In the distant past I climbed a couple of the routes on this very impressive crag and noted that there was great potential for many more quality routes.
So did others at that time and a bolted cable was installed to permit wider access to the base of the crag.
Unfortunately this upset the local community who demanded its removal and who then decided to ban climbing. The BMC, I think, organised the removal of the cable and then accepted the ban for a period of 10 years on the understanding that climbing would be allowed after this time.
After 10 years, during which time the BMC helped to police the ban by discouraging climbers from visiting, surprise, surprise, the locals decided that in fact they were not going to allow climbing after all. Climbers were effectively mugged off. (I always felt the BMC's position was unduly supine, but that's another issue).
Anyway, I recently drove past White Scar in the afternoon sun. As many others must have done, I thought it a crying shame that such a major crag was being denied to us. So the purpose of this post is to ask whether anyone has up to date info re access to the crag. I know there is a peregrine ban and that's fair enough. But after June and through the winter? The crag is 100% sunny and would be a great venue. Obviously access from below would stir up the locals again but I notice from CROW maps that the entire top of the crag is public access whilst the bottom of the crag isn't. But what about the rock? Is that technically within CROW? and if so why shouldn't we access it by abseil?
Good shout. Every time I drive past, on the way to nearby crags, I think the same. Looks great from the road and a climbing partner used to rave about how good it was and how sad it was that it got banned, but I knew no more than that. Is it as good as Chapel Head?
Although I often climb at Chapel Head, I have not yet been to Mill Side Scar either. I guess I should do some time.
But more significantly, this is a thread that is actually about climbing. A rarity In these times, good work.
No, Chapel Head is the business. Nowhere near as many routes to go at on White Scar. But the line we did on the main buttress was, from memory, steep, long and excellent. I think we did it as 2 pitches. And there's a huge area of unclimbed rock to the left, extending maybe for 100m +.
> And there's a huge area of unclimbed rock to the left, extending maybe for 100m +.
If it's the bits I looked at 20-odd years ago then they flatter to deceive? That's not to say there isn't anything to do but I wasn't minded to explore further. There are some short sport routes on a small buttress that rises straight off the huge sloping slab (the one you can walk up) below the quarried scree slope. For some reason they didn't get into the latest FRCC guide. There is scope for more but nothing outstanding?
I think the equipping is the main problem. The fixed gear on the old routes is likely to be in a poor state. Obviously developing the area to the left of space buttress will also need a lot of bolting/cleaning work. I just can’t see how you can do this without the landowners consent. The worry is that any kind of major confrontation would be bad news for access at chapel head.
I had a quick look at trying to get to the base of the crag from below a couple of years ago and it was death on a stick! Abseiling in is definitely the way to go.
I suspect the only solution is to wait for a change in the trustees of the Landowners of Crosthwaite and Lyth. Most of them are getting on a bit...
I have memories of accessing the crag from below too. Character building.
Yes, I agree that developing new areas would be a big task but I think it might produce a stack of routes in a really spectacular and sunny location.
Obviously the local Trust's attitude is an issue, but I wonder, when were they last approached?
And the CROW situation maybe merits further investigation. If CROW access exists to the crag itself then it doesn't really matter what their view on climbing is.
I remember it was brought up at a BMC lakes area meeting a few years ago and there was no change. From what I know of the trustees they won’t change their mind! Access land only runs to the top of the crag unfortunately (not that it would solve the bolting issue anyway).
Is abbing in viable for a sport crag? I'm thinking of how you would get out at the end of the day when tired and all the gear to carry. The crag looks awesome, I remember some pics of TPM on it from a long time ago.
It’s not ideal! Hard to overstate how sketchy the ground below the crag is though.
Aren't there nesting birds? Maybe peregrines? It's also an SSSI. I'm not saying climbing couldn't happen, but it's quite a sensitive environment from what I understand. I'm pretty sure I saw a peregrine (certainly a bird of prey) roosting there as late as September or October.
> If it's the bits I looked at 20-odd years ago then they flatter to deceive? That's not to say there isn't anything to do but I wasn't minded to explore further. There are some short sport routes on a small buttress that rises straight off the huge sloping slab (the one you can walk up) below the quarried scree slope. For some reason they didn't get into the latest FRCC guide. There is scope for more but nothing outstanding?
Standards have dropped massively over the 20 year interval. To be "good" now simply requires a line of bolts.
Myself and my mate got hounded down by the cops some 20 odd years ago, we where climbing book of invasions at the time, I seem to remember and big f*ck off steel ladder in place to aid the ascent to the start of the routes on space buttress. I can’t quite remember why the cops came maybe land owners reporting raiding bird of pray eggs ?
