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About the Northumbrian Mountaineering Club (NMC) The NMC is a meeting point for climbers, fell walkers and mountaineers of all abilities. Our activities centre on rock-climbing in the summer and snow and ice climbing in the winter. Meets are held regularly throughout the year. The NMC is not, however a commercial organization and does NOT provide instructional courses.

NMC Meets The NMC Members’ handbook (available to all members) and the NMC website list the dates and locations of all meets. This magazine lists the meets arranged for the next few months.

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BMC Public Liability Insurance for climbing incidents. Discounted NMC guide books. Discounted entry at certain indoor climbing walls and shops. Access to the extensive NMC library.

Join the NMC Download a Membership form from: Send the signed and completed membership form with a cheque made out to the NMC for the membership fee (see below) to the Membership Secretary at the address shown on the membership form. Membership Fees •Full £25 •Prospective £15.00

Magazine articles This is YOUR magazine so please keep it running by writing about your own climbing experiences. Even beginners have something to write about. Send Contributions to:

Non-members: Are always welcome to attend meets. Note: Winter indoor meets require a minimum of prospective membership (see below) due to venue requirements for third party insurance.

Membership Details Members are Prospective until they fulfill the conditions for Full Membership (see membership form.) Full membership is valid for one year from the end of February. Prospective membership expires at the end of March each year. Membership gets you:  Copy of the quarterly magazine. NMC County Climber

Committee 2013/2014 President – John Dalrymple Vice Pres. – vacant Secretary – Andrew Shanks Treasurer – Eva Diran Mem’ship – Adrian Wilson Magazine Editor – John Spencer Social – Sarah Follmann Librarian – Eva Diran Web – Ian Birtwistle General: John Mountain, Pete Flegg, Ian Ross, Ed Sciberras, John Vaughan

As an affiliate to the BMC, the NMC endorses the following participation statement: The BMC recognises that climbing, hill walking and mountaineering are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement.

Black & White Photos?


If you received this magazine as a paper copy, then you are missing part of the picture as the download version of the magazine is in colour.

The contents of this magazine are copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the NMC.

To arrange for email notification that the latest issue of the magazine is ready for you to download, contact the membership secretary at:


The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the editor or the NMC.

Cover Shot Adrian Wilson on Pitch 2 of Pumpkin (IV/4), Creag Meagaidh (John Spencer)

Unless otherwise stated all photos in this issue were taken by the author of the article.

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What’s in this issue?

12 June

Simonside - Turk’s Head, Rothbury

Wednesday evenings meets ..........................3 Weekend meets ............................................3 Off the beaten track: A strange encounter .....4 Editorial .......................................................5 Bowderstone Memories #1 ...........................6 Bowderstone Memories #2 ...........................8 Bowderstone Memories #3 ......................... 10 Bowderstone Memories #4: "First & last meets" ....................................................... 11 Bowderstone Memories #5 ......................... 12 "Guests" ..................................................... 14 Club Business ............................................ 16

19 June

Kyloe In - Blue Bell, Belford

26 June

Callerhues - Cheviot, Bellingham

3 July

Ravensheugh - Turk’s Head, Rothbury

10 July

Back Bowden - Blue Bell

17 July

Coe Crag/Gimmerknowe – Angler’s Arms

24 July

Kyloe Out – Blue Bell

31 July

Great Wanney – Highlander

7 Aug

Bowden Doors – Blue Bell

14 Aug

Back Bowden – Blue Bell

21 Aug

Crag Lough/Queen’s Crags – Twice Brewed

28 Aug

Drakestone – Turk’s Head, Rothbury

4 Sept

East Woodburn/Wolf – Highlander

11 Sept

Corby’s – Angler’s Arms

18 Sept

Rothley – Dyke Neuk

25 Sept

Shaftoe – Dyke Neuk

Wednesday evening meets At the time of publication, the outdoor evening meet programme is just about to kick off - however unprecedented wintery conditions are apparently set to continue for a couple of weeks so who knows? There is no need to make arrangements – just turn up with your kit and get stuck in! The NMC website ( has crag locations, which are also found in relevant guidebooks. Check the website form for indoor wall alternatives if the weather is not good. Meet afterwards in the pub shown in italics. The asterisk denotes bouldering limited or unavailable 

Weekend & day meets - 2013 You MUST contact the meet leader in advance, as any accommodation may be limited or already fully booked.

3 April

Shaftoe – Dyke Neuk

10 April

Rothley – Dyke Neuk

17 April

Curtis - Highlander

24 April

East Woodburn/Wolf – Highlander

Note: A deposit may be required to reserve your place on a weekend trip. If you cancel after booking a place and your place cannot be filled then you will still have to pay the cost of your place in the hut. 

1 May

Jack Rock* – Northumberland Arms, Felton

12-14 April

8 May

Peel/Queens Crags – Twice Brewed

New Members Meet, Langdale,– John Dalrymple 075971 242 339

3-5 May

May BH, Llanberis, GMC Hut – Adrian Wilson 07970 823 483

15 May

Great Wanney - Highlander

22 May

Bowden Doors – Blue Bell, Belford

29 May

Crag Lough/Queens Crags – Twice Brewed

5 June

Kyloe Out – Blue Bell, Belford

NMC County Climber

17-19 May Eskdale, Camping – Peter Flegg 07765 264 397

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Mingulay, Camping – Tim Catterall 07704 614 814

