A climbers life: Wales, England and France

We got home from our last big trip 15 months ago! Time flies.

But what’s weird is that we’ve just been getting on with life without me pecking Taz’s head to commit to more travel dreams. But it’s slowly creeping back now, phew. I feel as though another trip is in order but it will be at least a year away. Being attached to our home comforts and having to jack in all your financial security has held us back a bit firmer this time. There’s also an amazing Thai takeaway 5 minutes from our house so when I crave Thai food (this happens a LOT) I am satisfied immediately and I’m not drawn to flight websites as much.The lady that owns the place knows us well and just reminds me of what we loved about Thailand, we go 2 or 3 times a week sometimes. It’s really good and handy after a climb or swim when it’s late and you can’t be arsed cooking and you have the willpower to drive past the chippy. Chicken noodle soup is my ultimate favourite.


Back in March we popped in to visit an old friend we met back in 2009 when we were climbing in Thailand. Johan is French, he lives in Grenoble and climbs 8a! He lives with his room mate Julian who is the man behind some of the best climbing films ever made. His company is Baraka Flims. We were in the presence of an idol. You don’t have to love climbing to be impressed by their creations. We spent the week in France, 2 nights with Johan where we did some trekking and indoor climbing (rain!) before driving to Ceuze and Sisteron to climb and stay in a rented farmhouse for 4  days. The walk in to Ceuze took us about 3 hours because we got lost and it was so steep my knees hurt for weeks afterwards. It was worth it just to see a few really famous climbs, like Biographie. Sisteron had a roadside crag, no snow, and was nice and warm. Big thumbs up! We squeezed in a quick drive (and speeding fine) to Marseilles for a day on the beach. Then back up to Johan’s to say bye and have a crazy night in a random drum and bass place where everyone was out in hoodies and trainers. I was surprised by how much I liked the place and the music. We were lucky with the weather, at sea level it reached about 15-20 degrees most days with virtually no rain so perfect for climbing, other than in Grenoble where it was none stop. We were invited to tag along to the Petzl rock trip happening later this year in Eastern Europe where Julian will be filming and as amazing as it sounds, realistically work won’t allow that to happen.

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We went to a random camping pod last month for a night away in York, and climbed at Harrogate climbing center on the way home. It was raining for a change. The pod was ace and is great to escape to for some peace and quiet. It’s adults only. Bliss.


We went to Sheffield to watch CWIF again. We did one route at horseshoe quarry where we were rained off and it was so windy, so we spent a couple of hours in Awesome walls instead to finish off. We returned to Sheffield awesome walls a few weeks later to see off Jason and Sarah who are now in China and will be away travelling for a year. They have a blog and it’s awesome. They met our friends from our local wall, John and Sarah whilst in the Rusty Bolt Bar in Yangshuo, they are away for 2 years going to similar places I think, but had never actually met before. Small world.


But anyway we’ve been climbing… a lot! We’ve dabbled at Denham quarry and I led my first trad route “Mohammed the Morbid Mogul” a Severe 4a route. We climbed at Anglezarke and I lead “Metamorphosis”, a VS 4c which I loved and a few others that were less memorable.


We’ve been sport climbing in North Wales again. Our mate Chris came with us this time. His first taste of real rock. He did good! It was really sunny. We did a couple of routes at Penmaen Head first and then headed round to Llandullas. We must be slightly better than last year because I remember crapping myself on a 6b called “White Man’s Burden” and couldn’t climb it so I was chuffed to get it this year. Although inside I’m sort of breaking barriers with my climbing indoors and I’m able to on-sight pretty much anything below a 6c and redpoint up to 7a now, it’s nice to see this might be helping me grow bigger balls for outside. We chilled at the top of Llandullas cave with some ciders afterwards and then stopped at the chippy on the way back to the A55 and sat outside. It was a really nice day out, I enjoyed everything about it.


Llanddulas Cave @ Forgotten Sun Area. The climb is “The Man With The India-Rubber Head” 15m 6a *


Penmaenrhos Wall at Penmaen Head. The climb is "Helyg Crack" 12m 6a *

Penmaenrhos Wall at Penmaen Head. The climb is “Helyg Crack” 12m 6a *



Our mate Chris on Penmaenrhos Wall at Penmaen Head. The climb is “Red Handed” 12m 6a

We have had the opportunity to take my cousins Becky and Ben climbing outdoors too which was nice. We got a nice night after work at Anglezarke and set up a couple of top ropes. They climb on a Monday night with me indoors and they seem to be loving it as much as me.


Ben on “Metamorphosis” at Anglezarke, a VS 4C route


Becky on “Metamorphosis” at Anglezarke, a VS 4C route


This bank holiday just gone we went down to Tremadog to camp with Joel and Mike who we met briefly at John and Sarah’s leaving do a few months back (now in China). I built my first belay station from just nuts (not a bolt in sight!!), eek! And I led my first multi-pitch climb which was also trad. Routes completed include Merlin (Hvs 5a), One step in the clouds Vs 4c), Christmas curry (Hs 4b) and Poor man’s putrid (S). The camp site belongs to Eric Jones who’s now an OAP but in his time he soloed the Eigre and was (and still is, I believe) a base jumping enthusiast. What a legend! He was hanging around the cafe at breakfast so I said hello, and he said he liked my bike 🙂


The route is “Poor Man’s Peuterey” a Servere 55 meter route which we did in 3 pitches, Taz led the first, I did the traverse and Taz led the last, pictured here on the last leg.

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We discovered LLanberis slate too whilst driving home from Tremadog. A spectacular sight. We got a few routes done. Started with a 4+ called “Titan”. A low grade, yes but this was our first time on slate and I didn’t want to jump straight into the 6’s like a blind maniac. The 4+ was called Titan in the Never Never Land area, pretty straight forward! We did the 6a+ next to this next, called “Zeus”. It had one slightly tougher move that felt a tiny bit exposed but more because there was that much wind blasting down the wall you felt you were going to get blow off it. Next we headed away from the wind and down to California, the Tambourine Man Area where we had a brew and a pot of porridge before climbing “We No Speak Americano”, a sweet 6a with a daring crux that involved a thigh grip for me around a block, shuffling up to reach a great ledge. It was a cool day. I couldn’t believe our surroundings, so beautiful. Climbing on slate is a brand new experience for us and we liked it. The sharp edges, cracks and clean cut ledges were amazing to see and have a go on. It got late in the day, we had the bank holiday traffic to contend with so headed home via McDonalds at around 6pm.


Jemma belaying Joel on “We No Speak Americano”


With all this adventure and general enjoyment of being in England and mini trips at the moment it’s easy to get comfy. And I’m enjoying life here at the moment, and other than the stress of looking after other people’s babies, I feel content, eek. If we don’t set a future travelling plan of action into stone just yet, I’m 30 the year after next so I’m hopeful that as a last resort a mid life crisis will happen and will spur me on and even more amazing things will happen! The most important thing is that we love what we’re doing and we make happen whatever it is that we want to happen. And at the moment it seems a 3/4 week break each year will suffice and provide ample adventure.

Jemma x