I like to climb on New Years day. It has become a tradition, a start the year as you mean to go on kind of thing. I have spent New Year climbing ice in the Alps, trad in Pembroke sport at Ansteys and this year is was to be bouldering in Northumberland.
Northumberland or “The County” is a place I have heard a lot about but never visited before, after all I can be in font in about the same amount of travel time. The climbing style in The County reminded me a lot of Font, the climbing and the stone feeling somewhat alike.
After the 6 hour drive from Bristol we arrived at Hepburn. There are a few problems of significance there, the two most prominent are “Northern Soul” 7A+ and “Preparation H” 7C+/8A. Northern Soul in an amazing boulder. It starts up a technical slab into a crack and the onto a hideously slopey topout in Highball terrain. I managed to flash this boulder with some beta from a very helpful ground crew. I got pretty close on Preparation H, dropping the top a few time before darkness stopped play. It was time to head home for turkey Fajitas, Scrabble, Red wine and NYE.
The next day we headed to Kyloe in the Woods, a fairly good wet weather option. There are many classics here through all the grades. We were here to try “The Yorkshireman” hard 7B+. Its an absolutely classic bloc which climbs a flared diagonal crack before a hard deadpoint move to a good edge and the top. I had to try hard on this and it was only with a bit of helpful Beta from Dan Varian that we figured out the bizarre sequence.
The best day we had was at Bowden doors. The conditions were perfect, it was cold clear and crisp. It was our fourth day on but this didn’t seem to be slowing us down. I had one of those great sessions where you sort of forget about the guidebook and walk along the crag climbing what looks good. Some of the best problems were Stagged 7B+, Temptation 7B+ and The Crack 7C+/8A, this, as its name suggests climbs a crack feature on a very font like boulder. The climb looks easy, feels nails when you are trying it and steady when you get it right.
Our last day was spent trekking around on the Simonside hills finding hidden boulders and admiring the stunning views. By day five my skin was thin and my body was aching but it was just so great to be out climbing on such good rock.
The short trip has left me with more projects to go at and I cannot wait to return to Northumberland. Below is a short video put together by Ben West from the trip.