23 December 2010

Heading south...

I'm down in Preston at the moment so that I can do the whole family Christmas thing. On the way south I called in at Trowbarrow for another session on the Red Well. My main objective was to send Shallow Grave (Font 7a+); I felt extremely close to getting it on my previous visit, and if I was successful on this occasion it would have been my hardest boulder problem to date.

About to rock over on The Classic Rock Over (Font 4).

I warmed up on a couple of problems I had sent before and also got a few other problems ticked, after finding another topo on Lakes Bloc this morning, before turning my attention, just as the sun started to dip behind the horizon, to Shallow Grave.

Blaming it on the footwear: changing shoes in the hope of getting more purchase on a foothold.

Catching the last hold after changing shoes.

Unfortunately I didn't send Shallow Grave and after a few more half-hearted attempts, which left my middle finger of my right hand screaming for a rest, I gave it up as a bad job and continued south to Preston.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

20 December 2010

Beaten by the cold... Eventually...

Looking across to Skiddaw from Derwent Water.

Looking over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale.

I was over in Keswick today and had planned on having a short session at the Bowderstone before heading back towards Carlisle. However, the cold has finally thwarted my plans of climbing on actual rock for an entire year. Not only was it unbearably cold on the hands and feet, there was also ice hanging off the Bowderstone's Ladder Face. I did pull off the ground on Statstick (Font 7a), but gave the session up as a bad job when I couldn't actually feel what I was standing on, or holding on to.

The starting holds of Bowderiser (Font 7a) covered in ice.

Icicles hanging from the top of the Bowderstone's Ladder Face.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

15 December 2010

Some more winter bouldering...

About to start the descent through St. Bees' sandstone cliffs.

I headed west today to that safe winter bouldering venue, St Bees. It is always a safe bet for bouldering in the winter months and the temperatures are usually very agreeable and it didn't disappoint today.

Block Traverse (V4).

I repeated several problems in the Apiary Arete Area, before eventually ticking a line, I had worked for a very long time on my first trip to the sandstone blocks. Since then I have never had the urge to go back and try it.

Apiary Arete (V1 5c).

I also gave Fruits de Mer (V8) another bash. I eventually had to walk away from it, not having got the tick; the conditions weren't perfect, but I also appear to have lost some crimp strength; I couldn't contemplate making the move off the sloping dish to the arete, whilst holding a small crimp with the right hand. This is a move I've been close to sticking on a previous visit, which frustrated me slightly. Even so it was a nice way to spend a day

Fruits de Mer (V8).

More pictures of the day can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

12 December 2010

A New Tick at the Bowderstone

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

09 December 2010


The weather in Cumbria has remained decidedly arctic for the past fortnight and today I was off canoeing with the University. We had been told to bring kit for heading off into the mountains to enjoy the snow, but we also had our canoeing kit. We decided to make use of this canoeing kit by heading to the River Eden to paddle the Lazonby to Armathwaite section.

An ice chocked River Eden at Lazonby.

We left a vehicle at Armathwaite and the river was frozen. It wasn't frozen from bank to bank; there was a channel through the middle stanchion of the Armathwaite Bridge so we headed upstream to the get in where we were greeted with an ice chocked river. However, it was flowing so we got on and headed off downstream.

Trying to make downstream progression through the frozen River Eden.

We were doing quite well, making our way downstream, until we came to one rapid. We ran the rapid and then were greeted with a river wide iceberg. We applied the power, road up over the ice and came to a grinding stop. For the next thirty minutes we smashed, slid and sweated our way through the ice blockade, back to the bank to reassess the situation.

In training for the North Pole: heading back to the minibus after admitting defeat with the frozen River Eden.

After assessing the situation we decided we were onto a looser, having only made a kilometer of downstream progression, and we were about to enter a section of river which hardly gets any sun, meaning more ice. In order to escape from our little predicament we turned the canoes into sledges, and acted as a pack of huskies in order to drag the canoes for a kilometer, back up river, to the awaiting minibus.

