Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Bull Stones Bouldering

Many years ago I went to checkout the small gritstone escarpment of Great Bull Stones (GBS), in the heart of the the Forrest of Bowland. On that occasion I approached via Wolfhole Crag, a lengthy and arduous trek across some pretty wild moorland. The day was a bleak misty affair, and having reached the crag I was quickly underwhelmed by the potential climbing on offer. Having scoped the western portion of the crag (and mainstay of the crag according to the OS map) I decided I'd seen enough and headed home, quickly forgetting about the not so Great Bull Stones.

This past weekend, 12 years on, I returned to the crag for another recce, having been tipped off by Mike Binks (who visited the crag the week before) that the boulders of Little Bull Stones (LBS) - essentially the eastern continuation of GBS and a sector of the crag I had not previously visited - offered a better concentration of sizeable blocks and lines, which may be of more interest than the more scattered collection of generally small boulders provided by the GBS escarpment.

Having parked at the base of the Hornby Road (a historic Roman road come bridleway linking Slaidburn to Hornby) I followed this substantial track to the near summit of Croasdale Fell, before heading up the short slope to the western most rocks of Great Bull Stones - as per the described method in the basic topo Mike had acquired and kindly passed on. From here I stuck to the crag line, taking in GBS and the surrounding blocks, to eventually reach Little Bull Stones. I didn't climb anything at GBS but having climbed most of the topo's described lines at LBS, I climbed (added?) about 10 more problems which were not covered. For the benefit of anyone who's interested, the best of these were are as follows:

1: Stinger 7A+/7B (SDS) From two low crimps work up the wall to the top of the block. Bunched start.
2: Dream On Sit [?] - 6A+ (SDS) The excellent curving arete climbed on the right.
3: Toro Loco - 6A+ (SDS) Use low edges to gain the rib and follow it to its finish, then top out via a big juggy pocket.
4: The Scoop - 6A (SDS) As per p3 but once the rib is gained mantle into the scoop and up.

5: Cascadia - 7A/+ (SDS) Start under the small roof and climb a direct line through the left of side of the 'sloper cascade'.
6: Bully Beef - 7B (SDS) Climb the LH arete of the slab from sitting at the base of the arete on the left.

Cascadia & Bully Beef videos:

Overall, the area is certainly pretty esoteric, however its beautifully remote location combined with the small but compact bouldering circuit at LBS makes it worth a visit for those who like moorland areas, well off the beaten track.

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