7-9 June

Simonside Hills, Bivvy – Sarah Follmann 07896 305 855

14-16 June Glencoe, Alex McIntyre Hut – Adrian Wilson 07970 823 483 5-7 July

BMC Climbing and Walking Festival, Belford - Sarah Follmann 07896 305 855

13 July

Annual Dinner, Bellingham John Dalrymple 075971 242 339

21-23 July

Henhole, Bizzle, Mount Hooley Bunkhouse – Martin Cooper 0191 252 5707

26-28 July

Galloway, Camping - John Dalrymple 075971 242 339

9-11 August

Peak District, Carlswick Cottage – Gareth Crapper 07825 457 416

23-26 August

Wasdale, August BH, Camping – Eva Diran 07824 627 772

30 Aug – 1 Sept

Yorkshire, Camping – To be arranged

30 August

Navigation Skills, Simonside with Colin Matheson - John Dalrymple 075971 242 339

6-7 Sept

Crag Lough, BMC Crag Clean-up, camping Twice Brewed – DIY

20-22 Sept

North Wales, Clogwyn Hut – John Mountain 01670 505 202

5 October

North Yorkshire Grit – Chris Davis 07967 638 826

27 October

Kielder MTB Ride – Neil Cranston, 0191 270 2648

15-18 November

Kendal Mountain Film Festival – DIY

1 Dec

President’s Walk - John Dalrymple 075971 242 339

NMC County Climber

A Strange Encounter John Vaughan November 2012 and the Doctor & I head for Carn Dearg, a fine ridge walk above Newtonmore. After a brief exchange of pleasantries with another pair doing the same circuit in the opposite direction, we head west along the broad valley of Glen Banchor. The gentle approach up the River Calder gives way to rougher ground as we turn north onto the end of the ridge. The snow is deep and soft but the Monadhliath look stunning and the breaking cloud promises a fine day. Steady going takes us up over Carn Macoul, revealing a fine view of the remote Loch Dubh with the line of the esoteric Wee Team Gully cutting through its surrounding crags. Further progress brings us onto the summit ridge with a breathtaking panorama of snow-clad hills stretching to the horizon. Continuing northwards we drop into the upper reaches of Glen Balloch, passing our companions from the car park on their final approach to the summit. Ambling downward, we spy a lone figure heading up towards us. From a distance they appear to be carrying a shoulder bag, rather than a more conventional rucksack. Sure enough, as they draw closer the figure resolves into a youngish woman with a mass of dark red hair carrying a cotton carrier bag decorated with the colours of the rainbow – each spelt out in its eponymous hue. To complement this idiosyncrasy, she is clad in light fur-lined boots, jeans, a thigh-length cable-knit dress and a light quilted jacket. Thirty metres away, she stops and asks, in a strong American accent, whether ‘The Loch’ is somewhere up above. Further conversation reveals she is actually looking for Loch Dubh which by now is on the far side of the mountain. She has turned up the wrong valley, following our companions from the car park, and although she has a map, is now completely lost. Having pointed out where she is on the map, we naturally imagine she will begin to retrace her steps and are somewhat taken aback when she announces firmly that as we had come all the way along the ridge, she can simply follow our footprints and complete our circuit in reverse. And with that, she strides purposefully off upwards at a goodly pace. The Doctor & I continue our homeward ramble, speculating about whether we should have said something about the potential hazards of venturing onto winter hills with inadequate equipment but consoling ourselves with the fact that it is a calm and sunny day with just enough daylight left, if she travels fast enough, to get over the top and down before dusk. Looking back, she is last seen, to borrow a quote from Noel Odell, ‘going strong for the top’...

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Editorial John Spencer

So here it is: my first edition as Editor of County Climber. And to mark the occasion I’ve decided to write an editorial, indeed this may become a regular feature. But first things first. I’m confident I’m speaking for the whole club when I thank Pete Flegg for his stewardship of the magazine. In his 6 years at the helm, he’s done a fantastic job and will be a hard act to follow. I’m also personally indebted to him for patiently walking me through the production process. I used to be editor of a journal, but didn’t have to actually produce the darned thing, so it’s all been a bit of a shock (I also have to say nice things about him in case....well, no, when I have to turn to him to help dig me out of a hole!). Anyway, in his valedictory piece in the last issue Pete raised the issue of whether there is still a place for a traditional club mag in the brave new interconnected world we inhabit. I personally think there is, as do the majority of club members with whom I’ve discussed the matter in the runup to taking over. In addition, over 80% of respondents to the recent membership survey said they always or usually read County Climber. That’s a reasonable vote of confidence in my book. The magazine has had an important function as the record of activity of both the Club and individual members, and I think everyone would wish to see it continue to do that. However, there is potential for the magazine to play a more pro-active role in promoting the Club and helping it develop, so we will be looking to the future as well as recording the past ( see Club News on page X for more on this).

said goodbye to the Hut at the end of March. There are recollections spanning the entire history of the Hut, from its beginnings in protracted negotiations with the National Trust through to the final weekend meet. Thanks to all for the memories and images. A hut, and reciprocal access to other huts, is one of the things that clubs traditionally provide for their members. A club without a hut seems a bit naked, and this has prompted the President and the newly elected Committee to focus on other services to members (see Club Business on page X). You will notice a couple of new features. We are extending distribution of the magazine to prospective members, and intend to publish in each edition a list of new members, accompanied by brief autobiographies, to act as an introduction to others in the club. There is also a new slot provisionally called ‘Off the beaten track’ which will provide a space for people to reflect on mountaineering-related ‘issues’, have a rant or describe a strange encounter (as per the inaugural contribution from John Vaughan on page 4). Contributions to this should be under 500 words long (otherwise it becomes ‘an article!). Whatever, never mind new features, County Climber depends almost entirely on contributions from members – so get on with it and get writing! The deadline for articles for the Summer issue is end of May(ish) – further cajoling will follow.

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the magazine. . 

