Magical limestone in a spellbinding setting...
Members present: James Hall, Gareth Williams, Dave Wylie, Duncan Zerafa, Elliott Brown, Ben Slater, Mark Ashley.
Guests: Isabel Prause, John Smallwood.
When shall we meet again, in thunder, lighting or in rain? 'Tis Witches' Quarry in name. It shall be here at the setting of the sun. Where is this place? In the shadow of the Pendle Hill....
And so the KMC coven formed in the shrouded evening sky. Whats going on? Manchester was sunny and hot, yet here we were in dank and grey. Still climbing must be done and the early bird arrivals were clambering up the rock.
Gareth had lead Alice S 4a and brought Dave up as his second, but flew the nest early, unlike the later spotted fledgling chicks nesting deep within the wide crack. Dave changed tack with Crack Lap HS 4b * and lead Mark up, a leftwards leaning number. Recovering from knee surgery Mark was determined to get back on the lead horse and committed to a rewarding lead of Nance VD with Dave seconding.
Meanwhile at the central wall area some kind of witchcraft had beguiled Elliott. It was Witches Bane HVS 5a **, a route previously worshipped at, would it open its arms again? No, was the emphatic answer. The run out sustained top section had its chicanery and left Elliott on a ledge. Duncan who was seconding, left him there until he was able to throw a rope down and belayed the isolated soul from the top of the crag. Yet Elliott was not defeated, as will be explained...
Just to the left of these shenanigans James was flying up Spellbound HVS 5b **, until he exclaimed " This is pretty stiff! What grade was it again?". No-one knew for sure. With much style and aplomb he reached the top, and seconded John up, Isabel had declined the initial second with dignity.
Other members of the crag were scurrying up the routes with gusto too numerous to recall. Unlike your word-smith who is getting to grips with limestone and thinks it is the work of the Beelzebub himself. Trying to get nuts to fit into cracks that resemble the surface of Spicy Nik Naks crisps is interesting to say the least.. however he lead The Shrew VS 4b* followed by Old Chattox VS 4c*, with Isabel seconding apace both routes worthy of their star.
To the left side of the crag Ben had lead a fine lead of Broomstick VS 5a **, with a reachy final move, seconded by John. Whilst Elliott had time to try again Witches Bane HVS 5a**, this time with James, who now lead it and quickly dispatched Elliotts' adversary, moving swiftly through the loose rock and bold finish, to then let Elliott at second up with a new found fervour.
The sky was beginning to bruise now, leaving the residual spirits at the crag to decamp to the Assheton Arms. Voting and beer, a democratic decision, long evening light considered. Cows Mouth Quarry, The Roaches and the "I don't mind where we go Quarry" were all up for election. The natural crag of Don Whillans, a man trained on cigarettes, cheap booze and daily injections of Jerry Lee-Lewis wins by a landslide. The Roaches it shall be next week, Lower Tier near Valkyrie...
Trad limestone near Pendle Hill
Members: Mark Ashley, Ding, Duncan Zefara, Helen Boothman Guests: Ryan Linderman, Fiona Dixon, John Evans, Matt Hartley, Andy Elliott
It was looking unlikely as John, Fiona and Helen sat in cars at the base of the crag watching the drizzle come down. Suddenly though it brightened up, others arrived and a successful evening's climbing was had by all.
John and Fiona headed to the far side of the crag to tick off Serenity (S 4a). Fiona persevered up First Impressions (HS 4b) - a route which hasn't made it into the new rockfax guide and won't be missed (no stars). They then went to the main wall and added Halloween Outing (S 4a) and Cracklap (HS 4b) to their night's achievements before leading the charge to the local pub.
Duncan and Ryan teamed up, Duncan leading Walpurgis Eve (S 4a) and Nance (VDiff) and Ryan making ascents of both Serenity and Cracklap. Duncan spent much of his time wandering back and forth at the bottom of the crag marvelling at the usefulness of the photos in the rockfax guide when compared to the lancashire rock route finding method which requires intimate knowledge of all the routes to the left of the one you want to climb.
Serenity and Cracklap proved very popular also seeing ascents by Mark and Ding. The infamous pair also successfully tackled Nance and Witches Brew (HS 4b) before hanging around to guide the stragglers to the pub.
Meanwhile Helen had enticed a couple of friends from work along to the meet. Matt started their evening with Cracklap (surprise, surprise) and also made quick work of Peel Off (VS 4c), although for a short time he 'wasn't having that much fun' on the crux. Andy enjoyed Thrutch (VS 4c) although wished he'd taken some larger cams after not realising that the crack at the top would look a lot bigger close up. Helen climbed Witchbane (HVS 5a) and It Started With a Kiss (HVS 5b) although accidentally did the start of Satan's Slave, somehow getting confused even with a colour photograph of the routes available in the guide.
