Lancashire Rock
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General Notes

Safety Advice
Climbing is an inherently dangerous activity with a danger of personal injury or death. All climbers must be aware of and accept that there are risks and therefore take all reasonable precautions so as not to cause accidents to themselves or others.

The details of climbs given in this guide, including their gradings and any references to in-situ or natural protection, are made in good faith. Wherever possible climbs have been checked and their grades debated to give a consensus opinion.

Unfortunately, climbs can change; holds fall off, rock becomes dirty and in-situ gear can deteriorate or disappear. Even small changes can significantly alter the difficulty or seriousness of a route and so, whilst it is believed that the information in this guide was accurate at the time that it was compiled, it is essential that climbers should judge the conditions of each climb before committing themselves.

Definitive Guidebooks
This guidebook, like previous Lancashire guidebooks, attempts to provide a definitive and comprehensive description of all the rock-climbing on the crags and quarries within the area. The BMC and individual authors still wish to retain their rights under copyright law, but are happy for the text and information within this guidebook to be used for future definitive guidebooks to the area. However, the voluntary work that was put into the production of this guidebook was intended to be for the benefit of all climbers in the area and not for the financial gain of a handful of climbers producing a selective guidebook or topo guide to a limited selection of the crags. Therefore, it is a condition of the sale and distribution of this guidebook that the information and route descriptions should not be copied or used in any selective guidebook without the specific written permission of the BMC.

It has been noted that some of the information from the previous Lancashire Area guidebook was used without permission in a Rockfax to the Lake District. This was considered to be a gross abuse of the voluntary efforts of all the workers who contributed to the guidebook, which, incidentally was made even worse by errors introduced in the selective guidebook. Furthermore, the presence of such guidebooks, written solely for a profit motive, undermines the definitive guidebook programme that has been so successful for British climbing. Accordingly, it must be noted that legal redress will be sought if the information and route descriptions from this guidebook are abused in a similar way.

Grades

Adjectival Grades
Throughout the guide adjectival grades have been used to indicate the overall difficulty of the climbs, taking into account all the factors that may contribute to the difficulty or seriousness of the climb. These factors include: the climb's technical difficulty, strenuosity, the sustained nature of the climbing, rock quality and protection. They also assume that the rock is dry. The grades are: Moderate (M), Difficult (D), Very Difficult (VD), Severe (S), Hard Severe (HS), Very Severe (VS), Hard Very Severe (HVS), and Extremely Severe. The latter grade is subdivided into E1, E2, E3, E4, E5, E6 and E7 etc.

Technical Grades
Technical grades have been given for all pitches of 4a and above, but for some short problems only a technical grade has been given.

Anchor Grades
If a route is reasonably protected, on good rock and is not very sustained, the overall difficulty will be determined solely by the technical difficulty. Thus, for each technical grade, there is an adjectival grade that will normally be expected, provided that all the difficulties are technical. This is known as the anchor grade.

Therefore, whilst the technical grade should always directly indicate the technical difficulty of the hardest move on a pitch, the adjectival grade will be reduced if the difficulties are very short, or well protected, for instance, when the only hard moves are getting off the ground. Similarly, a higher adjectival grade than the anchor grade will suggest that a route is poorly protected, very sustained or loose.

The adjectival grade might also be adjusted if the moves were considered to be close to the borderline for a particular technical grade.

The list below gives the anchor grades up to E5 that are used in this guide:

S 4a HS 4b VS 4c
HVS 5a E1 5b E2 5c
E3 5c/6a E4 6a E5 6a/6b

French Grades
There is currently a view that, because 'sport climbs' are virtually free from objective dangers, they cannot be graded adequately within the British grading system and therefore French grades should be used for such climbs. However, the current guidebook writers do not accept this, but believe that a strength of the British grading system (if used correctly) is its ability to differentiate between climbs of similar technical difficulty but differing seriousness. It is considered by a majority of locals that French grades provide no additional information, and that their generally higher numerical values merely give the illusion of a higher technical standard.

Therefore, until a Brussels directive mandates that French grades have to be used, it is intended that we will use the British grading system for all climbs within the North-West. Thus, for most 'sport climbs', the adjectival grade will be based mainly upon an assessment of technical difficulty, though the grade may be slightly increased if a climb is particularly sustained or strenuous. Thus, for instance, a bolt-protected 6a which would receive a French grade of F6c+, would probably be graded about E3. This takes account of the fact that protection could be clipped, rather than arranged. However, if it was particularly sustained, it would be raised to E4, 6a. Similarly, if it was short and it eased off to 5c after the first few moves, it would probably be reduced to E2.

