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.
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.
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.