Gary Gibson on Bag of Bones, Harpur Hill. Photo: Carl Ryan
Despite current controversies in the Peak District and numerous distractions caused by various climbers of the anti-sports-climbing fraternity, there has been a healthy growth of cliffs supporting sports climbing in the Peak District over the past few years. Such development has not been aimed at reducing the ethics and traditions of British climbing but rather, to the contrary, in providing an arena where climbers in favour of sports-climbing, as well as traditional climbing, can taste the satisfying style of movement on rock without the inherent worries of whether they will hit the ground or not. Inevitably this also helps them push their grade beyond their limit in a European style which many climbers have enjoyed whilst climbing abroad.
All of these cliffs described here are either newly developed or have become neglected due to lack of interest, therefore the arguments against their ‘redevelopment’ as a sports crag do not hold water. Once a cliff has been so developed it is wrong for anti-sports climbers to reclaim the cliff for their own ends by condemning the activists that have preceded their claims.
Of course the arguments can and will go on but the information listed below provides update information on current (BMC) guidebooks, an outline of the cliffs best routes, when is the choice time to go there and whether, sports climber or traditionalist, there is anything left for future development.
If you wish to pass comments on grades or are interested in buying the topo/guidebooks, then please contact me at where I can provide information on cost etc:
The Retreat (20.6.14) A new bay with a number of short intense pitches and a few longer ones. New Crag at Harpur Hill
Majorca Buttress (added on 17.05.2014) 14 bouldery little routes from 6b to 7a+ in Water Cum Jolly.
Harpur Hill: (updated 11.1.2014) completely updated with two relatively new areas and new routes spread all over the crag: The Racetrack: Pool Wall: The Playground. New regearing on The Dark Side Left and The Dark Side Right
Long Tor Quarry Right-Hand: (14.6.13) a newly developed section of crag with a number of worthwhile and very easily accessible rotues in the grade 6 region.
Garage Buttress: (updated 24.3.14) a number of new routes and cleaning up of existing routes amongst the trad routes. Updated with another 35m 6c+ pitch.
Cawdor Quarry: (updated 11.7.13) a new find in the Matlock area. Loads of route in the mid 6s through to a few harder offerings. Faces east and gets no sun but only 2 mins from the car. Porn walls and Rusty Walls regearing and cleaning underway. Currently in excellent condition.
Smalldale: (updated 11.8.12) a superb venue with a varied selection of routes on quarried walls. Originally mostly in the 7s grade but now with a wealth of easiest routes in the low 6s on the Outlying Walls. All have good length but this is not a winter venue - great for a summer evening. All now regeared save for a few on the Crystal Maze Wall.
Crag X (updated 3.4.12) seven new routes added and whole crag recleaned and most routes regeared. Good climbing on excellent quality natural rock.
The Ravine (updated 11.6.11) a relatively small venue with ease of access and a handful of worthwhile routes.
Cowdale (updated 27.4.2010) completely cleaned up and re-geared where necessary with stainless gear. 10 new routes of easier grades from 6a to 6c.
Slaley Brook: (updated 27.3.11) a major find with a wealth of routes in the mid 6s (a couple in the 5s) on the shorter walls and three major classics on the Tango walls together with the longest sports route in Britain (45m). The Marble wall has also seen a recent re-cleaning exercise and all the brambles have now been removed. Some new routes have also been added.
Long Tor Quarry:(19. 9 2011) the old quarry in Matlock has received a big makeover care of two local climbers and has a number of excellent new routes together with the old ones being tidied up.
Turkey Dip Rocks (27.7.07) another crag to be recently updated in the bad weather. Steep and very overhanging with a handful of quality hard routes.
Staden Quarry: (20.6.2010) the popular Peak traditional venue with loads of excellent face routes on the best quality quarried limestone
Masson Lees: (updated 4.9.2010) Superb overhanging limestone walls littered with a number of mid to high grade sports climbs. Balanced by a number of easier routes as well. A surprising find.
Cowdale: home to the thug. Many routes of the uphill variety on a crag that will have your eyes bulging as much as your arms. Takes seepage in winter, superb when dry and provides a canopy of cover. The routes start at 7a.
Horseshoe Quarry: (updated 3.4.2012) the most popular sports crag in Britain? Loads of routes in all grades and now even in the 4s and 5s. The main wall provides the best place to climb but the depths with which people will go to find new routes on the outlying walls is endless. And new routes continue to appear.
Deep Dale: (updated 3.9.13) rarely visited and with a handful of sports routes on varying crags. A good place to flex the muscles in solitude!
Devonshire Buttress: (updated 4.9.06) easy access and a plethora of shortish but worthwhile pitches. Hard on the fingers and grades from 6a up to 7b.