More pictures of the day can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

06 December 2010

A Wintry Bouldering Session

A wintry Trowbarrow Quarry.

I said yesterday that I would be heading north from Preston to catch a 2pm lecture. I did exactly that and on the way I popped into Trowbarrow Quarry for a quick bouldering session. It was extremely cold, with snow on the ground, and at times extremely foggy, but the rock was perfectly dry and once I'd got past the numb, cold hands, and the accompanying hot aches, I had a really productive session.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

05 December 2010

Keeping with Tradition

I'm down in Preston for a few days and keeping with tradition I managed to call in at Craig Y Longridge for a couple of hours bouldering on the short, overhanging, quarried gritstone wall.

Looking towards Longridge from the top of Craig Y Longridge.

It was unbelievably cold so I quickly sent ten easy (VB-V0) problems as a warm up before repeating a couple of harder (V2) lines and flashing an even harder (V3) problem, which I videoed.

After this I had a good rest before getting back on Gruts, which is a pumpy V3 traverse along a short section of the crag. I came extremely close to sending this on my previous visit and I eventually ticked it off today. I did capture some video of me working the problem, but I forgot to press the record button to capture the final send! Oops.

Then this afternoon we went for a stroll down the side of the River Ribble.

The afternoon sun burning through the fog.

A cloud inversion over the River Ribble, with the tower blocks of Preston behind.

I'm heading back up north tomorrow morning and am thinking of stopping off for a boulder on Trowbarrow's Red Wall before a 2pm lecture at University. Lets hope the weather holds out a bit longer.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

30 November 2010

A Wintry Photo Shoot

On Monday I was invited out on a photo shoot with one of the students on the University of Cumbria's Adventure and Media Degree course. I decided against heading out on Monday, but after getting snowed in, in Penrith on Monday night we heading out on Tuesday with camera in hand, bouldering mats on our backs and ropes in our bags so that we could get that winning shot.

Walking along the banks of the River Eden to Armathwaite's Sandy Bay.

The location of the shoot was Armathwaite's Sandy Bay and after fixing two ropes from the top of the cliffs, I set to working the handful of problems I have come to know very well, whilst photo's were taken from many different angles, and with many different lenses, from the two fixed ropes.

At the dead point whilst reaching for the rail on Problem 3 (V3).

Photographing Problem 3 (V3).

To say winter is upon us, and there are many inches of snow carpeting the ground, the Sandy Bay area was remarkably warm, but this was only on the occasions when the sun could beat down on us uninterrupted. However, when the clouds filled the sky, and snow started to fall, the temperatures certainly plummeted.

About to make the wide move out to the sidepull/undercut on Problem 4 (V4).

Trying to capture the action on Problem 4 (V4).

I may have Armathwaite's Sandy Bay more times than I can remember, but there are some very nice problems, with some strenuous moves, and this makes it an extremely good training venue. However, it was also nice to be down besides the river, enjoying the wintry weather whilst messing around on the rock, playing with ropes and expensive cameras.

More pictures of the photo shoot can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

27 November 2010

Winter is upon us...

Looking across the fen to Matfen Hall Hotel.

I've been working over in the North-East today and, after battling for an hour through the snow, I made it, on time, to Go Ape Matfen, where a couple of customers braved the weather for a two-and-a-half hour high wire forest adventure. It was an impressive site; a snow covered Go Ape course.

Fern, Go Ape! Matfen's chainsaw carved sculpture, and a snow covered Site 2.

A customer descending Site 4's zip wire.

Looking towards Site 5's Landing Site.

The afternoon sun illuminating the snowy forest.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

26 November 2010

And now for some climbing...

Looking out from the base of the G-Spot Sector, Giggleswick South.

It appears that I have managed to get nearly all of the outdoor activities I engage with into just three days. On Wednesday I went walking, yesterday I went paddling, and today I went climbing on the bolted cliffs of Giggleswick South.

