Category Archives: Bouldering


Climbing at Rolling Gate.

It’s the hottest day of the year with temperatures in the 30s. This high Yorkshire crag faces NW and seemed an ideal choice for the conditions and so it was. A sweaty walk deposited us in the shade of the scattered rocks which form a rather broken edge.                                                      The obvious start was Veterans Flake which wandered about to eventually surmount the large flake, all a bit of an anticlimax. It was however pleasant to belay on the top in a breeze with views over Grassington into upper Wharfdale.                                                                                  Next up was Long Crack a proper gritstone thrutch around several noses in a corner, sweaty work today. The descent  brought us to the foot of The Main Buttress and the start of Rolling Gate Buttress the starred route of the crag. The first steep and bold 10ft seemed hard, my left hand reluctant to leave a decent slot for small slopers above with only slanting footholds – surely not severe. Eventually a hand on the arete enabled my feet to move higher and the ‘better’ hand holds above reached, heart in the mouth stuff. Then large ledges were shuffled onto and left insecurely round bulges with no protection, I’d not brought the big friends. Don’t seem to remember it being this hard 40 years ago!

Rolling Gate Buttress.

Rolling Gate Buttress.

We retreated to a shady corner for lunch and composure, our gates were certainly creaking and our resolve weakening in the heat. However to the left was a rib leading to a cracked wall which looked inviting, The Pillar, and we couldn’t resist. Easy climbing up the right side of the lower rib was almost alpine in nature. A stance was taken below the top wall which close up looked steeper and longer.  Once committed a lovely sequence of slots, ledges and cracks led to the top on perfect gritstone – the best of the day. We only wished it could have gone on for another 50ft but life is not like that.

I finished with a quick solo of Six Metre Wall, there are lots of other good looking boulder problems hereabouts.

Fortunately we arrived back at the lane just as the farmer was wanting access for contractors with oversized trailers. [they were in a rush before tomorrow’s potential heavy rain] We thought we had parked responsibly but could now appreciate his problem and were soon on our way. What a change however to meet a pleasant and chatty farmer, in the circumstances, to round off our great day out.

SHARP HAW – Skipton.

Sharp Haw.

Sharp Haw.

Sharp Haw is not quite the Matterhorn of Skipton but it is an eye catching shapely fell standing like an island in the Aire Valley. Driving across from the west this morning its numerous peaks promised a day of exploration. Dragging The Pieman away from his garden we parked at the start of the track saving a couple of miles walking in the day. On our last visit we had just walked out of his house in Skipton but I think we were both feeling lazy today. Instead of following the bridleway over Flasby Fell we headed over rough ground to the rocky ridge overlooking Gargrave to make the most of the views. All around are familiar hills, nearby is the Embsay/Crookrise/Rylstone ridge whilst Waddington Fell, Longridge Fell and Pendle are prominent to the west. There is a birds eye view down the Aire Valley with its enclosing hills. As we made our way along the crest gritstone boulders littered the ground and there was evidence of chalky visits, UKC now lists over 200 boulder problems for this fell. The Pieman showed me a particularly nice slab which he used to solo as he passed on his regular fell run. A quick ascent had me pleased. Next stop was across some boggy ground to the shapely summit and trig point, this was already occupied by two girls so we dropped down through the woods and found a classy metal bench for lunch and putting the world to right. [Memorial to a Helen Handley a local artist and politician].

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Waddington Fell with Gargrave below.

Pendle, Longridge Fell and Waddington Fell with Gargrave below.

Coming out of the woods we went through Flasby hamlet, all of six houses, and into the parkland of the Hall. All well manicured English scenery.  A short stretch on the road took us past the stately Eshton Hall  where my guide for today had attended when it was a school, he thinks it is apartments now. After a few fields we were on the towpath of the Leeds – Liverpool canal for a couple of miles back towards Skipton. A friend lives on a barge here but I think the other side of Gargrave. Uphill lanes were followed through the scattered houses of Thorlby and Stirton where most of the farms have been upgraded to exclusive living. More interestingly by the road side is a ‘Tin Tabernacle’, a disused Methodist chapel built with corrugated iron probably at the beginning of the 20th century. The Pieman can remember his father auctioning off the harvest festival products for chapel funds many years ago. I wonder how long this building will last and if it is listed, you don’t see many now.

Eshton Hall.

Eshton Hall.

So if you are in this area maybe eschew the higher hills and explore this rocky island.


A plethora of bilberries.

As I parked up at Kemple End  little groups of bending figures dotted the fell side, they are clutching  plastic containers and their purple fingers announce their activity – bilberry picking. We are all eating a lot of BLUEBERRIES these days, they are commercially grown, are widely available in our shops and keep for several  days. Their close relative the BILBERRY [WHINBERRY or WHORTLEBERRY]  Vaccinium sp. grows wild and being much softer doesn’t keep so is better known by the foragers amongst us. From July onwards on Longridge Fell the low bushes are covered in purple berries which I must admit are fiddly to pick but are delicious to eat.


