/ NEW ARTICLE: Millstone - Quarried Grit

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UKC Articles - on 23 Jun 2010
[James McHaffie on the finishing jug of Masters Edge - look at that run out!, 1 kb]Matt Heason takes us on a tour of Millstone in the Peak District.

"The fact that Millstone has been quarried has left it with less-than-par frictional properties; angular holds and an abundance of cracks, from the thinnest hairline seams to bottomless off-widths. The length of the routes and quality of the rock leaves one with a definite sense of climbing rather than extended bouldering"

Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=2791

Al Randall on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: This takes me back. I used to hang out with some guys from the Peak climbing club in Sheffield back in the sixties and seventies. (if any of you are still around get in touch) They had fitted a padlock to an old explosives shelter at Millstone which made for a basic but dry base of operations. We spent many a weekend attempting to free the aid routes and even putting up one or two new ones. We missed out on doing the FFA of Regent Street by about 10 minutes. Terry King pipped us at the post because we decided we had to have a cooked breakfast that day. Now that's a first ascent to be proud of so I would not argue with the declaration of it being "the best finger crack in....", a 3 star route if ever there was one. We had been eying it up for several weeks and trying to pluck up the courage to give it a go but had to settle for a second ascent later that afternoon.

Al
toad - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: I really, comprehensively, hate millstone - If I believed in such hokum, I'd say there was a bad spirit sat on the place. Given it's so high up, it still feels gloomy and oppressive, and there's always a sense that it's a tottering heap of choss about to detach and drop on my head. But maybe I just don't get on with big quarries, maybe it just reminds me of Wilton
gribble - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

It always struck me as a place of contrast - industrial blasted rock, aesthetically unimaginative, yet turn round and see the views! Nothing quite like topping out and belaying on a summer evening looking down Hope Valley approaching sunset time. Well there probably is, but not on my doorstep.

However, for me Millstone is all about climbing. The quality of the routes and the moves required leave me with a great sense of satisfaction. Great jaming, great crimps, physical and with exposure for grit.
Phil Kelly - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to toad:
> maybe it just reminds me of Wilton

It's not *that* good!

Phil

Peter Walker on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: What's a 'pubic lido' when it's at home? Or don't I want to know?
gribble - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to Peter Walker:

Public open air swimming pool innit. It gets very popular on days like we've had this week.
Al Evans on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to tradlad: Terry was in the Parnassus, we were supposed to be the up and coming kids, but Terry totally blew me away with Regent Street.
Al Evans on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to gribble: THe Hathersage pool was popular back then, especially in the really hot summer of, was it, 1976?
Al Randall on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to Al Evans: I met him a few times then he seemed to disappear off the radar. Next time I saw him he had a bit part in Coronation Street but I haven't seen him since that.

Al

Simon - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) I really, comprehensively, hate millstone - If I believed in such hokum, I'd say there was a bad spirit sat on the place.


No - its not Hokum - I beleive that crags have a spirit & Millstone's is baaad. Never enjoyed being there despite the views - when Lawrencefield over the road has a much more fiendlier aspect despite being a hole in the ground - the two could not be more different in mood.

I even got one of my best pictures which is in the article, at Millstone & don't feel anything for it - it's wierd!

Si
Peter Walker on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to gribble: I know that's what a PUBLIC lido is... ;-)
Al Evans on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to tradlad: He's quite a successful choreographer of fighting scenes, was with the Royal Shakespeare Co, but is now a freelance, on some big feature films. A few people who post on here are still in touch.
Al Evans on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to tradlad: And of course had a very impressive Alpine career.
Al Randall on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to Al Evans: Yes, didn't he put some impressive route up on the Grande Jorrasses?

Al
Ackbar - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to UKC Articles: What are the bottomless offwidths in millstone???
Offwidth - on 23 Jun 2010
In reply to Ackbar: I've been there with worn holes in my ron-hills?
Jonny2vests - on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to toad:
> (In reply to UKC Articles) I really, comprehensively, hate millstone

Dunno how hard you climb, but it's nowt special until you're decent at HVS. At that grade, it is the king of gritstone. Above that grade its pretty amazing too.
www.cliff-hanger.co.uk - on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to jonny2vests:

An Anecdote from Alan Heason (the author’s dad). This didn't make it into the article as it's Lawrencefield and not Millstone, but I thought it might be an interesting read nonetheless:

