Learning to love sandstone

I happily managed to slot in my third foray down to St. Bees South Head for some more messing around on the boulders. I have to say that I am definitely coming round to the attractions of sandstone!

The view towards Seascale from the little cove containing the first traverse

If you brush off the accumulated dirt, ignore the woodlice under your nose and the generally neglected atmosphere, there is some great climbing and training to be had.

Great textured rock for all kinds of funky holds: pinches, smears, monos etc.

I split my time between two traversing problems for the sake of consistency and stamina, and found myself using all kinds of holds and moves that I would never dream of doing on a lead climb: desperate one-finger pockets, shallow pinches, grabbing seam and smears with the feet, simply relying on the friction of the rubber on the rock shoes. Still, excellent training for conditioning and problem solving.

Looking along the second traverse

I was really encouraging also to notice the improvement and gains on the problems I tackled. I figured out all the moves on both traverses, but was just undone by my lack of stamina. Interesting to note how small factors make big differences, such as avoiding the temptation to overreach with hands and feet and trying moves in one push to use the momentum gained.

Historical graffiti

Unfortunately, this will probably be my last time at St. Bees, but it has been thoroughly worthwhile, without even visiting the excellent and more well-known North Head or Fleswick. I will definitely be back.

You can always tell the older graffiti – this one I quite like


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