Thursday, 7 June 2012

A tale of two routes

Occasionally, someone will look at my photos of various youths shinning up scary looking routes and ask "Do you climb?"

The truthful answer is, sometimes, when I can find an easy enough route and someone willing to hang onto the other end of the rope. Mostly, the crags we visit are above my capability spectrum, but from time to time...

Fortunately, there aren't often people around to take photos. I did, however, take a picture of the two routes I climbed at Higgar Tor.

Routes are named by the climber who claims first ascent. Some route names are ordinary. There are thousands of 'The Prow' or 'Arete Direct', and anything named 'Green Chimney' should be avoided like the plague, but sometimes routes have much more interesting names.

These two were named by Dave Gregory in 1964 (Eastern Grit 2006) and are from Shakespeare. The first route (in yellow, Very Difficult - Don't let the grade fool you) is called Hecate and the second (in red, Severe 4a - much more respectable and equalling my previous hardest grade, but still a walk in the park for my lads) is Greymalkin.

Recognise the play?

Hecate is the queen of witches in Macbeth and appears in order to ask the three witches why they have not included her in their dealings with the king. She predicts that Macbeth will believe himself safe and that this belief will lead to his downfall; which it does.

Greymalkin is named in the opening scene and is a grey cat; the familiar of the first of the three witches. The route to the left (which I didn't do - another V Diff) is called Paddock after the second witches familiar; a toad.

It was Greymalkin and Paddock which caused me to recognise the theme for the route names. As a  teenager, I studied Macbeth and learned the opening scene by heart:

 ACT I  SCENE I A desert place. Thunder and lightning. 
[Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches]

First Witch: When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
Second Witch: When the hurlyburly's done,When the battle's lost and won.
Third Witch: That will be ere the set of sun.
First Witch: Where the place?
Second Witch: Upon the heath.
Third Witch: There to meet with Macbeth.
First Witch: I come, Greymalkin!
Second Witch: Paddock calls.
Third Witch: Anon!
ALL: Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.


Funny how some things stick in the memory :)

I'm linking this post with Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday where today's letter is 'C' for 'Climbing Crags'.


  1. Helen you are a brave soul - just looking at those two ropes is enough to make me tremble.

  2. I've been 'off the wall' for so very very long. Catching up with all your latest adventures has been such a blast! I love the angles you use when you shoot your lads climbing. Such a pretty time of year in your area right now. Whenever I'm over in your world, I feel as though I'm looking through an age-filtering lens right back at my little nook. I see the same things here but the backdrop is just a bit more harsh and jarring in NH.

    I'm guessing one of the boys takes the occasional photograph of you climbing. True? Or are they too busy holding the other end of the rope?

  3. Climbing UP??? No, no no. That would involve falling DOWN possibly. I am in awe of rock climbers. Unbelievable courage. But, I think I will take the stairs!!!

  4. Hahahaha! I agree with VBR!!! But I'll take the moving stairs, thank you very much!!!

  5. I would like to PAINT the crags, but CLIMB? No thanks, I love my life too much:):)

  6. Even though no one's climbing, it's a great photo. I would rather look at those rocks than scale them! {:-Deb

  7. Helen! This is an easy route? Seriously?

    Wow. You are quite impressive.

    And brave.

    And obviously not too afraid of heights!

    I would think this type of exercise would keep you in tip top shape...

    But I guess I'll just have to stay flabby...I would be too scared to ever try this!

    Thanks for a cool link to the letter C!

    Please be careful, though!