A Grand Day Out 15: the golden sensual silence of the moor

by Adam Bradley Mar/2009
This article has been read 2,124 times
Stanage Edge in the December evening sun
The chattering of a tiny trickle of water is an appealing sound; it draws the senses in – entices you to scour the landscape, peering behind boulders and tufts of purple heather to find the source of the noise.

Got it. There, a glistening stream runs busily down the rough gritstone and splashes down onto brown earth, throwing errant drips off into the bracken fronds, sparkling as they fly in the winter sun. The rock is glazed with a patina of ice, etched into one of nature's perfect patterns.

Beside the icy stream is a blaze of white, glaring out in the sunshine against the dark, lichen speckled rock. You examine it more closely, interrogating the blight. Your eyes had deceived you – it is not ice, but chalk; a remnant of the summer, of long warm days when the voices of climbers rang out and the heat of the sun ebbed from the stone long after the light had died away. Reaching out a gloved hand and brushing the coarse rock under your fingers you feel a sharp, positive edge disguised under the chalky mask.

Your eyes are drawn further up and all becomes clear – the water traces the easy path down the rock, a natural line borrowed by generations of climbers as they battled up the face. In a different season the gullies of ice become bold laybacks and the damp, slippery pockets invite reassuring cams. But for now the handholds along the route are picked out only with a hint of chalk-dust, not yet taken by the bitter, icy wind.

For this is winter – the rope and rack hang on a nail at home, warmed not by the summer sun but by the oil-fired heating. Your hands are wrapped closely in Gore-Tex and a warm woolly hat covers your head. December is a time for walking, not for climbing.

You look beyond the nearby crag, out along the scar of Stanage edge, a ragged step in the moorland. As the sun sinks low on the horizon it bathes the rocks in the ruddy orange light of the early evening, patches of snow and ice glinting in the dark shadows. A dog barks in the far distance, but otherwise there is silence.

The nearness of these timeless routes imparts to you a feeling of impatience, of longing for the warmth of spring and the luxury of another long season of climbing. But that will bring the hordes here too. Standing here at the foot of the crag as the day draws to an end you drink in the golden sensual silence of the moor, remote from the stresses of your life.

For now, at least, Stanage is yours, and yours alone.

The list of entries so far is below (closing date for entries is Midnight on Monday 9th March):

Click to read individual articles in this series:


A Grand Day Out is another creative competition and a chance to express yourself and share your adventures.


A Grand Day Out, 154 kb
image © Mick Ryan

Forums ( Read more )

Staff Picks

Jul 2016

thumb Dave Birkett: a name synonymous with hard Lakeland mountain trad climbs. A dark horse who has rarely sought media attention, but... Read more

What's Hot Right Now

28 Sep 2017

thumb The tables are turned as 80s legend and routesetter Mark 'Zippy' Pretty declines an interview and offers to interrogate Andy... Read more

Top Spot: Climbing Destination

Oct 2013

thumb Heather Florence chooses some of the UK's finest multipitch routes in the lower to mid grades. Spanning the length of the... Read more