Each crag features detailed access and approach information, including GPS coordinates for parking and crag grid references, together with conditions information and local knowledge. Alongside superb action photography, there are over 700 colour photo topos, plus overview and topo maps. A reference section with Ordnance Survey maps is included for selected mountain crags, and a detailed appendix includes everything you need to plan a visit: tourist information centres, cafes and pubs, campsites and accommodation, gear shops, climbing walls, and useful websites.
Keeping your hands and fingers well-chalked is essential. Boulderers normally carry a little bag of powdered chalk at their waist. Other than that there is very little equipment, except a quality pair of rockshoes. There’s no helmet, no ropes, axes or other ironmongery, just yourself, a bodily frame that’s in fine gymnastic shape and the nerve to give it a go. And then you need some crash pads to place on the ground beneath you. You climb up a boulder some twenty or thirty feet, exploiting the roughness in the rock, the finger top crevices, the places where you can get the merest toehold, and you cling on to the sheer face or hang suspended beneath the rock. It’s the most exciting and exhilarating sport in the world.Greg Chapman likes it and he’s been exploring the boulders in the Lake District since 2003. He argues that: “With varied landscapes, intricate geography, disparate beauty and diverse geology the Lake District . . . offers up more variety than any other similar bouldering area in the UK. And he proves it with this exhaustive 600 page guide to “3000 individually numbered problems and dozens of variations and link-ups at over seventy venues.”The most famous boulder of them all is The Bowderstone: “2000 tons of bouldering perfection . . . steep, smooth and sensuous”. In the 1980s Jerry Moffat and Pete Kirton opened up the classic routes, routes that now go by such names as Picnic Sarcastic, Inaudible Vaudeville, Impropa Opera and Unfinished Opera. Later climbers pioneered new routes such as Power Pinch and the ultimate “Rising Damp, a hard traverse link. Done by the left-hand sitter to Picnic and finishing up Impropa, via a now-broken hold, the line has since been retro-climbed via the remaining (very) thin crimps and is a fully desperate 8a+.” And that’s about as hard a climb as you’ll ever want to attempt.The Backside of The Bowderstone offers challenging problems: “This part of her anatomy” - the rock seems always to be seen as female - “is very steep.” It requires “pure burl, esoteric technique and ungracious slapping”. But here are problems of extraordinary difficulty. Hock’s Marathon Finish is 8a, Special People, Dark Edges and Sidekick is 8a+, and, the aptly named Crescendo, which requires a “solitary in-cut crimp in the groove” and offers the “relief of a slab top-out” is an 8b+.This is a wonderful book for all who love getting to grips with the rocks. The technical information must be mouth-watering for the aficionado and the pictures are vertiginous for the uninitiated.Greg Chapman’s book will be a Bible for Lake District boulderers. As for me, I notice that the National Trust has just installed a new nine metre metal ladder. It’s level of difficulty is -8b.