Having said all that, most of the articles in this issue are about the Bowderstone Hut, and very obviously look back. That’s right and proper, given, for better or for worse, that an era drew to a close as we NMC County Climber

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Bowderstone Memories #1 Clive Goodwin

At the well attended "Bowderstone" Extraordinary General Meeting in November members thanked John Dalrymple, John Mountain, the Committee and all those involved in running the hut and the recent lease negotiations with the National Trust for all their hard work. As an ex-hut warden at the Knowe, a past president and one of the many who worked so hard to get and equip the huts over 40 years ago, I believe that the decision to terminate the latest lease in March 2013 was the only action that we could have made because of "full repairing" aspect of the lease. I very much sympathise with those who use the huts now and those that have given so much of their time to maintaining them and running them over recent years and will be sad to lose such an important climbing facility. There were at least six members present at the meeting who could have been at a similar E.G.M. that voted to seek a Lakeland Hut in the mid 1960s. There was much opposition to this from those wishing to give priority to the publication of a new, much needed rock climbing guide to Northumberland. Gordon Mitchell and Don Barr Wells were dispatched to make our case with the N.T. Agent and later, against much competition, we were granted the first lease. Apart from conditions like no washing lines and no cars outside etc. there was a stipulation that the mixed dormitory, like we had at The Knowe, must have a "Chastity Curtain" along one wall to screen off a ladies section and this was duly fitted but rarely used! On a 1948 car-less holiday with my parents based on Keswick, we not only drank still lemonade at a Green Hut halfway up Skiddaw but after a walk to Watendlath, ended up having tea at tables in the front garden of the cottage. They sold post cards of the stone as the head of the god Baldur, the son of Odin and Frigga NMC County Climber

showing his eyes and nose and hand shaking by the public underneath it. He was killed with a twig of mistletoe and tumbled down here from the crags. I must say that I was later surprised to see out new toilets being connected to the original sewerage system from those days, once in wooden out buildings at the back. The system certainly lasted well until recently! Bowderstone Hut timeline 

1960 AGM: Poor attendance at The Knowe (hut near Crag Lough) noted. Would a hut in the Lakes be better supported?

Summer 1960: Advert placed in Cumberland newspaper; feasibility of old mine building in Glenridding explored

October 1960 EGM: Decided ‘That the Committee undertake to find a suitable structure in the Lake District for a Club Hut.’

1960-1965: Wranglings with various authorities over Glenridding & other sites

Summer 1964: ‘A likely-looking cottage was espied, beside the Bowderstone in Borrowdale.’

1964-1965: Negotiations with NT and Lake District Planning Board

Late 1966: Lease on Hut signed

1967: Refurbishment begins in earnest

A lot of the initial funds needed were raised by Jumble Sales held in a school off Westgate Road. members, their parents and friends supplied an untapped treasure trove of goods for sale in the days before bags for charity shops and The Antiques Road Show. Before work began an impromptu New Year's Eve party was held in the cottage. At a time when beer reigned supreme and wine was a rare luxury from an off licence or Channel Ferry duty free bar (not a shop) the hut was illuminated by old ornamental candles from home, stuck in wine bottles in the wall alcoves. Dances such as The Gay Gordons, Dashing White Sergeant and Spring 2013

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other reels were danced and everyone crammed onto the Bowderstone Rock to see in the New Year. Folk slept on floors, in cars or tents and toilets were in the woods! Highlights of those early days were the unexpected lack of water from the tank early on a Sunday morning, accepting 6 pence from desperate ladies who asked to use our toilet and taking bets on when the earliest tourist would step onto the ladder on a Sunday morning whilst we still slept.

In later years with a young family we had the use of a family cottage in Gunnerside, Swaledale. It was ideal for walking and lead mine exploration, as well as having safe play areas for children and activities based on the pub, chapel and village hall. However it got that we "had" to go each Bank Holiday to maintain it and cut the grass, so trips to the Cairngorms and Glencoe, done earlier, just did not happen. There, as with the Bowderstone Hut in Borrowdale, walks and climbs became repetitious over the years and NMC. meets, we found, no longer embraced all the other Lakeland valleys they once did by using other club huts and official camp sites. To remedy this and in order to increase member use of the hut I even organised a weekend meet at Pillar Rock using our own

Working meets turned out to be great social occasions with food supplies being combined by the ladies who served a meal to every worker at the tables moved into the garden. Connecting a concealed water pipe to the Hermitage used a route below flags, through a dry stone wall and along the gullies at the sides of the track and From Newcastle Evening Post article announcing the was done all Club’s acquisition of the Bowderstone Hut in one day! It was (thanks to John Dalrymple) however many weeks accommodation. Since the Cleveland MC and countless wet feet later before the new lost their hut in Ennerdale official meets tap and sink in the Hermitage also had an had not been held there. Using the outside outlet. NMC County Climber

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Honister Mine car park it did turn out to be a feasible and successful meet for both rock climbers and walkers. Most of us were into our second pint at the Old Scafell bar on the Saturday night when panic ensued as it was reported that 2 climbers had not returned to the cottage. I drove one of the two car loads up from the pub in the dark only to find, with relief, that there were no cars at the top of Honister. Back at the hut a member was preparing our stretcher and adding a rope, blankets and first aid kit when a "missing" climber emerged from the wash room to ask if something had happened! I honestly feel that at a time when climbers were often benighted on Pillar, we would have done our own search and rescue if possible to avoid the embarrassment of a full page spread in the local paper. Vic Johnson, our club architect at the time of the Knowe restoration and the fitting out of the Bowderstone, has this Christmas expressed sadness about the hut going and hopes that it won't be allowed to become a ruin or get demolished as it is "too much of a picturesque and historical (mainly N.M.C.) feature - it seems like a part of the Bowderstone itself." 

