Slipstones, North Yorkshire

by Kevin Avery-Assistant Editor- UKC Dec/2008
This article has been read 9,801 times


"Slipstones has been a real success story and now it must stand with the best bouldering crags of the country."



Stewart Wilson- North Of England Rock Climbs, 1992

Nestled away in the beautiful unspoiled valley of Colsterdale, Slipstones was once once described in the 1989 YMC guide as,"Yorkshire's Best Kept Secret." Well the best things seldom remain a secret for long and this exquisite outcrop is now a must visit venue, enticing climbers to travel from far and wide to sample its perfect problems and spicy micro-routes. So what makes it so special?

Slipstones sunset, 41 kbSlipstones sunset
© Ged Desforges

Let's start with the premium quality gritstone, add in an abundance of eye-catching lines, challenges for everyone and a beautifully tranquil moorland setting, then you begin to get the idea. And that is only half the story. For me this place verges on the magical and I have spent many a sun-kissed winter's day working my way through the plethora of perfectly sculpted problems and routes with a group of good friends. The sort of days that remind you why you started climbing. Solitude, beauty, good company and free movement on rock. A day climbing here is a far cry from the crowds of the Peak District but equally good (well, actually it's better!)

Remember however, that it is not solely a bouldering crag. Some of the buttresses reach eight or nine metres in height and treating such climbs as boulder problems requires both competence and a steady head. Taking a rope and small rack means that many of the more lofty classics can be enjoyed in relative safety, without the thought of cratering should things not turn out as planned! Even the boulder problems should be treated with respect as many of them are high and the landings are far from perfect. A couple of pads and a spotter will not go amiss and mean that you can enjoy the job in hand.

Agra HVS 5b, Slipstones., 112 kbAgra HVS 5b, Slipstones.
© stuart100, Aug 2006

All in all Slipstones is one of the best gritstone bouldering crags in the UK, offering some of the most sought after challenges around. It is more popular now than ever (but not over-popular) and rightly so!


My Classic Suggestions

Jordan Buys attempts Lay-by Arete on an amazing December day, 83 kbJordan Buys attempts Lay-by Arete on an amazing December day
Kevin Avery- UKC, Dec 2008
© Kevin Avery - UKC

The crag offers something for everyone whether it be technical slabs, fly away aretes, powerful walls, or infuriating grooves. To compliment the list of popular climbs, here's my choice of some of Colsterdale's finest.


  • Slanting FlakeFont 4+ Positive diagonal flake. Satisfying.
  • TiptoeFont 5+ Delightful tenuous arete.
  • Paul's Arete Right-HandFont 6a Excellent high-ball.
  • Right-hand TwinFont 6a Balancy.
  • Lay-byFont 6a Fantastic thin flake.
  • Sulky Little BoysFont 7a+ Classic but it can be frustrating!
  • Lay-by AreteFont 7b+ A technician's dream.
  • CypherFont 8b Modern challenge from Mr Moon.
  • Undercut FlakeHS 4b Fun, the name says it all!
  • Marr's RouteVS 5a An impressive ending!
  • SowdenHVS 5a Interesting flake with a "more interesting" finish.
  • AgraHVS 5b Classic.
  • RipperE1 6a Problematically gain the groove.
  • Seven UpE2 5c A burly start gains the flaky finale.
  • SinbadE3 6b A personal favorite of mine. Fine with a few pads!



"It looks easy but it's actually bloody desperate!"



Richard Kirby on Lay-by Arete





When do I go?
Climbing at Slipstones is possible all year round. The crag faces south-west and is exposed to the elements. Sunny days in summer can prove to be scorchingly hot. Calm, sunny days in winter are perfect although it can be cold with very little shelter, should the wind get up (a north wind is preferable.) The rock is very clean and dries quickly.

A single rope and small selection of cams and wires should suffice for the routes. A bouldering pad is desirable for the boulder problems as some of the landings are poor.

How do I Get There?
Teeside and Leeds/Bradford are the nearest airports, both of which are served by the usual low cost providers of Ryanair, Jet2 and Easyjet.

The crag is most easily approached by driving from the brewery town of Masham which lies on the A6108 road. From Masham take the minor road (left turn signposted Fearby and Healey) westwards into the valley of Colsterdale. Just after leaving Healey take a right turn onto a narrow road. Follow this a short way until just after a steep hill with a tight bend in it and park in a lay-by on the right. Please park responsibly and make sure all litter is taken home. From here an obvious dirt-track leads up the hill along the line of a wall to a gate. Pass through this and then take a right turn to follow the wall to a point where a vague track leads off left to the rocks.

Access Note
The landowner has been granted a dog restriction on the Open Access land at Jervaulx Moor for grouse breeding. This runs until 18/06/2010 and includes Slipstones and Brown Beck Crags.

Where do I stay?
There are many camping options in the vicinity details of which are available from the UK Campsite website. Masham also has a number of hotels and bed and breakfasts, more details of which are available from the Masham tourist information site.

Where can I buy gear and food?
Masham is the nearest town and has small supermarkets, pubs, cafes and restaurants. There is also a traditional market in the central square every Wednesday and Saturday. Cotswold Outdoors in Harrogate and Track "n" Terrain in Durham are two of the nearby climbing shops and will take care of all of your gear and guidebook needs.

What else is there apart from the climbing?
The area offers some fantastic walking on its wild and remote moorland. The town of Masham has not one but two breweries, Black Sheep and Theakston's, both of which produce fantastic real ales. Visitors are welcome and the opportunity to sample a post-climb pint should not be missed!

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