Behind the scenes: BMC guidebooks

Posted by Niall Grimes on 26/07/2019
Peak District Gritstone Select is coming soon.

In the first of a new series of articles, we'd like to highlight the work of BMC volunteers starting with the Guidebook Committee. Much of the BMC’s work is overseen by specialist groups made up of volunteers with relevant skills and experience, who guide the work of BMC staff. Now we'd like to take the time and look at these groups of dedicated souls one by one.

The past year has been an exciting time for the BMC Guidebook Committee in a number of different ways. The Committee is responsible primarily for definitive coverage of the climbing record for the Peak and Pennine areas, and is also a member of Wired Guides, a co-operative of UK definitive guidebook publishers, and there has been major developments in both of these aspects.

BMC definitive guidebooks

With the publication of Peak Limestone South, the Guidebook Committee has overseen the production of the complete series of seven definitive guides to the Peak District, gritstone and limestone. The definitive guides to Lancashire and Cheshire Sandstone complete this set. This is something of which we are extremely proud. The guides are modern, colourful and fun, and manage to do the exhaustive work of recording all the climbing, routes and bouldering, while still retaining the focus that they are primarily about getting the user to the crag of their choice and the routes of their desire; to show the classics and the obscure side by side and find the beauty in both.

BUY: BMC definitive climbing guidebooks from the BMC online shop

Wired Guides: Peak District Gritstone Select

With the completion of the definitive guidebook series, the focus has now shifted to working under the Wired Guides umbrella to create a bumper select guide to all Peak District Gritstone. This has been a mammoth and fun task; getting all the best crags and routes from five already-packed definitive guides and squeezing them into a single volume. Not just that but to retain the same levels of inspiration and usability and psyche that has characterised the definitive series.

This book is now well on its way to completion, with volunteers Ian Carr pushing forward the text side of things and Paul Evans being the driving force behind the action shots. The Peak District Gritstone Select promises to truly raise the bar for gritstone coverage.

DOWNLOAD: Peak District Gritstone Select – Froggatt sample chapter

Wired Guides: Northern England

Wired Guides is a co-operative group formed in 2015 with the purpose of bringing together all the clubs involved in producing volunteer-based guidebooks in the UK; in addition to the BMC, these are:

  • Cleveland Mountaineering Club
  • Climbers' Club
  • Fell & Rock Climbing Club
  • Northumbrian Mountaineering Club
  • Scottish Mountaineering Club
  • South Wales Mountaineering Club
  • Yorkshire Mountaineering Club

The group’s purpose is to share ideas and have a common strategy for moving forward in the guidebook world. Two guides have been published so far, Lake District Rock and Pembroke Rock, and there are lots more in the pipeline and heading towards publication in the next couple of months. The BMC is involved particularly in a Northern England guide, which will include a selection of routes from the Lancashire area.

WATCH: Niall Grimes and Steve McClure talk trad climbing on the BMC international meet

Wired Guides: route database

Work also continues on developing a database of routes. This is an exciting field of development as the landscape of information organisation and distribution is in a time of great change, and will no doubt continue to be so for many years to come. The collaborations in this department between pretty much all the UK clubs involved in guidebook production has been one of the great triumphs of the Wired Guides project. Only a few years ago these producers all worked in parallel, yet individually, on creating their fantastic products. Now regular meetings have created a great sense of common purpose with great benefits for clubs, the BMC and for British climbers.

The next few months will see lots of development on the dissemination side of the database, most obviously in the form of an app. Keep your eye open for this and of course for the Peak District Gritstone Select guidebooki in the months to come.

Other articles in this series about the work of BMC specialist committees:

Behind the scenes: training, youth and walls

Behind the scenes: international mountaineering

READ: more about BMC specialist committees


DOWNLOAD: the shiny new BMC RAD app

Get all the info on crags with the newly updated RAD (Regional Access Database) app from the BMC! Available now for Android and iOS, it's free and comes with a host of new features like navigation and parking, weather and tidal updates, and of course information on restrictions or notes on access advice. Get it here now!

DOWNLOAD: The RAD app for Android

DOWNLOAD: The RAD app for iOS

RAD is community led and your comments help keep it up to date so don’t be afraid to add any relevant information after a crag visit which might be useful for other visitors – anything from conditions on the crag, favourite routes or reports of rockfall/other recent changes to the crag are all useful for other climbers visiting.


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