Stanage: Queen of Grit (Part 1)

The view of Stanage Edge is surely one of the iconic images of British climbing. Not for nothing is she known as the Queen of Grit. James tells me that he vividly remembers his first glimpse of Stanage. I vividly recall his reaction as we approached from Hathersage and the Edge reared up out of the landscape, like the ramparts of a great castle, James’s jaw dropped.

He spoke in soft, reverent tones “Wow. Just wow. Are we going to climb there, Mummy?” We’d enjoyed our first climbing trip to the Peak District, but it was October before we had the chance to go again. I hesitated it would mean a long drive and a lot of faffing for just one day of climbing, and the weather was bound to be rubbish. Then I remembered how, in the years BC [Before Children], we used to drive for hours just to do one route.

I gave myself a good talking to for having become so boring, and packed the gear. When the weekend came, it was clear I’d been right about the weather the forecast was for patchy drizzle and low cloud. Where to go? Although Stanage is mercilessly exposed to the weather, it is often a good bet on a damp day because the rock dries quickly between showers. So, Stanage it was.

James was delighted when he learned we were going to climb at ‘that amazing looking place at the top of the hill’. As we climbed to the Edge, the moisture hung in the air and clung to the bracken, giving a real autumn feel. The boys were undeterred, which pleased me. It’s good to know they have inherited our obsessions! We identified some routes and established a Base Camp beside them.

Then, the boys and I, together with our friends, set about climbing some routes, while Daddy looked after Little Sister. Climbing with several children is quite a lengthy affair, and takes a few adults to administer properly. You have to be quite careful to make sure they don’t leave any gear behind. I have found you just have to moderate your expectations and think about it in terms of how much fun you had, rather than how many routes you climbed.

Although it was windy, especially when belaying at the top, the weather improved and we even had a glimpse of blue sky. Little Sister and Daddy also had a great time, and alternated between spectating, eating, and scrambling about over the boulders. It won’t be long before she wants to have a go too!

Written by Helen & Ian on Thursday, 22 June 2017.

Posted in Mountain High


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