"gales and storms forecast, lets go camping!"

June 23rd, 2008 by pebbles

"Rare summer gales lash Britain" Yup, with superb timing we chose this weekend to go and camp in the wilds of Northumberland. By the time we heard the grim forecasts we were already psyched up for the weekend so in a triumph of wild optimism over common sense off we went. Well, the forecasts had been wrong every day of the week so far…

Simon announced plans to get up at 5.30 am in order to make the most of the day before the forecast rain. Coincidentally I actually did wake at 5.15 am and briefly considered giving him his alarm call, but decided against it on the grounds that I couldnt climb with broken bones.

Some hours later we all arrived at Great Wanney Crag, an imposing cliff either 20 minutes walk from the road, or well over an hour if you were naive enough to follow the guidebook directions, which is why me and Rob arrived at the crag over an hour after Simon, Carmen and Peter. We started off cautiously, having read dire warnings about undergraded Northumbrian routes, but soon decided the grading wasn't bad, and mighty deeds were done, Simon Carmen and Rob draped in fetching midge nets (the little $%^^ers were fierce).


Rob led Great Wall, HVS 5b, and Simon and Carmen led Idiot's Delight, HS 4c, which they liked so much that they both took turns to lead it. Boundary Corner (VD), Great Chimney (VD), Main Wall (MS) and Squeezy Bill (Diff) were also done and then Annie arrived so she and Peter went round the corner to do some routes. Then the monsoon arrived and we spent the rest of the day on cafe/snooze/pub.

Two notes about the pub:

1) It turns out not one of us can play pool

2) Whenever Annie managed to pot a ball her whoop could be heard over a greater distance than the eruption of Krakatoa.

The end of the monsoon and start of a howling gale was announced by two huge claps of thunder in the very early morning. We dismantled out tents with difficulty, except for Annie who had spent the night sleeping under the parcel shelf in her car, then Peter and Annie headed off for a walk while me Rob Carmen and Simon headed for East Woodburn, a small but south facing sandstone crag we hoped might be dry. We all really liked this crag – a five minute walk in, lovely rock with loads of friction, fine flutings and lots of interesting flakes, knobs and pockety holds. Rob did a fine lead of Capstone Wall, E1 5b which me Simon and Carmen then tried to follow. Carmen and Simon managed in fine style, I failed miserably to get past the lower moves out of the cave without anti gravity from my belayer. Other ascents included ooh, lots, we got a good day's climbing in despite it blowing a hooley on the crag tops. I onsighted Foxey VS 4c cleanly after encouragement by Rob, which I was very pleased about as my last efforts at Ilkley were a complete debacle, and Simon had a fine epic on it due to missing a crucial handhold but eventually topped out. Then the poxy rain returned and we legged it back to our homes and dry clothes.

Simons pics at http://climbing.me.uk/Bellingham/index.html

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