Iving Crag in Kentmere - a peaceful dead end valley where the only disturbance to the quiet is distant thrum of engines as cars try to rearrange themselves in a complex parking puzzle on the tiny cramped lane to avoid the £5 payment for a privilege of using a field. Actually the whole journey down to The Lakes was unusually relaxing and pleasingly swift, right until leaving Kendal from whence it was insta-gridlock presumably all the way to Ambleside and beyond. Thankfully we were only stuck for enough time to remind me how shit Lakes roads / driving / fucking bumbly drivers are, before swerving off to Kentmere. Iving Crag is a bit off-piste but it's pretty good for the mid-extreme climber and we got a few good routes done, I didn't do anything too hard as it was all a bit steep and intimidating. By the time we were shat out of the valley, the queue had pissed off to whatever BnBs / holiday cottages it was infesting and it was another relaxing journey over Wrynose to Duddon.
Far Hill Crag in the Duddon Valley - not a dead end valley but even more peaceful, and one of the best places to escape from the hordes in The Lakes, as well as sampling some fine outcrop hidden gems. Far Hill Crag is relatively far up the hill towards the backside of Dow and is thus more hidden than most, it also has some finer gems than most. Every route would be worth an extra star at a more popular crag, and the exceptionally rough rock - with a texture of cement sponge and endless right-facing side-pulls - is worth a visit in itself. If you have working legs and can cope with the walk-in, that is. I don't, but I could, only because it's relatively low angle for it's long length. A couple of routes in and things were going great, but the disturbance of the day came when the perfectly bone dry forecast turned into a drizzly swirling rain shower when I was part way up Lagonda. I suspect they heard my tantrumic swear-a-thon in Seathwaite if not over the hill in Coniston too. Thankfully after a furious cheese sandwich and an hour sulking, the skies cleared enough to grab a few more routes. It got a bit too cold to make full use of the evening, but doing First Of Class (another Duddon guide photo tick) made the day for me, an exhilerating testpiece and my hardest route of the year so far.
Burnt Crag in the Duddon Valley - closer to the road although just as arduous to walk up to, and far more of a honeypot with classic trade routes like Shifter, but still just as tranquil compared to the fleshpots of Langdale just over the mountain ranges. Well it was tranquil for a bit and then a group of local old boys turned up and any semblance of quiet was shattered by a storm of Cumbrian banter, beta, and bloody good laughs. This was actually quite welcome as they were an entertaining bunch, I do like meeting local veterans as they know all the hidden holds and gear placements, are amused when you don't find them, impressed when you ignore them, and generally can share good knowledge and crack about the crags. This was particularly true on the day and perhaps the highlight was the reaction to my last ditch solution to the squirmingly thin intricacies of Scorched Earth (yup another photo tick, the Duddon guide is full of inspiration that way). Tenuously bridged with a juggy ledge just out of reach, the obvious choice was to leap sideways for it....."foooking 'ell, he jumped for it! Did you see that Keith? Aye, foook me that's the move of the day, never seen anyone jump for that!". Quite amusing as that was considerably easier than the moves below.
3 days. 8 routes. 2 new venues. Mostly good weather and only 1 hour of rain and 10 minutes of traffic jams, I can live with that. Quite a lot of walking, and a few pretty challenging routes....I'm feeling more on form and more inspired. So here's a picture of the sunset from Far Hill: