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  1. KMC Northumberland Meet Report – Apr 19

    (…we had a fun time in the sun!)

    Freezing Friday
    Richard Easton and Dave Horton began the meet without me because they cheated by being retired. A suitably cold wind blew through them on Bowden Doors, north of Alnwick as they ticked off three classics, Castle Crack, Russet Groove and Crescent Wall. I joined them after dark for a pint in the salubrious-Salmon before settling into a bottle of JD and sailing with Captain Morgan in the pleasant Bluebell bunkhouse in Belford.

    Sunny Saturday
    Spring was in the air…After watching two rabbits doing what rabbits do best in the warm sunshine…we left our breakfast, and set off to Bowden Doors to make our own entertainment (see photos). Sadly the handful of KMC climbers hoping to join us didn’t make it – perhaps the torrential rain in Keswick had put them off.
    We blitzed the crag’s lower grade climbs starting with Flake Crack, Deception Crack (smoothly led by Dave who breezed past the difficulties) and Second Staircase (efficiently led by Richard who eased through an awkward crux). All the routes were “way-under graded” of course …but we were in Northumberland so no sympathy please).
    The dusty sandstone challenges kept coming with a pumpy knuckle trapping ‘Sue’ (S going HVS, taking combined efforts to lead – well done Dave) and then the awkward Flake Wall with jungle variation finish through the heather (well led Richard).
    A trip to see ’The Wave’ section of the crag had us rightly inspired (but not enough to try one of the E6’s up it). We did seek out some short walls to solo up at the end of the crag (VD-VS) before having a well earned sunbathe in the afternoon sun. Nice.
    We returned to the fray with the aptly named Scorpion (VS). I thrutched my body through the crux at the top, only to watch Dave elegantly meander through it followed by a bridging master class from Richard. Once they had all sailed up the route we noticed it was beer o’clock so off we went to refuel. More JD and Captain M during Match of the Day and we were all happily asleep.

    A perfect Peel on Sunday
    This morning we ate breakfast, serenaded by two duck having it away with each other. What is it with the patch of grass I front of the bunkhouse? Second breakfast ruined, we packed the cars and headed for Peel Crag on Hadrians Wall.

    Dave led Route One, a pitch of slightly damp, slightly slimy whinstone (a sort of blocky crystalline sandstone). A lot a gritstone techniques were employed with more Northumberland grading from the guidebook – well led Dave. The time-lapse feature on my camera was also used to good effect.
    We then tried (& failed) to avoid the tourists on Hadrian’s Wall to get back to our packs and move further round to Richard’s 3 star route Sunset. What a cracker. Well worth the stars. Richard even got some additional good luck by putting his had into a fresh pile of jackdaw dung right at the top of the route. Some guys get all the luck.
    Sadly I pulled something in my should near the top so when I tried to lead the layback start to my next route I didn’t get far without calling it a day. Dave and Richard polished Layback Buttress off and then we had a quick dash to the car park before our tickets ran out.

    This was a fun weekend meet with great and interesting company. The photos and film clips only give a hint of the fun we had.

    Thanks to Richard and Dave,

    Andy Cannon

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