Lower Montcliffe

­­­­Here’s another one. Another hole in the earth. Another rock-sided gape in the smooth face of Lancashire.

Or perhaps… Here’s another one. Another land-eye opened. Another portal to kinaesthetic transcendence.

The crag is Lower Montcliffe. The perspective is up to you. Unless of course, you think it’s a chosstacious grimstickle,  rimmed with gloom, seeped in frown and an insult to the majesty of King Caley, Prince Stanage and all the Nobles of Llanberis Pass. Then you’d be wrong. And silly. And also, you’d be using words which aren’t real words. THEY AREN’T REAL WORDS.

Monty is great. Sure, it’s only ickle. But so are smarties. That doesn’t stop them being tasty. It just so happens Monty has two top notch lines, as well as a good smuffle of other enjoyable wotnots. And yes, I do mean TOP NOTCH. I do mean the very bestest notch, higher up than all the other notches.

Mmmhmm, I hear you say. But I’ve seen Careless Torque. I’ve seen Heaven In Your Hands. I’ve seen bla bla bla…

Well that’s just splendid. Splendid, I say. You are a most learned boulderer and you know the company top notch keeps. So here’s a Gaskins special…

Information Highway Revisited 7C+

Super tasty line. Super crimpy. It’s called Information Highway Revisited and it’s 7C+. It seeps after wet weather, so if you fancy your chances, you’ll need to pounce when planets and weather systems align.

But that one’s hard. What about something more people can climb? I give you Bad Mama Jama, 7A+. I’m well chuffed with this. I spotted it years ago, but only recently (thanks to the gift of a stake from Rick Ginns*) I managed to excavate the topout, sort the landing and get it done. The climbing was worth the effort. Highball clamp-slapping between a sharp arete and large sidepulls, with feet pasted on perfect quarried steepness. There’s a video at the end of this post if you want to see more. This one dries after a day in the sun, and would be a classic in any county. Go get some!

Bad Mama Jama, 7A+

*Yes, this means you can work it on toprope. I did. It has also been done groundup.

Those are the highlights, but there’s more fun to be had. On the adjacent wall, Indian Face 7A and Battlestar 7B/+/C (grade depends on which start you pick) are both good problems. Dinosaur Adventure 3D 6C+ is another, though you might need to debramble. Flow Chart is probably undergraded at 4+, but a classy highball for anyone comfortable ticking 5’s.

Flow Chart, 4+

Indian Face, 7A

And there’s the rest, which includes a great fast-drying slab for lower grade fun (4 up to 6C), a steep traverse for woody-warriors (Ringdance 7A+) and a funky undercut battle (Maid In Stone 7A).

Oh yes, and two of the best trad lines in Lancashire at E1 and E4. But let us not think of vulgar things.

Let us think of portals to kinaesthetic joy; of sculptured rock; of sunny bays and quarry psyche.

And when those thoughts are done, let us talk to all who will listen. Let us speak loudly of a hole in the earth; of misery in quarried form; of chosstaciousness and grimstickledom. Let us use every made-up word in the made-up book to persuade all those who might be even slightly curious; all those hopeful climbing souls who might dimly suspect that there are forms of beauty outwith the ken of the narrow-minded masses. And then, when our speech is done and our audience reeling, let us whisper truthfully:

You know, there’s also some graffiti.

And more here from 3.10.

Crag Stones

They say all living things have their purpose. Midges are food for larger creatures. Mould helps recycle dead trees. But what about ramblers?

It turns out that even the red-socked roamers have a useful role. Sometimes they take photos of large rocks which boulderers haven’t yet discovered. Crag Stones was such a place.*

Photo by Alan Friswell – click image to go to the geograph website.

The crag is a hilltop holdfast for a clutch of stray gritstone soldiers. These four stout sentries have held their positions for many a century, guarding the Bowland realm against southern invaders. Judging by their haphazard positions, the years of solitude have driven them to strong drink and a shirking of duty. They have long since ceased to defend the land, which explains why Bowland is now riddled with ramblers.

