Climbs 209
Rocktype Gritstone
Altitude 278m a.s.l
Faces NW

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15-year-old Toru Nakajima climbing Gaia © alex ekins

Crag features

Black Rocks is a fine but often neglected cliff. It sits proudly on a hill above Cromford and not far from the limestone crags of High Tor, Willersley and Wild Cat. The cliff has a reasonable selection of lower grade climbs, some good mid-grade routes and a whole bunch of the really hard stuff up the bald and blank aretes, slabs and walls. It is somewhat lacking in the lower extreme grades but there is the ultra-classic sideways shuffler of Promontory Traverse as some compensation.

The rock is very even-textured gritstone, almost devoid of big pebbles and often smoother than elsewhere. This gives climbing that is often strenuous, precarious and rounded in the extreme, with many flaring breaks and sloping holds. Getting your hands on a full set of cams, including some big ones, is a good idea before a visit.

The crag overlooks the Derwent Valley and the Matlock area. Much of the cliff faces north and tends to be green and unpleasant after poor weather and all winter. In contrast, the west-facing Birch Tree Wall dries quickly and is in condition for much of the year. The position on top of a hill means that it is exposed to the wind. Some of the harder routes are not climbed that often and may need a gentle brushing before an ascent.

Approach notes

The crag is 1km south fo Cromford, which is 3km south of Matlock. From lights on the A6 turn south into Cromford and follow the B5036 uphill, forking left onto a minor road after 1.3km (signposted to Black Rocks). Two left turns lead into the Black Rocks parking (Pay and Display - cash only), the upper is (a bit) nearer the rocks and sometimes has an ice cream van in-situ. There are toilets there and a coffee stall, along with hundreds of walkers and mountain bikers doing the High Peak Trail. If lucky you can park for free on the spaces on the road opposite the car park entrance, just by the cemetary. However, if you have the coins available buy a ticket as it pays back for upkeep.

It's rumoured that the cemetary is full of people who climbed there and thought their gear was well-placed but were wrong.

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Eastern Grit

Updated and expanded edition of the award-winning Peak Grit East. Covers all the best routes on the eastern Gritstone edges of the Peak District - Wharncliffe, Rivelin, Dovestone Tor, Bamford, Stanage, Burbage North, Higgar Tor, Burbage South, Millstone, Lawrencefield, Yarncliffe, Froggatt, Curbar, Baslow, Gardoms, Birchen, Chatsworth, Cratcliffe, Black Rocks
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Peak Bouldering

