For the lovely warm and sunny bank holiday weekend we all headed to at Buckfastleigh in Devon where we stayed at the Beara Farm Campsite, a pretty place on the banks of the River Dart for a fine weekend of fun and climbing.
On Saturday most of the group headed to Dewerstone, Nick and Petra romped up the severe and then did Leviathan (VS), finnishing with a frustrating 5 mins spent failing on Climbers Club Direct which convinced them to go and do Fly on the Wall instead. Bea led a two pitch HS seconded by AG and Catherine and later AG lead them both up an HVS. The best fun of the day had to be watching five failers trying to follow Paras up an HVS which none of them could do. It is not know what everyone did but Chuck, and Wendy, Michael, Lucy and Jim, Debbie, Simon, Nancy and Allison were all climbing there too. By the sounds of things it was also a good spot for sleeping and swimming.
Andy, John and Brendon went for a bike ride which nearly killed Brendon! Cheryl, Clare, Karen, Jules and Tweed went shopping in Totnes and then for a senic walk and ice-creams on Darmoor. And Alix and Lee went on the steam train and to the butterfly farm with the kids.
Steve and Sylvia went to Hay Tor and did a three fine wall/slab climbs graded V Diff in the guide, but Steve managed to “correct” the finishes with a couple of unintended variants that ended up more like VS! Some of the routes here seemed a tad stiff for the grade incl an HVS called Haggis. Not fancying the prospect of making hard 5a moves on a 25 ft slab with ground fall potential before reaching the first gear! Steve set up a top rope on the route. Anna and Tony pitched up around 5pm and joined in on top roping Haggis. Rick and Niki joined them later just in time to do one route, Vandal and Anna HVS 5b in the evening sun.
A great BBQ was had for all in the evening was proceeded by some fun swinging and jumping into the fast flowing and icy cool River Dart.
On Sunday Rick climbed with Anna at Daddyhole – a sea cliff in Torquay which despite the location is normally very quiet and remote or it would’ve been if the local yoof hadn’t set up a sound system in the next bay, however they did two good routes, Triton (VS 5a), followed by Gargantua (E1 4c,5b,5a) and whilst Rick ably negotiate a very tricky part being the first pitch, with the second being the easiest, a passing tourist boat cheered him on giving running commentary but he didn’t let his attention be diverted by a flock of oystercatchers! Chuck and Wendy were also at Daddyhole but its not know where they climbed. To finnish, there was an 11 stone St Bernard in the car park at the top who slobbered a lot and lay down in the road as only a dog in charge could do to hold up the traffic!
Meanwhile a group of boulders went to Bone Hill – so called because of the granite which ripped your fingers off to the bone as Paras found out! And later climbed at Hay Tor, Nick and AG and co climbed Levitation (HS) and Raven Wing (VS), Bea, Simon and Jules climbed a VDiff and to finnish Bea and Simon ably top roped Haggis.
Catherine, Michael, Nancy and Ali went to Sheep Tor where Catherine lead lead a VDiff up corner crack ably guided by Michael as to gear placements and seconded by Nancy, Ali had to back off this VDiff because of the demanding crux stuffing arms and elbows into the cracks and bearing her weight over said jammed limbs and being caught in a hollybush – ouch!
Steve went climbing with David to Dewerstone where they revelled in the super classic ‘Spiders Web’ – an HVS put up by Tom Patey (Old Man of Hoy fame) in the 50s. Two sustained pitches with a touch of seriousness kept the old dogs on their toes! They then both toyed with Climbers Club direct and the desperate offwidth jamming start, before seeing the futility of their efforts. They settled with the elegant VS Leviathon before some Devon ice cream and the customary evening dunking in the river.
Silvia went with Clare, Brendon and Karen to do some visiting: Kent’s Cavern (one of the first human settlement in UK), and Berry Pomeroy Castle (one of the most “haunted” Castle in UK… at least they said!). And Andy and Cheryl went for a pregnant ladies costal walk out at East Prawle to a nice beach where Cheryl took the plunge in the British ocean for the first time in 10 years and quite enjoyed it!
The nightly BBQ was fired up again that evening and there were a few breakaways who headed for the warmth of the pub for some wholesome cooked food, fun and ballyhoo split jumping the bannisters!!
On Monday Silvia and Steve went to Dewerstone and did Colonel’s Arete a 3-pitche very gentle and nice route, with great view all the way up. Then Steve lead a ‘Vala’ a fine HVS and Silvia ably seconded to the halfway mark before running out of juice!
Alix went to Dewerstone with Anna and Tony. Anna did a fine lead on the first (and main) pitch of Central Grooves HS 4b 4b despite being exhausted from the previous day’s adventures on sea-cliff E1s with Rick, and Alix lead the easier second pitch, a great route! Then Tony and Alix wooshed up the four pitches of Colonel’s Arete VDiff (if that) and agreed it is the sort of route to climb in baggy shorts with ‘lashings of ginger beer in ones haversack’.
Rick went to the other end of Torbay with Niki, and did the classic Moonraker (HVS 5a) – a three pitch route up a wildly impressive cliff (The Old Redoubt), which is fortunately plastered in huge jugs. Described as “probably the best HVS in the country” in the guide, and they might be right – Rick said it would be a struggle to think of a better one. You get to it by a long traverse inches above the sea from the bowels of a sea cave, just to add to the atmosphere. Niki led the two main pitches, and Rick led the easier middle pitch.
Andy and John Brooks did another bike ride across the moors somewhere and so did John Bradshaw!
Jules and Catherine headed for the postcard-perfect Victorian resort of Sidmouth where after a delicious lunch they unleashed their porcelain charms by skinny dipping in the warm waters off the Devon coastline. Eschewing an impromptu invite to a Boys beach BBQ, they commandoed it back to London via Stonehenge (the preferred bouldering site of the ancients).
Tweed had a great time, she went to SheepTor with Nick, Debbie, Petra, Simon and AG & co and said “I ran up the side barefoot to take funky photos from the top while the others put straps under their bumcheeks and made a right meal of getting to the top on the vertical side – why make life hard for yourselves I thought? and don’t cha know one can hoist oneself up in kinky harnesses and do even more scary and kinky things on the S&M circuit…anyway they seemed to get high on it all so suppose its cheaper and healthier than drugs. Then we found a wicked bathing spot on the reservoir and a few brave souls had a dip”.
Meanwhile Brendon who had been itching to take Clare for a quiet romantic walk together finally seized his chance sped off with her at the crack of dawn before most people had even popped their heads out of their tents to avoid any ensuing entourage and whisked her off to Dartmoor. They walked on the moor for a while and found a nice picnic spot which was rudely interrupted by some walkers who also thought it a nice spot and not wanting to ruin the moment Brendon gently suggested that they should find another quieter spot. Finally they came accross a deserted sacred stone circle which was perfect and as they sat on the alterstone in the middle it suddenly tipped over knocking them both off and a giant yellow and black spider came running out which made them shreak! When they’d got over this Brendon produced a velvetine red rose box from his pocket and Clare thought “aah how sweet he’s been to the £1 shop” he then got down on one knee and told her to open the rose and inside was a beautiful sparkling diamond solitaire ring! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH CONGRATULATIONS!! Brendon and Clare are engaged to be married. As you all may know the other alias for the MMC is the ‘Marylebone Marriage Club’ so well done to Brendon and Clare for continuing the tradition and best wishes to both of them for a very happy, long and prosperous life together.
A very enjoyable and successful meeting, thanks to the fantastic weather and great company!