First off, before you head up to the Lakes, as well as checking the weather forecast and the UKC Winter Conditions page you can head over to The Climbers Shop webcam which is trained on the Fairfield Horshoe.
Just down Compston Road from the Climbers Shop there used to be a restaurant called the Epicure, after a £1.5 million refurb this is now the EpiCentre, Ambleside's newest climbing and outdoor shop, a collaboration between Stuart 'Woody' Wood and Bradshaw and Taylor. Woody is a well known climbing character in the Lakes and managed the old Rock and Run and then made a success of the Mountain Factor. Construction, overseen by Woody, began last summer when the building was completely gutted.
Since then the building has been transformed and has to be seen to be believed. There are 4 floors, 6,000 square feet of floor space, a large slate extension has been added, oak trusses, cedar panelling, glass floors, a mezzanine; all top notch construction that has kept a whole crew of Ambleside craftsmen busy for the last 6 months.
The EpiCentre will have the now common 'shop within a shop' including a floor devoted to Mountain Hardwear and Patagonia, one to Icebreaker and Royal Robbins, and will stock Scarpa, Accapi and Keen shoes. The basement is being left as a surprise but Woody said that it may rock the boat!
When Steve Ashworth isn't at the Epicentre he's either out running (or with his family) or on the ice and with conditions getting better by the day in the Lakes Steve has been out new routing, he says on his blog the mixedmaster.blogspot.com "I have been out at a new crag today with Brian Davison and my Dad. It was a high NW facing crag we did 3 new routes; a grade 2, a III 4 and a VI 6, there's plenty more to go at so the exact location shall remain a mystery."
One new route that isn't a mystery was climbed by British Mountain Guide, Adrian Nelhams and Tim Lofthouse on Monday 21st December on the north facing Neckband Crag, Great Langdale. Taking advantage of the heavy snow and low freezing conditions Aidy and Lofty climbed a line around the central overhang that they and others had looked at often but had never been in nick.
Adrian sent us this description.
FWA - Forked Tongue VII 40m ***
Climb The Gizzard for 6m to an obvious thread. Traverse left for 2m past the obvious spike to beneath the steep wall and turfy crack of Adams Apple. Strenuous climbing tackles the steep wall and turfy crack above, to where it finishes beneath the main overhang. An awkward and exposed step left then leads into the top of Tonsure. Finish up Tonsure over a steep bulge and easier climbing via a rightward trending ramp line to the belay.
Check this Winter forum thread out for the latest conditions... Topic - Lake District Snow/Ice Conditions
If you are in the area climbing and walking and are in need of a cafe stop, Lakes Climber and Runner in Ambleside have just opened a cafe upstairs above the shop. Some may remember this was the location of Wilf's cafe when the premises was Rock and Run, before Wilf moved to Staveley. The new cafe is called Bilbo's Cafe after Martin Bagness a co-owner of Lakes Climber and Runner. I can testify that food is good and very reasonably priced.
As a result, significant changes are being proposed at the Ambleside campus. It remains committed to preserving its presence at such an important location however the campus is not considered sustainable and financially viable to continue to run in its current form and the university needs to look at re-profiling the site in a different way to deliver different activity.
The key aspects of the re-profiling of Ambleside are as follows.
These measures are expected to save the university up to £2 million pounds.
Vice Chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery said: “We are living in difficult times, and like many other organisations, have tough decisions to make."
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