Down at the pub there were only two crags put forward - Troll Wall in Norway (as Duncan is in Norway next week and thought we might like to join him) and Froggatt. To no one's surprise Froggatt won due to its key feature of not being in Norway. Back on the grit next week!
Please car share as parking is limited. Roll-over.
Members - Dan O'Brien, Andy Stratford, Helen Boothman, Dave Wylie, Mark Ashley, Koy Oi Ding, Paul Evans.
Guests – John, Steve Hill and Freddie Waters, Joe Foster, Ellie Jones, Jacob King and James Cleves from the SUMC.
Sceptical would be a mild way to describe my feelings towards Witches quarry…. My only memories of the place were a humid, damp, midge infested rat-hole from a rainy mid-week Wednesday in 2004. My last encounter put me off for over a decade. Sceptical, yes, that’s the nicest way to put it.
Witches' Quarry, on the slopes of Pendle Hill, is a limestone outcrop with an improbable number of quality lines for a minor crag. The local folklore surrounding witches and witchcraft lends itself to some of the colourfully named routes. Even though the KMC did not have Witches’ to themselves as the sunny weather and non-existent walk-in (you park at the foot of the crag) had attracted members of Salford University, Lancashire and Clitheroe Mountaineering Clubs, you still got the sense that there was something magical about the place.
The Salford University contingent, taking full advantage of not having full-time jobs or exams, arrived early to take full advantage of the sunny settled weather. They motored through Cracklap (Joe’s first HS), Spellbound and Brimstone (Freddie’s first HVS which he claimed felt harder than Ann at Wilton – his first E1 from the week before…) Paul steeled himself against the patchwork technicolour of Freddie’s trousers to take some photos for the upcoming Lancashire guidebook – sunglasses advised!
Helen climbed the unfortunately named Familiar’s Fall (HVS) followed Andy. Stevie and Helen also climbed Hell Hounds on My Tail (VS) and Tarot Wall (HVS) to comfortably secure the "Most Colourfully Named Routes” prize for the evening.
I climbed Witch Bane (HVS) ably followed by John and Andy and closely photographed by Paul. A special mention also goes out to Dave who helpfully ensured that the correct line was followed on the fingery top section by reading from the guidebook. Paul, it turns out, had little idea where the route he had just pointed me at actually went, what it was called, or what the grade was… Andy led Cracklap and I climbed Peel Off (VS), both followed by an increasingly pumped John on only his second outdoor climbing trip.
Dave approached the crag riding a Llama/Alpaca over the top of Pendle Hill, upon his arrival Steve and his spare rope did Cracklap and as far as he knows the rope also did one other route without him – I smell witchcraft! Dave, in person, seconded Stevie on Thrutch (VS), led Haloween Outing (S) with Steve and followed Steve up Serenity (S). Mark and Ding also climbed Serenity then proceeded to “fall off every VDiff on the cliff”. They also climbed Broomstick (VS).
As night fell, the sensible decamped to the pub though the students (mysteriously) did not make it - again, I’m calling witchcraft!
Through post climb attrition, only seven made it to the pub where Andy’s off-hand prediction of calm settled weather for next week was quickly set in stone. As such, in true midge-avoiding style, the nominations were Pule Hill, Helsby and The Roaches. The Roaches fell in a first round run-off with Helsby. The second round saw a narrow victory for Pule Hull even though Ding was told by Mark that she would now have to walk home as she turned her cloak for the Pule Hill camp.
As for me, it seems I was a little hasty in my judgement of Witches’ Quarry. In the right conditions it is a great place to spend the evening and I will certainly be returning. Granny Weatherwax, I doff my cap.
The traditional wednesday midsummer jaunt to Witches had yet another excellent 16 strong turnout who enjoyed the lovely summers evening.
Covern members casting spells included Colin Maddison, Duncan Lee, Vicky Alderton, Kieran, Emily Pitts, Dave Wylie, Andy Stratford, Mark Ashly and Koy Oi Ding.
Covern Guests included Elliot Brown, Max Bretherton, Helen Boothman, Irish Caz, Hong Thoong, Aysha Kathryn and Clay Conlon.
Routes ascended included Familiars Fall, Spellbound, Thrutch, Hell Hounds on my trail, Peel Off plus many more.
Midges stopped play around 9.30pm and a retreat was called to the Asheton Arms in Downham where the voting saw a Chew Valley crag finally get a look in.
