Sunday, 25 April 2010

Ennerdale Bouldering Circuit

Yesterday I thought it was about time I got around to checking out a small, far flung bouldering circuit I was told about a number of years ago, by an intrepid explorer known only (to me at least) as “Pil”.

The circuit in question is a few miles down the valley of Ennerdale, in western Lakeland. For those unfamiliar with the valley it is extremely isolated, by UK standards at least, and takes a fair while to reach even from the nearest sizable town of Whitehaven. On top of this, the valley road terminates at the head of the lake, from which the valley derives its name. As such the only way to reach the end of the coulee is on foot or by mountain bike. Personally I think this is great, as the valley gives you a real sense of what the Lakes was like before the onslaught of tourism and all the cheese ball trimmings and litter loutish behavior that brings. Anyway I digress…

Tom Newberry on Visual Impact 7a+/V7

Let’s make one thing clear from the outset: this place is not a major destination; it’s not even a minor destination. However, from time to time we do get the odd request for bouldering information relating to Ennerdale, so in the interest of definitivism [sic] I thought we should recce the area and report the findings.

Pil, the aforementioned spiller of the beans, documented his information in way of a photographic journal of what he had sent and descriptions for the lines in question. Unfortunately though we didn’t have any real idea of where the blocks were, so we just had to head down the valley in exploratory mode hoping for the best. After a couple of miles of fruitless searching we had a piece of good fortune; two gents – obviously climbers – came pounding down the valley track on mountain bikes, after the obligatory “aye up” I realized I had met one of the gents before. It turned out to be a guy I had last met in Switzerland two years previously (Neil I believe is his name), who was out with his mate to do some routes on Pillar Rock. Fortuitously, Neil’s mate was a local who recognised, from my description, the trackside block, and kindly filled us in with location details. The game was afoot.

Tom Newberry on The Grinding Mind 7b+/V8

Once we had located the boulder by the track we pieced together the locations of the other boulders (all in the near vicinity) and in turn had a great day working our way through Pil’s circuit – I had printed off all his images, and as such identifying the blocks was easy enough once we were on the right track. Despite the isolation of the area, if you are a keen boulderer operating in the mid to higher grades (the best problems are 7a/+ and above) and are ever in the area for some reason, Pil’s lines are well worth seeking out. In particular, Visual Impact (7a+/V7) and The Grinding Mind (7b+/V8) are absoutly superb, and would be classics at any crag.

Due to the esoteric nature of the area I haven’t put together an actual topo as such. However, the following *Google map contains parking, approach, boulder locations, and problem descriptions, which should suffice if used in combination with a few printed off action shots.

View Ennerdale Boulders in a larger map

*Note: The forests on the Google map do not accurately represent those actually in place, as the area is deforested and replanted regularly - i.e. the tree cover changes depending on logging activities.

To check out Pil's original info/images click here.


GCW said...

Mountain Bike is the way to go to get up Ennerdale, decent tracks all the way.

Josh said...

its a shame there is no topo we are staying just down the valley at the low gillerthwaite i wonder how many others use this for climbing trips

LakesBloc said...

Hi Josh,

To be fair if you look at the Google map (on the blog), it tells you
exactly where each block is and what the problems are. If you make a
few notes I'm sure you could find everything pretty easily. I found
every problem with a couple of pictures of the blocks - it all centers
on the main valley track.