But I call upon you, oh thou boulderers of England. Let us bring purpose to these forlorn gritlumps. Let us harness the might of the sitstart and raise high our glowing toothbrushes.  To arms! To arms!

Black Whirlwind, 7A

What can you expect? First of all (and this will deter the unworthy) you can expect to walk. Recent changes have been made to the footpath, but the boulders can still be accessed via any of these three routes. After wet weather, bring wellies – it can get boggier than a Yorkshireman’s cuppa.

Crag Stones Access Points

1. Take the footpath near where the style used to be. This leads through nearby trees. Split off from this path to regain the old permissive path. It is possible to stay on access land all the way to the crag.
2. Park to the north and take the public footpath to the building marked Stone Fold on the OS map. You can then go across access land over Crag Hill to access Crag Stones from the the back.
3. Park in the north and walk down the access road. This is likely to be a longer walk, but could be a good option in wet weather when the footpath is boggy.

Once at the rocks, expect sitstarts, fine-grained grit and some amount of burl. It’s a beautiful spot with big views. You are likely to have the place to yourself, though if you want to be sure you can ring this number to check:

0800-I-HATE-PEOPLE

Here’s a video which shows most of the problems, including the standout 7A Black Whirlwind with what has been described as “one of the best moves in Lancashire”.

And if you are cranking at around 7B, this traverse is a splendid target to aim your guns at.

Finally, the last great project was gobbled up by a psyched Mike Adams. Perfect Storm 7C+/8A. The low start to Black Whirlwind, done from a specified starting position of RH undercut and LH in the small crack on the face. This one looks fierce!

So go forth, boulderers! Go forth and conquer. Just don’t forget your wellies.

 

 

*It had actually been climbed on before. By Karl who mentioned it on UKC. Which lead to the discovery of the photo. But I still hold to my claim that in theory at least, ramblers have a reason for being on this earth.

Stony Edge

The PDF of my little project is gone. Somehow she escaped my computer and found her way to the printers. Right now that treacherous she-scamp is doubtless enjoying the endless ecstasy of digital duplication, ink squirting upon page after page in blissful release. PDF’s, as we all know, are the most incorrigible of file formats.

Lust Is A Downward Slope, 6B+

Lust Is A Downward Slope, 6B+

The only reason I’m telling you all this… apart from pointing out that you might like to provide a loving home for one of the many offspring of this unusual reproductive process – your very own shiny, squalling copy of the Lancashire Bouldering Guidebook to nurture and cradle …ahem, the only other reason I’m telling you all this is because it means I am now free to sing once more of rocks and rock places.

The Grit Exam, 7A+

The Grit Exam, 7A+

Today’s ode concerns a crag that I’d first seen on both the map and the magical geograph website, where walkers upload photos and link them to map coordinates. Unfortunately, walkers often take unhelpful photos of the view from the crag, not the view of the crag. Sometimes a tenacious rock-hunting photo-browser (that’s me) might catch a hopeful glimpse of accidentally photographed gritstone forms edging shyly into view. But in this case, the only photos on the web seemed to show boulders that were just too small. Luckily, I had a further tip-off from Bruce The-Oracle-Of-The-East Goodwin. He’d happened on these boulders whilst on a walk and reckoned they might be something special. He was right.

Elfin Safe Tea, 7A+

Elfin Safe Tea, 7A+

He was very right. Stony Edge is brilliant. Bouldering on the beach? You got it. Easy lines with grassy landings. Tick. Dreamy moorland surrounds? Verily. Techy 6′s to make you smile? Oh yes. Powerful 7′s to sate your hardcore lust? Affirmative. Projects to throw yourself at? Absolutely. Stony Edge is a real peach, and not just any old peach. If one peach in the peach world was peachier than the rest, that would be Stony Edge. The peach of peaches.