Bowderstone Memories #2 Martin Cooper

No sooner had the tears left my eyes at the decision not to renew the Bowderstone Hut lease, than the memories came flooding back, a veritable torrent of them. Fortunately for me, as I switched on my engine in the car park, preparing to drive forlornly into the night, the editor of County Climber tapped on my window with his usual knowing wink. He might have meant something different, perhaps…….. Climbing Gillercombe Buttress on a Bowderstone meet in January 1985 in snow and ice conditions is a day I won’t forget. The day was cold, clear and crisp and although there wasn’t any ice on the NMC County Climber

route, ice axes were certainly needed for the descent back to the car at the top of Honister. Gillercombe Buttress was the first climb I attempted in the Lakes, Easter Weekend at The Bowderstone in 1981. The following day I walked from the hut over Honister, Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike and Dale Head to get my failure on the previous day’s climb out of my system. But I was hooked. A working meet when ‘Big Louie’ – I never learned his real name – painted the hut ceiling from a standing position on the floor and Jeff Breen spilled a whole tin of green paint into the ladies’loo were treasures not to forget, as was replacing the kitchen roof on a snowy November weekend. I was startled to see the state of the two hundred year old walls once the timbers had been removed. Later I had the job of prising money out of the National Trust for repairs to the main roof. It took two years and endless letters, phone calls and meetings to get them to cough up the measly sum of £1,700. I’m so pleased they didn’t give us any more and jeopardise their raison d’etre: the preservation of the homes of the aristocracy. All sorts of incidents and events have entered Bowderstone folklore: Moonlit ascents of Central Gully on Great End, Tim’s Bonfire and Fireworks Meets, digging the trench for the electricity cable in the wrong place, traversing the hut table after mammoth drinking sessions, inviting in homeless climbers who hadn’t realised that bivvying under the Bowderstone was not the driest option in the valley, late night challenges to woman and manhoodit really DID matter who had climbed the hardest route at Shepherd’s, balmy August barbecue nights after a glorious day’s climbing, sitting around the fire, embers dwindling to the sound of John Dalrymple’s guitar. That did really happen. Sometimes you would make arrangements who to climb with in advance. Other times you could just turn up and see what other people were up for. Spring 2013

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That was the attraction of the club having its own hut. Being sometimes a bit of a loner I would occasionally use the hut for a bit of time to myself. Between Christmas and New Year 1996 the temperature dropped to minus 17, the whole valley froze and walking conditions were stupendous. At The Bowderstone the toilet was frozen solid and there was no running water. Even the kettle was full of ice. I left the hut at six and drove to Patterdale and walked up Dovedale, over Hart Crag, Fairfield and Helvellyn, descending to Thirlspot on one of the most exhilarating days I can remember in the Lake District. With the hut as your base you could do anything.

There have been days to forget as well, including a wasted visit to Lining Crag with Gary last year. The crag was damp, the routes looked dirty, the climbing distinctly unappealing, I’d left my rock boots at home. (I don’t want to put you off.) Much better have been the repeated forays to Grey Crag, The Napes, Raven Crag, Black Crag and Shepherds to do routes like Tophet Wall, Troutdale Pinnacle, Gillercombe Bastion, Corvus (again and again), Dexter Wall, Oxford and Cambridge Direct, Little Chamonix, Eve, Adam, Ardus, Brown Slabs, Woden’s Face., Quayfoot Buttress. The list seems endless but I’d better hurry – I’ve still not done the Bowderstone Pinnacle or Hell’s Wall.

Working meet, Bowderstone Hut, 1988

Other days to savour include a Christmas ascent of Scafell Pike with Jeff, in perfect winter conditions; blue sky, icy cold, perfect neve, struggling up Falconer’s Crack with Graham and Cliff – is the second pitch only 4c? ((It does look steep on the picture in the current guide), climbing Needle Ridge just two years ago with Alex and Steve, accompanied by a nine year old boy who was climbing with his Grandad.

NMC County Climber

(Graham Williams)

Four things remain constant: problems with the water supply, wrangles with the National Trust, tourists and visitors peering over the wall (“Do people really live there?”) and dedicated hut wardens who give up their time when they could have been climbing. It is to them that this article is dedicated. 

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Bowderstone Memories #3 Graham Williams

In October 1982 I went on my first meet with the East Yorkshire Mountaineering Club. In those days Hull council subsidised a minibus once a month for a club. With a rucksack containing sleeping bag, rope, EB’s and Red Joe Brown helmet I crammed in with the others and headed over to the Lake District and my first visit to the Bowderstone hut. On the Saturday I did my first routes in the Lake District, Fool’s Paradise on Gowder Crag followed my Little Chamonix at Shepherd’s on a glorious autumn day. Typically on Sunday it rained and we went for a wet walk over the Haystacks area. In the lottery of applying for jobs a year later I ended up in Newcastle for my first teaching post. One of the big draws for joining the NMC was the prospect of access to the hut and I imagined myself going over every over weekend. That never happened, but over the next 30 years I had many great times there. My first NMC meet there was just after New Year 1984. I can’t remember who was on the meet except Andy Birtwistle and a guy I

can only remember as ‘Ernie the worm’. We soloed Central Right hand, my first ever winter route; all part of the process of natural selection the NMC put its new members through at the time! My only other memory of the meet is of ‘Ernie’ standing on top of the Bowderstone on a freezing cold morning in his underpants, I’m not sure why. The ‘stone’ of course featured heavily in incidents at the hut, especially in the after parties following the club dinners when they were held at the Borrowdale Hotel. A mass gathering on the top seemed obligatory, the most hair-raising occasion being when a very drunk member was only saved from plummeting off the stone by someone grabbing his tie. We join a club, of course, to meet people to climb with. In December 1984 I went over to the Lakes on a wet Saturday to do Sharp Edge. Neil McDiarmid was there in the Hermitage and already had the stove red hot, trying to dry out a climbing partner whose enthusiasm was wavering after a very wet ascent of Gillercombe Buttress. The next day we made an ascent of Corvus the traditional way, in the rain wearing boots. That set off a climbing partnership that winter of climbing adventures, including another Bowderstone trip that ended up with us climbing the Bowderstone pinnacle in the rain wearing Koflachs (plastic winter climbing boots). August bank holiday BBQ meets were a social fixture in the calendar for a number of years. A couple of pictures I have of the 1990 meet bring back memories of driving over there , enjoying the party and the climbing Falconer’s Crack with Cliff and Martin the next day. An ascent made especially interesting by accidentally doing the second pitch of Where Eagles Dare (I still maintain that it looked easier than the correct second pitch).