Climbers who are used to using French grades will appreciate that similar adjustments are made in that system, in order to balance technical difficulty and strenuosity. For instance a pumpy 6a would probably be raised to F7a. However, because the technical grade is anchored, the change to E4 provides additional information that the climb is more difficult in some way. As it is clear that the route is well-bolted, the climber should appreciate that the climbing is sustained. On the other hand, an F7a could also be technically more difficult, but easy to rest between the bolts.

In order to satisfy the requirements of the BMC Guidebook Committee (which has stated that sport grades are now nationally accepted and understood) a French grade is included in brackets for all sport climbs in the text.

However, it is considered to be highly reprehensible to retrobolt existing traditional climbs in order to reduce their difficulty. Therefore, to give sport grades to such climbs is seen as condoning this vandalism and so French grades are not given for routes that were originally done as traditional climbs, regardless of their current bolted status.

Route Descriptions
All the route descriptions are given as if one is facing the rock. The pitch lengths are intended to indicate the amount of climbing, which may sometimes be different from the amount of rope needed. The assumption has also been made that most crags have tops and so, except where it is not possible to climb to the top because of poor rock or to safeguard delicate ecosystems, the climbs are described as going to the top of the crag. Therefore, on some sport climbs, lower-off points may be encountered several metres before the true top of a route is encountered.

First Ascent Details
For the first time in a Lancashire guidebook, it has been decided to include first ascent lists and also to indicate the year of ascent for each route. Unfortunately, probably because of the shy and quiet nature of Lancastrians, this information has not been recorded very well in the past. Therefore, although researches for this guidebook have been extensive, there are bound to be some inaccuracies. Accordingly, anyone who can provide details of earlier ascents or other historical information is urged to send any relevant information to the BMC offices, 177 Burton Road, Manchester, M20 2BB, for the attention of the Lancashire and Cheshire Area Committee.

Aid Reductions/Variations
On the title line for a route, if two or more dates are separated by a slash (e.g. 1969/1975), the first date indicates the year that the route was first ascended and subsequent dates are given for significant aid reductions. The dates of any significant variations are given in another set of brackets after the dates of the main route, with alternative starts etc. preceding variation finishes.

Route Names
Although route names are normally chosen by the first ascensionists, a problem arises when the first ascent details were not recorded at the time. Where possible, any route name that has been acquired from a later ascent will then be altered in accordance with the first ascensionist's wishes. However, the primary purpose of naming climbing routes is for identification and so, if a different name has already become well-established, this name will generally be retained, unless the change is relatively small. Thus, Bettas Wall at Wilton Three has been corrected to Betty's Wall, but at Anglezarke, Terror Cotta has become well-established and so it has not been renamed Ten Pounds Bail.

Completion of the Historical Record
Unfortunately, some good climbs in the area have in the past been lost, either because of infilling, rockfalls, or climbing restrictions on some parts of the cliffs. Where it was felt appropriate for the historical record, details of these have been included in italics in the first ascent lists.

Other Route Information
Although every attempt has been made to ensure that all the information within this guide is accurate, in some cases the climbs have not been repeated, or verified by the guide-writing team. Such routes are indicated with a dagger (†) to warn climbers to exercise caution when attempting these routes. However, this should not be confused with a black spot which is used to indicate climbs where the rock is particularly loose or unstable.

Quality of Climbs
Subjective assessments of the quality of climbs are always likely to be the most contentious ratings in a climbing guidebook. This is especially true in an area such as Lancashire, particularly in the more sheltered gritstone quarries, where some climbs can become vegetated in an amazingly short time, or the less-established quarries where there is still loose rock. For instance, if routes do not have frequent ascents, the natural drainage, especially seepage at horizontal faults, can attract vegetation and wash soil over the rock during the winter months, which then lodges on small incut ledges and in deep cracks. This can enable grasses and ferns to establish themselves very quickly and thereby to completely alter the appearance and character of what was a brilliant crack climb the previous summer. Climbers are encouraged to try to slow down or halt this process by brushing off any loose soil or grass that they may encounter, before it has chance to build up.

Despite these potential difficulties in assessing the quality of climbs within the area, quality ratings have been provided. These are based upon consensus views of local climbers and assume that the routes are in a reasonably clean and dry state. Quality is indicated by a star system, from " which indicates a route of above average quality, to the ultimate accolade, which is """.

Aid
It is pleasing to be able to note that local climbers have steadily reduced the number of routes that need any aid so that only a handful of purely artificial routes now remains. Where limited aid is required on a predominantly free climb this has been specifically stated and any lack of reference to a specific aid point means that the climb has been done without it.