Argle Bargle, 7A+

Argle Bargle, 7A+

Will Stony Edge take its rightful place in the pantheon of gritstone’s friendliest crags? Unlikely, but only because the world is cruel and unfair. Allow me to draw illogical parallels in the canine world. The Staffordshire Pitbull is short-sighted and not interested in anything beyond the Roaches, nevermind beyond the peak district. And the Yorkshire Terrier is too busy yapping at everyone as loudly as possibly, in an effort to prove it’s really, definitely, most certainly not a small dog. As a result, nobody has heard of the Lancashire Heeler. It’s a little dog with short legs and it’s often overlooked. If you squint, you’ll see that Stony Edge is a Lancashire Heeler in disguise. No, really. And between you and me, it’s much better than the others. As wikipedia says, “it is actually a very strong dog.”

The Lancashire Heeler

Together with John Wilson, I spent the endless summer of 2013 exploring the boulder clusters which bejewel the East Lancashire Moors. After Blackstone Edge, Stony Edge is the most extensive. There are roughly a hundred problems, with 15 from 7A to 7B and loads at every grade below that. For harder stuff, you’ll have to get stuck into the projects. To put that in perspective, it’s the same number of problems as Thorn Crag. Like Thorn Crag, you’ll have to walk for 40min to get there, but the problems at Stony are much more densely packed. Unlike Thorn Crag, there are very few highballs.

The Muscle Tussle, 6C

The Muscle Tussle, 6C

So here’s a media megamix of Stony moments. First are some moving pictures of Stony Edge 6′s, climbed here on a warm but windy day when other crags around the land were smeggier than a smeg and cheese sandwich. Not so Stony Edge!

And here are a few of the 7′s which I remembered to get on camera. I failed to film as many I usually do – mainly because the crag vibe always mellows me to somewhere left of lazy. I really should have filmed Weakness Leaving The Boulder, Fight Shapes With Shapes and The Grit Exam, three of my favourite Stony Edge 7A+’s. But I didn’t. I filmed these. All of them are rather fine problems, except Beach Mechanics which is a gnarly hip-popper of the pop-most degree…

Roundbarn

Come ye, rummagers, delvers and questers. Come ye, snufflers, furtlers and seekers. Come all ye intrepid explorers of esoteric realms, for on the hills twixt Edgworth and Blackburn abides a minor glory of a crag, an angel fallen with crumpled wings, a rambling ramshackle drunkard of a crag – shambolic and tumbledown, but divine nontheless. Here lies Roundbarn, where from the depths of distraught rock, glimpses of perfection hint at all that might have been.

Catfoot, 6B+

Catfoot, 6B+

Yes, it’s a pile of choss. And that statement will deter a great many would-be suitors. Good riddance to them, for their minds are small and their hearts are shrivelled. Doubtless they will spend their days gawking at the spectacle of this land’s mainstream blockbuster crags, following the masses and enjoying their ignorance. Experiencing the indie crags requires something more from us, but it gives more too. It gives room for interpretation, which is also room to attach ourselves to the place in a way that is much more personal. When bad rock coalesces with the good; when litter sits by heather in bloom; when roads slice apart idyllic views and above all when reality infringes on our playground – then we have a choice to make. Recoil, retreat and never again visit such a multi-coloured dimension. Or open our imagination to accept both beauty and the beast, and let that spirit guide our chalky hands.

Flake Out, 3

Flake Out, 3

Are you still reading? Flippin’ ‘eck. I thought that would get rid of you.

You’ve got a good idea of what Roundbarn is by now. It’s the sort of place you probably aren’t going to visit, unless you worship at the altar of esoterica. Or perhaps you live nearby. If you do, you might find that on a sunny day it’s actually rather tranquil. The ravaged lower tier may not be climbable but it does provide a dramatic space over which to cast your eyes. The small collection of boulder problems have some good moves and are mostly fast drying. Catfoot 6B+ is baffling, Whisker 7A has a crux lunge just a whisker too high for comfort and several of the easier problems have uniquely shaped holds. Here’s a video. Now go and climb somewhere else.

