Mountain Journeys

Climbing Instructors Lake District – Great days out with good friends


Kat & Pippa at Shepherds crag in Borrowdale - Climbing Instructors Lake District


Climbing Instructors Lake District

So what does a climbing instructor do on their day off? Hmmmm, sometimes nothing but rest, but more often than not a day off from work will mean a day spent in the mountains with friends. This will depend on a number of factors such as the weather and availability of a climbing partner.

But when all that aligns, it’s off to the rocky places we go.

A few recent forays for me have all been with fellow outdoor professionals and we’ve had a blast every time. More of the same please.

Climbing as much as we do, it does get more challenging to find new crags and routes, but we are constantly on the lookout for new places and do find some absolute corkers.

About a month ago I was out with Jim of Lake District Climbing. Having both climbed masses of rock in the Lakes, we were both keen for something new and this came in the form of Moss Rigg Quarry near Tilberthwaite. A former slate quarry and absolutely massive, I had only just heard of some newly developed sport climbs here and all from a trusted source.

The approach walk became quite an adventure but eventually we found a way in and to the base of some climbing routes. The bolts all looked new and well placed, the rock did look slightly suspect though!

Still, the sun was shining, we were sheltered from the cold wind, and were surrounded by rock, all is looking very well indeed. So we geared up and got on the routes. After recent rains a lot of the rock was still damp, so our choices were somewhat limited and we decided to climb just 3 routes that were all dry and looked fairly amenable. All 3 were really nice climbs, never too tricky, maybe up to around 6a+ and very well bolted. Once we’d rattled through these we either had to get on much harder routes or call it a day, we opted for the later.

I’ve also managed a couple of trips out with Si of Lakeland Ascents. Si is always so busy it can be tricky to pin him down for a days cragging, so pretty cool that we’ve managed 2 so far this year. Raven crag in Langdale for starters and a cruise up Centipede gave us a pleasant afternoon on the trad. This is a straightforward climb, but with a few trickier than expected moves making us pause for thought.

We also had a sunny afternoon at Castle Rock. This towers over St.John’s in the Vale and is a great place early and late in the season as it dries so quickly. Here we enjoyed 4 lovely routes on super rough volcanic rock. Later in the afternoon a strong wind whipped up and this was our cue to go, leaving a few more routes for another visit.

There have been a few days out too with Sam of Lake District Mountaineering. Sam has had a rather busy winter preparing for and then cruising through his Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Award. This is the top level award for a UK based climbing instructor, awesome effort pal. One way or another we usually manage to find some fun adventures when we head out together. A few weeks ago we ventured  up to Gimmer crag as the weather forecast suggested it would be sheltered. Ha ha, not so. It was freezing in a bitterly cold wind!

We still managed to enjoy a multi-pitch route and checked out a descent route that neither of us use much. So a good and worthwhile day despite frozen fingers all round.

We tried again with a visit to Brandy crag and Brandy crag west in the Duddon Valley. Sadly the wind was to be our enemy once more. We managed one very long single pitch climb on Brandy crag west and this was very nice. I came close to being blown off the crag though. So we decided to move to the slightly lower Brandy crag. This was more sheltered and we managed 3 more routes, all new to us too. Sam leading an amazing HVS called ‘The Groove’. I led a Severe and MVS, the Severe merely being an access route to the better rock above.

On a bright and sunny day in the Lakes, the Duddon Valley was empty, I think we saw only 2 people from the time we left the parking area to when we returned. The Lake District is a very busy place, but if you know where to go solitude can be found.

Yesterday I was out with Sam again. He had suggested Black Crag in Borrowdale.  This is a brilliant crag with stunning routes throughout the grade range. We have done many of them though and I was keen for something new. So suggested ‘Holly Tree Corner’ an MVS 4b route over 4 pitches. The guidebook suggested plenty good climbing so why not give it a try.

Pitch 1 started up a moss covered slab and gave plenty of tricky and insecure moves. A good lead from Sam. Pitch 2 followed part of the classic ‘Troutdale Pinnacle’ and I led this part. Pitch 3 was billed as ‘atmospheric’. It was certainly thought provoking. Amongst some very good rock we climbed through a jungle of gorse, heather and moss. This made the climbing more challenging than the grade suggested. Another good lead from Sam. It was then up to me to get us to the top of the crag. The guidebook made this pitch sound awful so I wasn’t looking forward to it. Thankfully it was actually okay and all on rock.

Rain was forecast to arrive by late afternoon and it was already 3pm so we made our way back to the road and home. A grand adventure.

On Friday of last week I got out with Iain of Lakes Outdoor Experience. Iain has worked in the mountains all of his adult life, so it’s fair to say he knows his stuff. We don’t climb together as much as I’d like, but we make an effort.

A few venues had been discussed and it was decided we’d try the Gaitkins selection of crags on Cold Pike. This would almost certainly be nice and quiet.

The approach walk from Wrynose Bottoms was steeper than i’d remembered and on this hot and sunny day we did need a few pauses and dips in the streams.

We first climbed at ‘Furrowed Brow’ crag ticking a couple of routes up to VS. A lovely little crag with a grassy base and magnificent outlook over the Duddon Valley. We later moved on to ‘Dream Buttress’ and climbed 4 routes here. The rock was even better and the routes had a friendlier feel to them.

We both agreed this whole area would make a great place for families to enjoy climbing in an idyllic setting. Flat grassy bases at the crags, wonderfully rough rock and staggeringly beautiful views. On nice weather days I’ll certainly be putting it out there as a suggestion to people.  

So, some wonderful days out with good friends and some fine adventures shared.


Traditional rock climbing is an adventurous activity. It is good for us both mentally and physically. It is a myth that a lot of upper body strength is required, although some core strength is beneficial. 

Once the basics are learned, it is a relatively low cost activity too, with access to outdoor climbing venues being completely free of charge. When starting out it is a good idea to get some instruction and this can come in a variety of forms.

  1. A competent friend
  2. By joining a climbing club who cater for beginners (some will, some won’t, so check)
  3. Hiring an instructor

All methods have their pros and cons, so choose what is going to suit your objectives best. If you decide to hire an instructor we’d be very happy to help and can tailor days and courses to suit. Check out some of what we can offer here. All the people mentioned in this blog post are active climbing instructors too, check them out and see which of us fits you best.

Thanks for reading




Iain at Furrowed Brow crag - Climbing Instructors Lake District



Jim at Moss Rigg Quarry - Climbing Instructors Lake District



Sam on Holly 'Tree Corner' - Climbing Instructors Lake District



An equalised 3 point belay at Castle Rock - Climbing Instructors Lake District



Heading home after a cragging day - Climbing Instructors Lake District



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