Cratcliffe is situated right next to Robin Hoods Stride. The main face can’t be seen from the top approach but the boulders are obvious, I’d noticed them yesterday but didn’t have the time or energy to walk the 200 metres to see what they were like.
At the Middle Boulders, slightly hidden in the woods, there wasn’t much in the easier grades and so I only did a few problems, some nice outings up a slab and a twin arêtes problem that was great.
Taking a walk down to the main crag I found it reminds me a lot of Danby, it’s hard to move around at the base and the boulder problems seemed green, uninspiring and didn’t have the best landings. Walking around in the jungle I couldn’t find many of the established problems but there are lots of mossy blocks that look like, if cleaned, they would provide some sport. The crag itself was impressive and clean (unlike Danby) with some inspiring looking lines of a good size, I didn’t even consider donning the helmet though and headed back out into the sun to the main attraction, the Top Boulders, which are just above the main crag.
The Top Boulders offer a great circuit of excellent grit, perhaps a bit softer than other venues and so well weathered. It meant it felt quite friendly on the fingers. The best problems required a bit of proficiency at padding with some great slabs and arêtes. The best thing about this place was the landings, 90% were completely flat. The only bad point would be the chipping that has occurred here. Obviously the ‘old timers’ deemed this an ok practice in the past; the problems are still good though if you have the strength of mind to avoid the man-made holds.
I had a mega-struggle up a V0- on Pink Slab. Described in the guide as an ‘easy mooch’ I got to the halfway break and didn't feel as if I could climb back down, it felt too high and too hard. I committed to the top moves and was lucky to find they weren’t too difficult. I kept failing on the other lines on the slab due to the height and it wasn’t until I noticed the ‘real’ Pink Slab that I realised I was in-fact on Blind Pocket Rib, a V2 5c described as ‘scary and sustained’. Too true! After managing some other problems which should have been harder than they were I think the grades here may be a bit soft.
The climax of today, and my last problem before I left, was on The Egg. The main arête on this boulder is a slopey horror show and took me a while to work out. Once I’d learned I could trust my feet, pressing down on nothing to gain a bit of height didn’t seem too bad and, slipping all the time, I just managed to top out. Excellent.
I have found myself gravitating more and more toward the slabby lately. I like to hang around and think about the climbing and not be worried about how much strength I have left in the bank. I guess it's a vicious circle though, avoiding working the arms isn’t going to make me any stronger but steep bouldering just makes me feel weak and rubbish. Days like today are better for the ego.