We entered the amorphous arena of ‘Artificial Climbing’ in 1965 or thereabouts. This practise, we vaguely understood, entailed scaling otherwise-unscaleable cliffs by hammering metal pegs called pitons into cracks and fissures, hanging short rope ladders with alloy steps from them and progressing smoothly and gloriously up virgin faces that had never felt the tread of man. We purchased necessary (and probably un-necessary) gear and then rather nervously contemplated our next step. It had all seemed so super in the planning stage, but now, what? Where to develop the necessary techniques and skills? It certainly would not do to practice in public, for we would be rapidly exposed for the tyros we certainly were. I know, there’s that quarry we found not very far from Hathersage. Let’s see what we can sort out there. So there we were, six of us, on a grey, dank Saturday afternoon, gazing somewhat nervously at the blank, black wall. Well, not absolutely blank; here and there were teeny cracks. The others stepped back, producing cameras and adopting occupied airs. Oh. I’m the one who’s going to give it a bash, am I? Yip. The brand-new 300-foot rope, white for half its length and then light blue, dyed in the Hoover twin-tub washing machine, was uncoiled and I tied on at that middle point and commenced to climb. Hammer in a piton. Shouldn’t they ‘ring like a gong’ when lodged securely? Clip in an etrier. Climb up nervously. Four feet, perhaps. In goes another peg. Another etrier. The white upturned faces seemed a long way down. The crack thinned. No piton points would enter. Ah yes, this Ace of Hearts, slender and so short, slotted into a horizontal crack. Trouble was, there was no need to hammer it in, I just pushed it in, half an inch at most. Never mind, here’s a new crack above. Stretch, place, hammer, karabiner, clip in the rope. Mmmm, ok, ok, but… I’m an awfully long way up. Not far to the top now, ten feet perhaps? Ping. Rrrrippp. I was falling backwards through space, fifteen or so pitons popping out like a Riverdance line-up without the slightest delaying effect. I found myself head down, my face level with Bryan Porter’s, my belayer. He lowered me the final six feet onto my head and I shakily stood upright. What had happened? Not one of the final fifteen pitons had held. My technique was woefully inadequate. But. My Ace of Hearts, my darling little ace, pushed – not hammered – into that crack thirty feet above us, had held and acted as a fulcrum to hold me. When I descended to retrieve it by abseil I found it, bent double from the strain. I had it chromium plated at Raleigh. Incidentally, the lower pitons all pulled out of their placements with little or no resistance.

I did do some more artificial climbing, achieving a reasonable standard of competence, and eventually returned to that first climb having learned that someone had aided it successfully, calling it ‘Billy Whiz’. I led it successfully. I am somewhat chagrined to discover that those then-aided routes are now regularly climbed ‘free’.
Jonny2vests - on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to www.cliff-hanger.co.uk:

Brilliant.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Martyn Maltby on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to UKC Articles:

When I was nobbut a teenager, venturing up my first VDiffs, I cycled out to Millstone one Wednesday evening, to meet up with some mates.

We saw these two guys aiding a route, (we had only ever seen aiding in books about Yosemite) When the first guy had got to the top, he asked us if any of us wanted a go. The lent me some aluminium etriers and I had a whale of a time clipping up the pegs they had put in.

The second guy followed me up, de-pegging. I said thanks and they said have a good time.

The guy at the top was Don Morrison, and the other guy was Paul Nunn.
Al Evans on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to www.cliff-hanger.co.uk:
> (In reply to jonny2vests)
I did do some more artificial climbing, achieving a reasonable standard of competence, and eventually returned to that first climb having learned that someone had aided it successfully, calling it ‘Billy Whiz’. I led it successfully. I am somewhat chagrined to discover that those then-aided routes are now regularly climbed ‘free’.

Good story but it was only called Billy Whiz when it was free climbed, not aided.
Jonny2vests - on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to Al Evans:

What did it go by before Al?
PeakDJ on 24 Jun 2010
In reply to Simon:
> (In reply to toad)
> [...]
>
>
> No - its not Hokum - I beleive that crags have a spirit & Millstone's is baaad.

I don't agree - I think the place has a very good "spirit" and a great feel about it.

I'm guessing that most people who say they don't like the place have had a hard time on some of the routes there :)

sutty on 25 Jun 2010
In reply to www.cliff-hanger.co.uk:

>on a grey, dank Saturday afternoon,

It was ALWAYS dank, it was when we went there. The hut was commandeered by the club and even the Alpha lads were let in on sufferance, though Boysen and his missus got in one day, and left the Alfa, well ten of them squeezed into a good companions tent. I arrived that morning to find bulges sticking outwards from the tent, the poor occupants relegated to the outside having wet sleeping bags.

>Not far to the top now, ten feet perhaps? Ping. Rrrrippp. I was falling backwards through space, fifteen or so pitons popping out like a Riverdance line-up without the slightest delaying effect. I found myself head down, my face level with Bryan Porter’s, my belayer. He lowered me the final six feet onto my head and I shakily stood upright. What had happened? Not one of the final fifteen pitons had held.

