I woke up this morning to the sound of rain on the window and cars rushing down the wet road. Pity those holiday makers who are camping with young children. It seems ages since we've had wet weather in Cornwall, but it's good to see, as the ground, plants and animals need it. I spent some time down in West Penwith, the part of Cornwall that runs from Penzance/St Ives to Lands End recently. Fortunately for me, the weather remained dry throughout, although there was some coastal fog on Wednesday. The crags have been in great condition, with some climbs that are usually wet with seepage are completely dry. In fact, the guys from the Cornwall Climbing Club, who I ran some British Mountaineering Council funded training for at the weekend, commented that Carn Gowla (the big, serious and adventurous crag at St Agnes) is in the best condition its been in for nearly 10 years! (Note to self: must try and climb there again very soon).
It has been great to get back on the granite, however, as it's been a while. I recently spent 11 days working for Buckinghamshire Army Cadets at their summer camp on Salisbury Plain. There are no crags on the Plain, only a small indoor climbing wall at Tidworth Leisure Centre, but the cadets were keen and full of enthusiasm, so we did lots of work on movement skills, traversing and bouldering, before getting the ropes and harnesses out for some top-roped climbing. I did manage to escape on a coupe of evenings to the limestone of Fairy Cave Quarry and Avon Gorge for some personal climbing with some friends who live nearby. I even managed to lead a climb graded E2, my hardest route of the year so far (it's been a long time since I was climbing at the grade on a regular basis), so I felt quite chuffed with myself. This week I took Pete, his daughter and her friend down to Halldrine Cove for a day of climbing fun, before they headed of to the Isles of Scilly for a weeks holiday (lucky people). The Scillys are so beautiful and are one of those places you need to visit at least once in your lifetime. There is some climbing on the islands, but it isn't that extensive. Best take your bouldering pad, as there's lots of small crags to play on. Back on the mainland, I have been continuing my work for the new Climbers Club guidebook for the area. I have been asked to check route descriptions at Chair Ladder, a majestic seacliff, not far from Land's End, and one of Cornwall's "Big Three" climbing venues. Covered in good quality climbs, at all grades, on magnificent granite, it is a wonderful place to climb. I even saw a Basking Shark cruise by, which just added to the experience. I feel so lucky to have this place on my doorstep. Normally it would be busy with other climbers, but this year it has been very quiet and I'm not quite sure why, but I'm not complaining!