Protection

In-situ Protection
As far as possible, all in-situ protection, including threads, pegs and bolts, has been mentioned. However, there can be no guarantee that any protection that is mentioned will still be in place when a route is climbed. It is also essential to remember that all fixed gear will degrade over time. Therefore, it is up to individual climbers to make their own assessment of any in-situ protection that is encountered, before using it.

All climbers, particularly first ascensionists, are asked to consider carefully the potential life span of any in-situ protection that they may choose to place or replace. They are also asked to try to reduce the environmental impact of such protection. For instance, by avoiding the use of brightly coloured tape and by resisting the temptation to misuse permanent protection to enable a hard section to be reduced to a series of lunges between runners.

Bolts
The use of bolts and staples for protection is a highly controversial issue for climbers. Unlike our continental counterparts, British climbers have decided that it is generally preferable for climbers to rely upon leader-placed, removable protection. Nevertheless, there are some situations where fixed protection is considered acceptable. With specific regard to the placement of bolts for protection, there is a strong consensus view within British climbing that any bolt placements should only be made if the following four guidelines can be met:

(1) Bolts should only be used on specific crags where local climbers accept their use.
(2) Bolts should only be used where other runner placements are impossible or impracticable.
(3) Existing routes should not be retrobolted.
(4) Bolts should not be placed within clipping distance of existing routes.

These issues have been discussed at length within this area at well-attended open meetings and there is extremely strong support for the above guidelines. Accordingly, the policy of the Lancashire and Cheshire Area Committee is unanimous in that BOLTS SHOULD NOT BE PLACED IN THE CRAGS WITHIN THE AREA DESCRIBED WITHIN THIS GUIDEBOOK, except in very exceptional circumstances. Recently, two bolts appeared on a short VS pitch that was first climbed in 1966 and to the vast majority of climbers in Lancashire this was seen as needless vandalism that spoiled a good climb. Although this was an isolated incident, it does illustrate the problems and annoyance that insensitive bolting can cause. Therefore, all climbers are asked to adhere to the above guidelines and the accepted climbing ethics on the crags described within this guide.

Apart from the Whitbarrow Area, there has been very little use of bolts and there is virtually unanimous support for the policy of continuing to use bolts very sparingly. Thus, in these areas no additional bolts whatsoever should be inserted, apart from any that are agreed for access purposes by the Area Committee. For instance at Jack Scout Crag bolts have been placed to avoid belay damage to rare trees.

It is important to stress that the owners of the following crags in the Carnforth and Whitbarrow Areas have specifically insisted that no further bolts should be inserted and so any further bolting at these crags could directly jeopardize access:

Chapel Head Scar
Jack Scout Crag
Trowbarrow
Warton Main Quarry

There have recently been some alarming failures of bolts and staples. Therefore, on the rare occasions that bolts are placed climbers are asked to take every precaution to ensure that they are safe. If using resin, do not use the first 50mm, take a small sample to check hardening, and if possible re-examine each bolt placement after twenty-four hours.

Abseiling
On some of the Lancashire crags, considerable damage has been done to some routes by abseiling. In order to minimize such damage in future, climbers are asked to avoid popular parts of the crag if they wish to practise abseiling and not to use abseil descents if there are reasonable alternatives.

Access and Conservation
When the original Lancashire guide was produced nearly thirty years ago, there were significant access problems at many of the crags and quarries in the area. Fortunately, this bleak situation has now completely changed and access problems are certainly in the minority. Indeed, many landowners go out of their way to take a pro-active approach to climbers who visit their land.

It is pleasing to note that the old confrontational days have long been replaced by a mutual understanding amongst landowners, climbers and conservation groups. However, these changes have not come about by chance, but have developed by negotiation and by climbers themselves proving time and again that their presence does not represent any threat or inconvenience to the landowners. In fact at some sites it has been shown that the presence of climbers discourages unacceptable behaviour by other visitors at the crag and nearby.

In order that we can all continue to enjoy easy access to the crags in the area and indeed to make further improvements, it is necessary for climbers to continue to play their part by removing all litter from the crags, by parking sensibly and generally acting responsibly.

Climbing Restrictions
Climbers have an excellent record of both honouring seasonal climbing bans that have been implemented to protect nesting birds and also of avoiding parts of the crags where there are rare and vulnerable plants and trees. It is essential that climbers continue to abide by these voluntary agreements, so that we can maintain good relations with landowners and conservation bodies. After all, each group has a mutual interest in the crags and by maintaining a friendly and co-operative approach between the different interests, we can each contribute to achieving something that is beneficial to us all. On the other hand, long-established access could easily evaporate overnight if a minority of us fails to observe these bans or otherwise cause problems, such as thoughtless parking or causing litter.