You could have been describing my fall on London wall, though I was about ten feet from the floor when I fell.

Another time on some route I don't remember the name of, John Gosling was holding my ropes, not normally his thing, I was about 30ft up on what I considered a good peg, knife blade in a vertical crack. Went to weight it and it pulled, and the thing that stopped me was the dodgy butter knife peg below, bent at right angles, and fell out when it was unloaded.!!
PL on 07 Jul 2010 - dyn218238.shef.ac.uk
In reply to tradlad: I spent many happy weekends living in the hut at Millstone in the late sixties though I feel often our focus was on the drinking in the Millstone pub, where we could be assured of 'lock-ins'. We also did a fantastic line in breakfasts and teas, which seeemd to leave little time for any serious climbing. Millstone has always seemed to have a gloomy air to it and stories of the ghost of an old tramp found having fallen from the top during a winter storm, though this is probably more apocryphal. I did however spend a lot of my teaching time retelling stories of sighting of ghosts in the hut. The people I remember from my time in there were John Wilkins, the then key holder and a school friend, Al, Les, Tony and Geoff all of whom used to meet out there most weekends.
In reply to PL:
> I spent many happy weekends living in the hut at Millstone in the late sixties though I feel often our focus was on the drinking in the Millstone pub, where we could be assured of 'lock-ins'. We also did a fantastic line in breakfasts and teas, which seeemd to leave little time for any serious climbing. Millstone has always seemed to have a gloomy air to it and stories of the ghost of an old tramp found having fallen from the top during a winter storm, though this is probably more apocryphal. I did however spend a lot of my teaching time retelling stories of sighting of ghosts in the hut. The people I remember from my time in there were John Wilkins, the then key holder and a school friend, Al, Les, Tony and Geoff all of whom used to meet out there most weekends.

That is interesting - where was the hut? I first visited Millstone in 1968/9 (Embankment 3 and Great Slab - after a lot of effort) and don't remember seeing it.

I do remember a table, chair and TV in the Keyhole Cave and one of the wide cracks round beyond Twikker with half-a-dozen exhaust systems sticking out of it!

Chris

Phil Kelly - on 07 Jul 2010
In reply to Chris Craggs:

Aye, interesting - I listened to an interview this morning with Ron Townsend talking about the late 60s development of Millstone. It seems to have been a really interesting period.

Phil
Al Evans on 07 Jul 2010
In reply to jonny2vests:
> (In reply to Al Evans)
>
> What did it go by before Al?

I'm not sure but Geoff Birtles called it Billy Whizz after a cartoon that he wrote for Crags Magazine, in it there was a superhero climber, The Hydraulic Man (Tom Proctor) whose buddy was a Jimmy Olsen lookalike called Billy Whizz (Geoff Birtles) who led the route.
Actually I have just checked and it was originally called 'Harlequin'.
Al Randall on 07 Jul 2010
In reply to Chris Craggs: The hut was well over to the left and a distance down from the crag. It was only a few metres square so hut is a bit of a misnomer. It was a small concrete shelter.

In reply to PL: Do I know you then. It would seem likely. Am I the Al that you mention? The other names ring a bell. There was also Phil Grayson and John Firth. The Tony mentioned, wasn't he the one who some of us nicknamed "basecamp" because he always disappeared to put the kettle on when things might have got a bit hairy. Very nice guy though.

We should have a reunion.

Al
PL on 08 Jul 2010 - dyn218238.shef.ac.uk
In reply to tradlad: I don't know whether or not you are the Al though from my, now less than good, memory there was only one; I'm Pete Lawton and was actually at college with Chris. Yes Tony was that way inclined but as you say a good guy. It would be interesting to know how many of us still climb.
There was also Ross who came out occasionally, he was at Uni', and famously broke his front teeth when stopped, rather inexpertly, from climbing down a wall upside down.
Reputedly the hut was the old explosives store from when the quarry was mined
Al Randall on 08 Jul 2010
In reply to PL: Your name does seem familiar but like you my memory often turns out to be wrong. I only recalled the name of Tony after you mentioned it. My name is Al Randall. I was never a member of the club but I stayed in that shelter with members on many occasions when we blitzed the crag and paid particular attention to trying to free the aid routes.

I think that it must have been around about 1965/66/67. I had a bad fall not long after that and lost touch with everyone.

Al
PL on 13 Jul 2010 - dyn218238.shef.ac.uk
In reply to tradlad: I was also never a memeber of the Peak and guess I wasm there a little later perhaps more 68 or 69, though some of the lads there seemed to have been there forever. Perhaps we never did coincide in our visits but have quite a few mutual acquaintances

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