The Langdale valley has long been a centre of Lakeland climbing. The FRCC guide to Langdale opens its Historical chapter with this paragraph:
English rock-climbing in the late nineteenth century had been a story of summit seeking – of easy-way finding. Langdale offered no such summits, no such easy ways. Its crags, Gimmer and Bowfell in particular, did not suggest the broken, towering massiveness of Pillar and Scafell – but presented a vast, airy smoothness, in no way inviting to the early pioneers. But WP Haskett-Smith, that most aptly named ‘prince of pioneers’, noted what there was a duly climbed North-West Gully (1882) on Gimmer, the two Pavey Ark gullies, and the North Gully (S 1882) of Bowfell Buttress. This was the real start of rock-climbing in Langdale.
Raven Crag (not to be confused with Raven Crag Walthwaite, also in the Langdale valley) has been one of my favourite crags for many years, both for guiding and for personal climbing. Our son Sam did his first major route on Middlefell Buttress in 2007, aged 5, and it is often my venue of choice with clients. It is easily accessible from the car park at the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel, and faces almost due south, perfect for catching every possible bit of warmth when the sun is out. Here’s my selection of favourite routes, listed with the easiest first.
First climbed: 1911
Current grade: D***
Length of route: 75m
A classic of its kind, great rock and big belays, in a great position, with a choice of walking off or abseiling down.
I can't find any photos of any other routes on Raven Crag - I was too busy enjoying the climbing...
First climbed: 1930
Current grade: S-***
Length of route: 55m
Winds its way up some steep ground for the grade, some interesting moves and varied pitches.
First climbed: 1948
Current grade: HS***
Length of route: 43m
A lovely climb on excellent rock.
First climbed: 1941
Current grade: VS+***
Length of route: 73m
Good protection, solid rock – what’s not to like? Some large friends are useful on the first pitch.
First climbed: 1958
Current grade: HVS**
Length of route: 73m
Varied climbing, with a long traverse on the second pitch requiring a steady second. The last pitch is a real gem.
First climbed: 1957 (aid), 1979
Current grade: E5***
Length of route: 31m
Leaving the ground needs a bold approach, but once you are committed the gear is good and the climbing excellent.
What’s your favourite route on Raven Crag, and why? We’d love to hear your stories - leave a comment!