Many shades of Grit

Not a racey page-turner, but a quick look back at a week’s visits to 5 different grit crags, and the amazing contrast offered by more or less the same rock spread over the Dark Peak. Our itinerary has been partly dictated by the Rucksack Club meets programme, with Wednesday evening at Wharncliffe and Saturday on Dovestones Tor, and partly in helping to fill out some gaps in the action shots for a forthcoming guide (thanks to Paul for the inspiration and perspiration behind trips to Agden Rocher, The Roaches and New Mills Torrs). No spoiler pics from the latter I’m afraid!

Agden Rocher is a really under-appreciated crag, in a gorgeous away-from-it-all setting, with a sunny outlook though a lot of tree cover. Three very worthwhile E1s: Conjunctus Viribus, Asteris and Pollux, all on generally sound rock (contrary to popular mythology) with a Millstone feel, and all of which would be fit to grace that far more celebrated venue.

On to Wharncliffe for the evening shift, and a fine turnout of Rucksackers – a somewhat disjointed crag of many small buttresses in a scruffy urban / post industrial setting, but a fine spot for a sunny evening and with a number of absolute gems to be discovered, on heavily featured high-friction grit. Himmelswillen is worth 3*s anywhere, and Alpha and Beta are a joy.

The Roaches needs no introduction and the grit takes on a reddish hue and is carved into majestic shapes overlooking Tiddesworth Reservoir and the Staffordshire greenery (photo from last year). Getting polished on some of the uber classics such as Saul’s Crack and Right Route, in complete contrast to the rest of the crags this week.

Talking of contrast, you couldn’t ask for a more different crag than our next stop at The Torrs: almost subterranean, tucked in a gorge hidden beneath the town and with a wealth of steepness and the occasional worrying hold. It’s one of my favourite local haunts, not least because it’s climbable when nowhere else is (not that that’s a problem on this balmy summer afternoon). Here’s Paul jugging up Mather Crack to get a shot of me on Electric Circus – both routes that are considerably easier with a bit of familiarity.

Back to the escoteric for the weekend and another good turnout of Rucksackers at Dovestones Tor. This is the centrepiece of the climbing on the fine Derwent Edge, with magnificent views of the Edale Skyline and beyond. The 45 minutes approach is enough to put off the crowds, and it suffers a little from seepage and vegetation as a consequence, but the rock architecture is quite unique in the Peak – especially the fiercely overhanging Great Buttress with its continuously surprising supply of juggy pockets and flakes. GB itself is well worth the Top 50 badge, and well worth the walk!

There you go: Five crags, one rock (some would have you believe it’s the only rock worth climbing on!) and lots of fun!

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