Beat The Heat - 14 Crags for a Heatwave

© CristinaB

As the media hypes up this week's heatwave - AKA 'British Summer' - this rare dosage of heat, sun and dry rock will inevitably see many of us poring over guidebooks and frantically ringing our mates. Although preferable to climbing in the rain, wind and cold, sunny climes can be equally as uncomfortable and potentially risky, if exposure to heat and sun becomes excessive.

Sun, sea and climbing - a winning combination  © CristinaB
Sun, sea and climbing - a winning combination
© CristinaB, Apr 2015

There exist, however, some handy crags which face north or are relatively shaded from sunlight, so we've come up with a list of our 14 favourite crags from around the UK to help you make the most of this week of Summer sunshine.

Remember: Stay hydrated, avoid the midday sun and take plenty of suncream, long-sleeved clothing and a hat to avoid sunburn and heatstroke! There's nothing worse than being the lobster of the crag the following day, other than having to stay at home due to heatstroke!

South of England

High Rocks - A predominantly north-facing crag which provides 12m high sandstone top-roping and bouldering. Ideal for a family day out in fair weather. For a 3 star route check out the popular Infidel 6a.

Emma climbing Advertisement Wall at High Rocks   © Daimon Beail
Emma climbing Advertisement Wall at High Rocks
© Daimon Beail

Pentire Point- Ok, so it's only got a handful of routes...and they're all hard...but the sea cliff location is stunning and the rock truly immaculate. Best of the bunch include Eroica E2 6a/5b A1, Black Magic E5 6a and the amazing Darkinbad the Brightdayler E5 6a. 

Pentire Great Wall  © onthebend
Pentire Great Wall
Jen, Jun 2005
© onthebend

Carn Gowla - Same as the above, but looser and more adventurous. That said, the classic HVS Journey to Ixtlan is well worth seeking out if you're after a wild day, as is Rainbow Games E2, Mercury E2 and America E4.

Tim on Journey to Ixtlan, Carn Gowla
© Geoffers

Peak District

Wimberry Rocks - High up, North-facing. Just as many classic VSs as there are E8s and some decent bouldering too!

Playing around at Wimberry...  © Tris
Playing around at Wimberry...
© Tris

Staden Quarry - A bit controversial as access is technically banned, but the BMC doesn't formally recognise the ban and has encouraged climbers to visit. It features some of the best quality limestone within the Peak District too, with the occasional tufa and 'stuck-on' conglomerate hold.

On Joint Effort at Staden  ©
On Joint Effort at Staden
Nick Smith, Aug 2007

Chee Dale Lower - The word on the street is that the Cornice is dry/clean (all hard obviously too!)

32 (8b+) Chee Dale Cornice  © Jon Clark
32 (8b+) Chee Dale Cornice
© Jon Clark

Willersley Castle Rocks - Sport and trad climbing. Classics include Cucumber Groove, Garrotter (both VS 4c), Pothole Wall VS 4c,5a, Sycamore Flake VS 4c,4c, Lone Tree Groove  HVS 5a,4b and Gangue Grooves HVS 5b. The route of the crag is Lime Street Direct (E1 5c difficult start only, 4c). 

Joe in the groove on Porthole Wall, VS 4c Willersley Castle.  © joe mallia
Joe in the groove on Porthole Wall, VS 4c Willersley Castle.
hooshang amiri, Jun 2009
© joe mallia

Lake District

Scafell East Buttress -  A high mountain crag which boasts some of the best routes in the Lake District. Super-classics include Mickledore Grooves VS, The Centaur HVS, The Yellow Slab HVS, Hell's Groove E1, The Lord of the Rings E2 and Ichabod E2.

Scafell East Buttress  © sheep
Scafell East Buttress
© sheep, Sep 2009

Dow Crag- A bit of a walk in the heat and could be a bit touristy with The Old Man of Coniston nearby, but routes such as Giant's Crawl (Summer) D and Murray's Direct VS 4c are well worth their stars. Go for a swim in Goat's Water afterwards to cool down!

Dow Crag
© Karlos, Oct 2007

North Wales

Clogwyn Du'r Arddu (Cloggy) - Called "the best crag in the world" by Leo Houlding. Faces North. Great Slab VS 4b and the harder Great Wall E4 6a are classics of the crag!

Cloggy last weekend - in the shade all day!  © julesmckim
Cloggy last weekend - in the shade all day!
© julesmckim, Sep 2014

Glyder Fach - Loads of easier classics with a good selection of middle grade routes in a mountain setting. The climbing here is mainly multi-pitch routes to 125 metres. Try Hawk's Nest Arête - a 3 star VS 4c.

Glyder Fach glowing red from the setting sun.  © marc1967
Glyder Fach glowing red from the setting sun.
© marc1967, Jun 2010

Highlands of Scotland

Any crag in Scotland is inherently freezing, but beware of the locals going crazy with the appearance of a mysterious object in the sky...

Ben Nevis - The UK's highest mountain will inevitably be popular with climbers and walkers alike, but the classic Tower Ridge D and Centurion HVS would make for a fine day out in sunnier conditions. Pack your suncream!

Ben Nevis in all it's summer glory  © freudy_love
Ben Nevis in all it's summer glory
© freudy_love, Jul 2014

Beinn Eighe - Another mountain crag whose situation and elevation will be handy in the heat, consisting of 300m high sandstone capped with quartzite cliffs. Hamilton's Route S 4a and Nisbet's Route VS 4c are not to miss. 

Beinn Eighe's mighty Triple Buttress   © Dan Bailey
Beinn Eighe's mighty Triple Buttress
© Dan Bailey

??? The 11 pitch Black Mamba VS is a must-do climb. Hope for a slight breeze to keep midges at bay, but a stunning location nonetheless.

Creag an Dubh Loch  © Ratfeeder
Creag an Dubh Loch
© Ratfeeder, Apr 2015

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1 Jul, 2015
You forgot Yorkshire.... :)
1 Jul, 2015
I was thinking the same. :) Kilnsey was great yesterday, when the sun vanished at lunchtime, Earl Crag & Rocky Valley are north facing and can be perfect when there's a breeze to keep the midges at bay.
1 Jul, 2015
I think I actually prefer climbing in the rain to this!
1 Jul, 2015
Willersley in this weather - god help anybody on the polish. The trench is ideal, if not dustu ( A55 crags)
1 Jul, 2015
Almscliff was nice yesterday eve, a cooling breeze even kept the friction good
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