A tour of Classic British Trad Venues
Today’s my first day back in the office after two weeks on the road with Hot Aches productions, I have been working as chef / basecamp manager touring the country in a big yellow truck with four North Face sponsored climbers, four filmmakers and Andy the driver.
We started the tour on the local sandstone of Bowden Doors, Back Bowden and Great Wanney in Northumberland. Notable routes being James Pearson’s Flash of Crisis Zone E7 6c at Great Wanney, also worth watching are some of the falls taken on Charlottes Dream Direct E7 at Back Bowden with Hazel Findlay nearly landing on Hansjoerg Auer. While the climbers and the filmmakers did battle with Northumberland sandstone and the lovely weather, I spent my time getting use to my new kitchen in our 7 ton truck with 11 people to cook for each day on 3 gas rings and a grill a certain amount of juggling would be required.
After the weekend in Northumberland it was time to head south to North Wales, We based ourselves in Llanberis home of climbing history, with Joe Brown’s shop, Pete’s eats and DMM all in the village and in striking distance of the slate quarries, mountain rhyolite in the pass, dolerite of Tremadog and the sea cliffs of Gogarth. Waking up to rain on the first morning did help us get motivated especially as there was snow on the mountains. After a bit of discussion it was decided for the climbers and filmmakers to head out to Gogarth where blue sky had been spotted and Hazel would on sight The Cad E6 a route she had her eye on for a while. Meanwhile driver Andy and I on sighted the Tesco at Bangor for curry night ingredients, making use of the local slate to cook homemade Nan bread on, and a job that James Pearson was happy to turn his hand too. The following day the crew headed to Tremadog home of the impressive Strawberries a route still awaiting to be on sighted by a British climber, with all four climbers psyched to attack strawberries could this be the day a brit get an on sight. With James first to attack and first to be spat back by strawberries, his attempt was followed by falls by Hazel and Caro, leaving Hans to steal the day and the on sight. Hans being this 3rd person to on sight strawberries and still no British climber. The next day was spent in the strange world of slippy scary slate in Vivian quarry, the slate mines have special feel to them a whole atmosphere of their own a bit of a lord of the rings feel. With Hazel and Caro attacking Gin Palace a bolted route given the French grading 7c and then Caro storming up the classic slate route of Comes the Dervish E3 5c, followed by Hazel Soloing Soap on a Rope E4 6a ,next to the deep dark pool at the base of the quarry. That evening I cooked some lovely locally sourced welsh lamb that had been spiced and marinated with Moroccan flavours over the open fire, it must have been good because Matt one of the trip veggies decided to be carnivorous.
After a flying visit to Pete’s Eats it was time for the crew to roll on heading for Pembroke, it was decided (not by me) that the quickest route to Pembroke would be to leave north wales back into England down the M5 the back into South Wales, this epic took over 10 hours in our big yellow truck never again I shall complain when stuck behind a truck.. As we woke to a more blue sky and sun the epic journey was being to be forgotten, with climbers working routes and checking out location for the following day the rest of us set up camp and enjoyed the sun of South Wales. The next day we all headed to Bosherton Head, that is part of the MOD range with it being a Sunday and no red flags flying it was fine for access. Hans Flashed The Big Softy E7 6c that looked super scary a bit wet, with lack of gear. Return from climbing that evening we were met by an Army convoy of dessert cam o tanks ready to blow stuff up the following morning meaning an alternative venue would be required.
With the range closed and the red flag flying, we headed to Mother Careys (scaries) with Hans leading Just Klingon a steep classic graded at E5 6a followed by Hazel leading the super direct route Fireball XL5 E6 6b while Hans tried to keep hid feet dry as the the tide came in. With access allowed back on the range a 4.00 the whole circus the head back to Stennis ford for James and Caro to take turns leading on the Jackals E8.
With Pembroke done it was time to head north again to Nescliffe an old sandstone quarry in Shropshire, after arriving mid-afternoon the climbers and one film maker headed to the crag to check things out, while the rest of us set up camp did some shopping and prepped some food. The next day with the sun shining, we all headed to the crag that had an amazing orange hue. We spent the next 12 hours herewith attempts made on 9 different routes and a whole host of epoints racked up. We also started to gather a bit of a crowd of locals who loved the display of world class climbing on their local crag. As the time rolled on and energy levels began to flag I returned back from camp with the gas stove a pan of soup and the kettle for teas to boast the flagging energy levels. It was after 9 by the time we left the crag, with Nescliffe done and the journey north to the lakes a head of us.
It felt right to be heading to Cumbria with 3 filmmakers and a driver that hale from there, we headed up the M6 turning off and heading for Windmere, then Langdale the lakes is one of the best places on earth when the weathers fine. We set up camp at the National Trust site in Langdale and after some dinner prep we headed to the Old Dungeon Gill for a couple of cold beers in the warm sun.
The next morning we struck camp and headed up Pavy Arc with full packs lots of water it was hard work in the morning sun, we soon made it to then tarn and picked up the tourist path to the top of the gully that would be where we would base ourselves for the day, while climbers warmed up and filmmakers rigged I took the chance to head up to the top and across to Harrison Stickle and Pike a Stickle. On returning I watched as Hazel breezed up Six Pence a tough E6 on a high mountain Crag.
As we returned to the valley everyone headed their separate ways and onto there next project. The two week was an amazing experience, meeting some really nice and inspiring people in some of Britain most beautiful areas, I would love to do it again and look forward to seeing the finished movie in 3 months’ time.