Baines Cragg © C Witter
Baines Cragg is one of those places that passes around by word of mouth.
"What's that lump of rock over there on the horizon?", you ask your mate one day. "Oo... err... I reckon that must be Baines Cragg. Think Ed said he used to climb high Es on it..." "Ever been, much there?" "No, nope... not the foggiest."
Even Les Ainsworth, famed for his estimable memory and unwieldly comprehensive climbing scripture, admitted: "I have only been up there once for a quick look and that was over 30 years ago... Although I have handwritten or typed notes to many of the small crags, I have never heard of any recorded climbs at Baines."
Yet, those who do make it out to Baines, driven on by some lonely impulse of delight, or else who stumble on this spot by chance, will no doubt find evidence of some prior visitor. Exalting in having the place to themselves, they'll suddenly turn up a chalked hold, a scrap of paper, a coin hidden in a recess...
Who are these mysterious visitors? Some hardy shepherd, campusing the overhang on creases in the grit? Someone getting long in the tooth, self-exiled from the Peak, avoiding human interaction in this high place, where even the bilberries remain uneaten? Or... Mr. Baines himself, perhaps?
And why is it that, if you should be climbing there, the occasional passers-by on the nearby road will pause, look, point - and then accelerate off, as if spooked?
Although it's only a humble esoteric crag, there's certainly something mysterious about Baines...
Esoteric, natural grit, a fair number of undocumented problems. Most of the rock is tumbledown, but there are a few great lines. Landings tend to be poor and some of the lines are micro-routes up to 6 or 8m. No known guide in circulation, though people have been quietly climbing here for years. Can be tied into a visit to Windy Clough and Ottergear.
The crag is a stiff and steep 45min cycle ride from Lancaster. Head out toward Quernmore, then take the Littledale Road North East, past Rigg Lane, where it narrows and steepens. The crag is visible from the road on the left. There's a little roadside parking.
Across the road from Baines Cragg, about two minutes walk further NE, is Little Cragg, where there are also a few problems.
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