If you can’t stand the heat... This year’s kitchen has been hotter than hell with endless sunshine and blockbusting temps. How long can this last? And where can you climb on grit? Niall Grimes has the answer.
“She cannae take it, captain,” as Scotty snarled to Kirk through gritted teeth.
What do you usually do when you feel like this? You go climbing. Strap it on with a few classics at Stanage, solo some slabs at the Roaches or go for a soul-cleansing boulder in the Burbage Valley.
“But it’s too whot,” you moan.
“Too whot. The grit’s roasting. The slopers are useless. We’re slithering sweltered out of the cracks and our belayer’s got sunstroke. And if you think we’re going to go climbing on Peak limestone then you’ve obviously never been!”
Good news. There’s a third way. Cool gritstone edges high on the Peak District moors. There’s a world of cragging to be had where the mountain hare roams.
Hare’s a fact: temperature drops almost one degree Celsius with every hundred metres gained in altitude. So while Manchester swelters at 28 degrees at an altitude of 50m, Kinder Downfall towers high above at 620m. That’s six whopping degrees difference, passing the savings onto you, the climber. Add to that fresh mountain breezes, perhaps a shady aspect, and you have fantasic climbing conditions.
Add to that incredible scenery, new crags, three star routes and blissful away-from-it-all nature and you have a cool world of climbing waiting for you over the moors.
Here are a few great venues to visit:
1. Wimberry Rocks, Chew Valley
An essential gritstone venue whose northerly aspect means it is becloaked in damp and green for any month with an ‘r’ in it. When the weather is good it’s time to strike. A tough crag, where routes are either E7 or E9, or feel like E7 or E9, especially the HVSs. Be prepared to grunt. Hotists will be glad to know that it is in shadow for most of the day too – although there’s no escaping the walk in.
2. Laddow Rocks, Longdendale
The elder statesman of peakland grit and the scene of many a big get together of the early greats. If you think Millstone raves are a new phenomenon then you should have been at that Laddow cave in 1916. It was off the hook! Major historical waddage. Today, with its off-angle rock and ‘occasional’ heathery outburst, it might look old fashioned, but rest assured; the quality still shines.
3. Shining Clough, Bleaklow
Towering like a regal castle high above the Woodhead Pass, Shining Clough has the same sort of Wow! Factor that Curbar has. Routes like East Rib, Phoenix Climb, Via Principia, Galileo and Pisa Superdirect are all steep mid-grade superbombers that top out on big towers and give some of the most memorable routes of their grade in the Peak. It’s shady too. Sweeeet!
4. Shooter's Nab
Regardless of where you put the apostrophe, this is a fine and shady place to be on a scorching day. You can see York Minster in the distance and the sound of Yorkshiremen clog dancing is never far away.You're in for a treat. Swing across those roofs, jam those cracks and pad them slabs: all above a lovely, grassy quarry floor on which you may also play cricket, slackline and burn your sausages on the barbie. Eee bah gum.
5. Ravenstones, Chew Valley
On yer bike, as Norman Tebbitt said. The Ravenstones is one of the roughest, toughest and buffest of the moorland crags, classic enough to make the front cover of the guidebook. Big steep routes from the lowest to the highest grades with a sense of freshness you'll only get from standing by the lollypop fridge in Asda. It's a long way from the car park but is a steady ride on a mountain bike, and the rapid descent means you'll make it for last orders.
6. Ashop Edge, Kinder
A whole traffic jam of buttresses wind their way up the southern flank of the River Ashop on Kinder’s northern rim. These give dark, rough and rounded buttresses that see little sun. They can be gritty and very slow drying but when the weather is like this it is the perfect time to visit one of the great Gothic venues of Peakland grit.
Get the lowdown on these great crags and 130 other in Over The Moors, the fantastic BMC guidebook to moorland grit. Buy now from the BMC shop.
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