Lovely venue, excellent setting, superb rock, belay from the car.
Max and Mark turned up but a wet crag ensures a rollover to next week.
Longest night of the year for a drive up to Pendle and the fantastic Witches Quarry
Coven members: Peter McNulty, Flying John aka John Cox, Ozcan Yanik, Al Metelko, Vicky Alderton, Andy Stratford, Colin Maddison, Steve Graham
Guest Warlocks: Alan Barnes, Mark Grist
Good turnout at the ever reliable witches.
Familiars Fall (HVS 5a) lived up to its name, taking the scalps of both John & Peter. It took the Turkish Wizard to show us how to do it!
Loads of other routes climbed tonight including Abbot Paslew, Cracklap, Thrutch, The Spell, Peel Off, Crucible and Witch Way.
Alan got Staden Quarry voted in but access restrictions are still in place (see BMC website) so revert to the second place crag: Dovestones Edge in the Chew Valley.
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Trish Cranston, Gareth Williams, Nick Adamson Andy Stratford, Al Metelko, Jason
Excellent conditions, superb routes, just made last orders!
No report, rolls over to next week.
Attendees: Carolyn Mills, Gareth Williams, James Williams, Peter McNulty, Andy Stratford, Chris Hall, Penny Lewis, Al Metelko, Keith McDonald.
Another dry almost sunny evening ended with another mad dash to the pub for last orders. First timers to the quarry seemed to be most impressed and loads of routes up to E1 led. I guess as it wasnt quite the full moon and the witch free evening allowed us solve the mystery of the little red nut.
Attendees: Vicky, Duncan, Kieran, Nick, Wavey, Al, Christine, Trish, Andy.
The weather pattern for the last week or so was for rain showers late afternoon clearing for the evening. A spectacular display of lightening was had while Wavey and Al were travelling up the M66 around 5:30pm, but little rain. However it was raining as they entered Downham so they had a quick half in the pub there and met up with Nick. Half an hour or so later they were in the Quarry, it looked bone dry and Duncan and Vicky had been bouldering and were just completing the first route. By 10pm the light and the midges stopped play. The pub in Downham was closed when they KMC got there and when they'd all joined up made a quick dash to Chatburn and found the Brown Cow for last orders. Lester Mill and Bamford lost out to Helsby.
Witches' Quarry is a bit further to drive from Manchester, but it is definitely worth the trip. Superb routes, on mostly sound limestone, in a beautiful area of Lancashire. Excellent weather, too!
Duncan Lee, Vicky Alderton, Andy Grantham, Al Metelko, Trish Cranston, Christine, James Hoyle, Mark Ashley, Dave Wylie, Matt Danby, Steve Hill, Mike, Sean and some of the area's local climbers all turned out.
Some of the noteworthy points this week: Vital kit forgotten by James this time: rock boots. Fortunately Duncan had a spare pair that could be pressed into service. What will James forget next time? Steve enjoyed his first taste of real rock. Previous climbing had been on the indoor wall over Winter as part of a crowd from Zen Internet that had also included Dave and Matt. Dave finally managed to push his technical grade up by one notch, leading "Witches's Favourite" (HVS, 5a). Most shared cars and everyone took note of the latest BMC Access Notes when parking. The pub was the "Assheton Arms" in Downham. Some photographs from the evening's climbing are in the Picture Gallery. Everybody seemed to have a great time and really liked this crag. It was even suggested that we could go back to Witches' Quarry again next week. However, common sense prevailed (?!) and the pub-goers accepted Vicky's suggestion of Lester Mill Quarry for the next venue.
Duncan, Vicky, Gordon, Andy and Al turned up for a good evenings climb.
Back to Current Midweek
Over a dozen KMCers made it out to Witches' Quarry, including: John Cox, Mark Ashley, Dave Wylie, James Richardson, Duncan Lee, Vicky Alderton, Roger Daley, Scott Sadler, Al Metelko, Karen Kennedy and Andy Grantham. There were also a few other climbers around and at least one of these may have been persuaded to come along to the Club! We were also joined by rather a lot of sheep and a few midges. The routes proved to be generally good, though with a few areas of loose rock near the top. The anchor points installed in the grass at the top of the crag were a bit sparse, requiring some cunning (and at least one tree-root) to set up safe belays. "Belladonna", "Broomstick", "Problem Child", "Elizabeth", "Serenity", "Nance", "Cracklap" and several other routes all saw ascents by various people. The post-climbing pub was the Assheton Arms in Downham, where the usual democratic process for selecting the next mid-week crag took place.