Road Trip Down South @ Dartmoor

Bouldering has seen a huge increase in popularity over the last few years.

Although some ultra-trad climbers may look down on this casual form of the sport, there are good reasons why more and more climbers are opting out of intensive climbing in favour of weekend bouldering excursions.

When you look at the facts it’s not hard to see why. Bouldering is, by it’s nature, climbing on a smaller scale. Instead of scaling tall edges and faces, problems are created out of rocks that are no more than 20ft tall, meaning that climbers can simply rely on a crash mat as their only form of safety, as opposed to the reams of ropes and other gear that usually accompany a full blown climbing expedition.

We thought we’d see what all the fuss was about and also take another sneaky road trip, this time to deepest darkest Devon or more specifically, Dartmoor.

Other than being heavily featured in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, Dartmoor isn’t as well known to the rest of the country as it is to the climbing community. Buried away in the very heart of Devon, the moorland covers an astonishing 954,000 square kilometres of barren marsh, green valleys and a big variety of climbing problems.

The drive was by no means an easy one. Point to point, the distance from our home in Consett down to our first bouldering spot at the iconic Haytor area was around 400 miles.

In order to get the most out of the weekend, Jacob, Adam and I decided to drive down on Friday evening after work – a Herculean task that we probably should have just sacked off until the next day.

It probably seems a bit mad, leaving the veritable climbing utopia of the North East, to drive for nearly 7 hours to get to another climbing wonderland.

But we’d heard great things about the accessible bouldering routes in the area and had high hopes for what would promised to be an action packed weekend of clamber in a part of the country that none of us had ever had the chance of exploring before.

The long drive down, made only slightly longer by Jacob wanting to take a scenic route, had taken us through some of the most picturesque parts of the country.

The Yorkshire Dales, Peak District and The Cotswolds had all been laid in front of us on the drive down South. We spent the majority of the drive bathed in the golden rays of the sun, excitedly talking about the gradient of climbs we hoped to execute this weekend.

After just about making it down the last stretch of the M5 at half past midnight, we were knackered but excited and ready for a good night’s sleep before our long day of climbing.