Altitude 60m a.s.l
Onwards and upwards...? © Anaconda
Although some will only be lured to the low-grade sport climbs at the eastern end, there is much more to the venue. The quarried rock has enough cracks, fissures and flowstone to deliver some fine gear-protected routes and the left hand end of the Garden Wall is delightful on a sunny summer evening. For those with an exploratory outlook it is an enjoyable place to explore and most lines can be easily inspected and tidied up on abseil if an on-sight doesn't appeal. The friction and climbing style on the Eastern Area routes can feel a bit unnerving on first aquaintance, a steady approach pays dividends in that sector.
The crag is generally north-facing and with some patchy tree cover, so a couple of days of dry weather are generally needed to provide optimum climbing conditions, in particular to dry up the base area of the crag. Many of the routes accumulate dirt and leaf litter over time and starred routes will only live up to their status if they are in tidy condition.
The crag was used by an outdoor activity centre throughout the 2000s and this resulted in the addition of many bolts (mostly staples) in the four eastern sectors. Some patchy staple-bolt placement impacted a few 1960s gear-protected routes in that period. A bolted Via Ferrata was also established on the Western Wall. The outdoor centre moved away in 2010, with some associated dispute resulting in a number of cut staples. These will have been seriously weakened by the damage and cannot be expected to act as reliable runners. More generally, climbers should inspect the condition of any fixed gear carefully and should exercise judgement on reliability.
Some climbs are lost to vegetation and these are noted as such. The area is a SSSI and a number of 'no star' climbs may not now be restored, as an ecological offset to maintenance of the more worthwhile routes in climbable condition. Ecologists sometimes visit the Garden Wall to inspect the ground level mosses, ferns and lichens.
The North Face is within The Rock Gardens, the grounds of a private house. The land is under the long term ownership of the Boulton family, who remain very supportive of climbing. You may be allowed to camp in the grounds, see contact detail below.
The Boultons have three conditions for visiting climbers:
1. You must let them know that you are coming to climb; call John Boulton on 07771280535. If he doesn't answer, leave a voicemail being specific about numbers of climbers and time of access and who the main contact is for the party. Primarily, John just needs to be aware of who is on their property; there are other land users as well as climbers.
2. You must have third party liability insurance, such as that offered with BMC membership; and
3. You should normally park on Rock Lane and walk in from there, see below.
Climbers are fortunate to have access to this private land and must be courteous in all dealings with the Boultons and anyone else they meet on the land, in particular local cavers who sometimes use the Eastern Area for SRT and aid climbing practice. The gardens are also used by campers and tenants of Rock House; the safety of these third parties is of the utmost importance and the removal of any loose rock must be very carefully managed. Above all, climbers must not jeopardise the access agreement with any sort of antisocial behaviour.
Either: 1. Park on Rock Lane and walk in from there, following the same path as for the South Face climbing area. Using this approach, turn right through a gate at the point where the stone circle comes into view, then go leftwards down a set of steps towards the crags. The small crag near the stone circle is the Far Eastern Buttress.
Or: 2. Only with the prior agreement of the Boultons, you may be able to park at Rock House or in the camping area. From the parking area by the house, the Garden Wall and Western Wall are down a path behind the house. The four eastern area sectors and he camping area are up a track on the left; turn right and cross the small camping ground.
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