In the hut, circa 2000 (Graham Williams)

NMC County Climber

I’ll miss the hut, I based two significant birthday parties there, had New Year’s Spring 2013

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there, spent hours trying to reconnect the water supply and stumbled up the track in the dark many times after a visit to the Scafell. All that and the climbing too! 

Bowderstone Memories #4 Lewis Preston

First and Last Meets In February 1977 I joined a bunch of eager, would-be mountaineerundergraduates in a minibus on a Friday evening after lectures to drive north from Oxford into the unknown. All I knew was we were going to stay in Borrowdale for a first try at Lakeland rockclimbing. In the early hours we staggered,

explored the environs in the dark, then lit a fire in the hearth and partied into the night. I had never heard then of the NMC but did know about the Bowderstone through devouring all the Wainwright guides cover-to-cover whilst still at school. Next morning, my climbing mentor Dave, a serious VS climber, took us to Shepherd’s Crag and pointed me at ‘Little Chamonix’ for my first-ever Lakeland lead. The final headwall pitch looked so impossible from below, I couldn’t believe I controlled my trembling just enough to find the jugs and pull over the top for the best view of the rest of my life! After that seconding VS’s with Dave for the rest of the day was just a dream. This was the first of many happy weekends in the Bowderstone’s enchanted wood. On

The motley crew that foregathered for the last ever Bowderstone meet, February 2013 (Neil Cranston)

half-asleep up a rocky path to a place that rekindled for me memories of magical childhood adventures imagined through the writings of C S Lewis and Arthur Ransome. Suddenly, wide-awake, we NMC County Climber

return to live in Newcastle after working in Papua New Guinea and Malaysia for six years in the 1990s, I joined the NMC to realise that club members enjoyed Spring 2013

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unlimited use of the tiny Hermitage I had discovered decades before with the Oxford undergrads. Fast forward exactly 36 years from that first student meet to February 2013 and the last-ever NMC club meet. Between I can recall festive club socials to solo overnights with only my dog Cleo for company; years of shared experiences and relationships. No wonder it was with hugely mixed emotions at that last-ever gathering we sung our hearts out to the guitar chords of John Dal and Bill Blyth, only to hug each other on the doorstep the morning-after knowing that this was the moment of no return. Nothing lasts forever, I realised some time ago, but also fortunately, nothing can take away our memories 

Bowderstone Memories #5 Adrian Wilson

It was February half term 2009 and I took my children, Natalie and Elliott (aged 11 and 9 at the time) across to the Bowderstone for a couple of days to stay in the Hermitage. As is usual when setting out on an expedition with the three of us, things took much longer than expected to get sorted and we ended up in Keswick on Saturday afternoon to grab a bite to eat and inevitably visit the labyrinth of a toy shop in Museum Square. As tradition dictates, I was fleeced of cash in return for essential items for the weekend which in this case was the game of Continuo; this seemed rather fitting as I had been bought a copy of the game when it was first released when I was Natalie’s age. We then set off down the Borrowdale valley and after the usual impression of a Sherpa carting far more kit then was essential up to the Hermitage, we were safely ensconced with the circular coke burning stove warming the hut nicely. The main hut was empty and whilst it was very cold (frozen water supply to the Hermitage so we had to ferry water across from the Cottage) it was a beautiful clear evening. A vote was taken for whether to go to the Hikers’ Bar at the Scafell or to cook tea in the hut and NMC County Climber

democracy ensured that I was soon busy concocting a chicken & pasta thing to fuel us for a mammoth day in the hills on the Sunday. Once tea was demolished, domestic duties complete and a spot of star gazing undertaken, we set about several games of Continuo, chatting and generally relaxing as the evening wore on. Fortunately for me, when I suggested bedtime it met with unanimous approval. Cocooned in sleeping bags, liners, fleecy blankets and PJs, Natalie and Elliott were soon asleep, no doubt soothed by the scampering of tiny feet and spine tingling screeches of a Barn Owl. My dreams of scaling Scafell, Great Gable and trundling back over Green Gable being coaxed along by Elliott were interrupted by something outside. A vehicle? Surely not, must be on the road and just very noisy. Snuggle back down, how did they get so far in front of me up the hill I think dozing off again? Definitely an engine noise now and I’m very awake. Vehicle stops and a door is opened and closed. Glance at watch, just before 1am. Could this be a university group arriving late and ignoring the parking instructions? Can’t be, I’d checked with Derek and no one was booked into the Cottage. I hear the chain on the gate of the cottage jangling. Heart pounding, ears straining, I suddenly feel very isolated; my previous thoughts of adventure, experience and education of my offspring replaced with those of anxiety. Worst case scenarios run through my head at high speed and in graphic detail: is this an ill-informed robbery in progress? a rave party about to kick off on the Bowderstone? some weird satanic cult looking for small children to sacrifice to maintain crop fertility? There is a banging noise which sounds far too close and my thoughts turn to survival; can I get the three of us out of the fire escape, over the coke store and down to the car unnoticed? Why the hell did I leave my keys hanging on the back of the Hermitage door? Why are all of our boots downstairs? No mobile reception of course but could I get to the standing stone unnoticed? How do I wake the children up and get them clear without alerting the intruders to our Spring 2013

