At the end of half term we had a visit from Brad, Kristen and a friend of theirs called Eoin. With a good forecast for Saturday we decided to head to Wallowbarrow in the Duddon Valley Which has a good selection of easy and mid-grade routes. Penny came with us and we took a bouldering mat and blanket to make sure she would be happy watching, reading and taking a few photos at the bottom of the crag. Continue reading
The grade four rapid Jill’s Folly came next. Penny had been talking about portaging it but the large cows in the field persuaded her that running it would be the easiest option (or perhaps she just mtfu). This time there was a line down the far right under the holly tree. This left a sharp left-handed turn at the bottom but gave more room for error than threading between the two rocks like we did last time. The photos below show Penny edging to get round the corner at the bottom. This was where she hit a rock last time and let go of her paddles resulting in a swim. This time it went very smoothly which was probably a good thing as the water was considerably colder than only a month ago.
[slideshow]The next section didn’t start too well when I got wedged between two stepping-stones, however I managed to free myself before Penny had got too far ahead. This few hundred metres is great fun, weaving in between boulders, going with the flow. I found one or two semi-submerged rocks and Penny had a huge grin on her face after ‘doing it perfectly’. We eddied out just before the gorge section for a quick inspection.
This was higher than last time and bouncy. Again we started far right before hitting the centre halfway down. Towards the end we went back to the right to avoid a hole on the left. Today I noticed how deep and slow the water is after the gorge, this would be useful if anyone had a swim in this section.
The final section was still bouncy and fun, the stopper on the right-handed corner was in good shape and the wave went up to Penny’s chin! A dog on the bank seemed a little upset that we were there but we did not encounter any fishermen, only 8 days to go until the end of the fishing season.
We parked at Birks Bridge and headed up via Birks to below Brandy Crag. Here there are three crags, the left and right are both grade 2 (according to the guidebook). We took on the right hand side of the central buttress. It was supposed to be grade 3 but after a bit of severeish climbing on dirty rock I concluded that I was not on the correct route. I ended up placing three pieces of gear and setting up a proper belay at the top. The route was not covered in all the conveniently placed spikes and pinnacles that we found on Shark Buttress in North Wales on my MIA training. I was slow on this section and I suppose that my route finding will have to improve.Things got easier and after a walk up to the fence we then linked sections of interesting grade 2 scrambling on clean rock to reach the summit. I soloed each section and then protected Penny using braced body belays or direct belays. This worked well except that I had a little too much rope out. Having reread my notes I need about 7 double arm lengths out. We only did two very short sections of descent but I practiced being bossy. This was something I struggled with in North Wales and will have to practice over the coming years (Penny thinks I’m quite good at this already).
We had lunch just under the summit and then picked our own route down to the forestry track. The sun had gone by this time and it was cool. Penny got a chance to test her birthday down gillet, it seemed to work.All in all it was a fun scramble. I think we should do some more committing grade 2 scrambles, perhaps as a rope of three so that I can get quicker and slicker before moving on to grade three terrain. This is in a guiding context rather than a Penny & Jon going out and having fun context.
It had been over four months since we last climbed on Rock and we both were keen to get back onto real rock.
Wallowbarrow is a 60m high venue in the Duddon Valley. It can be reached in about half an hour from Seathwaite via a very picturesque walk alongside the river or 15 minutes from the farm below the crag. The climbs cover the easy and mid grades very well with plenty of well protected climbs in the v. diff to hvs range.
We started on Thomas, a three pitch severe. I ran the first two pitches together but it took a while to warm up both physically and mentally. In particular, I felt that it was taking me longer then normal to place gear. Penny followed quickly and at the top we headed off westwards on an easy decent (worth taking approach shoes).
Our second climb was Malediction Direct, a two pitch VS 4c. The first pitch was a straightforward scramble to below the headwall. The second pitch was excellent VS climbing, a steep bulge to be overcome first followed by a delicate groove. It was covered in plenty of confidence inspiring gear.
So it was good to get out on rock again, only a few more weeks until after school climbing will be a possibility. If we go high there are still ice climbing opportunities too!
Posted from my phone, appologies for typos and spelling mistakes.