Quarry Crag Photo: Steve Crowe
THE CLEADON HILLS
Situation and Character
These pleasant, though small, crags are more akin to outdoor climbing walls than some of the major bouldering crags in this guide. The urban setting and southwestern aspect ensures popularity amongst local climbers however a long journey from far outside of South Tyneside can hardly be justified. The rock is Magnesium Limestone with many shell fossils clear to see. The quality of the rock is variable but all the problems described are on good quality limestone, however the more popular problems do suffer from a high polish. Both crags are sheltered and can be climbed on all year round.
Magnesian limestone grassland is important because of its unique assemblages of plants and plant communities, including the Blue Moor-grass and Small Scabious community which is only found in east Durham and Tyne and Wear. Magnesian limestone grassland is recognised as a nationally scarce habitat as it is restricted to Magnesian Limestone rock. Like other lowland calcareous grasslands, magnesian limestone grassland is important for its botanic and invertebrate interest. Magnesian limestone grassland supports many species which are nationally scarce or uncommon.
Mike Blenkinsop was the first to record his activities here back in 1974, including Left and Right Walls. Paul Stewart climbed Thin White Crack, The Dancer and the testing Naybrew. Paul Stewart was also involved in the development of the Black Wall with many problems including Improviser and The Rat. Many local climbers have used this compact venue for mid week training but few have "claimed" their achievements as first ascents.
OS Landranger Sheet: 88
Map Reference: NZ385640
Approach: 1 minute
Access and Approaches
This crag is easily located as it overlooks the football fields adjacent to Quarry Lane in South Shields, on the edge of the Cleadon Hills.
By far the best and most pleasant of the crags in the Cleadon Massif! The problems are short and generally polished. Many of the harder problems are eliminate in nature and obviously many more variations exist than are described here. Despite this Quarry Crag is a popular training area.
There are two main buttresses, White Buttress and Black Wall. White Buttress is mostly used for up and down problems while Black Wall is most popular for its pumpy traverses. All the problems are about four metres high.
While most climbers boulder here, there is a convenient fence along the top of the crag should a belay be required, however care should be taken not to let the rope run over the edge where irreparable damage has been caused to the soil, especially above White Wall. The climbs are described from left to right.
1. The ArÍte Font 1 (Mod)
The stepped arÍte on the left of the buttress provides an easy means of descent.
2. Small Wall Font 3+
The first problem and the first eliminate! Climb the wall to the right of the arÍte without using the Small Crack to your right.
3. Small Crack Font 2+
The first obvious small crack.
4. Short Wall Font 4+
Another interestingly named problem with an interesting finger end mantelshelf move.
5. Short Crack Font 3
Takes the next obvious short crack.
6. Left Wall Font 3+ *
After climbing the initial stairway reach over the bulge for very small holds. A finger pocket high on the left sometimes enables the top to be reached!
Mike Blenkinsop 1974
Left Wall Photo: Steve Crowe
7. Central Wall Font 5+
Essentially a direct start and a direct finish of Left Wall. Starting just to the right of the stairway climb directly to the top stair and continue straight to the top. Strenuous, with very committing final moves.
8. Golden Years Font 5
The golden brown wall just to the left of the obvious Central Groove can be climbed.
9. Central Groove Font 2+
The obvious groove with the triangular ledge at half height is usually gained from the left and finished on the right arÍte.
10. Right Wall Eliminate Font 6b
After climbing Central Groove and Right Wall, try the wall in between without using any of the holds that you used on either. A great test of self-control.
Right Wall Eliminate Photo: Karin Magog
11. Right Wall Font 3+ **
The slightly bulging wall to the right of Central Groove, trending leftwards at first then back right before going for the top.
Mike Blenkinsop 1974
12. Blunt Bulge Font 4
Climbs the rounded bulge direct, finishing via two large undercuts.
13. Original Route Font 3 **
The last obvious crack before the corner. It is also possible to finish leftwards, from half height, towards Right Wall at 4b.
Original Route Photo: Steve Crowe
14. Hidden Wall Font 4+
Aptly named! A difficult problem to locate. Just right Original Route and left of a faint depression.
15. Depression Font 3
Continuing the theme of subtle route names, climb via the faint depression.
16. Grooveline Font 3+
Based on the shallow groove line at the top of the wall and just right of the faint depression.
17. Pock Wall Font 3
The wall just left of the corner.
18. The Corner Font 3
An awkward and polished problem.
19. Girdle Traverses Font 4/5+
Good girdle traverses can be made at high and low levels starting at The ArÍte and traversing rightwards as far as The Corner.
20. Clit Font 6a
The faint hanging groove just to the right of The Corner is strenuously climbed to a layaway hold on the bulge. Easy climbing leads to the top.
21. Naybrew Font 6a+ *
Climb to the small roof using two pockets then a long strenuous reach leads to a good ledge.
