It's rare these days for me to visit a new crag especially one closish to home and not some scruffy over-hyped recent discovery but I'd never been to the Bridestones nr Hebden Bridge. Mike was quite shocked about this, it's one of his favourite venues. Perhaps the answer is that I've never really been in to bouldering. The main reason for this has been that in the day before bouldering mats the regular jumping off played havoc with my knees, more recently my knees have been bad enough that even with mats that I haven't been keen to participate.
Heading over to the crag things didn't look promising, all the roads were damp to wet but by the time we pulled through Blackshaw Head things were a bit drier. Mike was waiting by the path to the boulders, actually more of a small edge than a set of boulders. A short walk and we are at the first of the rocks with a couple of walkers enquiring about our bouldering mats. There is already a small group at play, the climbable faces are out of the wind but there is little sunshine.
A few easy problems as warm up then on to more serious stuff. The rock is strange, the surface is covered in a patina of small grit particles that no matter how much (soft) brushing you do, it always feels like you are standing on ball bearings. Most handholds are sloping, very sloping, and the technique to use them along with the associated footwork takes some getting used to.
Not long after we had arrived, a familiar face appeared - Dave Birkett and his wife Mary. "Got any good jokes?" he asked, "my climbing!" - at least I got that answer in before Mike or Steve! It's always impressive to watch really good climbers in action, they just make everything look so easy and smooth, a bit depressing sometimes though.
Time to move on and we headed to the part of the crag nearest the pub, to an area called Big Brother, Little Sister (or maybe the other way round). Trying one problem here, my fingers slipped in a pocket and I felt a searing pain shoot up my forearm - a pulled tendon. I tried one or two more problems as we worked our way back along the rocks but tried to avoid using my left hand. By now it was nearing sunset and getting quite dark so time to call it a day.
The following day my finger (and arm) were still painful so no climbing. Instead I decided to head off for a bike ride as it's only two weeks to the Christmas Cracker sportive and I need the practice. Heading in to Skipton I was cycling in to a thin strong northerly breeze which made the going a bit harder than I would have liked. In fact heading from Skipton to Rylestone seemed to take forever, whether it was the breeze in my face or the rough road surface or my lack of bike fitness I don't know but I was glad to turn and head through Hetton and on to Airton and Otterburn. Fortunately most of my route didn't involve sustained braking so I could keep my injured finger out of the way. I got home just outside the two hour mark for thirty miles. While not particularly impressive, at least I didn't feel too tired but I don't think I'll be breaking four hours for just under double the distance. I'll need to do another slightly longer ride next weekend, maybe forty five miles, as well then I should be set.