Ron Kenyon (BMC access rep for the Eden Valley) has recently helped organise some tree clearance at Armathwaite in partnership with the Forestry Commission to help open up the crag and improve its climbing. Here he gives us a brief look into the crag's history and details of the work that has just taken place...
Armathwaite is an iconic little crag in the Eden Valley, to the east of the Lake District, adjacent to the River Eden. Developed in the 1970’s it became a popular crag for local climbers and used as a base and training venue for climbers such as Pete Whillance, Pete Botterill, Jeff Lamb, Dave Armstrong and others to hone their skills for crags further afield. This allowed them to push standards with routes such as Shadowfax and The Almighty on Scafell; Midsummer Night’s Dream on Cloggy, in Wales, and Naked Ape on Creag an Dubh Loch, in Scotland. The crag is sandstone - often difficult to protect and gives often serious leads – with many first ascents being not being led. These “not led” ascents have subsequently been led over the years and recently Pete Gunn has continued this trend and added new routes, in particular The Scarab (E8).
There are however many easier classic routes such as The Bullgine Run (VD), Glenwillie Groove (HS), (Flasherman (VS), Monkeyhanger (HVS) and Erection (E1) which draw climbers.
The crag has always been a popular bouldering venue particularly in the Sandy Bay area.
The crag is in an idyllic location, facing south west over the River Eden however over the years the surrounding trees have grown up above and below the crag. This has not been too much of a problem during the winter and spring however in the summer, with the leaves on the trees, the crag has not had much sunlight on it or ventilation and has had a damp feel, particularly in the Central Buttress area.
The land is owned by the Forestry Commission and they were doing tree clearance work in the woods above the crag and as the local BMC access rep, I contacted them about this and mentioned the idea of clearing trees from below the crag. After a visit to the crag the Forestry Commission was more than willing to clear trees below the crag and trees were marked up for clearance. Most of the tree clearance has now been done. The trees below the Central Buttress area; near Sandy Bay and a few others areas have however been left for the time being and will be cleared in the winter time.
What has been done has made a huge difference to the buttresses towards the right-hand side of the crag, opening up areas around the routes Papermoon (E3), Free and Easy (E5), Barnicle Bill (E1) and Cluedo (E2). The brushwood at the base is being tidied up by local climbers from the Eden Valley Mountaineering Club and Carlisle Mountaineering Club with stacks of wood being created to help wildlife in the area. Some of the brushwood will be left below the crag with pathways being made to the buttresses.
The work for the tree clearance has been funded by the BMC and it is hoped that this will transform the crag into a year round climbing venue and also help to draw more people to the crag and into this fantastic area in the Eden Valley.
The Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC's charity – the BMC Access & Conservation Trust – promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.
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