In the recent Mediterranean weather the UK has been enjoying, Alan Cassidy, The Climbing Academy (TCA) Glasgow manager and Scottish strongman, has made a number of border raids to Dove Crag (Dovedale), in the Lake District, and come away with some respectable plunder including two E7s. Alan is no stranger to hard climbing having redpointed Dave Macleod's Metalcore, 8c+, at the Anvil, and onsighted up to E7 including an ascent of Dalriada on the Cobbler last year.
Dove Crag is located in Dovedale, in the Lake District and is home to many classic routes such as Extol (E2), Fast and Furious (E5), Bucket City (E6) and Vlad the Impailer (E7). The crag is made up of two sections the South Buttress which contains routes such as Extol, Hiraeth (E2), and Dovedale Grooves (E1) many of which can be quite dirty. The North Buttress is a great overhanging section of good quality, clean rock and is home to many quality routes of E5 to E8. This part of the crag has been the focus of Alan's border raids over the past month.
UKC caught up with Alan to find out more about his 'Summer of Dove'.
Duncan: Had you been to Dove Crag before? What was it that inspired you to head down to the Lakes when you have loads of good cragging in Scotland?
Alan: My first ever trip to Dove was at the start of July. It's somewhere I have wanted to go to for ages. I remember reading the articles about the last "Summer of Dove" almost 10 years ago when Al Wilson, Steve Crowe et al had totally revamped the crag. Niall McNair & Tony Stone had mentioned the place loads to me as well, conversations seem to go along the lines of "Vlad, Vlad, Vlad...Steep, steep, steep....E7s....sport fitness...you'd love it". At that time though I was onsighting 8a, I had never lead harder than E5 onsight and dismissed it as all being too serious for a wimp like me.
Duncan: What made you keep returning to Dove crag? Was it something in particular about the crag, a single partner who was mega psyched or just coincidence?
Alan: I think it was that combination of clean, hard routes that I felt were achievable and the opportunity with the weather. The setting helps too. While not the most remote it feels like a mountain crag. Bivi-ing out too, that has been brilliant fun and taken me back to my younger days. Dove has really fostered a desire for more trad climbing adventures again. I really would recommend people get up there.
Duncan: Any plans to head back, or to head into the Scottish hills at all?
Alan: Yes and yes. Like I said I want to tick the crag. Its time for a Dove E8 I guess. The weather might spare me from the fright though, as I write the standard summer rain has returned. In fact I have had the Gary Latter guides out today, there are a lot of Scottish E7s I fancy a tickle of now. I'm inspired to put in the cleaning shift now too. Al has made me feel I should be doing my bit too. Unlike Dove though, where you know things have seen ascents, so many of the hard Scottish routes have barely seen a repeat.
You can follow Alan's climbing on his blog: Alan Cassidy Climbing