After a week of working, we had to get out. All week I had craved the fresh air of the countryside. I needed to break the monotonous routine and escape the claustrophobia of city life. We caught the usual 09:22 train. Our destination: Hathersage. Our excitement built as we left the high rise buildings of Manchester and were greeted with the rolling hills of Derbyshire.
Looking down the valley, the morning mist was slowly moving its way down towards the village of Grindleford. The car park was empty and with a break in the traffic, a moment of calm descended with only a slight rustle of the trees to be heard. The approach to where we planned to warm up was steady and pleasant, the winding path leading our eyes to the brow of the hill where stood the lonely and isolated block. For a year I studied, in some depth, psychogeography, an approach to geography that relates to the direct behavior and emotions that are created by being in a certain place at a certain time. This is something that I can relate to; those emotions experienced by being at each individual crag, whether it's a feeling of inspiration, intimidation or relaxation. The combination of both the atmosphere or the climbing itself can create very different emotions and feelings that our subconscious pick up on.
Mantles, pebble pulling and improbable slopers are what give the art of gritstone climbing its reputation. Unlike walking away from a limestone crag feeling a little jaded with tired fingers, a day on the grit leaves you feeling as if you have just done battle. Cuts, scrapes and grazes are a regular occurrence after a wrestle with Northern England's most popular rock. Anyone who isn't necessarily familiar with gritstone climbing won't quite appreciate the fight of some of the mantles. Mantles like the ones we found can not be done glamorously; you can only grit your teeth, roll up your sleeves and dig deep.
From the slightly exposed mantles of Mother's Pet we made the short walk to Secret Garden, completely out of the wind and virtually silent. Unfortunately the majority was damp and with this, alongside an abundance of slopers, it was looking somewhat unlikely we would be able to get much on the tick list done. We packed up and headed home, almost getting left behind by the bus to Hathersage which struggled to spot us in the gradually fading light. Feeling relieved, completely boxed and satisfied with our efforts we reflected on our day, hoping to return soon.
Climber, photographer and creator from Northern England