Harpur Hill Residents' Association


 Apollo  Rocky
Alan James on Apollo Creed
copyright Nick Smith, http://climbers.net/
 Meilee Rafe on Rocky Variations
 copyright Nick Smith, http://climbers.net/

Harpur Hill may not provide the finest rock climbing the Peak District has to offer, but nonetheless it is one of the most popular Limestone crags in the region. There are over 300 different routes, and some of these will receive as many as 100 ascents each year. Climbing was first recorded here in 1960, although it was only in the 1990s that it started to get much attention.

One reason for its popularity is that many of the routes are relatively easy. Not necessarily easy per se, but there’s far more here within the range of than average climber than nearby Cheedale or Raven Tor at Miller’s Dale.

The other reason for its popularity is also a cause of some controversy for climbers. Most of the routes are protected by bolts drilled into the rock and left in-situ. This is known as “sport” climbing and generally makes the climbing safer by reducing the fall potential. It also reduces the amount of gear a climber needs to carry up a route. The result is that climbers find they can concentrate more on the actual climbing and may find themselves doing harder moves. However for some climbers this amounts to cheating, believing that more traditional protection methods, such a placing metal wedges
in cracks, offers a more genuine challenge.

This conflict came to a head in 1994 in what is now known, somewhat dramatically perhaps, as the Battle of Harpur Hill – when the “Traditionalists” stripped a number of newly bolted routes of their gear.  Eventually a peace settlement was brokered and it was agreed that existing “Trad” routes would be left untouched, whilst unclimbed sections could be bolted.

This compromise is evident on what is probably the best and most impressive part of the crag – the “Papacy” buttress in the centre of the upper tier. Here long crack lines like “Seven Deadly Sins” and “El Camino Real” are Trad routes , but the wall in between is taken by the more technical sport climbs of “Rocky Variations” and “Apollo Creed”.  Also in this area is the most popular route on the crag “Coral Seas” – which has both great moves and interesting rock.    

Climbers should be aware that the landowner has not given permission for people to climb here and is entirely within their rights to ask people to leave. Furthermore just because a route is bolted doesn’t mean it’s safe. As an old quarry a lot of the rock is unstable and loose – treating the rock with caution and always wearing a helmet are sensible precautions. Often
the first bolt is high and accidents have occurred with people falling before clipping it.

More information and a list of routes can be found in the following guidebooks:
“From Horseshoe to Harpur Hill”, by Gary Gibson, published by the BMC (2004)
“Peak Limestone”, by Chris Craggs and Alan James, published by Rockfax (2012)

Other useful links: 

 The Prophecy
 Copyright and featuring Gary Gibson http://www.sportsclimbs.co.uk/
 The Talisman
Copyright and featuring Gary Gibson http://www.sportsclimbs.co.uk/
 Viagra Falls 
Copyright and featuring Gary Gibson http://www.sportsclimbs.co.uk/

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