 

 

 

Blackstone Edge

Blackstone Edge is one of those places where the weather is as much a part of the crag as the rock. The wind is always windier. The sun is always sunnier. The damp is always dampier. That might be a French word.

IMG_2394

It’s a place to seek out on bright winter days, when the ground is frozen, the rock is velcro and wet landings are non-existent. It’s a place to flee to on hot summer evenings, when the air is cooler on the moors and the cotton grass is dancing. It’s a place to attempt on super windy days, if only to experience biting cold, flying mats and the miserable feeling of defeat.

I first explored this crag with Gareth Wallis about a decade ago, and I’ve been returning ever since. In previous decades it had been the playground of various locals, who enjoyed it and kept it to themselves. Mostly, they were trad climbers just having a bit of fun. They climbed the obvious lines and then they went home to eat Lancashire hotpot and drink any sort of tea that isn’t from Yorkshire. And that’s exactly what Gareth and myself did on our first few trips, though I must confess I prefer hot Ribena as an apres-climb refreshment.

Gareth made an online topo in 2005, and although a top-secret US government team of internet hackers have repeatedly sabotaged every site it has been uploaded to, it has been a success. I know for a fact more than five people have been bouldering at Blackstone in the last decade. Once, I even saw chalk that wasn’t my own.

As a result of this increased interest, a few new lines were climbed, including the crag’s current hardest (note, there is certainly potential for harder) by Nik Jennings. This is Fridge Hugger, 7B+. Here are a couple of ascents on a day when the wet clag almost quenched our psyche. Luckily, psyche does not need oxygen and dry fuel to burn. Dryish rock will suffice…

But the thing with this crag is that it rewards persistence. Many people (ourselves included) came away with the impression that the crag was tricky to find in condition, and that there wasn’t all that much to do once you’d climbed in the obvious spots. I discovered the secret whilst exploring for the guidebook: many of the best lines at Blackstone aren’t obvious. The green boulders are only a small part of what the crag has to offer. All the bestest things are hidden round corners or down slopes or just a bit further on…  Here’s my list of the top ten best lines at Blackstone, the ones I think are premium quality gritstone plums. Climb any of these and you’ll be happier than the lobster in the tank when the tsunami hits the restaraunt.

  1. Paw Print 3
  2. Subtletease 4
  3. Cleft Of The Brave 5+
  4. Trig Slab 6A
  5. Blackstone Slab 6A
  6. Look To Windward 6B
  7. Pony Club 7A
  8. Hero 7A
  9. The Wedge 7A+
  10. The Lady’s Not For Gurning 7B

And you might as well admit it, you’ve always felt a bit like a lobster. Maybe you are actually a lobster. Have you considered that? Those big pincers might be a clue. Lookout, here comes the chef…

So those are the best of the best, in my highly esteemed opinion. Alongside those, there are other great problems – Blackstone Best, Nik’s Groove, Nick’s Traverse, Ape Hour, Swingers, Fridge Hugger etc, etc, etc. And there are the south crag routes, all small and perfect for soloing one after the other. And the highballs near the trig point if you fancy a flutter. In short, loads of things that will make you smile. Unless you are a lobster, in which case I’m not sure this is something your face can do. Sorry.

Here are some videos of various problems climbed in the last few years, most of which you will only find if you get the new Lancashire Bouldering Guidebook. That’s a hint, by the way. In fact, you should probably buy three. One for the crag, one for toilet reading and one for the coffee table. If you don’t have a coffee table, this a good reason to get one.

Anyway, videos. You might as well watch them. There’s not much else to do in that tank.

