/ ARTICLE: The Lost Outcrop - Mick Ward's Dream Crag

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UKC Articles - on 23 Sep 2016
Ravenstones, Chew Valley, 3 kbMick Ward used to dream of a secret crag: 'It was never in the same place twice. And, when I'd wake up, it seemed so real, yet I couldn't remember where it was. (Well, of course, it wasn't anywhere...but let's not spoil the illusion!) The only person I ever told was Geoff Birtles and he came straight back with, "Well I've got two crags I dream of - one on grit and one on limestone." Typical...'

Perhaps, for many climbers, there's a dream crag; an archetype which we yearn for. This was Mick's dream crag - with dream routes to match.

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Christheclimber - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Brilliant article Mick.
I used to day dream about secret new routes when I was younger imaging fantastic moves on desperate but perfect routes.
alan moore - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Best crag I've never been to.
The stuff of legend.
Thanks for that!
James Mann - on 23 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Fantastic Mick. Really enjoyed this. Thought provoking and unusual!

dominic lee - on 24 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

I too have dreamt of undiscovered crags. High tor in nature, glimpsed through the trees in sylvan dales, based on reality but subtly altered. I'm always walking, no climbing is ever done and l wonder how this part of the dale could have been missed. The scene seems so real. The sense of excitement and possibility so palpable . On Waking it takes a few moments....to realise.
Hardonicus - on 25 Sep 2016
In reply to dominic lee:

+1 for crag dreams!
abseil on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

EXCELLENT article, Mick! I really enjoyed it, please write some more soon.
Will Hunt - on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Good writing that, Mick. I enjoyed it a lot.

The secret crag you're thinking of is Yeadon Crag. When I visited there was only one route on the mighty Prune. It was a very highball Font 5+. The next 2 easiest lines are 7A+! There's more to go but they'll be harder again!

Yeadon Crag

johnl - on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great stuff Mick. I'm still having that dream and still searching - I know it exists. Maybe it's hiding in plain sight, rather like a certain new route I can think of.
C Witter on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Enjoyed this too! Nice to see more creative pieces on UKC, as opposed to Buzzfeed-esque '10 things you're only reading because you're bored' articles and 'news' pieces, like 'Sponsored elite climber climbs something hard', which after a while are as dull as such Westmoreland Gazette classics as 'Sheep escapes from field' and ''Tidy up weeds at Carnforth railway station car park' plea' (http://www.thewestmorlandgazette.co.uk/news/14764460.__39_Tidy_up_weeds_at_Carnforth_railway_station... Which is a somewhat negative way of saying, more creative writing please!
Goucho on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Cracker Mick.

Of course, I've always known where 'Crag X' really is?
Mick Ward - on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Many thanks to people for their kind comments (keep any unkind ones to yourself, please!) I'm somewhat relieved to find that quite a few of us have our own dream crags. Dominic Lee perfectly captured the feeling of excitement. 'How can this possibly have been missed?' And then you wake up and realise... like dreaming of a lost love. She's not there.

Confession - the amount of time spent dithering on this has (narrowly) broken my previous record. 24 years dithering! Please don't anybody else do this - you can drive yourself crazy.

And - sweet irony - while dithering about writing about a dream crag, a little piece of reality was staring me in the face, week after week, year after year, just as John says, hiding in plain sight. About three weeks ago, I finally abbed in and started digging... and, err, digging... followed by yet more digging.

Memo to self: dreaming's fine - but sometimes you've just got to go digging.


cheese@4p - on 26 Sep 2016
In reply to Mick Ward:

Just stay away from the crags of My dreams Wardy!
Mick Ward - on 27 Sep 2016
In reply to cheese@4p:

I think they're pretty safe from me, Ian. As Will Hunt notes, standards have risen sharply in your neck of the woods. We should go back to Ogden Clough though - what a lovely little place that was. I think it was the first crag that the late Harold Drasdo went to.

Keep the fire burning!

SuperstarDJ - on 27 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great piece, really enjoyed it.

Dom Whillans on 27 Sep 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

Lovely article; that's the kind of writing that pulled me into climbing in the first place... More of that please, much, much more of that. Seriously, even I'd pay good money for that quality of article ;)
cheese@4p - on 29 Sep 2016
In reply to Mick Ward:

The article is superb and has been lurking in my awareness for days since I read it. Just like a powerful dream or movie can. Well done, I think you hit a sweet spot for many of us with that.
I will work out how to pm you and we'll get a trip to Ogden planned sometime.
Marc C - on 13 Oct 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

A new article from Mick Ward about the psycho-history of British climbing is always something to relish. Lovely evocative read, conjuring up an image of a dark attic containing a tableau vivant: in the form of a large-scale model of an imaginary yet strangely recognizable gritstone valley, with climbing pioneers and mavericks from over the last century strewn across it.
Mick Ward - on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to UKC Articles:

A belated thanks to all those who’ve read/commented. Belated because, some weeks ago, the proverbial Council man with the digger (literally) severed my connection to these august forums. Life has become… interesting.

Thanks most of all to Natalie without whom this article wouldn’t have appeared. It must be tempting for an editor to avoid stuff that’s different and may not resonate with readers. The best editors have always been those who take chances and seem to get it right most of the time. But it’s still a delicate balancing act.

Jim Perrin says he’s amenable for a return to ‘Enigma’ on the basis he gets a tight rope on the crux. I think I’ll have one too.

I’d thought the gestation period was a mere 24 years of dithering and re-writing. But there were another 24 years before I discovered those grit guides in the private library in Ireland. And it was five years earlier that I chanced upon ‘Le Grand Meaulnes’ (The Lost Domain). There was never any conscious intent to imitate but I realise now that ‘Le Grand Meaulnes’ influenced me in a similar manner to John Fowles with ‘The Magus’. Fifty-three years wending its way to fruition.

I imagine the lost outcrop as somewhere not far from the Chew. When I lived in Sheffield, I loved driving over the Snake Pass. As you start down on the Manchester side, you can see what appear to be scattered bits of crag far away across the valley. Are they what remains of Yellowslacks? I’ve never known. But when the sun shone off the stone, it would always give me a feeling of the lost outcrop. Once Sandy Denny’s haunting ‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’ came on the radio. There was a sense of timelessness, of being lost in moments you wished would last forever.

Goucho on 17 Oct 2016
In reply to Mick Ward:
I think it's part of the ageing process, Mick.

With each passing year, we have more behind us than in front of us, so we reminisce about those halcyon days of wild eyed youth, and ponder all those roads not taken.

Now where are those polar pants, thick wooly sweater and battered EB's held together with gaffa tape?
Post edited at 14:53

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