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presence? How long will it take me to get the car un-frozen as it’s at least -5 outside? OK, pull yourself together Adrian, the children are still fast asleep, what you need to do is establish what the situation

kick it open I grab the car keys and footwear and retreat up to the loft. No human or vehicle sounds outside now, and the sinister screech of the Barn Owl is no longer amusing. Sleep is a long time

Breakfast at a BBQ meet, 1990 (Graham Williams)

actually is. I’m sure I can hear voices now and I shuffle as quietly as possible to the loft hatch. It’s no use, of course, can’t see through the window without descending the ladder. Do I climb down or go and hide in my sleeping bag? Time passes, noises are amplified, sounds of people, don’t know how many, maybe two, maybe more. OK, I need to know. Slide out of sleeping bag, foot tentatively through the loft hatch onto the top rung. Sound of gate closing and chain rattling. Foot retracts from the ladder faster than a hermit crab retreating into its shell. Oh no – they must be coming here now! Vehicle doors slam, engine starts and vehicle slowly turns around. Lights flash through the kitchen window as I perch next to the hatch. Vehicle drives off, but is it coming back? Has everyone that was in it gone? Very, very slowly I descend the ladder. Nothing to be seen outside, no sign of life at the main hut. Feeling sure at any moment that someone is going to pound on the Hermitage door or NMC County Climber

coming; luckily Natalie and Elliott are blissfully ignorant and awake in the morning refreshed and ready for action. I head over to the Cottage as they get breakfast, no signs of a break in, everything seems in order. Can I really see vehicle tracks or did I imagine the whole thing? Seeds of doubt are sown but it’s a glorious bright day with no wind. We have an excellent walk over to Watendlath, the grass is covered in hoar frost and there is much ice about. After refuelling on hot chocolate and cake, we return to the hut, pack up and head to the car which is seriously frozen. The temperature gauge says it’s -7 and I’m not arguing. Back home, Natalie and Elliott back to school on the Monday. I get home late on Tuesday night just as my neighbour (a restaurateur) arrives home. “Did the police find you at the weekend?” she asks, “it’s just that they came round here after midnight and knocked on our door. They said they’d found your car in the middle of nowhere Spring 2013

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near Keswick and were trying to make sure you were OK”. The penny begins to drop. “Anyway,” she goes on, “I told them that you’re always out and about in the Lakes, climbing or kayaking somewhere and that they shouldn’t worry about it, you’d be fine! Goodnight,” she says as I process this news. So on the one hand, I’m very impressed that the police showed an interest in my car being in Borrowdale in quite severe cold conditions and did a local search and checked out my house in Newcastle, but on the other, they obviously failed to spot the Hermitage completely when they checked out the Cottage. To be honest though, I’m very glad they didn’t hammer on the Hermitage door – that could have just about finished me off!! 

Guests Anonymous We’re in. “Where’s the light?” “Get in. There’s a stove.” “Tell him not to use the furniture.“ The stove is crimson. Anything and everything in the immediate vicinity has been stuffed into it. Everything and anything left lying around to dry has attained a crisp, brown texture. The fireman is sitting in his underpants roasting a bent axe blade and every now and then when it gets to the same colour as the stove it’s taken off and beaten with another axe. Neither belong to him. “How do you get the gas on?” “What’s a hermitage?” An apprenticeship in motor skills makes pad and Yale locks a minor challenge – anything can be fixed with a hammer. However leaving school at 14 left little time for anything else – like learning to read! A hermitage is a type of monastery. Typically it has a room, or at least a dedicated space, for religious devotion, very basic sleeping quarters and a domestic NMC County Climber

range, suitable for the ascetic way of living of the inhabitant.(1) In the winter it’s better than the rugby club stand but it’s further from the café and the pub and there’s the added disadvantage of the temptation to ‘play houses’. Our residence fulfills at least four phrases in the sentence. One of the guests thinks one phrase refers to a way of living that involves drinking orange juice for breakfast! The temptation of the permanent residents to eat anything left lying around means that there is nothing left lying around to eat. “Where’s the light?” “We have company.” Eyes down look in, a jumble of mumbling. The ‘company’ are made to feel like guests in their own residence. Except that apparently if you had guests stay at your house you wouldn’t expect them to pay. Would you? So. We are guests! And there is a key that not only fits this door but also that of the ‘other place’ where there are ‘other things’. The best thing about this place is the place next door. The guest book stays in the other place. Have we been members very long? Oh years. And impresses by demonstrating his OCD, reciting names from the book while enquiring if it was long since they last stayed here. Asceticism (from the Greek: ‘exercise’ or ‘training’) describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various worldly pleasures, often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. The founders and earliest practitioners of these religions lived extremely austere lifestyles, refraining from sensual pleasures and the accumulation of material wealth. They practiced asceticism not as a rejection of the enjoyment of life, or because the practices themselves are virtuous, but as an aid in the pursuit of salvation or liberation. (2) Training was exercised : walls, doors, bridges, windowsills and the quarry ……