 

 

 

Happy New Projects

There is a very large rock upon which we all cling and clamber, each with our different sequences and styles. For this eternal boulder problem, gravity is not the enemy. Yes, I’m talking about planet Earth, vast mother of all boulders and boulderers. And the thing about being on Earth is this: you’re never going to top out, so you’d better think of some other purpose for being here.

The noble and pointless pursuit of bouldering (on the small rocks dotted all over the big rock) seems as good a reason as any. Of course, it faces hot competition from competitive cup stacking, tea bag folding and golf. Google those on youtube if you want to understand them. Except golf. Don’t expect to understand golf.

So as Earth once more completes her orbit round the sun, passing GO and collecting £200 in the process*, it seems fitting that I write about things to come. Today Earth begins her circuit anew, and since we boulderers all tackle Mini-Earths for fun, it seems a good time to cast the light of my Mini-Sun on new Mini-Voyages. Projects! Those beguiling lines of potential energy; those beckoning gulfs between our imagined abilties and our real limitations.

Projects then…

In this big ole county, there are many. And I want to do them all. Sadly, I can’t. Hopefully someone else can. In fact, I’d really love it if Lancashire’s harder lines got some attention. To that end, I’ve described tons of projects in the guidebook. Some will be fairly easy, lines I’ve just never got round to. Some will be moderately hard, lines that will take most people a bit of effort. And some will be BOOM-SHAKE-GROWL-HARD! Sorry about the caps. I have keyboard tourettes.

It’s the hard ones I’m going to write about here. There’s still time to get these done before the guidebook goes to print, and who knows, perhaps some hero will take up the challenge.

1. The Mono Project

Tucked away in the centre of the quarried colossus that is Wilton 1, this is a heavyweight vertical slice of desperation. A loud Up Yours to woody-trained roof-danglers, this wall is furiously thin. It’s possible (but fairly hard) to get your feet onto the starting jug, but from then on the handholds are all shy hyphens which seem to retreat into red embarassment when your fingers attempt an encounter. Did I say all the handholds? I misspoke, for there is one deep depression which may even be bottomless. A mono, drilled in the dim and distant past, extending into the even dimmer future. So what should you do with it? Place a finger in here and lock it down to your ankles, then pop for the finishing jug. If you can do all this, then you’ll be a man, my son. Or a woman. You may in fact change gender upon completion of this project. Who knows? Either way, it’ll be worth it.

Click the images to get a bigger version. Mostly screenshots, so not great quality pics.

mono project

2. The Super Whirlwind

On a hilltop far from anywhere, on a boulder steeper than night, there is an unfinished line. This location is Crag Stones, esoteric gem of the Bowland domain. Boulderers of hardy constitution will brave the 40min slog through bog-nasty fields to furtle on the dark side of this woody made of rock. There is a 7A called Black Whirlwind which climbs the second half of this line from a raised rock seat. Crawl lower and there are large underclings, from which progress will be attained if you snatch like the gods and crush like the elephant resides in your fingers. Conquer this wild beast and even the wind will bend to your touch. But you’ll still have to walk back through the bog.

crag stone project

3. The Other Impossible Slabs

John Gaskins WOZ ERE. In fact, over half a decade has passed since he climbed Endless Nameless, a wandering toes-and-fingernails tester tackling the centre of a slab surely drawn by the world’s master slab artist. That line goes at 8B, and it has never been repeated. It’s high and it’s hard. But who cares about such things when there are unclimbed lines to either side? To the left is a slot, which can be mantelled with a bit of persistence. From here to a sidepull there is a metre of blankness. There are pebbles, divots, unhelpful smears and even more unhelpful shadows which you have to test one by one just in case they are handholds. Nik Jennings put some time into this line, and declared it likely 8B. The landing is good enough with pads. The only thing that isn’t good enough is you. But supposing you rattle this one off with ease, there’s the possibility of an even harder line just right of Endless Nameless. I have no idea what the moves are. It looks vaguely possible, though some may disagree. If your curiousity is piqued, I’d advise bringing a rope and a spade, because the topouts all across this slab are overgrown. Dig these off and I imagine it would be a fast-drying sheet of gritstone perfection. Right now, it’s a lovely luminous green. Here’s a photo taken in the dark. Trust me, that’s rock I’m balancing on, not just hardened slivers of evening gloom.

