Harpur Hill

Gary Gibson on The Talisman (7a). Photo: Carl Ryan

Rocky Variations a 6b on Papacy Buttress, Harpur Hill

Awesome Dan on Rocky Variations (6b) on Papacy Buttress. Photo: Steve Lewis

Much has been written over the past few years with respect to the climbing at Harpur Hill the majority of which has centred around the argument as to whether sports-climbing should exist there or not. In 1994 Nadim Siddiqui and Bill Birch began redevelopment of the quarry, after it had lain dormant for many years, with a view to providing a major sports-climbing venue for the area with routes throughout the grading spectrum. Of course such actions were to raise the eyebrows of a few anti-bolting lobbyists and during the ensuing debate or, in fact, before any bolting debate was made, the bolts were stripped from the routes and the venue was no more.

Subsequent to this, and after a extremely heated debate in conjunction with the BMC, it was agreed that sports-climbing could coexist alongside the traditional routes of the crag as long as bolts were not placed alongside natural placements or conflicted to any great extent with existing routes. Hence a number of the routes have been rebolted, with a few more yet to be done, and a significant number of new climbs have appeared.

What’s the climbing like?

The majority of routes here centre around technical face climbing and by comparison to most sport climbing in the Peak are significantly longer. This lends an atmosphere of sustained interest throughout. There are also a number of excellent traditional crack and groove lines together with a few short technical horrors. Altogether there is a large choice of styles to choose from.

When should I go there?

The cliff faces in a westerly direction and only gets any sunshine after about 3pm. Due to its open nature it dries extremely quickly and takes little seepage which in turn makes it a very cold venue in the winter months. This is a perfect place to spend a spring or summer evening or indeed provides a welcome morning retreat in scorching summer weather.

Four views of routes at Harpur Hill all with Gary Gibson climbing. From top left and clockwise are:

Bag of Bones (6a+), Full Frontal (6c), The Talisman (7a) and Viagra Falls (6c+)

All photos by Carl Ryan