The Peak Bouldering Rockfax is a massive book covering a huge area including all the main bouldering venues of the Peak District. It includes many more low-grade problems than have ever been documented before including 17 circuits with problems at V0+ 5a and under, and a further 21 circuits with problems at V2 5c and below.
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Got a Friend 2.5 stuck in the top of Birch Tree Wall P1 if anyone retrieves it and feels like returning it would be kindly appreciated, postage paid and a little extra. Cheers!
Sam2257 - 18/Aug/18
Cool, challenging crag with some great and testing routes. Absolutely heartbreaking to see so much litter though.
Go_Climb_A_Rock - 24/Aug/14
"Rough, round, big, ugly, hard and unforgiving." A perfect description of the climbing and the people you are likely to encounter on a weekend trip to Black Rocks. Shame really as it has some of the best lines on grit. If you fancy it go during the week or evening, outside holidays.
nathanlee - 29/Jul/11
It was ever thus... Lots of names carved into the rock on the top - some of it quite artistic, some of it "AB luvs CD" etc. Some of it very new and some has been there for generations. Yobs? Not really, but plenty of weekend gawpers..."Oh look there's one! There's one!" Was the cry when the little group appeared on the skyline and pointed at us. Shame about the litter - lots of this. If you can put up with being gawped at then you will find some tough testpieces in a reather testing environment. The grades are a little less than generous for grit but there are some fantastic routes. A friend of mine once remarked that no birds sing at Black Rocks...nothing sinister about that - it's just that the sound of dogs, prams, bikes, shrieking people and cars drowns them out. Enjoy!
Rampikino - 18/Oct/10
Rough, round, big, ugly, hard and unforgiving, everything gritstone should be! One of the best gritstone crags in the Peak for hard climbing. If you want your grit technique to improve its a toss up between here, or the cowperstone. Shame about the yobs, i reckon you get an extra 'E' point for each empty can of stella you get thrown at you whilst ur on the lead.
tom allsop - 13/Oct/09
Taught climbing to an old friend there today. I was embarrassed with the rubbish, fosters cans and broken glass everywhere. Apart from that, there are some great routes, probably not the best crag for teaching a beginner on though...
Mattu - 22/Jun/09
Yes its a bit green on the off side but never mind, great climbs, sunset view point after the rounded gritstone struggles. To the people who post 'wont be returning to this one' good riddance dont come back!! xxx
ktmdave - 08/May/08
Went on sunday, beautiful day for climbing unfortunately most of the climbing here was poor. Obviously underclimbed as everything apart from the birch tree wall area was very green and slippery and most of the routes up to VS on birch tree wall were very polished. Shame as what we did do had a lot of potential and some of the routes are pretty high for gritstone. Still probably won't come back here again - at least the reports of Chav's and beer cans proved unfounded.
timbo - 31/Aug/05
went on saturday,took children to it,had an excellent day,no yobs of people,would go again
rachel - 06/Jun/05
Not impressed at all. Most of it very very green despite being June, sadly defaced by names cared into the rock, and frequented by grubby chavs swigging from cans of lager in the middle of the day who appear to think nothing of littering the place with their empties. Safe to say that we won't be coming back.
Dave - 05/Jun/05
An excellent crag - can be abit wet on the north facing area but loads of excellent routes and bouldering (with a mat) - it is sometimes abit litter strewn but i've never had problems with yobs throwing cans either (i feel i'm missing out!)
mark pollak - 31/Jul/04
Some excellent routes, but the crag suffers more than most from local yobs leaving litter, and from large groups of top-roping kids with dirty trainers damaging the routes :(
Nick Smith - 12/Jul/04
My local crag for the last 30 years and despite climbing there literally hundreds of times I always find it to be one of my favourite gritstone crags and not once in all those years have I ever seen anyone carving their name in the rock or throwing cans off the top. It has to be said though that some of the carvings are quite ingenious, the weeing donkey being a favourite with my children.
jonathan shepherd - 11/Jul/04
This crag is ideal for novices to experts, best avoided on weekends when total idiots decide to take hours chiselling their names into the face whilst drinking Stella and hurling their cans upon anyone attempting some of the excellent climbs! Watch out for broken glass on the ledges and make sure the cracks are clear before you hand-jam.
Stephen Farrer - 11/Jun/04
The first derbyshire gritstone crag I laid eyes on and it was enough to get me addicted! Found alot of the VS level routes absolutely nails and Stonis crackspat me off atleast four times. Ten years later I got back on it and it is still hard. My mate got his foot stuck in it for five minutes!! Prom traverse is one of my favourite routes..... Indeed an excellent crag.
Dave Evans - 08/Jun/04
BU - 26/Aug/03
A beast of a place. Some execellent routes, albeit a bit green in places. Easy access with nearby car parking below the crag. Shame about all the carvings in the rocks by mindless morons.
DS - 26/Jun/03
On reading my old diary from 1947 I see where Birch Tree Wall was a real bugger. As I remember it it was a lay-back up the crack but the slopping ledge to the left was a worse bugger,no hand holds 54 years ago I still remember sticking my hand in a crack then twisting it for a hold. Feeling sharp one early morning I detirmine to do her without a rope I nearly became religist that morn. Other climbs in my diary is Palm tree gally and groove, Lean\'s Ordinary,Q.P.slap,I dare say on the end of a rope.
Ralph H. Brailsford - 31/Aug/02
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Climbs at this crag

