Crag Notes: August is upon us...

Crag Notes is a new series to UKC, focussing on people and place. Distilled down into short form, each piece will centre around our connection with the outdoors (and what's within it) in some way, shape or form. However, each will differ in their own unique way, as we'll be featuring a variety of contributors, some of whom will be familiar, others less so. Creativity is key, as is diversity, so expect something a little different with each one. We'll be publishing a new note each month, so watch this space for further scrawling.

Crag Notes  © Tessa Lyons
© Tessa Lyons


Sea cliffs are special places, but fewer shine quite so bright in the late August light like The Diamond. Its name is apt, representing - alongside LPT (its more conventional cousin across the bay) - the crème de la crème of North Wales limestone. This 'crème' however is made somewhat creamier by the presence of the Kittiwakes, which nest longer and later than many other species of sea bird. Their presence can be smelt throughout the approach, with the lingering aftertaste of guano hitting each and every single sense, as all-consuming as the salt within the sea that splashes below.

The Wall of the Evening Light (in the evening light)  © Rob Greenwood - UKC
The Wall of the Evening Light (in the evening light)
© Rob Greenwood - UKC

Arriving on the shingle beach there are boulders of all sizes, each one smooth as marble, with a myriad of monochrome colours broken only by the occasional green sheen; the slick seaweed covering the rocks is slippery to look at - let alone stand on. It's slow progress moving across this landscape, which sinks, shifts, and scrunches with each footstep. Its depth is as changeable as the weather too, whose seasonal storms shift the stones with the same ease with which the wind blows the froth off the top incoming waves.

Reaching the rock face itself you are immediately presented with an imposing, overarching barrel that sweeps onwards, upwards, and out of sight. Its texture is scaled, almost as if pieced together; each part placed one-by-one, creating a masterpiece of rock architecture. It is smooth to the touch in its lower reaches, where the sea provides constant exfoliation, but in its upper reaches is rough, worn by the same element, albeit from a different angle. By the standards of British rock it's a big cliff, with routes of over 50m in length, but that figure doesn't do its size justice - this crag that is more than the sum of its parts.

It is bigger, and better, courtesy of the awkwardness of approach. It is bigger, and better, because you can only climb on it for a limited amount of time. It is bigger, and better, because even when you can, good conditions are infrequently found. And finally, it is bigger, and better, because when all these factors combine, and the stars align, a good day at the Diamond is worth as much as its gemstone namesake.

Many thanks to Tessa Lyons for the superb 'Crag Notes' illustration. You can see more of her work at tessalyons.co.uk


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28 Aug
Ooo errr... just reading that, I've taken on a 'green sheen'. Maybe leave the crème out next time!

Am I the only one that gets a strange (and satisfying) sense of nostalgia from the scent of guano?! Surely not ;-)

28 Aug

I always said that bird shit smells of adventure. The association is there for sure.

Enjoyed that. Climbed at the Diamond for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Great stuff

28 Aug

albeit I like short form, I wish it was longer form, now UKC being the only purveyor .. but nice piece anyways Robbie

Alpinist would be the obvious riposte to that.

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