Naybrew Photo: Steve Crowe
22. Jug Wall Font 6a+
This squeezes in between Naybrew and the Thin White Crack. Climb directly to a "stuck on" sharp hold, and then a lunge can be made to the ledge above Naybrew.
23. Thin White Crack Font 6a **
A popular problem taking the very polished crack in the centre of this wall.
Thin White Crack Photo: Karin Magog
24. Scott Wall Font 5+
The blank looking wall is climbed strenuously to an under cling/pocket. From here a superb move leads to a sloping ledge over the top.
25. Ragged Crack Font 3+
The next crack to the right, and just left of the arÍte.
26. Mid-level Girdle Font 5+
A traverse from Ragged Crack to The Corner.
27. Low-level Girdle Font 6c
Also From Ragged Crack to The Corner. There are many other 6a/b problems on this buttress, see if you can work them out!
The next area of rock to the right is....
Some climbers consider Black Buttress to be too broken and overgrown. However, some of the routes are worthwhile, only the best have been described here. The routes finish with an unusual growth of ivy; this proves to be very intimidating!
28. Patriarch Font 5
Climb the broken roof in the centre and finish direct.
29. Chord Crack Font 3
Climb the broken wall to the obvious crack that starts at half height. Follow the crack direct.
30. The Improviser Font 4+
Takes the wall to the right, starting below the bulge at the top of the wall.
31. The Supervisor Font 5+
Follows The Improviser to half height then traverse right to ascend the vague depression to the top.
32. The Supervisor Direct Start Font 6b+
Start directly below the depression and climb the overhang. A layaway/undercut hold allows a superb dyno to a sloping hold high on the wall above, and then finish up the vague depression.
33. The Rat Font 4 *
Start directly below the black bulging arÍte, 6m right of Chord Crack. A short pillar leads to a small cave; from here follow the arÍte direct.
More problems have been work out further right in the 4b-5c range, however the rock deteriorates near the top of the crag and the dense vegetation thickens.
34. Black Wall Girdle Font 4+ *
It is possible to traverse the entire length of this wall at many levels at grades from about 5b to 6b depending on the rules!
OS Sheet: 88
Map Reference: NZ392628
Approach: 5 minutes
This is the only other area on the Cleadon Hills worth any real attention, even though many other areas have been climbed on. Even here the dense vegetation and the local terrorists make it unsafe to leave very much gear lying around. That said the crag does offer a good range of interesting problems from VD to 5c on good quality limestone, which are described from left to right. All the problems are about 4 metres long.
Cleadon Crag is approached off Sunniside Lane. Photo: Karin Magog
Access and Approaches
From the Britannia Inn in Cleadon Village, follow Sunniside Lane past the last house on the right to park on the roadside at a public footpath, on the right, that leads onto the Cleadon Hills towards the disused mill (climbing activities have been recorded on the mill!). At the mill turn right and walk towards the southeast corner of the field. Cross the stile and the crag is hidden, two minutes away, in the undergrowth behind the overgrown hawthorn hedgerows.
The Old Mill Photo: Steve Crowe
The two main buttresses are joined by more broken rocks. The first overhanging buttress is...
A small buttress which can be climbed almost anywhere at 5c/6a. The more popular problems are...
35. The Dancer Font 5+
Climb the overhang at its left end in one move!
36. Centre of Attraction Font 5+
The centre also goes at 5c in a couple of moves.
37. The Necromancer Font 5+
Climb the right of the pocketed overhang, mantelshelf on to the top with difficulty.
38. Dancing Groove MS
The almost completely overgrown groove to the right has been climbed in the past!
A few metres further right, past some more broken rocks, is...
The most pleasant spot hereabouts and worth a visit as a change from Quarry Crag. But becoming a little overgrown!
39. Gangway Font 2 (VD)
Climb the stepped left trending gangway to the vegetation and blaze a way through or simply reverse again.
40. Gangway Crack Font 2+
Climb the crack near the top of the Gangway.
41. Pegged Crack Font 3+
Climb the thin pegged crack without using the ramp.
42. Poacher Font 5+
An eliminate based on the faint bulge taking a straight line of pockets directly to the hawthorn bush. Brilliant moves when you find them!
43. The Wurlitzer Font 4
A good wall climb to the left of the slim groove with a good pocket to finish.
44. Slim Chance Font 3 **
Takes the fine slim groove in the centre of the wall marked by two pairs of nails!!! to finish at the holly bush.
Slim Chance Photo: Karin Magog
45. Ronnie Lane Font 2+
The wall between the slim groove and Slim Crack further right.
46. Slim Crack Font 2+
Follow the obvious slim crack.
47. The Eliminate Font 2+
The wall right of Slim Crack is a more enjoyable problem and is climbed direct.
48. The ArÍte Font 2 (VD)
The obvious right-hand arÍte gives an easy climb and a good means of descent.
The area further right has been climbed on in the past but is even more heavily overgrown.
Full details in the
North East England Guide
Cleadon Hills Miniguide (PDF)