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every available grain of sand; soloed, led, top-roped, traversed, ascended, descended, solstice, equinox, dawn, dusk. There was no accumulated wealth and there will be no salvation for some of this team. He couldn’t even spell abstinance. (Their only Salvation was the second / early ascent 100 miles away. Good as / hard as Edge Lane, extremely severe, 30 years since its last ascent – highball f7a - get your mats up there boys.) Ascent of the ladder into the loft. They hope to find Heidi there … the sensual! Some hope. The residents play their scuttling, scratching lullaby to sooth the guests to sleep. “Here eat this and let’s go”. Bacon sandwiches for breakfast – playing houses. Spiritual goals are what Sunday footballers score. Until forced abstinence from this worldly pleasure – a slight assault on the ref – allowed our current pursuit. A second night. “Where’s the light?” The company’s back. There would be a conversation but for this you have to talk back. There was a query about bread and bacon and an insinuation that the residents – surely not the guests! “Are you writing in the log?” This is a further error of character appraisal. Not just of character but also of academic ability and perhaps most importantly of the assumption that he actually gave a …. whether he or anyone that remotely knew of his existence may be the least interested in anything that had been achieved. The CIC had a similar clientele and required a different key. Being a guest in Jacksonville was less stressful. They said that the visitors were only Geordies and just like them – but had experienced opencast lobotomy! Depending on which myth you care to ascribe, residence endured whatever duration. Extending from a single NMC County Climber

nocturnal invitation of B&B - not necessarily one with the greatest number of disciples – to having permanent residence with an endless harem and associated eunuchs. Plus a subletting system that would bear comparison, and indeed financial reward to that of The Lodore. Scaphoid and Smith’s left and right wrists - a perplexing time, lapping overhangs in the quarry. She said that I’d know her husband as he was the hut warden! Clearly a very good radiographer it was essential to feign respectability. The ever courteous Jeff never once produced an invoice of any kind. Incurred debt would probably buy half of Borrowdale. Respectability is concomitant with middle age. It never felt the same signing the book. Fashions change. Although I’m sure the fuel-injected, turbo-charged, childseated, middle-classed Golf never outperformed the maniacal Dolomite Sprint, the straighter, smoother, dualcarriaged surfaces of the twentyfirst century have allowed the dale to be reached even for return-trip summer evenings ; with time left for a pint. Not that anyone visits anymore – a Bitter Oasis that is truly named. The only visitors; those to the magnesium carbonate washed stone, reveling in the rain and this week’s f-edge that has to be only partly used and as an undercut layaway but not on Wednesdays unless it’s a bank or other holy day - a major new addition. txt ‘Dad. Ive gt ht kys. Me nd gng r goin 2 stay 4 t wkend’ For underpants and blades read knickers and stilettos. None of them are members. They’ll just have to be guests. txt ‘Where’s the light?’  References 1 & 2: Wikipedia

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Club Business

via Secretary Andrew Shanks at:

Committee At its first meeting in January, the new Committee identified four areas of activity for the coming year (and beyond?), and working groups were convened to take the ideas forward. They are (convenors in parentheses): 

Publicity (John Spencer)

Communication (Adrian Wilson)

Events (El Presidente)

Services to members (Adrian Wilson)

At the March 12th meeting, the Publicity working group floated some ideas, the bottom line being that membership has been falling, and information about what the Club ‘does’, how to join etc is hard to come by. The ideas included:

New member profiles Iain Johnson Recently moved to Newcastle from Manchester, where I climbed in the Peak District quite a lot, the nearest crag, Hobson Moor Quarry, being only five minutes away. Predominately a trad climber and boulderer but with some sport climbing and winter climbing experience from both the UK and New Zealand, where I lived previously. Generally (try to) lead HVS/ E1 and would like to be more consistent at these grades. Also helped out with the recent BMC 'Over the Moors' Guidebook. Work commitments over the last twelve

County Climber: 

Producing extra hard copies for distribution to local climbing walls, neighbouring clubs, and (possibly) outdoor shops

Making the CC ‘back catalogue’ available on-line to non-members

Including a (bullet pointed) round-up of Committee meetings (issues raised, decisions made, actions taken)

T-shirts and other stuff – will probably benefit from a re-design

months have prevented me from climbing on a regular basis, so keen to resolve this, although I did manage a recent winter route, a Cold Climbs classic; Penguin Gully on Ben Dearg.

Joint activities with other clubs, e.g. Wanneys, the University Clubs (with which we have several contacts/crossmembership); activities could include a joint meet and speaker events

Outside of climbing, I play lacrosse and enjoy getting outdoors to watch wildlife, whilst checking the results of Manchester United.

Promotional video – to be accessible via the website

Louise Knight

If you have any comments about these ideas, or other suggestions for promoting the Club, please let the Committee know

Hi all, I’ve been climbing on and off for about six years. I started at Uni with the indoor wall and progressed to seconding

NMC County Climber

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outside. After about three years I took up caving as my main hobby for two years and now I’ve come full circle and joined the NMC with the aim of leading. Before moving up to Newcastle I did a learn to lead course in October 2012, and now I’m happy to second anyone especially those who want to pass on their climbing ‘expertise’ (just act like you know what you’re doing and I’ll believe you). I’m not a scaredy cat, but I do know my limits and have no problem admitting it, so hopefully no one will dread climbing with me. Outside climbing I mountain bike, do Pilates and bake cakes.

acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine, which has proved very popular with my climbing friends! Away from climbing and work you will generally find me drawn inextricably to the dance floor…. Szymon Giemza I'm originally from Poland. I've been a competition mountain bike rider for about 15 years, doing a lot of long-distance marathons and multi-stage races. Four years ago I started climbing and it became my second passion immediately.

I work as an Optometrist at the RVI Hospital and really enjoy the mix of babies to oldies that I get to meet. Ok that’s enough about me, you need to get back climbing instead of sitting drinking tea and reading. Louise Collyer I’ve always loved all things outdoors and climbing is a great opportunity for me to challenge myself and visit some truly inspirational landscapes. I climb trad by preference, leading at around Severe when the sun is shining; I also try to boulder and climb indoors at least once a week. I’m going on the NMC meet to North Wales at the beginning of May which I’m very excited about as it will be my first climbing visit to North Wales, if you haven’t signed up yet, why not come too? along

I'm mostly a sport climber, but I also have some small experience in trad and bouldering. I especially like very steep overhanging routes with good holds, it fits me much better that one-finger pockets on a vertical wall. My goal for this year is to progress in sport climbing, lead a few 6c or 6c+ routes. It could be also great to climb one of multi-pitch routes on Marmolada in Italy. ’ Welcome to the Club! 

