Jess and me have been climbing together for nearly ten years and although there has been ample opportunity to climb at the Wye Valley, we have avoided it. I know the main reason is that everyone we talk to about it is quite negative about things, a common phrase I’ve heard is that people ‘don’t like it there’. This has been enough to put me off, however the other weekend we finally got there and in all honesty it was pretty good stuff!
First of all the Forrest of Dean is a beautiful place, I cannot ever remember going there, but in general the area was beautiful and peaceful. We were lucky enough to be upgraded from van to log cabin for the weekend, and we had the good company of friends staying with us. There was lots of nature around the cabin, squirrels, rabbits and most importantly (for Jess) ducks!
We only did one route a day over the weekend, partly due to late starts and partly due to my lack of enthusiasm. Im sure that in years gone by, I would have climbed more, and Jess was definitely keen for more. At least I would be happy to come back here and climb again, as there is still plenty to climb in my grade. Its still a few hours away, and I have to admit the drive up there nearly killed me, I was so tired after a week of early starts, long shifts, cycling every day and then a late night 4 hour drive, it was probably the most tired I’ve ever driven which is never a sensible thing!
When we arrived on day one at the crag, it was beside the river which swept on a wide bend with the cliffs standing above. I was surprised by the size of the cliffs, pretty close to home and yet we could get some multi pitches done! We started on a low grade climb called cement route, or something like that. Both me and Colin have not been climbing much, so Jess led off and we both seconded throughout the weekend. This route was easy, maybe too easy, but at least it gave us a decent introduction to the type of rocks and climbing in the area. The views from the tops of the cliff and the belays were pretty special and again added to the attraction of climbing here.
That night we retreated to the log cabin, and treated ourselves to a few drinks and a cracking spag bol, made by Mick and Klarissa. It was nice to socialise, and just chill out for the evening, although I did not last long as the long drive and the late night before had caught up with me and I soon hit the hay!
The next day Jess decided to step up the grade and climb a 3 star severe called central rib. It took a pretty straight line up the face and followed some obvious features that we had stopped out on the walk out the day before. Now this climb engaged me a little more than the diff from the day before.
The first pitch was polished and this was ok, however the best pitch was the second which followed an obvious crack past a horizontal tree. Although this was also polished, it still had enough on it to be enjoyable, and was obviously the draw of the whole climb. the final pitch did have some good moves, however this was so short lived it felt more like a boulder problem, as was obvious by the total lack of gear placed by Jess on the final pitch.
Still all in all it was a good route, I know we will come back here to climb in the future, although we will most likely be in a lower class accommodation. It was good to see and catch up with friends and its a shame we don’t do more of these types of weekend. At least I’m a little more pumped for the next climbing trip than I have been in recent months.