In southern France they are known as myrtille, in Italy mirtillo and are commonly found in local markets and delicious tarts. Professional collectors are seen out in the hills using wooden combs to quickly harvest large amounts which are pooled in large canisters which are carried down later in the day. It all looks hard work.

I drop down into the quarry where the other collectors don’t venture and am able to pick at leisure on laden bushes. I quickly fill a small container before a spot of bouldering on rather damp rock this morning. Mouthful’s of berries intersperse problems. The bell heather is just coming into flower and the flowering blackberries promise abundant fruit in a month or so.


I remember summer days’ climbing in the Lakes on multi pitch routes where every belay ledge was covered in ripe bilberries, scrumptious.

Oh it’s started to rain again, better get home and bake that pie.

Croasdale – but not as we know it.

I think it rained another couple of inches last night, the forecast was average and I was prepared for a lazy day to recover from my duty as a removal man. But no, Mike phoned with an improving forecast and was keen for some exercise. Where to go – all the field paths round here are waterlogged or flooded. It’s times like this when at short notice you fall back on the memory bank, “I’ll take you up Croasdale, it will be dry” . He had not been there.

Getting there via Chipping wasn’t that easy with more flooding of the lanes and then land slips at Whitewell. We made it through but will come back a different way.

The hills were white with snow, the lane into Croasdale more like a river and painful hailstones welcomed us. I have memories of this lane being a sheet of ice on sunny winter days when Alan and I first started exploring Bullstones as a Bouldering venue, we were super keen. But even better recollections of sunny days on the heathery hillsides watching the Hen Harriers, will they return?                                                                                                                                                          The Roman road was dry, despite the full streams, as was most of the fellside so that part of the plan worked. The white bollard with poems we passed  reminded me of The Lancashire Witches Way, a 50 mile walk planned  from Barrowford to Lancaster, maybe spring would be better. There was no bouldering today, the rocks snow covered and a freezing wind keeping us well wrapped up and moving. Following the rim of rocks I found that wonderful stone trough hewn from a boulder, Mike was impressed.                                                                                                           Not lingering we found the tracks down to the ford but were of course confronted by a dangerous raging stream and it took us some time to find a way across to safety. A wild and exhilarating few hours. The only casualty of the day being one of my [cheap] ski sticks which I managed to snap in a slip.


For normal conditions check out  –

Oh Happy Day – Hutton Roof Climbing.

Why don’t you click to play whilst reading  –

This was the summer we never had. Perfect blue skies, warm sunshine and no wind. Since my last trip to climb in the lakes I’ve been busy helping my son with his garden and pretending to do a bit of bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge, subsequently I’m knackered. But arrangements were made and we found ourselves parked up in the hamlet of Hutton Roof, remarking on the number of renovated cottages. The path up to the crags above the village seemed longer than we remembered – don’t they all. The bracken was high and the  ways not clear, one of our party spent an hour or so wandering the hillside looking for the rocks. By then Rod and I, having bypassed the difficult South America Wall, had soloed a dozen or so short routes in sectors  Cave and the recently cleaned Sunny Wall. The climbing here is more soloing than true bouldering, and that was the order of the day.  The rock is remarkable limestone with abundant jugs and water-worn pockets just asking to be climbed, as the photos show. Alan turned up with his own video crew [father-in-law] and set too with enthusiasm [first time out for awhile]. A group of other climbers were leading some of the longer climbs on Sector Ronson Kirkby and when Barry eventually emerged from the jungle I led him up some of these. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and the relaxed ambience – this was a magic day’s climbing and socialising. Simple pleasures.

Barry is in there somewhere.

Barry is in there somewhere.

South America Wall.

South America Wall.

Rod - Cave area.

Rod – Cave area.

Alan - Ronson Kirkby.

Alan – Ronson Kirkby.

The popular Ronson Kirkby Area.

The popular Ronson Kirkby Area.

Barry - the lost man of Borneo.

Barry – the lost man of Borneo.

What have you done today? Tweeter and the Monkey Man.


Bouldering the start of Tweeter.

Bouldering the start of Tweeter…..

… a little higher.

Press to play….

Sorry about the pun.

You have to grasp the day sometimes, the weather is not kind and it is raining this morning as I chat over  the phone to Mark. I’m hoping to finish off some boulder problems that I’ve been looking at in a local quarry. Have to admit I need some moral and physical support –  Mark is up for it later in the day. When we arrive the rocks are still a little damp but that only adds to the uncertainty of the outcome. The first problem is too high ball for me and I rope up and take some gear. Somehow the boulder start feels so much harder with a  rope and I come down for a rest and contemplation. I have to stand on a hidden sloper and it felt so insecure. At my next effort I’m soon committed and arrive sketchily at the  break and welcome ‘friends’.

