ROCK CLIMBING IN THE
The Peak District was the first national park to be designated in England, in 1950. Apart from Mount Fuji in Japan, it is the busiest national park in the world. It covers a large area of Derbyshire and serves as the weekend playground for thousands of people from nearby cities. After walking, rock climbing is one of the most popular outdoor pursuits, and with a large number of people living within easy reach of its crags, it is a popular place to climb.
Rock-climbing began in the Peak over a century ago in the late 19th century, and has now expanded so that every weekend there are thousands of climbers to be seen in the area. There are over 10,000-recorded climbs in the Peak District ranging from small crags to large rock-faces, that provide differing challenges and many hours of enjoyment for both novice and expert alike.
It was the crags where access was not restricted by gamekeepers employed by rich land owners, that were the first to be climbed. However, the position altered in the 1950s, with a change in the law and the creation of the Peak District Park National Park. This gave public access to the majority of crags and climbing became more popular.
The National Park comprises two distinctly different geological areas known as the White Peak (composed of limestone) and the Dark Peak (composed of a type of coarse sandstone known as millstone grit). Originally, it was the gritstone crags that climbers favoured, the limestone crags at that time being considered less satisfactory to climb, either because they were regarded as too steep or loose. However, by the 1980s a large number of steep technical climbs had been added to the list of climbs in the Peak District.
In modern times, the Peak District has been at the forefront of rock climbing andas the number of climbers has increased, standards have improved significantly. Climbers from all over Britain and the rest of the world, led by legendary figures such as Nat Allen, Joe Brown and Don Whillans, have come to the Peak District to improve their skills.
Most of the climbs in the Peak District are not particularly high, but tend to be short and severe and present a serious challenge to climbers. It is for this reason that some of the best mountaineers in the world, keep coming back to the Peak to practice their skills. With Stanage Edge, near Hathersage and High Tor at Matlock Bath, both offering challenging climbing, that is amongst the most testing any where in the country.
Fortunately, the Peak District provides a wealth of climbing for climbers of all standards. Rock climbing is probably the most popular type of climbing and the basics can be learned in a day. It is an exciting and enjoyable sport and a great character builder, and when tackled correctly it is statistically safer than crossing a road. As with most things if you are a beginner, it is best to start with a qualified instructor and join a short introductory course, which you will almost certainly find great fun.
One company that provides this facility is Peak Activities Ltd., who are Outdoor Sports Activities & Training Specialists based in Hathersage, in the heart of Peak District climbing country. Their activities have been highly acclaimed in the national press and in BBC and ITV programmes. The company has been established for over 24 years, and offers expert training both on a one to one basis as well as running short introductory climbing courses. Visit their very detailed website for further information on climbing courses and a wide range of other activities at www.peakactivities.co.uk .
www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk is an independent, not for profit website.
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The art of going down a cliff while still attached to a rope without falling. This activity has been extended in recent years to include going down the faces of buildings and other high objects, often to obtain money for charity. The speed of descent can be easily controlled and it is best for the beginner to take it slowly and just enjoy the experience.
Carried out at similar locations to rock climbing, but is made harder by the difficulty of gaining a firm grip on the ice. Crampons are worn on the feet and an ice axe is used . Climbing on ice is considerably more dangerous than rock climbing.
ARTIFICIAL CLIMBING WALLS
Cannot be compared with real rock climbing for sheer enjoyment, but they provide the opportunity for practice, for the climber who cannot easily get to an outside rock-face. At most climbing centres you can hire equipment, which is helpful if you are a beginner and don't have your own.
All year round Peak Activities run half-day, full day, weekend and longer rock climbing tuition courses on the many famous and popular crags overlooking their Hathersage base. The courses are ideal for mixed ability groups of men and women.
To obtain further details of climbing courses and the vast array of other outdoor pursuits provided, visit:
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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Derbyshire and the Peak District have one of the best rural transport networks of bus and train services in Britain providing access to all the towns, many of the rural villages and most of the county’s top visitor attractions and leisure pursuits, including climbing. For further information visit Derbyshire’s own Public Transport Website
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