Crag Hopping with Craghoppers

Hopping between crags in gorgeous sunshine is a great way to rid oneself of any winter blues

Mike, David and I ventured to Newstones, a small crag north of the Roaches. Newstones is a boulder’s playground where there are plenty of problems for a range of abilities. The views from the crag across to Shining Tor, the Roaches and Ramshaw Rocks serve as tonic for the soul. After warming up the hands and attempting, failing and then succeeding on a few personal challenges, we shared some ginger tea before making the short journey to the Roaches middle tier.

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Wondering up past the famous Don Whillians Memorial hut and past the trees which were once home to escaped wallabies, I reflect on the many adventures I have had in this special place and look forward to the ones to come. The unique landscape, vegetation and wildlife always enrich the experiences one has here. This magical recipe of nature has a restorative healing effect which help to awaken all the senses. As we approach and near the sunlit boulders, I see a kestrel hovering on the thermal currents which rise up from where its prey hides below.

A shout from Mike awakens me from my dazed, reflective state and I turn to see him excitedly scamper up a boulder.

I marvel at his grace and strength on the rock. His infectious enthusiasm for this often questioned hobby draws me in. I quickly squeeze my feet into my rock boots and strap my chalk bag round my waist before hopping over a few rocks to avoid the muddy patches in between. Mike and David dance up another problem before challenging me to do the same. With two big crash mats beneath me I have no excuses, but, as ever, a little natural fear kicks in as I start to rise a few metres above them. Confident in my strength and technique I move up, but as the cold starts to penetrate my fingertips I let a few ‘What if?’ thoughts enter my head. Boxing these negative emotions, I push on and reach for the top. After successfully mantling over the top, I scramble down the other side and let my adrenaline levels subside before eyeing up the next challenge.

Claire Aspinall on Boulders at the Roaches

Photographers, dog walkers, families and fellow climbers pass by and offer festive greetings as we venture around our rock paradise. A father wonders up with his two daughters and I quietly rejoice in the freedom he gives them as they happily climb amongst the lower boulders. Sitting confidently on the top of one, his ten year old daughter looks like she could conquer the world. Her father is never too far away but far enough to ensure that she can relish in her own adventure.

With the sun starting to set in the far distance, the rock turns a brilliant red before the temperature drops acting as a signal to move to the warmth and comfort of the van.

David Boulders as the Sun Starts Setting

Our Compresslite jackets  served us well all day and offered good protection from the elements, but a cosy fire and good meal beckons. As we amble back to the van, I reflect on how important it is for us to listen to our inner voice to be out and about in nature. We must preserve these special places and simple past times for future generations as they truly do benefit the health of our bodies, souls and minds.

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