Steve Pardoe's uk.rec.climbing Trip Report Archive Pages

Sean O's Reports

Edition of 25/11/2004

----- Original Message -----
From: "Sean O."
Newsgroups: uk.rec.climbing
Sent: Saturday, November 20, 2004 1:24 AM
Subject: Rather a nice day in the Peak.

Quiet in here isn't it?
Was anyone else out in the Peak today?

I unexpectedly found myself a free man at about noon, put my boots and chalkbag into a bag along with a camera and a flask of coffee and headed off to Stanage.

I didn't make it - heading out from Sheff, the Ringinglow road was only gritted as far as the pub (seems reasonable, really). My poor old van doesn't have much to offer in the way of traction on the white slippy stuff, and I'm far too lazy to walk that far for a bit of bouldering and a few photos (shame, I bet the plantation was/is extraordinarily beautiful in the sunshine with a dusting of snow).

Ended up heading for Froggatt instead. The walk in from the white gate was absolutely magical - brilliant sunshine, startlingly blue sky, and the trees.. ok, so I am a bit of a hippy, but I'm not normally one for tree hugging.. on this occasion though I have to say, the trees were breathtakingly beautiful. Almost bare of leaves, every branch and twig covered in brilliant white snow, and very occasionally defiant clusters of startling primary red berries.

I arrived at the edge to find lovely golden gritstone bathed in sunshine. (Ok, gritstone isn't actually golden, but what can I say, the rock was positively glowing.) The air was cold, but absolutely still. The rock was chilled to perfection - not cold enough to rob fingers of feeling, but certainly no need for chalk. The sun was surprisingly warming, and by Froggatt standards, the place was deserted. (Half a dozen people and a dog - all remarkably cheerful and friendly.)

More laziness, I spent quite a while wandering about taking photos of this and that (trying and probably failing utterly to capture the gorgeous atmosphere of the place). I left my rock boots in the bag too, and wandered along the edge in my trainers, fondling the odd hold, sinking the odd jam, making the first move or two of some of the routes. Galumphed up Nursery Slab, and giggled back down again.

At the foot of Tody's Wall, I met a party climbing and stopped to chat. There was a second just topping out on Heather Wall, and as I was chatting to the party at the foot of Tody's, just absently started bouldering out the first move of Heather Wall. Ordinarily I'd be just a bit too chicken to solo it, but this time I'm not sure what happened, I just sort of drifted up in a little cloud of euphoria.

Back at the bottom, after a warming cuppa, I had a bit of a boulder on the lower wall, the bit below the path that's almost too perfect a bouldering wall to be natural - I always kind of half expect there to be plastic holds bolted to it.

Hurrah - my climbing seems to have actually improved a bit during the last month's dark and dingy evenings in the Foundry. The steepness of the bouldering in there, and its being invariably covered in half naked teenagers cruising through unfeasably difficult problems with no apparent effort, doesn't really inspire confidence in a somewhat overweight bumbly. And plastic over PVC certainly doesn't inspire the unbridled joy that comes of perfectly chilled and grippy grit above a floor of snow topped squishy peat bathed in tree dappled sunshine.

Bumbled on, took a few (almost certainly disappointing) photos of the setting sun from the cave. Groped my way up to the crux of Sunset Slab, chickened out and groped my way right back down again.

Strolling back to the road through the gathering gloom, as the first few yellow lights were beginning to appear in the kitchen windows of the village below, I found myself whistling "Perfect Day". And looking back on the day, after a good meal and small glass or two of Laphroig, I'm not at all surprised.

I really can't think of a much better way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Alright, maybe I can. But not one thats actually likely to happen.


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