UKC

Climbs 68
Rocktype Limestone
Altitude 60m a.s.l
Faces N

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Onwards and upwards...? © Anaconda

Crag features

Whilst some may only visit the lower-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, in particular, the left hand end of the Garden Wall is delightful on a sunny summer evening.  For those with an investigative 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 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 has also experienced long term visits by the local caving club.  Collectively, this has resulted in the addition of many bolts (mostly glue-in staples) in the four eastern sectors, both in a regimented way on fully geared lines and in a more sporadic way on what are now 'mixed' lines, some of which were originally established 'bolt-free' by the 1960s Exeter Climbing Club pioneers.  A bolted Via Ferrata and some supplementary high level staples have also been established on the Western Wall.  The outdoor centre moved away in 2010 and an associated dispute resulted in a number of cut staples in both areas which are seriously weakened and should not be expected to act as reliable runners.  The caving club continue to visit and if they are on manoeuvres in a particular locality they have preference, climb somewhere else and come back another day.  

The Garden Wall left of Collosus cave remains bolt free.  Some routes follow lines of weakness in the rock and/or cross breaks and are adequately protected.  Others include some sobering run-outs and also require some shothole gear; these provide an exciting challenge for those with the inclination and give an insight into the world of the 1960s climbers.  Pre-inspection and tidy-up on abseil is suggested for lines which see little traffic, as necky climbing is no fun with leaf litter on key holds and ivy incursion on the crux...  On those lines, as at any other venue, any in-situ pegs should be considered with circumspection, some of them date back to the 1960s/70s. 

             
Some climbs are lost to vegetation and these are noted as such. The area is a SSSI and ecologists sometimes visit the Garden Wall to inspect the ground level mosses, ferns and lichens  A number of 'no star' climbs may not now be restored, as an offset to continued maintenance of the more worthwhile routes in climbable condition.  Any proposals to reclaim routes currently scheduled as unclimbable due to vegetation should be reviewed with the landowner, see approach notes.

Approach notes

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. This near-unique access agreement for climbers stretches back to the 1960s and must be respected.  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, including the cavers who are also there by agreement.  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.  Climbers must not jeopardise the access agreement with any sort of antisocial behaviour. 


Approach:


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 the camping area are up a track on the left; turn right and cross the small camping ground (now infrequently used).  

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