From time to time my friend Mark phones for a day’s climbing whilst his school pupils sit exams or he is ‘officially’ marking papers – these outings have become known as ‘Marking Days’. So it was this week when we met up late morning in the carpark of a local curry house. He had just acquired a camping van and proudly showed me round. The forecast was for thundery rain in the afternoon but we risked a trip up to Langdale to have a look at White Crag. I must have walked above this outcrop so many times on my way up to Gimmer without being aware of its existence. The valley was quiet with only one team on Raven Crag when we passed under it and then followed a level track to the lower of the two White Crag buttresses, a gentle 15mins.
Immediately two lines stood out – the grooves of Bee Line and the Bumble Arete. Mark set off up the grooves which were cleaner than they appeared to a small overlap where a neat step up and left gained a wall with smaller holds, we didn’t think Bee Line, HS, warranted a 4c grade.
Bumble Arete, VD, was pure joy – a little wall brought me suddenly onto the arete which had the best of holds all the way to the top, 60ft up. Worth the two stars.
Well satisfied we were having a snack when the boom of thunder filled the valley, the sky darkened and ominent large rain drops splattered the rock. We sat tight for a while and thankfully the storm rumbled off to some other unfortunate Lakeland valley. So it was time to have a look at the upper crag which has only recently been developed.
Once again obvious lines on excellent rock promised good climbing. Left Trouser Leg People, MVS, was brilliant, Easy rocks soon had Mark at the cruxy move onto a slab and up into the left groove and a lovely finish round the overhang on jugs.We found a sneaky chain abseil which greatly eased the evenings climbing.
I couldn’t wait to get onto Val Ferret, HS, just left, a groovy groove, a spicy layback and juggy finish. A grade easier but also worth two stars.
My sandwich box with its tasty quiche was missing when we sat down to rest, left at lower crag no doubt, so my weight loss diet had a jump start.
Next was Right Trouser Leg People, VS, a tricky wall lower down and an absorbing groove higher up. A quick abseil and onto the thin slab of Langdale Ferrets, VS, with its steep finish.
As we gazed out over the green fields and rough hillsides opposite we seemed to be the only people in the valley. A perfect end to a great days climbing. I will definitely return to these lovely unknown crags.
By the time we were back in Preston I was too weary for a curry but thanked them for the parking. Roll on the next ‘Marking day’.