Tim Neill gives us his stab at the best 5 E4s in the UK. Some are easy for the grade, some not so much, but all of these routes are memorable adventures, and offer superb climbing in different parts of the country.
Re. The Peak, I'd have to say that the crux of Flaky is so unpleasantly polished that it is probably only worth two stars now (definitely 3 in 1978 when the picture was taken!). I would place both Mortlock's or Apocalypse above Flaky now (when clean!).
Re. Wales I think the Missionary-Maze link up crossing both Red Walls on Gogarth has to be a contender (certainly in an E4 adventure category - possibly along with Vulture at Cilan Head, but that's maybe getting too esoteric!).
In reply to Tyler: I'd probably have added either Fay at Lower Sharpnose or America at Carn Gowla as my South West option, definitely not Eroica (which is good, but not THAT good).
I'm not going to give the game away, but there IS a South West E5 in the article I have written (which will be published in the next few weeks) - points will be awarded to the individual who correctly guesses which route that is...
> Re. The Peak, I'd have to say that the crux of Flaky is so unpleasantly polished that it is probably only worth two stars now (definitely 3 in 1978 when the picture was taken!). I would place both Mortlock's or Apocalypse above Flaky now (when clean!).
Now I'm certainly no expert on Peak lime E4s, not having done a single one, but if the entire of Pembroke can be written off as "generic coastal limestone" and therefore ineligible for "best in UK", surely Peak lime can be dismissed in half the time as "dismal polished roadside chosspile", along with all the other horrible semi-urban inland limestone we have on offer. I'm not saying *all* inland limestones routes are completely shit, just that they're rather shit in the context of Britain's best, which surely revolves around venues like Pabbay, Cornwall, Cloggy, etc?
my reply was in the context of the choice made by Tim Neill and I was not suggesting that Mortlock's and Apocalypse are among the best E4s in the country, just better than Flaky (in my opinion). Choosing the best E4s in the country is an utterly subjective act and purely based on ones limited experience of which E4s one has climbed.
It's very difficult comparing routes; you are really often comparing experiences: how do you compare a slightly dirty multi-pitch E4 in an amazing position up in the mountains on a beautiful day alone with friends, against a short, yet superb clean grit route, soloed on-sight on an Autumn evening with just the sounds and smell of the stone and moors for company? The answer is you can't. It's too simplistic to state that routes on big mountain crags are bound to be 'better' than routes on smaller inland crags - it's all about the experience which is made up from a plethora of sensory inputs.
For you maybe, but not for others. The majority of it may be choss, but there are some superb routes on Peak Limestone, which are perhaps made better by the incongruity of such gems being hidden amongst such crap.