In the North-West, one of the main environmental concerns is the protection of peregrines, but there are also a few parts of the crags where climbers have agreed not to climb in order to avoid damage to flora. These restrictions are described in the Access sections of the relevant crags, so please read these notes carefully before visiting any crag and if possible refer to the BMC's latest annual pamphlet on bird restrictions. As a general principle, Variable Restrictions are being sought by the BMC in order to provide greater freedom for climbers and to improve protection for important bird species. Therefore, if birds nest late, there may be a site notice indicating that a climbing ban is extended. Such notices should also be honoured.

If you visit a crag that has a ban in force that does not appear to be necessary, please still honour the ban, because there may well still be a valid reason for avoiding the crag. However, contact the BMC Access Representative, who will then investigate and, if necessary, get the situation adjusted for the future.

Up-to-Date Access Information
The latest access information can be obtained from the climbing press, BMC information points, the BMC (0161 445 4747) and from the BMC web site at www.thebmc.co.uk. All these sources of information are regularly updated.

Car Sharing
At some of the crags in this guidebook, parking facilities are limited. Therefore, car sharing is encouraged in order to reduce the pressure for parking spaces at these sites. Obviously, car sharing is also more environmentally friendly and saves brass.

Conservation
By far the best way that climbers can contribute towards conservation at the crags is to remove ALL litter (even if it was not left by themselves). However, climbers can also make a more positive contribution by undertaking limited conservation work at a crag, such as stile erection, or by assisting with bird ringing etc. If you are interested in making such a contribution, please contact the BMC Area Committee via the BMC Office, 177 Burton Road, Manchester, M20 2BB (0161 445 4747).

Access Problems
On many of the crags and quarries within this area the access situation is unknown, or has never been formalised. Even where an access agreement has been made, it is always possible that ownership of the crag may change. Therefore, whilst climbers should check the relevant access notes before visiting any crag it is also necessary to state that the inclusion of any crag or climb within this guide does not necessarily imply that there is a right to climb on it.

If you are challenged on any crag within this guidebook, the golden rule is to remain cool and polite. If a specific access agreement is described in this guidebook, show it to the person concerned and also show them this section if necessary. However, if the person still insists that you should leave, please do so without further aggravating the situation, but if possible try to take a note of their name and telephone number. Then contact your BMC Access Representative as soon as possible. Contact details for the current Access Representatives are listed in Summit magazine.

Hopefully, it will then be possible for the Access Representative to approach the landowners and to explain that it would be beneficial to all concerned to discuss and then agree a way that climbing could be managed at that site in a manner that addresses the landowner's concerns.

Theft from Parked Cars
Sadly, it is necessary to warn climbers that there have been several cases of theft from cars parked near many of the crags in the area. When the coast is clear, it only takes a thief a few seconds to break a window and snatch your precious climbing gear, so take sensible precautions. In particular, try to plan your climbing so that you do not need to leave any gear in the car, but if you do leave anything, store it out of sight in the boot.

It must also be stressed that climbing gear would not be stolen if there was not a market for stolen gear. So, if you are offered second-hand climbing gear at a low price from someone whom you do not know, please resist the temptation and if you are really suspicious, contact the police. If you don't, you are only encouraging increased theft and more anguish for your fellow climbers. Remember that if the thief can pass on the gear easily, next week he may well come back for more and you could be the one with broken glass on the back seat of your car and with no climbing gear.

Finally, if you are the victim of car crime, please report it to the Police, because action by them, such as the use of unmarked cars to check on vulnerable sites, will only be taken if they know that there is a problem.

Lancashire and Cheshire Area Committee
Work on the compilation of this guide has been co-ordinated by the Lancashire and Cheshire Area Committee of the BMC. This Committee also deals with access problems and other issues of concern to climbers in the area. Any climber is welcome to attend the meetings of this Committee or to make representations about any matter which is of relevance to climbing in the area. Area meetings are advertised in Summit and High magazines.

BMC Guidebook Committee
Once the guidebook was initially compiled the Guidebook Committee of the BMC, Malc Baxter, Dave Gregory, Brian Griffiths, Chris Hardy, Graham Hoey, Geoff Milburn, Geoff Radcliffe, Keith Sharples, David Simmonite, Dave Turnbull, Mark Turnbull, Andrew Wood and Chris Wright, took over the task of editing, formatting and enhancing the volume so that it would complement the guidebooks that are available for the Peak District.

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Copyright 2003-2017 BMC NW Area Commitee / Les Ainsworth & Carl Spencer