“Reflections of the fears I know I’ve left behind, I step out of the ordinary … I’m on my way can’t stop me now”.

The top is within reach but again the footholds are poor, pulling on small creases and then mantelshelfing sees me up. Maybe VS 5a. But I’m pleased to have succeeded on an obvious line here. It now has a name – Tweeter and the Monkey Man.

Mark then shows me how to boldly top out on my reachy problem on the far left wall – giving a quality V3. I don’t really understand these grades, feels hard. High Water Mark.

We both fail on a traverse line I’m particularly keen to finish – next time.

So what have I done today – still buzzing from the the the first route up the tower, great moves and no falls. Plus Mark polished off another new problem. This is the essence of climbing – pushing yourself into the unknown, no matter how small, and reading the rock for a successful outcome.

Simple pleasures.

Another problem.

Another problem.



THREE MEN AND A MAP – The Limestone Link.

The Limestone Link [LL] is a 13mile walk between Arnside and Kirkby Lonsdale. The plan involved two cars, I met The Rockman and The Teacher already parked up at Arnside and then drove us in my car to Kirkby Lonsdale. This meant we had lots of last minute decisions to make ensuring all gear and essentials were in the right car at the right time and place, not easy for our blurred minds first thing. We had the 1:25000 map marked with the route for the west end but not for the east, One of our party suggested we wouldn’t need the latter as the route would be well waymarked but last evening I spent a bit of time on the computer and printed out a segment around Kirkby. There was ample free parking at the popular Devil’s Bridge, our staring point. As we arrived we were swamped by hundreds of teenagers, admittedly well behaved and friendly, all going for a walk – surely not the Limestone Link!  A teacher informed us, as 800 marched past, that it was their annual charity 20k walk fortunately in the other direction over the Barbon Fells. Hope they had a good day, the weather was perfect for us all. As calm descended we had time for coffee and a look over the bridge at the attractive River Lune flowing over limestone slabs.

We thought it strange there were no LL signs or markers to be seen as we left the bridge across a park. Within a few yards The Teacher realised his boots weren’t comfy as he had forgotten the insoles, back to the car to change into trainers, fortunately taken. Quickly climbing into fields on vague paths we were soon clustered round my little piece of inadequate photocopy. The ‘route’ seemed to be following a limestone ridge so we just kept to that as much as possible, we knew we were heading to Hutton Roof.  Behind us Ingleborough stood proud as usual, ahead was more gentle rolling countryside. A couple of diversions to avoid hay being cut and a bull saw us walking up the surprisingly steep lane into Hutton Roof. I was more familiar with the territory here as this was once a regular spot to come bouldering on the limestone outcrops up the hill. But the paths were overgrown with bracken and my memory faded, out came the real map and even the compass for onward progress. Have to admit it was delightful, once out of the bracken, on the flower strewn limestone with views back over the outcrop towards Ingleborough. Northerly views to the Lakes etc were rather poor in the heat haze. A good spot for a snack.

A winding track through shrubs led on down to a lane below Holme Fell where where we came across a LL sign, the first evidence we were on the correct route. Perversely within a hundred yards or so we were lost in a profusion of paths mostly  going up Holme Fell, more clustering around the map and compass had us back on track over the side of the fell down the bridleway to the road. Looking back up right was Farleton Fell another regular bouldering area from the past, we were surprised to see how far it appeared from the road. We were now in a sort of no-mans-land of M6, Railway and A6 between the limestone uplands.

We were glad to escape from an unpleasant  loop on a busy road onto the tranquil canal side.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

No-mans-land with Farleton Fell.

Navigated safely through the surprisingly extensive village of Holme and onwards to Hale. Here things improved as we entered the limestone woods at Slack Head [our second LL signpost!]. There were unmarked footpaths everywhere through this delightful maze, at times directly on the bare limestone pavement. Little country lanes were crossed and eventually we found ourselves at the top of The Fairy Steps. Stopping for a drink we watched as walkers disappeared, laughing  and grunting, into the cleft. If you don’t touch the sides you may see a Fairy and have a wish, I think you would have to be a fairy not to touch the sides. Yet another area from previous bouldering trips to reminisce over – we do a lot of reminiscing!  Down a rocky path to Hazelslack with its late 14thC Pele tower to ward off the Scots. A few more map readings and we were into Arnside and enjoying a pint at the pub overlooking the Lune and its viaduct. Coincidentally bumped into my old friend Conrad  [] family and friends, they had just returned from their regular Thursday walk.

So the LImestone Link has provided us with a lovely social day’s walk over interesting terrain and with wide-ranging views. It can be done in trainers! The road walking near Holme could have been avoided by a traverse of Farleton Fell and more canal walking. As a whole it doesn’t seem to be well  used, particularly in the East and there is an almost total lack of any signing or way-marking. No big problem but thank God we took a map.

Time to rest.

                                                          Time to rest.