Match Play (F5+).

I repeated a hand full of routes I ticked on a previous visit before taking a good rest and going for the onsight of Black Swan Rising, a pumpy F6b. Unfortunately I failed on the third move from the top and it highlights my greatest weakness: stamina. I already knew this before today, and I have known it for a while, it's just the most tedious and boring element of climbing to train and so it gets left behind for power endurance and limit strength training. I suppose I should start making a conscience effort to rectify this problem before spring comes back around.

Cygnet Chewer (F5+).

Once climbing psyche had started to ebb we decided to take a walk up to the G-Spot Sector of Giggleswick South, where one of the hardest sport climbs in the UK can be found, Violent New Breed (F9a+). The guidebook states that the holds are too small to see and they were dead on the money with that comment. I think they might of well said there are no holds, but that doesn't really matter to be honest. What does matter is the setting of this fine little sector. It must be one of the most impressive in the country and it certainly has a mystical atmosphere which left me speechless.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

25 November 2010

Paddling down the River Leven

Paddling under the bridge across the River Leven at Newby Bridge.

Paddling down Mill Force, River Leven.

A beautiful winter's day on the River Leven.

Negotiating one of the small rapids on the River Leven.

Negotiating the Graveyard, River Leven.

More pictures of the day can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

24 November 2010

A bit of a ramble...

Looking across to the Langdales from Rydal Fell.

It's been a long time since I've been out in the hills with the sole purpose of rambling across the fell tops and it was nice to be out in the mountains, exploring their beauty, and admiring their grandeur.

Looking across to the Helvellyn Range from Fairfield.

Our route today took us from Rydal, up to Heron Pike and Great Rigg before reaching Fairfield. From here we headed across to Hart Crag and Dove Crag before starting our descent back to Rydal via High and Low Pike.

Leaving Fairfield behind on the approach to Hart Crag.

There was a bit of snow around on the tops and this made the day even more enjoyable as it certainly adds an extra element to the views over Lakeland. It is also a sign of the air temperature and it was extremely cold, as a bitter wind whipped across the fell tops for the majority of the day.

The fells above Hartsop illuminated in the late afternoon sun.

We were also blessed, because of the late start, with a magnificent light show as the sun made it's final appearance of the day, before disappearing behind Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam. It certainly made the day, one of the most memorable days, I've had out in the fells.

The sun making a final effort to illuminate the fells before dipping below the horizon.

More pictures of the day can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

15 November 2010

Making the most of a nice morning...

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

14 November 2010

A quick blast...

Last night was the final(?) Shap International Kayak Film Festival and after a good night watching both historical, and contemporary, films featuring the Indus River, and an offering from Cody Howard, the kayaking psyche was high. After a night in the back of the van and a full English Breakfast, in a proper trucker's cafe, the classic section of the River Kent was calling.

Mid-morning on the Kent: floating towards the lip of Scroggs Weir.

The rapid marking the start of Gunpowder Gorge, River Kent.

Gunpowder Gorge, River Kent.

The L-Shaped Drop, River Kent.

A visit to this section of the Kent has been long overdue - I think it has been nearly two years - and it was good to be back on a section of river that had become very familiar to me in the past. I could still remember the lines and it was nice to re-familiarise myself with them and get some more time in the boat.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

11 November 2010

Another change in the weather...

Heading off down the Lowther.

I was in university today for a day of canoeing. We started the day off on the River Lowther, but soon gave that up as a bad thing. The river was probably about one or two feet two high for the experience of the group and so we binned that and headed over to Ullswater instead.

Sailing down Ullswater.

Land ahoy. Approaching Pooley Bridge.

Once at Ullswater it seemed that the wind would prove a hindrance, but instead we tied the canoes together, rigged an A-frame and hoisted a sail and headed off, with the wind behind us, towards Pooley Bridge, which took us no time at all.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...