There is always somewhere new to go. I don’t often say that about climbing in the Lake District after years of exploring. There are places you don’t go to because of their poor reputation or difficulty, but others just escape your radar. Today we visited Bramcrag Quarry for the first time. Tucked away in St. John’s Vale it has been climbed on for some years but has suddenly had a revival of interest from the local lads. Many new lines have been cleaned and because of the lack of natural protection possibilities bolts have been placed and good lower-offs added. The rock looks like slate but apparently is fine grained granite.
A new selective Lakes guidebook has just been published and gives plenty of space to this venue. So we found ourselves parked up in the valley but there was no view of the crag, a winding track however led up to the quarry rim. First impressions were not good, almost an industrial atmosphere with a timber merchant in one half and rubbish in the other. The rock itself looked sombre in the shadows, tip – the sun comes onto the face about lunchtime. We crossed to the Center Parc sector as it promised a good selection of low grade slab routes. Without the help of the guide’s photo-diagram we would have struggled to identify anything.
Dave set off up the slab in front of us and was soon slowed down by the holdless compact rock which was difficult to read, the spaced bolts didn’t help. I was just happy to follow. It would take us a route or to to get used to this place. But the sun came out and we enjoyed some better lines. By now a trickle of climbers had arrived, all Lakes lads of a certain age including Colin Downer who had done most of the recent bolting and was busy prospecting a new area. One can imagine Bramgrag Quarry becoming more widely known and popular with the new guide out. A pleasant warm afternoon drifted on. There were inspiring views from our terrace across to Skiddaw and Blencathra, below in the Vale farmers were using the dry weather for grass cutting. We noted climbs for next time and returned to the car quite satisfied with our ‘somewhere new’.
For the record –
The Comfort Zone 5 The Rookie 5 Whicker’s World 5 Blencathra Badger 5+ Goodbye Mr. Major 6a