Saturday, 2 June 2012

May 2012

Here we are at the end of May, my first month of ‘retirement’. What have we been up to? Quite a lot really, we’ve learned weekdays are much better than weekends as everywhere is so much quieter!
Where Jackie’s shifts at the BBC allow, we went to Red Point climbing wall in the day time, earlier in the month before it really warmed up and found few people there, meaning we could climb what we wanted, when we wanted. My climbing grade has gradually increased to almost Jackie’s level! We’re now doing 6b (French grade) climbs and have even progressed onto some 6b+. For me this is really breaking new ground and should mean we can climb some pretty good routes outside (hopefully).
On May 21st we rented Gareth and Emma’s cottage in Harpur Hill, near Buxton for three days, just as the weather turned really hot. We had three fantastic days in glorious surroundings.
Our view from the back garden

On Monday afternoon we went straight over to the old quarry, now a huge bolted climbing area. We can walk there in 5 minutes from the cottage, so we spent a good three hours doing about 12 different routes, ranging from 5+, right up to 6b – yes, I led a 6b, incredible!

Tuesday saw us taking a 4 or 5 mile walk from the cottage, through Harpur Hill and over to Solomons Temple and the park beyond. Here’s a few pictures:

In the afternoon we drove 15 minutes to The Roaches, a very popular gritstone climbing area, with a climb I’ve always wanted to do. Valkyrie is a 2 pitch VS 4b,4c classic climb that is one of those climbs I’ve promised myself I’ll do one day.  As I’d done a 6b bolted climb the day before, I felt ready to go for it.
Jackie led the first pitch, which at 4b was really difficult, with a very awkward bulge to get over. She did very well and belayed in the recess before my pitch, leaving me to struggle over the bulge with the comfort of a top rope!
Here we are at the start of Valkyrie. It goes up the corner behind Jackie and left to just before the nose that sticks out to the left.
My pitch then went out to the left, requiring a big sling to be placed over the big flake, before stepping precariously out left onto the nose. Unfortunately I chose a sling that was too long and slipped right down. Being in a difficult position I couldn’t retrieve it, so placed a second, shorter sling over the first, leaving Jackie to retrieve both when she came up. This wasn’t the best idea as the two slings got tangled causing lots of rope drag and a nightmare for Jackie to sort out, when she would be in a difficult position. The rest of the pitch went well, after a thin move up after moving round onto the front face, again causing Jackie a problem when the rope got stuck round the corner! Oh dear, it was a great climb for me, but I gave Jackie a bit of a nightmare!
On Wednesday we again returned to the Harpur Hill quarry and did more climbing before returning home for an evening BBQ.

 Earlier in the month we went to Fiona and John’s party to celebrate Fiona’s 50th. Iain and Bev were there, the weather was good and we topped the day with our naff presents for sophisticated Fiona:

On the early May bank holiday we went to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel. 7 of us went, me and Jackie, Iain and Bev, John and Fiona and Sue. We rented Millcombe House, a very grand white building just up from the harbour and close to the only pub on the island.


The whole atmosphere on Lundy is unique, power is from a generator that is switched off between midnight and 6:00am, so make sure you’re in bed by then, or take your headtorch! There is one boat per day (but not Sunday), arriving around midday and leaving at 4:00pm, so after its departure we really felt the island was ours with no ‘day-trippers’. There are no foxes dogs, cats or rats on the island so the birds, sheep and chickens wander around without a care. John is a keen bird watcher and we had the rare opportunity to see two Golden Oriole’s in the trees right outside our window. Twitchers were a plenty all round our house and to see two, in the same tree is very rare indeed. I didn’t get any photo’s of them but John managed to get this slightly grainy picture of one:
Cute little things aren't they!

 One day Jackie and I went to do a classic climb on the island (one that appears in the book ‘Classic Rock’). It’s called The Devil’s Slide and is a 300ft 4 pitch climb straight from sea level. It’s HS (Hard Severe) 4b and is magnificent. We had to abseil down to rocks that only appear at low tide, then climb out. Whilst belaying, we were able to watch people diving in the crystal clear sea, that makes it renowned for diving, plus we saw the ‘round the island’ kayak canoeists, on their route round, and seals swimming around the rocks.
View from the top
Jackie on the first pitch
and finally at the top!
  On our last day we went ‘letterboxing’, which is like a treasure hunt on the island. Various letterboxes have to be found that contain a stamp and inkpad, to prove you’ve been there. They are found from a set of clues that can be purchased on the island. There are 27 to find (one of them on the boat) that take you all over the island. We did 11 of them, so a further visit is required!

Second letterbox in the church
One in a tunnel under the castle

No comments:

Post a Comment