I work at Heaton Acupuncture Clinic ( and have a special interest in treating pain and muscular and skeletal issues using NMC County Climber

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John Vaughan powering up E Tutto Relativo (WI4/4+), Cogne (photo by Thommy)

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Members' Photos Evening This year’s Members’ Photo Evening went ahead on February 27th at Burnside, organised and facilitated by the inimitable Sarah

(we’re talking hardcore here: Scottish Grades VI in ‘full winter conditions’); Adrian Wilson talked about the climbing highlights of 2012 for him ranging from Kyloe Out to Kalymnos; Graham Williams waxed lyrical about sea-cliff climbing in Cornwall; and Tim Catterall raved about swimming with a basking shark on Mingulay.

There were inevitably some technical problems (such as having to reboot the system between presenters) and a couple of mavericks flagrantly ignored their brief: The Editor, who despite protestations about technical problems slowing Deception Crack, Kyloe Out him down, went (Adrian Wilson) well over his 6 minutes 40 ‘Überschnell’ Follmann. seconds in describing trips to Mingulay and Cogne. And Dave Hume who decided The format followed the Pecha Kucha not to use any slides and instead showed an principles of 20 slides x 20 seconds each, amusing film about his exploits as – how i.e. total presentation time 6 minutes 40 shall I put this – one of the more senior seconds per presenter, the idea being that it members of the Club! makes for snappy summaries and giving more people the chance to take part (see: The Pecha Kucha format worked well – for the full despite the technical hitches and abuse, gen). although in my opinion would benefit from having a few minutes between presenters Well that was the general idea. And it for comments, questions, ribbing etc. worked more or less to plan, with most Maybe next time? .  contributors sticking to their remit: Jim Rigg described some gnarly outings on the white stuff with characteristic modesty NMC County Climber

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Winter meets 2013 At the time of writing, the Fat Lady has not yet even started to put on her make-up, let alone reach for the song-sheet as far as the white stuff is concerned - amusing to recall the postings on ukc in January after Massive Thaw No 2 asking whether that was the end of the season! – but official Club winter meets have all run their course. There were four: 

Mill Cottage, Feshiebridge, 12-23th January (leader Adrian Wilson)

Raeburn Hut, Laggan, 9-10 February (leader Tim Catterall)

Alex McIntyre Hut, Onich, 9-10 March (leader Richard Pow)

Riasg, Roybridge, 23-24 March (leader Ed Sciberras)

season, especially on the Ben, including ascents of Smith’s, Orion Face Direct, Green Gully, and a positively Alpinelooking Tower Ridge – well done Jeff!

All meets were more or less full, and in spite of sometimes quite challenging conditions lots got done, both climbing upwards and hurtling downwards, and a good time was had by all. Memories that will linger include: 

Adrian Wilson losing his car keys somewhere in the Norries, necessitating a cramped journey home in someone else’s car, and a return trip to Aviemore by train the next day with the spares Uberschnell’s first shot at skiing, immortalised on film by Tim Catterall. Quoth she: ‘Almost entirely quite like skating’  A mass ascent of “Smoking the White Owl” (III/4) on Sgurr Finnisgaig as the wind gusted and the spindrift swirled. Everyone thought the route’s name was drug-related (like ‘Chasing the dragon’ or somesuch). Well, FYI, it isn’t – Google it to find out more!

Of course there was lots of activity independent of Club meets. A certain Mr Breen, for one, judging from his Facebook postings, looks to have had a fantastic NMC County Climber

John Spencer battling up Smoking the White Owl, Sgurr Finnisg-aig (Nigel Hooker)

Finally, Adrian Wilson will be more than happy to tell you about the delights of the nature trail next to the Creag Meagaidh car park, where he spent a happy few hours pacing, slowly sliding into hypothermia, as darkness fell and temperatures plummeted, while he awaited the return of Richard and Eva from their epic ascent of 1959 Face Route. Congratulations both to R&P for their ascent (using only 4 screws - it’s a 10 pitch V/4, with the crux icefall on Pitch 9), and to Adrian for surviving his ordeal, albeit helped by a couple of Good Samaritans in a camper van who invited him in for a hot drink as he was on his last legs. 

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The website includes various discussion forums, a photoarchive for members’ climbing photos, and online guides for most Northumberland crags.

Indoor climbing: £1 off the standard entry price at:  Sunderland Wall.  Durham Wall.  Climb Newcastle (Wed. 

Newcastle Climbing Centre (Byker) nights only). Morpeth Bouldering Wall

Also winter season Wed. nights at Burnside College, £5 entrance fee, open to NMC members only.

NMC Website The NMC has a very informative website

John Earl on 0191 236 5922  No Nobler County A history of the NMC and climbing in Northumberland. Now ONLY £2.00 Hurry while stocks Last!!!

NMC Guidebooks NMC members pay a discounted price for any guidebook published by the NMC. Currently available are the following guides:  Northumberland Climbing Guide Definitive Guide to climbing in Northumberland. £12.50 to members (RRP £18.95)

Contact Martin Cooper on 0191 252 5707

T-shirts Various styles of T-shirt with printed NMC designs and logo are available. Order direct by contacting Ian Birtwistle 07828 123 143.

 Northumberland Bouldering Guide The new guide, £12.50 to members (RRP £19.95) For the above 2 guides add £2 P&P if required. Contact Cleo dog at Bowderstone, Borrowdale by Lewis Preston

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County Climber Spring 2013  
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