This guidebook covers the climbing in three diverse locations; Buttermere and its near environs, the Newlands valley and the sandstone sea cliffs of St Bees Head near Whitehaven.
Buttermere has often been described as the Cinderella of Lake District climbing, despite its many superb routes, the crags are rarely crowded. To climb here is pure pleasure, great rock, a tranquil setting and a wide choice of great routes of all grades except the highest. With the notable exception of Buckstone How, which lies a few minutes stroll from the top of Honister Pass, getting to all the main crags takes a bit of effort but you will be rewarded with fine climbing. High Crag is a superb venue for the VS-E2 climber. Birkness Combe holds two contrasting gems; the north facing Eagle Crag can be slow to dry but once in condition it gives long and complex routes between VS and the low E grades; facing it from the sunny side of the combe are the delightful tiers of Grey Crag which hold a multitude of outstanding climbs almost all of which are below HVS. Climbs on the different tiers can be linked to give long expeditions finishing a close to the summit of High Stile with the option of finishing the day with a stroll along the ridge over the summit of High Crag and a return to the valley via Scarth Gap.
The Newlands valley lies to the east of, and parallel to Borrowdale. There is no road up the valley beyond the hamlet of Little Town and despite the easy approach the crags have a remote feel not too dissimilar to that of a Scottish glen. Here you can enjoy varied climbing with the best routes in the Severe to VS range encompassing everything from shorter routes on the impeccable rock of Grey Buttress to 150m mountaineering adventures found on Waterfall Buttress; as a bonus all the main crags face West and enjoy the afternoon sun.
The St Bees sea cliffs are situated well away from the hills, it is often possible to climb here while the lakes are being re-filled. Finishing a days climbing as the sun sinks into the Irish Sea is magic. Although the crags are up to 100m (and very impressive) they are a major nesting place for sea birds and one of the most southerly nesting colonies of Black Guillemots, additionally the rock is soft except where it is regularly wave washed; hence this is predominantly a sport climbing and bouldering venue with the activity being close to sea level.