When I started writing this blog nearly 10 years ago I called myself ‘bowlandclimber’. My first post incidentally was information on the climbing at Kemple End Quarry on Longridge Fell. I was out climbing most days, either in the mountains of Wales or the Lake District, the edges of the Peak District or Yorkshire, the Lancashire quarries or the bouldering in Bowland. What great friendships shared. As somebody said – “we had it all”

Time moves on, life evolves I’ve lost a great many friends in those years, that is the worst thing. My climbing unfortunately has taken a back seat for all sorts of reasons – OK I’m getting old and the joints aren’t what they used to be. But I’m not giving up that easily.

Today I find myself hanging from an abseil rope doing a spot of ‘cleaning’ in Kemple End. I love it up here. Those views over the Ribble Valley, the deer hiding in the quarry floor, the fresh green growth of bracken, the barn owl roosting across the other side, the thrill if anybody else is climbing here, the first chalked up handhold and the familiar movement across the rough rock, brushing off any loose dust.

Someone has reported, on a climbing forum, concerns about a hanging flake on one of the climbs – Birdy Brow for those familiar. I’ve soloed up and down this route, perhaps recklessly, for many years enjoying the positive layback moves on the flake’s edge. It has never moved.

I went back up there a few days ago and all seemed well but when you examined the flake carefully it was only balanced there by a bit of soil. There was no direct attachment to the quarry face. I felt a pang of conscience – what if someone was injured or worse, killed on this route. I was responsible for finding the route and publishing it to the climbing network. There it was in print in the Lancashire guide book, it even has a star.

Here’s a great photo of Phil Gillespie soloing it – (?copyright UK Climbing)

I’m back today intending to remove the flake which must weigh a ton. Hence, the abseil rope. I’ve brought a crow bar, but it only moves the flake a little, Maybe it is more secure than I thought, but once started I may have made the situation worse. Huffing and puffing I realise I don’t have the strength to prise it from its resting place. My car is only 50 m away and in the boot is the jack – never used in earnest before. Is this a job for the AA? 

I return and carefully place the carjack between rock and flake, a few turns of the screw and I can see results. Slowly the gap is widening, and I have time to ensure my safety and recover the jack intact as all that rock crashes to the ground. With a touch of sadness I realise the flake is no more. But there is one hell of a mess of broken rock on the quarry floor and some revision due to the climbs here.

All looks well on Birdy Brow.


Well maybe not.


That’s a lot of rock to fall down on you.

Jack in place. Does this photo make you feel dizzy?




Down below.

A new scar to climb.

As I said my first post ever was about climbing at Kemple End, so it was fitting that this, my 1000th post, was on the same locality. Unfortunately I managed to delete a past post into the ether yesterday, so technically this post no 999, but I’m not having that. 

This is my 1000th post – maybe it is time to stop?

23 thoughts on “A RIGHT GOOD TRUNDLE.

  1. Rob Powell

    Please don’t stop John. I and many more enjoy reading your reports. I look forward to many more. We talked about Kemple End when we first met at Craig Y Longridge and you kindly brought the topo to my house. I’m particularly fond of the place. I do recall thinking the flake looked precarious when I climbed the route last year but I was able to climb around it. I wonder what the routes are like now?!

  2. Michael Graeme

    Yes, that photo definitely made me feel dizzy. I have a great admiration for the climber’s art, but no head for it. I hope you do keep going. Your blog was successful in drawing me back to Bowland’s delights. Congratulation on your 1000’th post.

          1. Michael Graeme

            I wasn’t entirely successful, but may gloss over that bit to save embarrassment.

              1. Michael Graeme

                An encounter with flying motorcycles from the Inch Perfect “experience centre” put me off my stride. Lost the path there and came down in a premature muddle by an ad hoc route.

  3. Eunice

    Well done on the 1000th post, you should keep going. I don’t comment on every one but I still enjoy reading them.

    Now here’s a silly question for you. I remember you went to Brockholes a while back, do you know if there’s anywhere near handed to park? It’s £5 for all day to park there and I object to paying that much when I’ll only be there for an hour or so.

    1. bowlandclimber Post author

      Thanks, Eunice. I don’t expect comments.
      Yes I can tell you a place to park free but need to think how to describe it. I, too, object to paying £5 for parking. Will get back to you.

          1. Eunice

            Yes I did thanks, I’ve been meaning to email you but a thing called ‘life’ has rather got in the way over the last few days 🙂 I’ve had a look on Google maps satellite view and can see where you mean though I’m not sure how safe it would be to park along that slip road near the A59. Maybe parking at the crematorium would be better and I don’t mind the walk from there. I won’t be going just yet anyway and when I do it’ll be a weekday so hopefully not too many people about.

  4. Martin Banfield

    Well done on reaching 1000, BC. Keep going, it’s a useful way to keep a diary even if you have no readers. And you do of course have many readers, so perhaps you have to watch your language compared with making private entries. I found this out today when transcribing an item from 2005; adjustments were needed!

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