There is a place in the UK known by the locals as "Gods Own Country". Being from the wrong side of the Pennies by local standards I find it difficult to agree with this claim—however, one thing I can agree on is the quality of the climbing. It is simply world class. If you haven't figured it out yet, I am referring to Yorkshire. Welcome to the moors!
In the moors there lies an all together different world to wander and climb if of course you don’t mind the approach walk. You will find grit that has yet to succumb to the polish of many hands, grit waiting to bite back on that poorly placed jam. But you'll also find big skies and the silence of the high moors as your reward. You have on the one hand committing approaches and a genuine remoteness to contend with. Conversely, where the approaches are short, you will be met with fierce grading and coarse grit, all of which is soothed by the sheer beauty of the location. Rolling hills and deep valleys criss cross their way across the county, littering the tops with gritstone detritus and endless venues to explore.
Yorkshire has some of the finest climbing in the United Kingdom, with a long history of pioneers such as Arthur Dolphin, John Syrett, Pete Livesey and in more recent times Ben Bransby, all of whom have had the necessary hunger to try hard and commit to moves—traits which, might I add, you will need in order to have a successful day on Yorkshire grit.
You will struggle to find a better place to watch the sun set during the spring evenings than Earl Crag. It's enough to make you forget about the pasting you have just received on the nails hard bouldering, muttering, "There is no way that’s V5”. If you venture further into Bronte Country you will discover a gritstone edge which goes by the name of Rylstone. A stiff 60-minute walk will greet you with quite possibly the best venue in the county. You can see as far as Pendle Hill in Lancashire and the southern fells of the Lake District to the North West. As you traverse the moorland edge you are met with white sandy paths which meander their way through the purple heather. The boulders are scattered across the tops for a mile with perfect landings and astonishing lines of sheer perfection and clarity. Look across the valley you can see Lords Seat, Crookrise and Simon's Seat all waiting to be climbed and explored.
The crags around these parts are not to be sieged like their respective cousins in the Peak District. They are to be respected and understood. You have to take the time to understand each venue's character and slowly succumb to the way of the Yorkshire Moors style of climbing. You cannot simply thug your way up a route. Walk slowly and embrace the committing days. Look closely and you will see the subtle differences in the landscapes as you move though the county; gritstone edges and deep limestone gorges—it has it all. There is an isolation up on the high moors which will re-energise you whilst you wander through the peat, pondering on the challenges to come. It is unlikely you will meet another climber, a rare thing indeed in our ever popular sport.
Yorkshire based climber, photographer, writer, alpinist