Climb name Grade
  Angel Boulder
2 Easy Arête V0+ 4
3 Megalythic Man
V6 1
4 Neanderthal V4 3
5 Angel Delight V7 1
6 Easier Arête f2 2
  Incline Cuttings
8 My Pet Daddy E5 6a * 1
9 Article 50 f6B+  
10 School Run f4 3
11 Dad Dancing f5 3
12 Strictly Dad Dancing f6A 1
13 From the Incline to the Ridiculous f6C 2
  Far East Buttress
15 Hot Dog Sniffer E6 6a ** 5
16 Raffles E3 5b 2
  Midway Buttress/Near Near East Buttress
18 Easterner E1 5b  
19 Original Route VS 4b 1
  Near East Buttress
21 Slab and Table HVD 3
22 Are We Nearly There Yet? E1 5b  
23 East Arête S * 8
  Upper Rocks
25 Crack and Face V0+ 28
26 Valerie Ann, I'm Desperate Dan V0- 26
27 Ruby V0+ 23
28 Easy Slab V0- 27
29 Amethyst Deceiver f6C 1
30 Dolly V3 * 12
31 Ledge Climb V2 12
32 Maybelle V2 ** 7
33 AP V1 21
34 The Clam V1 28
35 Dockers Oyster f5+ 3
36 Flaked Slab V0- 17
37 King Edward V9 *** 14
38 Bailey's Hoe f7A 5
  New Year Buttress
40 Marmotte E5 6b  
41 Hush VS 4c * 11
42 V.J. Crack VS 4c 3
43 Benjamin Bicklesthwaite E4 6a  
44 East Crack S 3c 19
45 Mental Pygmy E3 6a * 2
46 New Year Buttress HVD * 65
  Queen's Parlour
48 Rastafarianism E3 5c  
49 Queen's Parlour Slab VS 4b ** 123
50 Queen's Parlour Gully VD ** 248
51 Original Route HVD 3c ** 82
52 Queen's Parlour Chimney HS 4b * 43
53 DynoMight E7 6b *  
54 The Raunge HS 4b 1
55 Moonchild E7 6c *  
56 Pine Tree Gully D 36
57 Birch Tree Climb HVD 10
58 Pirate's Staircase M 19
59 Green Crack HVS 5a * 8
60 Black Crack VS 4c ** 40
61 Stonnis Pinnacle HD * 6
  Central Buttress
63 Central Buttress HVD 3c *** 244
64 Central Buttress Direct E1 5a * 55
65 Central Buttress Chimney VS 4c * 13
66 Soft Rush E6 6a * 1
67 Blind Man's Crack HVD 4a * 120
68 Blind Man's Buttress HVD 4a * 31
69 Left Promontory Gully D 3a 67
  The Promontory
71 Rope Trick E2 5c ** 1
72 Vikings in a Sea of Sweat E2 5c  
73 Longships E2 5c * 2
74 Firebird E2 5c ** 21
75 The Bounder E1 7a  
76 Prominent Tory Reverse E2 5c ** 1
Climb name Grade
77 Meshuga E9 6c *** 9
78 Easy Exit E1 5b * 4
79 Pog's Wall E4 6b  
80 A Day at the Prom E4 6b *  
81 Kit Kat E3 6a * 1
82 Promontory Traverse E1 5b *** 74
83 Lucky Jim HVS 5a  
84 Twisted Smile E1 5b * 3
85 Right Promontory Gully M 100
86 Right Promontory Rib S 4a 3
87 Green Wall HS 4c 1
  Stonnis Buttress to Lean Man's Climb
89 Silicosis E2 5c  
90 Garden Wall Traverse VS 4c 1
91 Stonnis Arête Variations VD 4a * 32
92 Stonnis Arête HVD 4a ** 214
93 The Eighth Fold E6 6c * 1
94 Ladykiller Peak E3 6b  
95 Fireworks for the Blind E4 6a 2
96 Stonnis Crack HS 4b ** 441
97 Discombobulator E5 6c ** 5
98 Caught Smiling E6 7a *  
99 Sand Buttress VS 4c *** 367
100 Untoward E5 6b * 2
101 Sand Gully D * 94
102 Right-hand Exit HVD * 12
103 Camel Hot E6 6b *** 9
104 The Indirect Start E2 6a * 10
105 Lean Man's Climb VS 5a *** 258
106 Feeding the Pony E8 6c * 1
  Fat Man's Area
108 Unlucky for Some E3 6a  
109 The Superstitious Start HVS 5b * 8
110 Lean Man's Superdirect VS 5a *** 90
111 Fat Man's Chimney D *** 113
112 Branch Chimney M 70
113 Cider Frenzy E3 6a  
114 Lean Man's Eliminate VS 4c * 18
