We took the week off work, but we didn’t really have any plans. We thought we’d just take it as it comes.
After a couple of days watching the rain, checking flight prices to hotter and drier climes, we decided to drive down to Devon and mess about on the sea cliffs.
Out first stop was Baggy Point. This venue had been on our tick list for years, but plans to grab a few routes here as a quick stop off on our way home from Lundy have never materialised for one reason or another.
This week we had a couple of challenges, the bird ban and the tides, so we were restricted to the Promontory. We initially took a look at Kinky Boots, as this can be started at high tide. The description advises not a route for the short, but despite the promise of good holds from a blunt spike we decided that the gap you have to fall across was just too committing. I didn’t remember Ben Wintringham being particularly tall, so how did he manage it?
We opted instead to wait a little longer for the tide to recede and to mess about on the easier slabs on Ben’s Wall.
We spent the evening hours walking on the beautiful beach at Croyde. In the sand dunes we found a discarded kite. The string was in a tangled ball, but being used to un-tangling climbing ropes we decided to spend a bit of time getting rid of the huge knot. Our efforts were rewarded and eventually we managed to salvage the whole length, but by the time we finished the wind had gone so we put the kite away for later.
With the mid week high tide coinciding with the usual Sterling Alpine start, we decided to head in-land for a couple of days. I had never been to the Dewerstone on the south west edge of Dartmoor so it seemed an obvious choice.
I had a lot of fun on Central Groove, and Pete took Climber’s Club Ordinary Route which provided a couple of entertaining steep moves. There was no way I was gong to follow up the jam fest of Climbers’ Club Direct!
There were at least a couple of teams who were fascinated by the use of double ropes. They hadn’t seen climbers use them before. There was even a climbing instructor, with a group of 5 clients, who had to stop the lesson about placing gear after one of his clients asked what we were doing so he could explain why double ropes are useful.
Of course, on Dartmoor, there are Dartmoor ponies…
On Thursday, despite a sunny start, the forecast was for overcast skies, and it was pretty cold so high up on Dartmoor, so we descended to Chudleigh Rocks. This is a small limestone outcrop on the edge of Chudleigh, south east of Dartmoor.
It felt like a typical English limestone outcrop: muddy, polished and a little damp in the corners.
Our first route was Great Western which proved to be challenging in the wet corner above the overhang on the crux.
The popular Inkerman Groove was much more fun, with an easy, but polished start, continuing with a very nice line trending rightwards.
Welcombe Mouth & Gull Rock
We headed back to the coast on Thursday night and set up base in Welcombe Mouth for an early start to beat the tides on Friday.
Gull Rock is accessible for a couple of hours each side of high tide, so we made our way along the pebbly and boulder beach fairly early. We were amazed at the damage the waves had done earlier in the year. Lots of recent rockfall scattered the beach.
We scrambled through the gap, past the incredible rock folds, turned the corner and found Gull Rock bathed in sunlight.
A slab-tastic venue, with lots of protection.
We were about to start our fourth route, when we realised the tide was coming in much faster than we expected. We decided instead to pack up quickly and head back – a wise decision as the gap was already getting submerged.
It was a glorious day, so we messed about with the kite we had found earlier in the week.
And then we decided to head home. It’s a long journey, and it seems most of the world was heading south, but quite a few traffic jams later we eventually made it.