At last, children can be set free to get stuck into grit bouldering on their own terms without having to battle with adult sized problems and all they need is this new guidebook from Future Primitive Publishing. Adventures For Kids is a guidebook listing loads of new problems that have been developed by children in all sorts of popular areas across the Peak District and southern fringes and it doesn't stop there. Alongside the traditional lists of problems and topo photos, each of the ten areas has details about parking, public transport, the nearest toilets, places to eat and emergency hospital arrangements, as well as pages showing typical wildlife and other things to look out for once you get there.
This is a really simple idea which puts bouldering and a small number of easy routes into the hands of children. These aren't children dressed up as small adults, wearing logos and pretending to spot each other on chalky bouldering mats, but real children who get bored, get hungry, wear dinosaur t-shirts and insist on loose trainers to try to climb in. With that in mind, the boulder problems are similarly aimed at complete beginners as well as parents who might need some support to get the confidence they need to let their children loose outside.
Henry Taylor, aged 10, getting over the palm off move at the top of Underdog Howl, 4+, Shark's Fin Slab, Moorside Rocks on the Birchen Edge walk.
The size is the first thing that strikes you about this book. At A6 (postcard sized, 148 x 105mm) it seems small compared to other guides, but as soon as you get it in your bag or you give it to someone with small hands it all makes sense. It'll fit in the pocket of a normal pair of adult sized trousers and has been tested in the jackets of a number of children of different ages. This means it has sat alongside the usual collections of 'interesting rocks', long lost raisins and discarded bits of satsuma peel and made it out of the other side in one piece.
Inside the book you'll find a glossary, grade explanation with a comparison for the chosen standard of Font grades, as well as helpful hints about how to use the Peak District when you get there. Beyond that, there are 10 areas listed and each one has the same, parent friendly information listed at the start of each section:
- Distance of the circular walk and the type of terrain you can expect
- Public transport links with bus route numbers (2023)
- Car parking and the nearest toilets with postcodes, grid references, and what three words references
- Nearest places to eat and the closest hospital in case of an accident
After that there are two pages giving examples of other things to look for and do once you get there. A lot of children are excited by the thought of climbing, but not necessarily by the thought of a long walk to get to where the action is so these pages are great for passing the time before you arrive or providing a great excuse for going in the first place. Perhaps the aim of the day might be to see mountain hares at Derwent Edge and the climbing is something that gets tagged on to an already fantastic day out.
Within each section are details of circular walks that start and finish from your car or bus stop. These are provided as a series of photos for small children to follow, written instructions and as a map extract from the Harvey Maps Superwalker series at 1:25,000. These things combined should enable children and their parents to navigate the walks and find the boulders, all you need to do is to get to the starting point!
The 10 areas covered in the book are:
- Dovedale (6km walk, 4 problems)
- Harborough Rocks (2.5km walk, 36 problems)
- Cratcliffe (2.5km walk, 27 problems)
- The Roaches (2.5km walk, 39 problems)
- Padley Gorge (4km walk, 46 problems)
- Curbar Edge (4km walk, 41 problems)
- Stanage Edge (5km walk, 38 problems)
- Birchen Edge (5.5km walk, 17 problems, 4 routes)
- Burbage Valley (6.5km walk, 42 problems)
- Derwent Edge (13km walk, 38 problems, 1 route)
Some of these problems will be familiar to frequent visitors to these areas but most have never been recorded before. All of the them have been tested, although the grades may well be inconsistent as they can vary depending on when the climbers involved last had an ice cream or how much sleep they've had before the session! Grading discussions aside, this book represents a great way to introduce being outside and climbing rocks to children. It should be remembered that this is a book for children, written with the help of lots of children to encourage their peers to take part and start a lifelong journey of being outdoors, caring for the environment that we all enjoy and moving on rock in an independent and unhindered way. If you are the parents that remember On The Edge, have well thumbed copies of 'The Thing', never throw climbing shoes away and still pursue the dream of consistent one arm lock offs, then your children may already be on that journey and this might not be for them or you. On the other hand, if your children want to go AFK for a minute, run around and use up some energy but you aren't sure how to do it or where to go or if you've already been once or twice and you're ready to let them decide for themselves, then this is the ideal way to get them, and you, started.
Harry James, aged 9, working out the moves at the start of the Gangplank, Mod, while his dad holds the rope, Birchen Edge walk.
The book can be purchased online from Future Primitive Publishing for £20 which includes postage, in person from Outside in Hathersage, Cockerel Books in Bolton, and Dormouse Books in Belper and is available to order through bookshops, climbing walls and your local independent outdoor shop via the usual channels.