We like to keep our kids active but after 6 weeks of hiking (every other day) in The Alps they requested no more hiking. So what should we do? Although Rich and I learned to climb back in 2017, the kids had forgotten all their rope skills so we set about re-teaching them how to rock climb in the Derbyshire Dales’ Peak District with Lost Earth Adventures. If you’re interested in learning how to rock climb or being more active with your kids, here’s what we got up to and how you can to.
Meeting our guide, Matt
Our guide for the three days was Matt. A great guy who has over twenty years of climbing experience and our kids really liked him. They were pretty disappointed when they woke up on Day 4 and realised we wouldn’t be seeing him again. I guess we’ll just need to hire him again!
He has a lot of experience working with kids (with additional needs) and it is reflected in his calm persona and ability to teach the kids on the rock face from the ground.
It’s always a privilege for us to meet people who have brilliant skills and to be able to learn and profit from them.
The Peak District and the Rocks We Used
The Peak District National Park covers 555 square miles (1,440 km2) and is dominated by a series of sedimentary rocks that formed roughly 350 million years ago during the Carboniferous Period. This sedimentary succession began with the deposition of limestone when the Peak District was submerged beneath a warm, shallow sea.
The national park is divided into two; Dark Peak (north) and White Peak (south). The Dark Peak in the north, where farmland and pastured valleys are found, also feature gritstone edges and moorland. The White Peak is where most settlements, farmland and limestone gorges are located.
Below: Map of the three locations we climbed at.
Day 1 Learn How to Rock Climb: Upper Burbage Rocks
Upper Burbage Rocks is popular as a hiking, climbing and bouldering location due the shelf of gritstone rocks that drastically rises from the moorland. It’s no surprise that within this area there’s over 800 recorded rock climbs. On a nice day you can also see paragliders descending from other nearby rocks at Stanage Edge.
We were using the rocks at West Burbage and learned some basic techniques including knot work, belaying, hand/finger/body work and foot work; smearing. Climbing has really strange words, by the way.
Smearing is not something you do with your food but with your feet!
Smearing is the pressing the sole of your climbing shoe directly to the rock or slab and using friction to gain vertical ground. Sometimes smearing can be terrifying, as it seems impossible that your feet won't slip as you grind them into the rock like you're squashing a bug.
This is us learning how to smear and some basic climbing techniques on day one at Burbage.
Day 2 Learn How to Rock Climb: Harborough Rocks
Harborough Rocks are rock edges tucked away in the southern White Peak and they’re made from dolomitic limestone. A totally different rock to Burbage but still loads of fun to climb. I felt that they were slightly higher than Burbage and was impressed when the kids scaled them with some ease and coaching from Matt below.
Harborough Rocks are notable for their spiky outline and are reported to look eery in misty conditions although thankfully we had bright sunshine. There’s also a cave here; Harborough Cave which we abseiled through in the afternoon.
You might wonder why we booked three days or even two but having the opportunity to practice knot tieing and belaying with a professional there is immensely worth it. We learn mostly through instruction and trial and error but when you consider the potential to go wrong half way up a rock face, it makes sense to have a coach on hand to give you constant feedback.
I am not the greatest at knots but the more I practised and the more feedback Matt gave me, the better I became. Two days after we finished climbing with Matt, I took the kids to an indoor centre and felt competent enough to be entirely responsible for overseeing their knot work. It really did make a big difference to my confidence having three days of instruction.
Matt constantly changed the routes for us on day 2 giving us a greater chance to practice new skills. He even gave us the opportunity to abseil down through the roof of the cave. I’m told that competent climbers can actually climb and navigate the roof of the cave here but I think we might be a long way off that yet!
Day 3 Learn How to Rock Climb: The Roaches
The Roaches in the pouring rain were by far the most difficult and highest of the three days but we love a challenge. The Roaches are gritstone escarpment with large cracks perfect for chimneying.
Chimneying is where you wedge yourself into the rock, propelling yourself upwards using your feet and legs. Is it not as easy as it looks but it is a lot of fun.
Due to the terrible weather, we were soaking wet and pretty cold through, so we chose to have a bash at scrambling in the afternoon. We’d already done some scrambling in Jordan when we climbed Jabal Burdah rock arch so we knew we’d like it but we hadn’t factored in the horrendous weather. Sadly the UK weather is not controllable but Matt did his best to make it fun for all of us.
Top Tips if You Want to Learn How to Rock Climb with Lost Earth Adventures
If you want to go rock-climbing or scrambling with Lost Earth Adventures, here’s some of our top tips
- Make sure you are wearing lots of layers of clothes. In the end we had at least five on. We got our layers from GoOutdoors.
- Waterproofs should be waterproof and not water resistant. We won’t make that mistake again!!
- People with long hair will need to tie it up so it doesn’t get caught in the rope. Ouch.
- Definitely cut all finger and toe nails before you climb. Bending nails back is no fun.
- Make and take soup for your lunch. A hot filler is definitely recommended by us as well as sandwiches, dips and fruit.
- Be prepared for some bruised knees as you practice but remember it’s impossible to fall. You’re held up by a taut rope.
- Take gloves and hats for scrambling. It can get windy up on top of The Roaches.
- Get stuck in and don’t be afraid to make a total tit of yourself. Climbing is not elegant in the beginning and your bum will always look big but it’s a huge amount of fun.
How much did all this cost?
I saw this as an investment for the next 40 years and longer. What we learned here will benefit us all in our climbing adventures and was essential in setting us up.
For a half day introduction to rock climbing, the price is £59 per person and for a full day session the price is £79 per person per day. Lost Earth Adventures require a £50 deposit to hold the date and the final balance isn’t due until 30 days before the event.
The total price for five of us to climb over three days was £1185.
How to get in touch with Lost Earth Adventures
If you’re interested in seeing what Lost Earth Adventures can offer you, you can:
- Head over to their website
- Send them an email: [email protected]
- Telephone them on: (+44) 01904500094
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