115 The Nuage Traveller E3 5c  
116 Gomorrah E1 6a 4
117 The Sprain E2 5b * 54
118 Liquid Abs E5 6b * 1
119 Smears for Ears f7A+ ** 2
120 Goodmotorfinger E5 6c *  
121 Badmotorfinger E5 6c * 7
122 Smeerkat f6B+ 3
  Finale Wall
124 Twin Cracks VD 49
125 Finale Wall HVS 4b 11
126 Curtain Call E1 5b * 44
127 Finale Wall Direct E2 5b * 20
128 Cybertron Mission E6 6b 3
129 Chancery Slab VS 4c 18
130 Lawyer's Left-hand Finish HS 4b  
131 Lawyer's Chimney HVD 28
132 Chancery Groove M 6
133 Our Kid E4 5c 3
134 Slanted and Enchanted E6 6b *  
135 Jammed Stone Chimney VS 5a 5
  Birch Tree Wall
137 Gayer f6C 12
138 Goya f7C * 7
139 Curved Crack HS 4b * 91
140 Noah's Ark VS 4b 16
141 Curve Ball f6B ** 4
142 Taxi to the Crag f7B ** 17
143 Kra S'Haon VS 4b 32
144 Gaia E8 6c *** 30
145 Harder Faster E9 7a ** 1
146 Through the K-hole E7 6b * 1
147 Curving Arête E5 6b *** 18
148 Bring Back the Birch E5 6a  
149 Birch Tree Wall Variations HVS 5a ** 270
150 Birch Tree Wall - Variation Start VS 4c ** 12
151 Birch Tree Wall - Variation Finish HVS 5b *** 17
152 Birch Tree Wall VS 4c *** 555
Climb name Grade
153 Desert Island Disco f6C * 10
154 Birch Tree Wall Direct VS 5a *** 92
155 Birch Tree Wall Eliminate E4 6a * 8
156 The Critic E3 5c *  
157 Demon Rib E3 5c ** 58
158 Lone Tree Groove VS 5a ** 587
159 Lone Tree Gully S 4a ** 603
160 Occam's Raisin E5 6b * 2
161 Route 66 f7C * 3
162 Pseudonym E5 6b ** 16
163 Speedy Gonzales V8+ 1
164 The Devil is in the Details E7 7a ** 2
165 Hat Trick f7A ** 32
166 Non Stick Vicar f7B+ * 4
167 Black Book Jon E7 6c **  
168 Fun Traverse E4 6b ** 11
169 South Gully Rib HS 4b 44
170 South Gully HVD 4a 212
171 South Corner HVS 4c * 57
172 Runnel Rib f6B+ * 13
173 Bad Hair Day E4 6b * 20
174 Fat Girl Rodeo f7B * 1
175 The Runnel E3 6b ** 31
176 Slab End D 220
177 Slab End Right-hand Side VD 4
  The Block
179 Diagonal S 5a 20
180 Shredded Feet E3 6b * 4
181 Small Things E6 6c * 3
182 Golden Days E3 6a ** 83
183 Jumpin' on a Beetle f7B ** 19
184 The Angel's Share f7C *** 16
185 Velvet Silence f7A+ *** 26
186 Make it Slappy f7B+ ** 1
187 Tree Crack HVS 5b 13
188 Excellent Socks HVS 5b 1
189 Damp S 4b 5
190 Dry S 4a 12
191 Tree Crack Traverse f6B+ 1
  Railway Boulder
193 Percy f6A 53
194 Percy and the Fat Controller f6B+ * 2
195 Henry f6A+ 59
196 The Fat Controller f6B * 28
197 Trevor f5+ * 152
198 Thomas f6B 43
199 Thomas Eliminate f6C+ 7
200 Toby V0- * 125
201 Gordon f3+ 151
202 Edward f4+ 56
203 Topham T'Hatt f6C 1
  Railway Slab
205 Route 2 Left-hand
V1 * 20
206 Route 2 f4+ * 228
207 Island of Sodor V3+ * 111
208 Route 1 f4 * 289
209 Route 1 Right Side V1 3
210 Duck
M 79
211 Mallard f2+ 52
212 Railway Rib f4+ 35
213 Harold f6B * 11
214 The Buffer f5+ 28
  Quarry Buttress
216 Cracked D 31
217 Crackers E1 5b 2
218 Palooka f6A+ 1
219 Physical Graffiti E3 6b 2
220 Southpaw f6A 2
221 Obverse VD 14
222 J Low f6B+ 1
  Swamp Area
224 Local Nightlife f6B 3
225 Swamp Thing f5 2
226 Muskeg f5 2
227 Swamp Fever f5 2
228 Waiting for Emlyn f6A 2

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