Over the course of the next couple of months we will be publishing excerpts from "Easy Grit" - a new guidebook that contains 500 of the best easy boulder problems and micro-routes (UK 3a to 5c) in the Peak District.
Last month we published Bamford Edge. Here's the next in the series...
Of all the crags in this book, this is perhaps the friendliest. The routes are short and clean, the landings are flat, the approach is quick and most importantly, there’s a pub and campsite within walking distance! As a result, weekends and bank holidays tend to be busy, but like many crags in the Peak District, climbers start to leave by mid-afternoon. The folks of Sheffield don’t like to eat too late! Therefore, the most cunning approach is to start at one of the quieter ends of the crag and slowly work your way towards the centre. If you leave the climbs around Trafalgar Wall until the early evening you’re likely to have them all to yourself.
Fortunately, Birchen was designed to dry quickly. There’s no seepage, the crag catches the sun from mid-morning and there’s often a gentle westerly breeze dabbing at the rock. It’s also worth mentioning that Birchen Edge sometimes avoids the rain altogether. Ask any local and they’ll tell you that many a weather system runs out of energy over Stanage and crags to the east often remain dry!
Before you get started - a quick word of warning. Many of the climbs on Birchen Edge cram a lot into the first few moves. Whilst this might make the climbing a good deal safer, it can quickly lead to frustration. Start gently, warm up on a few easy climbs and ease yourself into the challenge!
There is public car parking beside the Robin Hood pub on the A619. From the pub, walk 100m up the B6050 and turn left, through a gate and follow a well worn path up to the crag (10mins). Kismet Buttress is the first rock visible on the right. The main body of the crag is 5 minutes further on.
Birchen Edge Map
Once you reach the foot of the crag continue leftwards for almost 400m until the edge becomes more broken. Here you'll find half a dozen short problems...
1 Bosun's Nose (4c) - From the centre of the left wall scrabble up for good holds and follow the final left facing corner through easier ground to the top.
2 Bosun’s Nose Traverse (5a) – Start at Bosun's Nose and make a long mid height traverse right and eventually escape over the short slab. A shorter version can be started from Bosun’s Wall (4c).
3 Bosun’s Crack (3c) – A clean and friendly crack!
4 Bosun’s Wall (4a) – Good technical climbing beneath the boulder. The finish can be avoided by stepping left!
5 Bosun’s Cleft (5a) – An open groove using pockets and pinches (sit start).
6 Bosun’s Flake (4c) – The corner using flakes (sit start).
Seventy metres south and a short distance away from the crag you'll find a very good pair of friendly problems.
7 Le Passerelle (3a) – Slab climbing on the left.
8 The Gangplank (3a) – A similar but slightly longer problem on the right.
Just a few metres to the right is the start of the crag "proper"!
9 Poop Crack (4a) – The short crack on the left.
10 Poop Wall (4a) - Avoid the cracks and make a series of precise moves up the slab.
11 Handy Crack (3b) - Comfortable climbing leads to an awkward finish.
12 Visitors Only (4a) - Take some time to work out the start of this one. It's over quickly if you get it right!
13 All Aboard (3c) - A wide crack with a tricky start.
The British Mountain Medicine Society (BMMS) are organising a Science Day in the Peak District on the 13th November 2019. Why not come along? Details can be found here.
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