Belfry Bulletin

Search Our Site

Article Index

 

Swanage

By Roy Marshall

To break the caving monopoly in the B.B. – a group of B.E.C. climbers with some others visited Swanage on the weekend of 9-10 November 1968.  The party included out illustrious Climbing Secretary Malcolm, Pete Sutton, Margaret, Celia, Dick and myself with Roger Scull and Howard.

Pete, having a nose for these things immediately on our arrival found the grottiest dive in Swanage! This turned out to be the ‘in’ place. After closing time we drove out to Tilly Whin caves where we intended to camp.  Dick found one of his many and widespread friends and we were able to round off the evening with coffee in civilised surroundings.

No B.E.C. climbing trip is complete without its hairy mini-race.  This took place around the Tilly Whin car park and surrounding lanes. This three car race increased to four in the closing stages.  The new arrival was one of your actual Swanage constables.  He turned out to be human and after a brief friendly chat haired off at a ridiculous rate.  On the Sunday we broke camp and went into Sawnage for an early breakfast (about 10.30) where we were joined in Fortes by many local climbers.  After scrounging a look at a guide book (none of us had one!) we set off for the light house.  The rock is limestone and all the routes are on the sea cliffs.

These range from the Tilly Whin caves (for the benefit of our caving members – these are artificial caves) at one end to the area known as the ‘cattle troughs’.  This covers about 1½ to 2 miles of sea cliff.  The hardest grade of climbing is V.S. and these are under-graded.

To get to the routes one wanders along the cliff top until one is over the routes that you wish to climb. Tying the rope to the very insecure fence one abseils down to either the large ledges or in our case a boulder ruckle.

The base of the boulder ruckle climbing area is reached by a 150ft. free abseil.  On this Sunday the waves were striking the boulders sending spray 15 – 20ft. into the air.  Pete and I tried Jericho Grove.  A severe with, what I found, an extreme approach to its start.  It required jumping onto rocks before they were covered by massive waves.  Needless to say it took me some time; getting soaked twice in my efforts.

Friction is fantastic, so much so that one takes layers of skin off one hands.  Holds consist mainly of jams and lay backs.  The thin flakes give the impression of being fragile but are remarkably strong.  The top pitches are very loose but this is obvious when one reaches them.  All one can be is treat the rock respectfully. At the top of the climbs the steep grass is hairy in the dry – desperate in the wet.  Protection consists mainly of nuts, though a few pegs were in place.

Roger Scull and Howard put up what they thought to be a new route.  This is up a thin crack taking a small bulge free.  The bulge is the crux and is climbed on small finger jams. Roger kindly left a trail of blood to follow after cutting his finger in the finger jam.

After all had followed up this route we made for Bath – the Bell to be precise – Malcolm’s van needless to say could not stand the strain and he struggled in last (well before closing time).

On the whole and enjoyable weekend; the sea noise takes some getting used to, once this is overcome it is very enjoyable climbing.