/ Winter crags in the UK

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benoist - on 04 Dec 2017
Hi!

Even if winter is not the easiest time of the year to go out climbing, I was wondering if the UK had some nice winter crags. I wondered for example if Malham Cove was a good one since it's facing South... Is it sheltered too?

I'd be thrilled to take any advice you may have!

Thanks for the help.

Ben
Owen W-G - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Brean Down
Swanage
Peak grit
Dave Garnett - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to Owen W-G:

> Peak grit

Some of it. The last route I did in full winter conditions was at Ramshaw Rocks.
pasbury on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

I've climbed in a t-shirt on Gogarth in January when the wind dropped (yellow walls are a particular sun-trap)
Jon Stewart - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

I'm always surprised by how keen folk are on doing routes in winter. I find it far too cold and thoroughly unpleasant, can't climb properly due to numb extremities and just being freezing cold, and with the short days it is just a complete waste of time.

On the other hand, bouldering is excellent in the crisp conditions, I get loads done, I don't get cold and after a few hours I'm completely shattered so I don't mind it when the sun goes down in the middle of the afternoon.

Given that we have fantastic rock for bouldering (grit, sandstone) and it's not so good in the summer when it's sweaty, I'm just totally baffled as to why people still want to get a rope on when it's freezing bastard cold!
GrahamD - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I'm just totally baffled as to why people still want to get a rope on when it's freezing bastard cold!

Because it isn't freezing cold all the time. Shelterd crags in the sunshine can be, and often are, comfortably warm. Also, from a personal standpoint, I don't particularly enjoy bouldering.
benoist - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

There are crags I have been to where you wanna take your shirt off even though the thermometer is close to 0°C. Sheltered south faces are more than alright in winter. I will obviously never climb on the West coast of Portland in a winter morning...
Michael Gordon - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Ben Nevis has some good routes
Rog Wilko on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I think it's a question of picking the right crag on the right day. It all depends on the sunshine and lack of wind rather than the air temperature. I don't regard myself as at all hardy, but have had plenty of really nice (if short) winter days doing roped climbing. Fortunately, up north anyway, we get most of our sunny winter days when the wind is in the north. As northerly winds are gaining heat from the progressively warmer surfaces they blow over this leads to a much reduced relative humidity and therefore fewer clouds (speaking generally). Conveniently, shelter from these often sunny northerly winds can be found on potentially sunny south-facing crags. I can recall plenty of good winter days on crags such as Wallabarrow and both Raven Crags in Langdale and in the Dales crags like Twisleton and Pot Scar. I can remember a day on Pot Scar when there was snow on the ground but the rock felt warm to the touch. However, the leader needed to take a duvet jacket for belaying at the top where the wind was cruel.
buxtoncoffeelover - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Beeston Tor - the stream can be frozen solid & the rock lovely & warm; needs sunshine (obviously!), & is sheltered from northeastly/northerly winds
Bulls Crack - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

> There are crags I have been to where you wanna take your shirt off even though the thermometer is close to 0°C.

Can't say I've ever felt the 'need'

mrphilipoldham - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Rivelin is usually a good bet when the weather forecast for the Peak is generally grim. Saved my day today, ended up climbing with my jumper sleeves rolled up in the sunshine whilst Stanage was a wet, barren wasteland.
Jon Stewart - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

I can see the south coast being OK on a sunny day, but up north warm enough days are so few and far between that if you've got a job you're unlikely to hit one.
alan moore - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Like they all said, right place right time.
I used to regularly soldier on through Wye Valley winters; less greenery but occasionally muddy and wet. Same at Avon, although never been tough enough to brave the Cheddar winter.
I've climbed on a snowy Tryfan in January with warm hands and dry rock, as well as doing Idwal and Filliast Slabs with thick ribbons of ice running between the routes.
Conversely, have had christmases in West Penwith when it was too cold to do anything and winter trips to Gower when the beach was frozen solid.
Bit tougher up here in Scotland. Have done Ardverickie on a frosty late December with numb hands and if you look at Mr Fiends blogspot, he often finds bit on dry rock dotted around the NW...
Jon Stewart - on 04 Dec 2017
In reply to GrahamD:

> Because it isn't freezing cold all the time. Shelterd crags in the sunshine can be, and often are, comfortably warm.

I think most of the people who think there are plenty of warm enough days are retired.

> Also, from a personal standpoint, I don't particularly enjoy bouldering.

