Seeking St Bees

My first experience with St Bees was actually around eleven years ago when I was learning to drive. I saw some images of the boulders in a magazine article. The rock looked just like something from Indian Creek and I was immediately compelled to seek it out. There was so little information available on the crag that we just parked in the village and started walking along the clifftop looking for any sign of the boulders. We never found the proper venue but ended up at Fleswick bay; still a lot of fun.

Eleven years later and armed with proper intel, the experience still felt very adventurous. The descent routes are a very exposed affair down super steep cliffs. Foot holes are cut into the rock with terrifying in-situ chains/ropes to secure yourself. Pretty gripping when you're carrying all of the extras for bouldering. The agenda for the weekend was my friend's stag do, so we had a pretty large group. It felt like a mountain expedition looking back to see everyone making their way down behind you. The cliffs tower over you as you reach sea level.

The crag can take on very different personalities based on the conditions. It can feel peaceful and welcoming on a calm day or atmospheric and imposing when the mist has set in. On our second day huge waves burst over the ledges as we worked the boulders.

The climbing style at is very much like Font or Peak gritstone: body-position dependent and quite technical in nature. Lots of lovely slopers and very few sharp holds. There is a climb for everyone really, whether you're looking for chilled out intermediate climbing to raw power or tension-based technical climbing. All sorts of unique honeycomb erosion features scatter the surfaces unlike anything I've seen before. There's no doubt St Bees is a pretty special place to boulder in the U.K. and I'm definitely looking forward to going back.

Photographer, filmmaker, based in the UK