Slipstones, North Yorkshireby Kevin Avery-Assistant Editor- UKC Dec/2008
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"Slipstones has been a real success story and now it must stand with the best bouldering crags of the country."
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?
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.
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!
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.
"It looks easy but it's actually bloody desperate!"
When do I go?
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.
Where do I stay?
Where can I buy gear and food?
What else is there apart from the climbing?