Secrets of the Lake District's Duddon Valleyby Mark Glaister Jul/2005
This article has been read 15,624 times
The climbing is all traditional on predominantly single and short multi-pitch lines most of which are on solid rock and usually less than an hours walk from the car. Many of the crags face south and west so conditions are as a rule good but in summer avoid the riverside crags, as midges can be a big distraction.
It is not possible to provide a full overview of all the climbing in this short article but what follows should keep most busy for a trip or three and wet the appetite for more in the Duddon.
The Duddon's most popular venue is Wallowbarrow Crag. Here you can enjoy some of the most beautifully positioned easier multi-pitch routes in the Lakes. Only a quick stroll from the parking and campsite, and at a friendly angle the main buttresses are packed with well trodden favourites such as Trinity Slabs VD, Thomas Severe, Nameless MS, Western Wall MVS, Malediction Direct MVS and the classic Digitation MVS. A little further up the Valley past the excellent Newfield Inn and the highly recommended campsite at Turner Hall Farm, is the unusual Troutal Gorge with its near sea cliff experience of White Water E2 5c. However on the vast hillside opposite lie some of the Duddon and indeed the Lakes better single pitch lines. The steep Burnt Crag and its less steep but equally demanding cousin Far Hill Crag are superb. Shifter E3 6a, Innocenti E3 6a, and Burning Desire at Burnt test both technique and strength. Whereas Lagonda E3 5c and First of Class E4 6a at Far Hill add a bit of head testing possibilities and the need for confident footwork. Scattered about around this area are loads of isolated buttresses with some good pitches including The Rhetoric of Meritocracy E4 6b on Little Blake Rigg and Natural Progression E1 on White How Crag. New routes have been developed since the last FRCC guide and a quick look at the website will reveal plenty of days exploration at the likes of Buzzard, Brandy, Dropping and Buck Crags. Before heading home checkout the convenient Stonestar Crag and its classic Columbia E1 5b or neighbouring equals Venezuela HVS 5a and The Breech E2 5c.
The Duddon Valley is situated on the south western side of the Lake District National Park and is most easily reached from the M6 via the A591/590 and turning off for Broughton. For a listing of the crags in the Duddon area including number of routes, grade range, current weather conditions and detailed maps showing the locations of the crags visit the UKClimbing.com crag database.
The definitive guide covering The Duddon Valley is - Dow Duddon and Slate, and is published by the FRCC (1993 edition). The best of the lines in the Duddon are also covered in The Lake District Select Guidebook (2004) also published by the FRCC. Visit the Fell and Rock website for full details.
Please use only the access paths described in the guidebooks and do not climb over drystone walls. Wallowbarrow can be busy at times and bird bans come and go (check at the BMC website )
Year round climbing is a possibility in the Duddon although winter is not to be recommended. Crags such as Burnt and Wallowbarrow get lots of sun but the higher west facing crags such as Far Hill retain moisture and can be green at times. None of the crags are worth a look in the rain and seep badly after heavy or prolonged rainfall.
No shops of any great size are located in the Duddon Valley so bring in all essentials. The town of Broughton is the nearest town of any size and has a gear shop and a superb cafe. Ambleside and Coniston are the other towns closest by for equipment shops. The Newfield Inn at Seathwaite is excellent with good food as is the Blacksmiths Arms further to the south. A number of campsites are sited in The Duddon valley. Perhaps the best is at Turner Hall Farm just north of Seathwaite from where it is possible to walk to some of the crags and the pub.
Lots of new lines have been climbed since the definitive guidebook was published and these are well worth a look on future visits. Descriptions can be found on the Fell and Rock website
Steve Scott takes a look at the ever-present winter conditions debate ahead of a meeting in the Lake District.
To have your say... Read more
Scafell is England's finest cliff and sits at ease alongside the UK's other great mountain bastions such as Creag an Dubh Loch in... Read more
A conditions report for 20 January 2009 around Langdale, the Lake District, Cumbria. Keep your eye on... Read more
Morna Middleton interviews some top female UK routesetters and gives an insight into the male-dominated world of the routesetting... Read more
In this series, we feature a variety of vans and their owners and getting into the geeky details of their vehicle and its set-up.... Read more
A forum post recently cropped up featuring a video of 13 year-old Jacob Hadley cruising up My Halo E7 6b in the Dinorwig Slate... Read more
|Lakes (or other UK) (Thu 8th -... 23:07 Tue|
|Lakes climbing 7/8/9th oct 14:39 Mon|
|VIDEO: Around the Lakes in 14... Sep-15|
|Lakes Sky Race this weekend Sep-15|
|Swimming all of the tarns and... Sep-15|
|Recommend a camp site - South... Sep-15|
|Gear for Grade II-V... Aug-15|