Wed 22nd Jun, 2016

Dovestones Edge, Chew Valley

Members: Andy Stratford, Jim Symon, Helen Boothman, James Hall, Mark Ashley, Oi Ding Koy, Duncan Zerafa, James Meakin, John Evans, Fiona Dixon,

Guests: Ryan Linderman, Jared Kitchen, Isobel Prause

It was a still, warm and muggy evening down at the reservoir car park. Andy, Helen , Isobel and Jim walked up the easy path towards the Foxes stone in about 30 mildly sweaty minutes to find a dripping Duncan who, having never been up to Dovestones’ before, had opted for a one hour heather approach (HVG*) somewhere near the Quarries.  As we rounded the top we saw another similary soggy pair – James and James – cursing their way up the steepest slope immediately below the crag. Just as they reached it, yet another pair (Fiona and John) hove into view to begin their hard labour.

It was only a bit midgy when we arrived as we split into teams: James Hall led the bold arête of Maggie HVS 5a, followed by Helen then Jared.  Helen decided on a lead of the varying and misnamed Mammoth Slab (HVS 4c) with steep bouldery start, unprotected slab and precarious and reachy finish up a tower on slopers.  James followed in fine style.

Meanwhile Jim had decided on Left Embrasure (VS 4b) which he led easily followed by Andy. It was time for the three star Nasal Buttress (HS 4b) next which Andy led after a ‘short pause’ at the crux!  Following this, James Hall decided on Nasal buttress with Ryan. This was followed by an attempt on the steep and poorly protected 8hours (E1 5a) which resulted in a retreat. James switched to The Changeling – a poorly protected off width just right of 8 hours at VS 4b.  Ryan discovered he couldn’t fit in the crack (after a lot of grunting).

Over on the far right the Mark Ding team swiftly despatched Question Mark (HVD 4a) and Layback Crack (MVS 4b) before joining the others on the left hand section for Central Tower (V Diff). Fiona and John also started on the right climbing layback crack, another route and then John finishing with a fine (and Camless) lead of Nasal Buttress.

Duncan and Isobel teamed up to climb Central Tower and Wrinkled Buttress (V Diff) and were joined by James Meakin who departed soon after muttering about midges and green rock.  Duncan finished with a fine lead of Swan crack (S 4a).

By now the midges were getting really annoying. Andy followed Jim up Noddys’ Wall (VS 4b) then Helen up Tower Arete (VS 4c) without removing his midge net!

As the sun set, we packed up from this glorious spot and headed back for the cars, only making the Clarence at 10.45. Six of us wrestled over Castle Naze, somewhere else and, the Presidents choice, Ramshaw Rocks.  Next week? It Staffordshire Grit! 

*HVG = Hard Very Grassy

Andy Stratford

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