Altitude 278m a.s.l
15-year-old Toru Nakajima climbing Gaia © alex ekins
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 arêtes, 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.
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.
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
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.