Stabworth project

4. The Blunt End

Embedded in the heather and peat of Lancashire’s eastern reaches, far from the road and the grasp of convenience climbers, there is a boulder shaped like the head of a hammer. The blunt end of this has what look like holds, if you engage your Infra-Grit vision (for some humans, holds of this colour sadly lie outside the visible range). I’ve tried the mantel on its own, a stern gurn-fest that will likely be 7B/7B+ish. A sitstart is definitely possible, spanning from the back of a small roof to slopey lip holds. Bring your clampiest heels and your best upper arm bumps. Incidentally, there is also a sitstart to the sharp end of the hammerhead, finishing up the left of the arete, which has yet to be done. This will be about 7C, a consolation prize for a big hitter who gets knocked back by the main event. Appropriately, the hammerhead project is NAILS.

blunt end 2

5. The Last Great Brownstones Problem

The what now? Brownstones is all climbed out, surely? Actually there are several lurking monsters of megamassive ultradiffculty. Look to the Loooong Baaaack Waaaaall for a glimpse of these seldom appraised entities. In true Brownstones style they climb walls between cracks. The Last Great Gaps. Most of these are squeezed-in wotsits, but the best is a wall several metres wide, an unbreached line of curving chunky layaways that all face slightly the wrong way to be useful. Finishing at the halfway break would be a fine achievement. Topping out would be even finer, and a sitstart would be the icing on the bottom of the cake. Sadly, this line is often damp, so a dry spell is needed. But this is the last great glory at the most popular crag in Lancashire, and you don’t get owt for nowt round ‘ere.

brownstones project

Well, that’s enough for now. I predict the grades of all these projects will begin with an 8 and end with an oof. There are other projects in the 8th grade, but these are a few that fascinate me the most. There are also others that I’m not telling you about because I covet them so, or because other people would be miffed if I so brazenly flaunted their existence. Such is the nature of desire within this game of Mini-Earths. Why, you ask, would I even mention these other, more shadowy things? Because there h still have to be secrets. Even in 300 pages of guidebook descriptions, there has to be something to hunt for…

So let’s see what the new year brings. I hope it brings new people to new mini-worlds, with mini-glories and so mini fun times. That was a mini-pun.

Happy New Projects, everyone!

*Incidentally, Earth and all the other planets have by now passed GO so many times that all the fake Monopoly money has been handed out, and the great celestial banker is having to scratch I.O.U.’s on passing space debris. Unfortunately, this game was started a very long time ago, before small plastic houses were invented, so the gameplay has been limited to going round and round and round – with the occasional snide remark as one planet passes another. It’s been eternally boring. Like most Monopoly games.

 

Cadshaw

Right, let’s go. I plan to blog like I’ve never blogged before. This won’t be hard as I’ve never blogged before.

Expect wild adventures, mythical monsters, extravagant characters and lots of laughs. Now stop expecting them, because this blog is about bouldering. It’s about the making of a guidebook (did you know you can pre-order…), the discovering of rock and the bashing of the head of the frustration of the move of the ultimate impossibility. I looked in the dictionary, but although the English language has the largest lexicon in the world, there is no word for that.

So, bouldering in Lancashire. Lots of you have heard of it. Some of you have tried it. Some of you have run away from it. In the last two years more has been developed than ever before. It turns out quite a lot of the bouldering in Lancashire is on natural grit, on crags that the trad climbers never bothered with. Some of this is in the vast expanse of Bowland, and the rest is in the east, scattered on the hills around Todmorden and Littleborough.

