Altitude 63m a.s.l
Climbing the 'great cleft' © simon wooster
A quarried limestone crag with plenty of interesting mid-grade routes up to 30m.
A mixture of sport, mixed and trad. climbs exist within the first four (eastern) sectors. The Garden Wall and Western Wall are occupied by a set of interesting traditional climbs.
The crag is generally north facing and with some patchy tree cover, so a couple of days of dry weather are generally needed to provide optimum climbing conditions, in particular to dry up the base area of the crag (it is often worth carrying a bit of carpet).
In summer, the east end of the Garden Wall is bathed in sunshine from mid. afternoon onwards; this is the premium climbing location on the North Face. The trio of routes (Plexus, Nexus and Nimrod) featured in the latest S W Climbs edition are within this sector.
The crag was used by an outdoor activity centre throughout the 2000s and this resulted in the addition of many bolts (mostly staples) in the four eastern sectors. Some retrobolting of older trad. routes took place. A bolted 'Via Ferrata' was also established on the Western Wall. The outdoor centre moved away in 2010.
Where a climb in one of the four eastern sectors is given a French (sport) grade, it may be presumed that it can be led with quickdraws only. However, in each case, the notes on the particular climb should be read for any additional details.
Some chopped staples may be enountered on certain trad. routes, the result of a dispute in 2010. These will have been seriously weakened by the damage and should not be used as runners. More generally, climbers should inspect the conditions of any fixed gear carefully and should exercise judgement on reliability.
Some climbs are lost to vegetation and these are noted as such. The area is a SSSI and a number of 'no star' climbs may not now be restored, as an ecological offset to the maintenance of the more worthwhile routes in climbable condition.
The amount of detail on each route on the associated UKC page is dependent on whether or not the last definitive guide (1995) provides adequate coverage (anyone without the 1995 guide is welcome to contact the moderator for full route descriptions).
The North Face is within The Rock Gardens, the grounds of a private house. The land is under the long term ownership of the Boulton family, who remain very supportive of climbing. They have three conditions for visiting climbers:
1. You must let them know that you are coming to climb; call 01626 852134 and ask for John Boulton. Aim to call well in advance as there is no voicemail.
2. You must have third party liability insurance, such as that offered with BMC membership; and
3. You should normally park on Rock Lane and walk in from there, see below.
Climbers are fortunate to have access to this private land and must be courteous in all dealings with the Boultons. The gardens are also used by campers and are open to the public; the safety of these third parties is very important and the removal of any loose rock must be very carefully managed. Above all, climbers must not jeopardise the access agreement with any sort of antisocial behaviour.
Either: 1. Park on Rock Lane and walk in from there, following the same path as for the South Face climbing area. Using this approach, turn right through a gate at the point where the stone circle comes into view, then go leftwards down a set of steps towards the crags. The small crag near the stone circle is the Far Eastern Buttress.
Or: 2. With the prior agreement of the Boultons you may be able to park at Rock House or in the old nursery car park. From the parking area by the house, the Garden Wall and Western Wall are down a path behind the house. The four eastern area sectors are up a track on the left; turn right and cross the small camping ground.
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