I’m resting up with my latest injury – a medial ligament tear of my knee suffered in a cycle accident on the promenade at Blackpool. For the boring details read here.
Dave phones to say he and Rod are going climbing at Noggarth this sunny afternoon. I can’t resist even if only to meet up with my mates.
Dave should be in France at The Fell and Rock Club’s Easter climbing meet. As he and his wife left the hotel at 6am to board the ferry in Portsmouth she fell onto her right elbow, they made light of it and drove onto the boat. On reaching their cabin the elbow was hurting more and stiffening. A visit to the ship’s nurse confirmed that it was more serious than first thought and a recommendation that rather than travel to France a visit to the local A and E would be sensible. They disembarked to take a taxi ride to hospital, their car by now deep in the hold, irretrievable and shortly on the way to France. I’ll pass over the gory details of her surgical treatment involving plates and screws only to say they are safely back in Lancashire – hence the unexpected phone call today. The car had travelled back by itself.
We arrive at the cemetery parking simultaneously. There is no church in the vicinity, but we surmise, rightly or wrongly, that a cemetery must be attached to a religious seat. The short walk up to the extensive quarried area is a time to catch up with our various happenings. There are a couple of climbers already at work on the main slab.
I’m only here for the beer if there was any and take a back seat as they decide on our first route. Dave takes longer than usual working his way up the smooth often holdless slab. We don’t know the grade or name as it is a newcomer to our guide which has been rapidly put out of date by new developments here. I have a feeling, that I try to suppress, that this is going to be awkward.
It’s my turn, I struggle to bend my knee sufficiently to slip on my rock shoes. Not a good start. The first 10 feet are easy, but then most holds disappear, One has to put faith in one’s feet and bravely stand on minutiae to make progress. OK, in other situations, I’ve done all this before but my rustiness today is evident. Bloody hell I’ve got a rope above me guaranteeing my safety – just stand up. Slow progress is made as I protect my left knee and it’s ligaments from excessive strain. There comes a point halfway up when the only illusionary foothold, I’ve nothing for my hands, is high up on the left. I ask for a tight rope and slowly weight my left leg, the pain starts to impinge and is only relieved by standing on a handy nearby bolt. That is what is called cheating, and I’m not proud of it. No Go truthfully. The top is gained without further ado.
We decide to move across to the main slab and the classic route, Garth, we’ve done before. I even soloed it in the past. Things have changed and where there was previously little protection bolts drilled into the rock have magically appeared. What was once a soul-searching lead has now been reduced to simple gymnastics with no real fear of harming oneself. The jury is out on the ethics of this ‘levelling up – or down’ All I know is that the experience is not the same but as we are becoming creeping gates it is good to reach the top.
I leave the others to more climbs whilst I slink off to ‘rest my knee’ and have a stroll across the quarry base to find more slabs uncovered in recent months. They become smaller as I traverse right but even steeper and holdless. The other pair of climbers are trying a hard route. One for another time, I’m satisfied with my efforts today, even if I didn’t climb either route cleanly.
We were here last year also – NOGGARTH 35 YEARS LATER. | bowlandclimber