I’m sure many people will buy this guide just for the moors; the big wild views, the untravelled rocks, the places that Yorkshiremen and Peakies never believed could exist in Lancashire. But there is another side to Red Rose County – the side that your mother warned you about. Yes, the Quarries.

This post is about a quarry called Cadshaw. It’s one of the first new places I looked at back in the day. Sometimes it’s crap, the midges are multitudinous, the rock is damp. But sometimes it lets you win, just briefly. I went back yesterday and despite the hail there were dry bits. Rick Ginns had spotted the possibility of an arete on the Red Wall, Gareth Wallis had tried it a bit, and yesterday I got lucky when I found a different sequence (it probably would have been quite a bit harder the way it was originally concieved.)

So here’s a little video. There’s also some footage of a possible direct start – a nails crux move to stick a small LH edge. And a short film of Oliver Müller making the FA of a lowball boulder nearby. I predict people will struggle with this one!

 

There’s more to do at Cadshaw. There’s a highball leaning wall hidden up near the river. There’s a series of thin sidepulls in the woods. There are other things too, things born of darkness and old magic. Shh! I will not speak more, because I’m probably confusing Cadshaw with Middle Earth. An easy mistake to make. Those projects won’t get done for the guidebook, but the lines are all described so you can seek them out if you hanker for harder challenges.

Anyway, here are some videos of established problems. Firstly, may I present Gareth Wallis, Cadshaw devotee. His unrepeated problem Rivers Of Blood is likely 7C/7C+ for anyone shorter than a basketball player. For Cadshaw footage, skip to 1.55.

 

And on the riverblocks, there is a strange waterside world where the best problem is probably Naiad, a toe-hooking special on a boulder in the middle of the river. I didn’t get that on film, so here are a few others on a next-door wall.

 

Lastly, but not leastly, if lower grade fun floats your metaphorical boat (on the waters of psyche and to the shores of kinaesthetic joy) then Cadshaw Small Quarry has oodles of sunny saunters, and it’s possible to climb all of them in less than 2min., if you have taken some sort of drug…

(Video made by Danny Mason. I just found it on youtube. I like it.)

 

That’s all for now. Merry Christmas one and all!

 

 

 

Lancashire Be Known

Once upon a time in the great vast emptiness, there was nothing. Except God, of course. And God had an itch to go bouldering, so he created the world in which to place a multitude of rock forms. Then he created man to brush these boulders and keep them clean so that when the conditions were ripe, God could nip out after work and crush* his projects without having to worry about scrittle. Over time, the race of man became somewhat confused about its reason for being. Some men worshipped false pop idols. Some men became lost upon meaningless paths (usually in Ikea). Some men turned to the devil, who lured them with cams and nuts and other gaudy baubles.

God was greatly disgusted with the antics of man. He abandoned his physical existence on earth and took up residence EVERYWHERE, a bit like fungal spores. He gave man one last chance for redemption. He gave man the ability to boulder and to worship him through this divine activity. And slowly but surely, the number of his disciples has grown. Bright pockets of faith now blaze across the land, but in Lancashire the holy light has flickered only dimly and erratically.

This has to change. There’s some flippin’ brill bouldering in Lancashire. Thorn Crag, Longridge, Brownstones. Those are for starters, but they are only the tip of the boulder-berg. If you like natural grit, try Stony Edge, try Dove Lowe, try the Bull Stones. If you like quarried rock, try the Wiltons, try Stanworth, try Stronstrey Bank.

I wrote a guidebook and everything, so now you’ll know where to go. It’s called Lancashire Bouldering and it contains 300 pages of bouldering goodness. You can buy it from this very site.

Anyway, I plan to post videos here of some of my favourite problems, but for now check out the video on top of these words for a little teaser.

*I generally avoid using the word “crush”. We can’t let those pesky Americanians take over, can we? But on this occasion I think it’s justified. When God boulders, he crushes.