I must have climbed here as much as anywhere over the years as one of my original climbing partners lived in Skipton. Looking back at my red 1974 guide it is well ‘dirty’ thumbed. The front cover features Allan Austin climbing at Ilkley with the rope tied round his waist and it was he who pioneered many of the outstanding lines at Eastby. The routes here tend to be slabby and when a subsequent guide book appeared YMC brought in P grades:
P1 Well protected with falls only damaging egos,
P2 Bolder, sparse protection with plenty of air time, could be painful,
and P3 You will be lucky to walk away from a lob, get life insurance.
It was then we realised how challenging had been some of the slabs, particularly pre-Friends. Nonetheless the classics were slowly ticked Knuckle Slab, Mist Slab, Nose Climb, Whaup Edge and even The Padder although I never could muster up the courage to lead Pillar Front. This crag is relatively low lying, dries quickly and gets any sun going so I think we often visited early in the year before venturing onto the ‘mountain crags’. So today, almost August, we were surprised by the vegetation, fortunately a track wove up through the head high bracken, it was like being in a maze. You no longer have to have written permission from the Cavendish Estate to climb here, sorry I’ve misplaced my permit.We were beaten by a few minutes to the base of the crag and left the only other team to start on the well trodden Eastby Buttress. We went right to below Knuckle Slab but chose easier climbs to start. Birch Tree Crack was a mistake, despite being a good line many holds were obscured by vegetation. Scoop and Crack was much cleaner and I, with prior knowledge, avoided the finishing boot wide crack [unprotected ankle scraping and thrutching] for a delicate step left onto a slab. That’s more like it. The descent was as hairy as the climbs ?P2.
Now we were able to get onto Eastby Buttress …… and enjoy some classic wall and crack climbing. Once your wrist is locked into a crack just pull up and find somewhere for your feet – repeat and repeat and you are at the top. Great views of Pendle and Longridge Fell in the distance and down below little steam trains chugging along on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey line.
Not a P3 in sight.