This major crag is somewhat tucked out of sight, deep in the Dale, but that’s really no excuse for never having been there. Somehow, it never had the same allure as Chee Tor, just a mile or so upstream, perhaps because the big name / 3* routes (The Alien E4 6b and Behemoth E5 6b) come with big numbers!
Jake had his eye on the former, so we trundled down for a look. Warming up on St Paul, E2/3, is something of a rude awakening and a very tough reintroduction to Peak trad limestone.
On to the main event, and a fairly easy wall leads to a peg beneath a bulge.
There are a couple more pegs in a break a couple of metres higher, but Jake takes a fair bit of figuring to make the move to clip them (my later inspection, on a very tight rope, established that this was the 6b crux – high reach off a drop knee for a tiny spiky hold then a quick stab for a poor undercling to stop the inevitable barn-door).
A shimmy right on still poor holds leads to a decent layaway and a l-ooo-ng reach for a good jug above the upper bulge. A bit of Wily Coyote foot peddling and you finally reach more reasonable ground. Jake cruised it and I was nowhere near!
The path down to the crag is surprisingly worn, and I wondered if it was evidence of a Peak limestone trad revival, perhaps prompted by the new BMC guide. However, judging by the distribution of the chalk, it’s the recently developed sports routes that are generating the traffic – quite a decent selection of 6c to low 7s routes (we did Freedom is Insane and C’est Plastique, both surprisingly good)
All that effort, just to work up a thirst… Soon quenched by a pint of Farmer’s Blond at The Angler’s Rest