With Jake taking up residence in the White Rose county, we decided to meet up for a Yorkshire Limestone mini-break before he started his first foundation placement. We planned for a two-crag trad itinerary, starting at Gordale, but events had other ideas…
The first setback was the road closure up to Gordale, and the huge volume of cars parked in Malham, which we decided to evade by parking at the Stoney Bank access and dropping down into the Scar from above. After sitting out a couple of hours of rain we seized on an intermission to head forth
We thought we’d played a blinder when the sun came out, but the cunning plan unravelled when we found the waterfall in full spate and completely impassable
As it turned out we’d have been snookered either way, as the heavens opened for another downpour, drenching us and extinguishing any possibility of climbing at Gordale, and with it the trad-plan.
A tactical brew back at the van presented the obvious Plan B (Jake says it was his Plan A all along) – Kilnsey is an all-weather, perma-dry venue (until it gets really wet).
Half an hour over the hill and it looked in great nick. Highway 395, 6c+, represents entry-level Kilnsey; a surprisingly good route but stiff for a warm-up (for me at any rate).
Jake had his eye on a “flash” attempt at Dominatrix, “one of the UK’s great 7c pitches” and with the help of some detailed beta from the local cognesenti he got agonisingly close, falling off the last move. No mistake second time round and a great result retrieved from a potential wash-out.
It’s SO steep!
If you’re in that part of the world I can recommend the beer, food and cheery welcome (not to mention log fire, which was very welcome despite it being July), at the Tennants Arms, just a few hundred yards up the road, and they’ll let you park a van overnight if you ask nicely. Result!
The next day was more promising, which was a relief as we’d sought and been granted permission to access Blue Scar. This is another of the great Yorkshire Limestone bastions, worthy of comparison with Kilnsey, Gordale and Malham, but far less popular than its peers due to a bird ban and complicated access arrangements. The ban, to protect nesting Peregrines, had been lifted early this year (normally 1st August) and with the local farmer having embraced the Internet Age and now accepting requests for access by email, it really isn’t too much of a faff. Mr Walker was very helpful and prompt in replying, (many thanks!) and the good news is that permission now lasts for a whole season – well done to the BMC for brokering such a satisfactory arrangement. Full details on the BMC RAD and also worth reading the approach description on UKC – here’s a bit of a sketch of how we understood the agreed path:
Anyway, it’s a fabulous bit of rock.
There are a few easier trad lines on the left wing, and we warmed up on Some Blue for You, E1, which lived up to its 2* billing with some surprising holds on the blank-looking headwall. Here’s Jake avoiding the battle through the shrubbery at the start.
The main attraction is the Central Wall, though unfortunately the “entry grade” here is E5 and up, including the eponymous “Top 50” offering: Central Wall – A classic Yorkshire E5 with excellent but unnerving climbing.
Jake’s verdict: A really impressive wall, but I didn’t feel the quality of the climbing quite lived up to the quality of the line. A lot of that was probably down to how dirty it was – I don’t think it had been climbed at all recently. It felt fairly solid for E5 in that state – difficult route finding, quite insecure climbing, and small spaced gear. More fun to follow, but it must have been quite a harrowing lead!
We also had a look at the more recently developed sports sectors on the right of the crag and there look to provide some great lines, though they also might benefit from a bit more traffic once the short season gets underway – more to come back and explore.