I often wonder whether people who don't like bouldering have tried doing microroutes somewhere like Slipstones? You can climb micoroutes at any grade all day at Slipstones (and many other crags) without a rope, nor any more risk than trad climbing (a similar level I would say). None of the standing still or being away from nice warm gloves/pockets for more than a few minutes, just loads of climbing compared to what would be possible with a rope.

Admittedly there aren't hundreds of crags that offer this type of experience, but in winter it makes for a much better day's climbing than freezing your bollocks off trying to do routes.
Chris Ebbutt - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:
Head for the English Riviera

Anstey's Cove
Meadfoot Quarry
Sanctuary Wall
Daddyhole Upper Cliff
Parsons Hole (aka Telegraph Hole)
All these are sheltered suntraps with southerly aspects and a variety of climbing to suit most tastes. Most are quickly accessed/ retreated from with ample cafe / pub options if the weather turns. Most venues dry very quickly with few areas of seepage.
Enjoy
Chris
Toerag - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Most of the crags in Guernsey face south and are plenty warm enough if there's no wind or a light northerly. Sea never drops below 8 degrees so it's nearly always at least that warm in good weather. Whatever the temp is in Plymouth it's normally a couple of degrees warmer here in winter. It's also warmer in winter than Jersey, even though Jersey's slightly further south.
Bulls Crack - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

You can climb micoroutes at any grade all day at Slipstones (and many other crags) without a rope, nor any more risk than trad climbing (a similar level I would say).

Apart from you're aways going to ht the deck if/when you fall off?
Jon Stewart - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to Bulls Crack:
They're microroutes. So hitting the padded deck from the first 2/3 of the route is usually fine, landing dependent. If the crux is high then there will be relatively more risk, maybe comparable to a slightly bold trad route. If you don't like the high crux, you climb down. Then back up. Then down again. Then back up. Eventually, you commit, get the good holds after the crux, you're totally committed, you top out, it's a massive buzz, you go home feeling euphoric.

Or you could freeze your bollocks off belaying you're mate who keeps shouting "I can't feel my hands" and then sitting their lardy arse on the rope, lowering off, and then you can savour the glory of abbing for gear.
Post edited at 21:10
profitofdoom on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Cornwall
Avon

Malham is effing freezing
Allovesclimbin - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Agree, Bouldering is good on these days but so can south ish facing crags. I have had several days of full climbing at weekends this autumn (mid October onwards) . The County is excellent for this , and I often save the none ice climbing days of winter to climb on these lovely crags. Just buy a hat !
Bulls Crack - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Sure it is but its not for me. Never was that good at high-balling and decreased resistance to the cold has not helped!
Jon Stewart - on 05 Dec 2017
In reply to Allovesclimbin:

I've been over your way a couple of times since the bouldering season began. Wonderful crags indeed. Looking forward to Callerhues for microrouting.
Duncan Bourne - on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

I am reminded of Johnny Dawes pushing his way through a cornice of snow on Wednesday Climb on Burbage North and kicking snow off the holds higher up. That's dedication, or insanity. With Johnny it could be both.
olddirtydoggy - on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Lawrencefield in the Peak or Tremadog in Wales.
Lion Bakes on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Ideal slabs is a good winter outing.

stp - on 06 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:
> Sheltered south faces are more than alright in winter.

This is definitely true. One year I ended up climbing in shorts and a vest on Christmas day at Swanage, because anything else was too warm.

But one of the problems is the shortness of the days. If you have to travel far to get to the crag you might find you don't get much done just because the days are so short.
Post edited at 22:16
helix - on 07 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:
Have had loads of good winter days, some in t-shirts, at Bosigran including days when air temperature was around zero (though I think that's unusual, west Cornwall is generally milder than the rest of the country in the winter) but the sun all day warmed the rocks up nicely. I've always thought that the fact that overnight temperatures don't drop as much as elsewhere also gives the rock temperature a relative head start.
Big Ger - on 10 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

Two of my fondest climbing memories;

Spending a February day on Sennen crag in beautiful sunshine, on warm rock, while over St Buryan three miles away, they were having a thunderstorm.

Sitting in the dry on the top belay of Climber's Club, The Dewerstone, on my birthday, (Jan 8th if you're buying presents,) smoking a rollie, while the rain lashed down over the top of the crag into the Plym valley below. (The final crack stayed relatively dry thank god.)
FactorXXX - on 10 Dec 2017
In reply to benoist:

I will add St Govans to the list as I have climbed there many times in the winter in perfect climbing conditions.
However, a top tip which will probably serve you well on all crags in winter: if you can, stash some warm clothing where you expect to top out. It might be gloriously warm at the base of the crag due to no wind and heat reflection, etc. but can be absolutely Baltic at the top!

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