Monday, 4 July 2011

Lake District Heatwave: Part 2- Beautiful Borrowdale

So its midweek and we are well and truly stuck in to the climbing in the Lake District and expecting the heatwave to last and then suddenly Woah! It is drizzling on and off.  What to do? Easy, saunter down to the cafe at Shepherds Crag, Borrowdale for a huge fried breakfast and sit and look at the will-it-won't-it weather for an hour or so.

Handy cafe at the bottom of the crag.  It would never catch on in Scotland....

Before long the sultry conditions returned and the day blossomed in to another hot crag fest on nice rock with lovely holds. We started gently with Jackdaw Ridge (left), before ticking the classic lakes V Diff Little Chamonix. This route is a must do, and many have, meaning that the crux holds are polished, and the hilarious step/slither across the void at the top of the third pitch is nervy. Sitting astride The Saddle at the start of the final pitch my relief was palpable. I learned later that there is a secret foothold that makes these moves easy peasy. Oh well. I'll just have to do it again...

 Wally on the first pitch of Little Chamonix

By mid afternoon we were over heating again and returned to the cafe to meet friends for ice cream. A perfect day marred only slightly by the discovery that a mouse at the foot of Little Chamonix had chewed it's way in to my pack, eaten most of my compass cord and had a feast on a granola bar. Hmmm.

We camped further up the glen (oops "Dale") and with the forecast still set fair, the following morning headed for a mountain crag above Combe Gill called Raven Crag (there seem to be a lot of these in the Lakes). On a recommendation from a friend, we headed up the classic Diff, Corvus ("arguably the best diff in the Lakes"), and were not disappointed. The climbing was continuously interesting, despite the broken and green nature of the buttress, and the "celebrated" hand traverse (above right) was great fun. 

The views down Borrowdale from the top of the crag were stupendous.

Enthused by such fantastic climbing, we descended to the base of the crag and also climbed Raven Crag Buttress, an esoteric V Diff that deserves more attention.  The line was very green and vegetated, and yet the climbing was fantastic, on huge steep holds, interspersed with delicate sections of climbing. If you have ever wondered what some of the Lake District classics were like before the crowds and the polish, check out this route!

Climbing amongst the heather on Raven Crag Buttress

All that remained on reaching the top was to run over to the summit of Glaramara, and enjoy the fabulous panoramic views from the top. Another perfect end to a perfect day in the Lake District.  

Up next: Grisedale.

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