Hathersage, 180 odd miles north of London is a lovely village on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District. Buried within St. Michaels Church are the remains of LIttle John – Robin Hood’s right hand man. According to wikipedia, a chap called James Shuttleworth unearthed a huge thigh bone measuring just over 70cm in length – (some thought that giraffes once roamed the dales) whereas James put two and two together and claimed that these bones were indeed those of the famous outlaw, Little John. Also, Shuttleworth is the name of the street where my flat is located here in London – wonder if theres any connection?
It’s also a great place for Trad Climbing due to the abundance of grit stone crags, all of which dominate the local countryside and it was here that myself and the boys visited during the early part of November to climb the various crags and spend time together under canvas – catching up as we’d not seen each other for over a year.
Leaving London was a nightmare though after a couple of hours we were clear and set about making our way up the M1 eventually arriving at North Lees campsite – a designated National Park Campsite, which is where we met the rest of the guys. Our plan, to spend the weekend climbing the various crags up on Stanage Popular, a popular climbing destination.
The weather over the weekend wasn’t looking too promising and there was a good chance that the majority of our weekend would be spent in the Pub – memories of a previous climbing weekend over in Cheddar and the drunken shenanigans that followed!
Saturday started grey and damp though free of rain so we quickly headed to the crag. Being up so early we were the first there and had the whole crag to ourselves, it was so peaceful though being grey the edge had a foreboding look about it, dark and menacing.
Undeterred we pulled on our berghans and set about the short fifteen minute walk from the car to the climbing area. Opting for something easy, we set about climbing Straight Chimney a 10m VDiff, all of us flying up before the heavens opened and the rain began.
We set up a quick bivvy and got the teas on, hoping that the rain would ease so we could resume our day. Unfortunately the rain stayed so we decided to call it a day and head down in to Hathersage, hopefully avoiding the pub…
Waking early Sunday, the sun was shining and the sky was clear – its times like this where making the effort to get out of London to the crag, makes it all worthwhile – our spirits were lifted and being our last day we quickly collapsed our tents and headed up to the crag to bag as many climbs as possible before finishing and beginning our long journey home.
During the course of the morning we bagged Black Hawk Traverse Left, an 18m VDiff, then moving on to Leaning Buttress Crack, a 14m VDIff – Vodka Dave completing this as his first lead which was an excellent effort on his part. Time was getting on so opted to finish our day on Hollybush Crack, again a 14m VDiff and this is where it all went tits up for me!
Starting off well, I passed the crux fairly easily and was soon halfway up the climb and it was here I really had trouble placing my protection – try as I might, I couldn’t find anywhere I had any confidence in and was quickly becoming quite tired. Frustratingly, the top of the climb as not more than twelve or so feet above me though my nearest protection was four or five feet or so below – a big drop should I take a fall…
It was at this point I decided to climb down though at the same point thinking it’d be a great opportunity for the boys to practise their rescue skills via setting up a top-rope. On hearing my suggestion they fell about laughing, taking great pleasure in my predicament they grabbed cameras and shot some video footage of my ‘rescue’ !
It as a great weekend in what is a beautiful part of the UK and we’re all set to head back there in the spring, hopefully over a bank holiday with a couple of extra days bolted on.