Weekend away in the van!

Its been a while since we have got away in the van, its also been a while since I’ve been climbing! But it was a good change of pace to get away from the mundane!

It was a break from the mundane work life, that just seems to roll through month after month. We drove through the night and parked up near Portland Harbour, the spot is quiet and we seem to never have any trouble when we park here. Unfortunately the weather the next morning was looking rather bleak, and on looking outside all I could see was low cloud.


We decided that climbing was not the best idea, so we set off for a walk around Portland Bill. It’s weird that I have climbed here so many times, over so many years and yet have never walked to the light house. I have often seen it by sea, but never on land. It was bad weather, but still nice enough to stroll around. The land is scarred from years of quarrying, this is part of the attractions though, cranes and squared off limestone are the remnants of years of abuse. I wonder what this island would look like had it been left alone?


We sat at the top of the bill, and had our lunch looking out at the fishermen. It made me laugh when Jess said it was shame that they were killing the fish, before it dawned on us that we were sat there enjoying a tuna sandwich. It’s crazy how easy it is to detach from the reality of where food comes from.

As we rounds the island we noticed that the weather had started to get a little better, and climbed down to the foot of the climbs on the west side of the island, in search of some new routes that I had found online. Although we were unsuccessful, I had a better idea where to look tomorrow when the weather would be better. Following this we headed back to the van for a quick kit check and as we were parked up by the Cuttings we decided we would try and climb a couple of routes before it got dark.

I was surprised by how many groups were out climbing, given the dire weather. We ended up climbing on the Bower, a 30m butters of rock below the main Cuttings cliff. Here we started on a 5 climb that I had done years ago, and I felt it went pretty well, considering that I hadn’t climbed for so long. We follow this up with the 6a next door, that another team had just finished. Again, it went well. not as smooth as the previous climb, as I struggled on a thin section about a 2/3’s of the way up. I overcame this with a little bit of aid and finished to the final bolts. Jess followed up both, and I was happy to call it a day with two good routes in the bag.


That night we met up with our friends for a drink, we had not seen each other for a year or so, as ever, there was a lot of stories to tell. It was again nice to sleep in the van, a small glimpse into the life that we lived over 2017-18. I know it is weird to feel more at home in the van, than in any house.

The next morning the weather was much more suited to climbing and we headed back to the west side of the island to try and find the newly bolted crag. As we don’t climb to the highest grades its often hard to find something new that we had not climbed before, so this was a good opportunity to find some fresh rock. I investigated the area I’d seen the day before, and it turned out to be correct.

Its fair to say that the rock was a  little loose in places, but we still had a fantastic day. Again we climbed between 5-6a, which is a nice place to start the season. At times, I pulled off sections of rock knowingly, and once nearly lost it all together when I tested a foot placement, and then weighted it, only for it to disintegrate under my weight. Its fair to say we were wearing helmets and actively belaying, waiting for any incoming from above.


We were visited by a seal, who poked its head above the waves. It seemed to be taunting the fisherman, who was coming around the corner to check on his nets. Every time his back was turned the seal would pop up and check the coast was clear to continue its feast below.

We finished by mid afternoon with Jess leading a route and I didn’t second as I was feeling soreness in my elbows, which seems to continuously haunt me when I climb anything. I travelled home happy that we had broke the mundane for a couple of days, getting away and getting on the rock was a good change of pace.

Unfortunately subsequent weekends have been right offs due to the weather, and problems with diving equipment. As well as living on the south coast, its a lovely area, but seems to be far away from everything that I enjoy doing. We have plans for the upcoming weekends, so fingers crossed that all the good weather weekends are not reserved for when I’m working!



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