tougher pitches something to think about. 

Sennen, Cornwall

Possibly the most southern west-facing crag on the UK mainland, Sennen is just one of Cornwall's amazing granite sea-cliff trad crags. And what's more, the short walk-in means you can easily escape for a lunchtime pastie or (my favourite) cream teas!

But don't worry, it's not all about the food here as there's enough routes to go at here to make the drive down to Cornwall worth while. If you're a local, you'll probably already know all about it. For those not in the know, there's routes at most grades and lots to tickle the fancy of those looking to push into the E numbers as well as harder stuff. 

Please be advised, while not tidal these cliffs can be in danger of being swamped in big swell; so remember to check the forecasts!

We're sorry that we couldn't include details of every awesome west-facing crag, but here's a few more for those in other areas. If you need some inspiration, don't forget to check out our amazing range of definitive guidebooks in the BMC Shop, lovingly crafted by Niall Grimes.

Yorkshire

Grit - Slipstones
Lime - Crummackdale

Lake District

Casstell Helen
Falcon Crag
Raven Crag
Reecastle
Scafell, main buttress

Lancashire

Blackstone Edge

Wales

Carreg Alltrem, North Wales
Cloggy, North Wales
Gogarth, Anglesey
Mowing Word, Pembrokeshire

Dorset

Portland west coast (Blacknor, Battleship and others)

Editorial note: This article previously listed Bridestones as a potential venue for evening cragging. However, it has since been removed as requested due to its popularity resulting in erosion issues.


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Anonymous User
28/03/2016
Dear Sir,
I was saddened to see that you had included The Bridestones in your article. This area is suffering from very bad erosion due to over use fuelled by publisity in guides and journals. There is an unwritten rule that The Bridestones will no longer appear in Climbing guild books - hence its exclusion from the recent Yorkshire Gritsone guide. Might I suggest you remove mention of the Bridestones from you article and replace it with another venue?
Yours sincerely,
Craig Smith
08/04/2016
Other good evening venues with quality climbing includes:
North side of the Pass
Gogarth
Haytor, Dartmoor
Bosigran

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