Tuesday, 21 July 2009

High Peak? Wet Peak!

I forgot to post this at the time, but now I've time to write, I might as well post it now....sorry for the delay!

Do you remember that weekend a few months back, when everyone said "ah, the weather's going to be rubbish this weekend, let's go drinking" (or somesuch)? (Er.. which one? I hear you say) Well, we decided to go to the Peak District instead. To be fair, Tamsyn had booked a train ticket from London (some nonsense about it being £256 on the day or £60 booked in advance) so we couldn't leave her stranded at the station just because the forecast looked a bit rubbish.

It didn't start well, and continued in that vein for a full 48 hours, right up until we drove home in scorching sunshine. It took us 6 1/2 hours to drive down, through horrific rainstorms, flooded motorways and squeaky windscreen wipers. We were down to 20 mph on the M6 at one stage, from the rain, and then to 10mph because of the large number of vehicles inconsiderately taking up space in every lane. At one point we crossed a spaghetti junction, and every road we could see from the upper bridge was nose to tail traffic. Ah yes, this was the weekend the English school holidays started. Why oh why oh why.......

Having awoken to standard northern grey drizzle we opted for some tourism. We headed down into Blue John Cavern with our friendly guide, Brian. I don't know how long he'd been giving that tour, but I really hope he has a very high boredom threshold!

So we took lots of pictures inside the cave and marvelled and oohed and aahed at the water-worn rocks. It was pretty big, and for us climber-types the standard tour wasn't enough. We wanted to see more. But they don't let you, and I must admit to being a little claustrophobic so maybe it was fine (for once) just to stay on the tourist trail. Other tourists are funny sometimes though...

By the time we emerged above ground again the rain had (almost) stopped. So we cruised over to Stanage Plantation.....the long way, because I got muddled over which road to take. Ah well. By the time we got there the rain had stopped and the sun had come out and it was dry enough to climb! Probably a worthwhile diversion.

This was Tamsyn's very first foray into outdoor bouldering, and with hindsight, maybe the Plantation wasn't the best place to start. Some of the boulders with the easier problems on them are pretty high, and if you've been used to big squishy mats to land on indoors, the prospect of even a flat but hard landing isn't enormously encouraging.

This picture was taken on the south face of the Pebble Boulder. Tamsyn's face says it all!

Having pottered around here for a bit, we decided to try Burbage South. Caroline and I had been there in March and really enjoyed messing about on stuff when we didn't have a guidebook. After another small detour on foot (my fault again), we reached some good easy-looking boulders with lots of shot holes in them.

We pottered around here for ages, Caroline and I trying to teach Tamsyn to trust her feet and realising it isn't really something one can teach. It has to be learned. Trying to do things "hands free" seemed a good way of starting that learning process!

Needless to say, we wore our skin out pretty quickly and were mindful that maybe the weather would be better tomorrow...

It was and it wasn't better tomorrow. We took our time packing up, had a leisurely breakfast and headed for Cratcliffe and Robin Hood's Stride, on another promise of some good low-grade bouldering. We were hopeful. It was a bit showery, but the sun was strong when it appeared. We trekked up the hill with fingers crossed that the heat would dry the boulders fairly quickly, while we had some lunch and figured out the guidebook. Alas, it was not to be. No sooner had we reached the top of the hill, reminisced a bit about Font and bouldering in forests, than the hot sun was blotted out by the most torrential rain. We sheltered in a cave hoping it would pass and the hot sun would reappear. To start with it was funny - one of those downpours that doesn't quite seem real it's so heavy. We watched the rivulets washing acorns down the slope and waited. Then the rain penetrated our cave and we realised we were sitting in puddles. So we had a cherry stone spitting competition (in which Caroline and Tamsyn were neck and neck, and I was lagging way behind).

Our cave got wetter, so we moved (mistake - we'd have got less wet sitting still) to the hermit's cave lower down the hill. It continued to pour. Eventually we got bored. If it stopped raining, it wasn't going to dry in time for us to climb. Tamsyn had a train to catch and we had a 5 hour drive north.

With a degree of reluctance we opted for coffee and cake in Bakewell. It continued to rain, and we felt a bit better about bailing. We've always said that no trip is a wasted trip and now we know that Cratcliffe and Robin Hood's Stride are worth visiting.....when they're dry!

1 comment:

caroline said...

Ah good times, that seems like ages ago. xx