> Is abbing in viable for a sport crag?
Seems to work in Verdon.
> Is abbing in viable for a sport crag? I'm thinking of how you would get out at the end of the day when tired and all the gear to carry. The crag looks awesome, I remember some pics of TPM on it from a long time ago.
I've abbed into it Kev. Sea cliff type experience it is. Big tree 100 feet above the top. Re-belay to sapling on the edge. 150 foot (?) ab to ledge below crag with horrible steep slag heap below. Started up the only route we might be able to do - a loose moist groove at E1 5a we were led to believe. Failed. Mate declined to try it. What now? I know - we'll ab off the ab rope. When I weighted the rope I shot down 30 feet on the stretch and nearly . . well . . you know! Then we'd to walk all the way up to to get the ab gear back. Must've been early 80s some time I guess. Needless to say I've never even contemplated a return, though walk daughter's dog under it and onto the lovely Whitbarrow plateau quite often. pity it's a no go though as on many walks around the estuary I've noticed if any part is getting the sun it's White Scar.
The bolted down steel ladder that was placed for access was apparently the final straw that got it banned. The Whitbarrow escarpment is home to some super-rare trees - the Lancashire Whitebeam, which are only found there, on Scout Scar and in the Silverdale area (in the whole world!). Some were reportedly felled by climbers to fix the ladder.
The development of nearby Chapel Head Scar was done in such a way that in totally enraged the landowners (no permission, dozens of rare trees felled on the crag and at the foot of it, constant conflict). The result is the long amazing section to the right of gully wall is perma-banned, Raven Lodge crag (a 20m crag just down from White Scar) is perma-banned, and no new routes are allowed at Chapel Head.
There are lessons about the cost of climber behaviour in that escarpments' history that we would do well to remember!
The White Scar access situation is now similar to Fairy Steps I think - ie banned by the landowner but the ban is not supported by the BMC.
Regarding the Peregrines, they have several sites in the area but I most often see them nesting just up and right of Millside Scar (not bird banned).
The cliff, cliff top and the slope below are also part of the larger Whitbarrow SSSI
There's an incredible photo in the 2012 Eden Valley and South Lakes FRCC guidebook on page 336 that really shows off the size of the place. Looks great, such a shame about the access.
Chapel Head perma-ban to the Left of (Central) Gully Wall I think you mean John?
> Chapel Head perma-ban to the Left of (Central) Gully Wall I think you mean John?
Correct! Sorry about that!
Good points, I think. But, I unfortunately I don't think people have learnt these lessons. The bolted routes that have been put up on the Silverdale sea cliffs illustrate the point well.
Here's the info from the BMC RAD https://www.thebmc.co.uk/modules/rad/view.aspx?id=200 -
"Following development of the crag in the mid 1990's, the landowner (residents of Crosthwaite and Lyth) expressed concerns about damage to the conservation value of the site. A 10 year moratorium on climbing was agreed by the BMC, on the understanding that after this, access for climbing would be restored. Extensive attempts to negotiate access at White Scar by the BMC and the Lake District National Park Authority have taken place after the end of the moratorium period, however the Landowners Committee, (which represents the residents of Crosthwaite and Lyth) continues to decline attempts at negotiation. As a result, the BMC is no longer in a position to support a voluntary climbing ban at White Scar. The landowner has advised that access to the crag is not permitted, however it is up to individual climbers to make their own decision whether to visit the site. Regardless of the current access situation, any climber who decides to visit the site is advised to observe the following points in order to maintain the image of climbers being responsible users of the countryside: - The crag is a Peregrine nest site and should be avoided during the periods stated below in the ‘Seasonal Restrictions’ section of this page. - The crag is within a SSSI with rare flora inhabiting the cliffs and approaches. No vegetation removal should take place. - Installation of more fixed equipment is strongly discouraged as this was a major issue which led to the initial access problems."
When it comes to stepping on "landowners' rights" I honestly couldn't give a damn, but when it comes to damaging our diminishing biodiversity, I really think the climbing community needs to tread with more care. We should see ourselves as guardians of these special plants and creatures that are just about hanging on in the dwindling margins between urbanisation and agriculture, and any demand for climbing to take place here should be premised upon first developing our understanding of this ecosystem and how to avoid having a negative impact upon it.
Very nice area. I'm sure this was part of the walk I did called That's Lyth
Not an area that I had visited before but will do again.
Well said. Goodness knows who would dislike that.
This week's Friday Night Video takes us to the heart of Soulsville in Memphis, Tennessee, where a climbing revolution is taking place. The Memphis Rox climbing wall has become a community hub, transcending the classic business model of a climbing...