I hadn't planned on climbing this weekend, as a couple of unexceptional weeks at Almscliffe, and an ache in my arms and shoulders, had left me feeling the need for a break. Of course, my resolve not to climb is vulnerable to anyone taking the radical step of suggesting a climb, so when Bryn let me know that a mutual friend, Anna, wanted to take to the rocks for the first time (or the first time in some time, at least) I figured that it would be good to go along and help with some nurturing.
And then it turned out that Anna wasn't going to climb, by which time I was already set upon my path to Bryn's house. It was Anna's presence that made this trip to Almscliffe appealing, so I proposed an alternative to Bryn - not having been there myself, I suggested that we take in the lie of the land at Norwood. Being a bit further afield I would have been happy to drive, but Bryn elected to take the dogs along for the ride. I was happy with this arrangement - an elevated view of some very scenic countryside, followed by an easy-going tramp around some new boulders.
Having previously made attempts at mountain biking at Stainburn/Norwood, I was a little confused by the layout - further exploration may be necessary to reconcile where I used to ride with where we walked and climbed. Nevertheless, there were plenty of spots that I identified as bike trails which drew forth astonished "No way!" comments from Bryn - and rightly so, as those mountain bike maniacs aren't far off riding down some of the things that we climb up. And fair play to them! After a brief dabble within touching distance of the road - Bryn "The top's positive.", Me "It's more the pre-top." - we decided to have a look around further up, near the transmitter that sits in station over the landscape. More "They ride THAT?!" amazement was mixed with some cultured boulderer banter. Aiming for the trig point on Hunter's Stones - probably the outermost point of the mountain bike trails on this side of the road - we found some interesting problems. Having left the bouldering mat behind, we were more limited than we might otherwise have been, but we still managed to entertain ourselves. The wall below the trig point was tackled, both successfully and experimentally, and in the - relatively - outlying areas of the... 'crag' seems almost too strong a word... we found some fine cracks and faces to play with. And one devilish semi-dyno... nubbin?... sitting above a particularly sandpaper-like crack with a slight overhang. Attempts to progress up this climb left me with plenty of rock rash on the arms, a nasty gash on my right knee, and the longing to return one day better equipped, perhaps for a circuit of this and other nearby rocks...
The dogs didn't climb anything, by the way. And here are some photos.
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