Borrowdale Climbing Weekend

May 12, 2008

Headed off to Borrowdale after work on Friday, hoping that the good weather would hold. Pitched the tents at Stonethwaite Campsite, then cycled to the Riverside Bar at the Scafell Hotel for some food and beer. I had a burger which was excellent served with a well dressed salad, and home made chips – great value for £6.95.

Cycled back to the campsite, but stopped of for a final pint at the Langstrath Inn. On previous visits we’ve only been able to get a drink at the Langstrath if ordering a meal. That policy appears to have been discontinued by the current landlord who’s been in residence for about 2 years.

After bacon butties and coffee for breakfast we set off for Sergeant Crag Slabs at around 10am, arriving at the slabs about 45 minutes later. A party of two were already climbing, and a third party of two arrived soon after us. Fortunately there are plenty of climbs on these compact  slabs, and we all cooperated in leaving ropes up for abseil descent or top roping when suitable.

We started with the three star Lakeland Cragsman (47m HVS 5a) which I seconded, then abseiled off. The guide book states that there are chains at the top of the crag for abseil purposes, but these appear to have been removed. We used a sturdy tree root with a tape attached.

At this point it started raining, so we had a sandwich whilst we waited to see what the weather would do. It continued raining lightly but the rock stayed dry, so next we climbed the two star Revelation ( 45m VS 4c) with me taking the gear out again.

Another three star route in the form of Terminator 2 ( 45m HVS 5a) followed, then we set up the abseil so that we could top rope the two star Holly Tree Crack ( 50m E1 5b 5a) leaving the ropes up for Dave Green and Boo. After another rain shower we settled on the three star Endurance ( 45m HVS 5a) as our final climb. Suitably warmed up, I went for my first HVS lead. I’d seen where the crux was earlier when I watched another climber lead it, so when I got to the thin crack in the overlap, I knew that I had to move quickly to avoid getting tired. A couple of bits of pro in the thin crack, a commiting step up, and a reach for a handhold got me there and I took a short breather. Although the rest of the climb was easier, it was sustained, and I was pleased when I got to the top.

If you’re in the area and climb around HVS – E1, Sergeant Crag Slabs is highly recommended. Great climbing on excellent, well protected routes, and on superb rock.

We packed up and headed back to the campsite on tired legs. Cooked up some pasta and sauce, then headed for the Langstrath on the bikes for a couple of well earned pints.

Sunday morning we packed up and drove the short distance to the cafe at Shepherds Crag. We ordered full English breakfasts, and although there were no sausages, mushrooms, or black pudding, we couldn’t really complain at the cost of £3.80 including a glass of juice and a cup of coffee. We sat in the sun for an hour or so then set off to our climbing venue for the day at the top of Honister Pass.

Parking can be difficult at the top of Honister, all I can suggest is that the obvious parking places work. We set off on the path that leads to Buckstone How. Be warned, it’s a rather tortuous walk in over a hillside strewn with a layer of slate spoil about 1m thick. Locating our intended climb – the two star Sinister Grooves ( ?m VS  4a 4c 4c) we geared up and I set off to lead the easiest pitch. Either yesterdays climbing had left me a bit weak, or the pitch is undergraded, I’d have put it at 4b. Jaysen took the next pitch which at first, although undeniably a groove is climbed more like a chimney. As the top of the groove is approached, there are no handholds, and we surmounted this by spinning round to grab the pinnacle on the arete. The crux of the final pitch involves getting established on the wall/groove, after which it’s quite broken rock and more chimneying to the top. The weather turned for the worse whilst jaysen was on the final pitch, and it began to rain lightly. As  I set off to climb, the thunder and lightning kicked off. The pitch is a bit of a blur to me, as I was slightly freaked out by the prospect of having to climb it wet. The descent after moving up and right is over slate spoil, and is hard work.

We called in at The Scafell for post climb refreshments, then finished of with a pint of Hawkshead Bitter in the Sun Inn at Coniston.

A great weekend, where despite some rain we managed to climb everything we’d set out to do. I’d return to Sergeant Crag Slabs again, but I think I’ve done Buckstone How.


  1. […] some time ago and have wanted to lead ever since. Being only my third ever 5a lead (the first was Endurance and the second kick Off) I was a little bit psyched but determined to climb well. Dan from the […]