Northumbrian Climbing Guide

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Back Bowden Doors What the symbols
& colours mean
Grid Ref: NU065336   Aspect: W   Routes: 88   Problems: 1   Max Length: 23   Average Length: 10 
Altitude: 170 mtrs   Walk in: 15 mins   Route quality: ***   Bouldering quality: *** 
Click here for StreetMap Right of access under CRoWThis crag is an SSSI
From Belford take the B6349 Wooler Road. Continue for 5 kilometres, turn right at the Hazelrigg sign and follow this for 1 kilometre to the brow of the hill and a large steel gate on the right. Pass through the gate and continue left to another gate. Follow the track and the main crag soon comes into view. This track can be very damp and muddy and approach footwear is recommended. There is no public right of way.
Shown as Dancing Green Hill on the map, Back Bowden Doors lies approximately 5 kilometres west of Belford in an unusually sheltered position looking west across a shallow valley. The rock is Fell Sandstone of the same good quality as that found at Bowden Doors. The crag tends to dry very quickly with the exception of the North wall, which needs a number of days to fully dry after heavy rain. Routes on this wall can suffer from holds snapping, particularly after a damp spell and excessive use of the routes should be avoided at this time in order to prevent damage. This crag offers a fantastic selection of some of the best extremes in the area, with a superb contrast of climbs, including bold technical walls, intricate smearing tests and the legendary North wall, the crucible of steep and powerful climbs . Unusually many of the harder lines offer reasonable protection. While containing many routes in the upper extremes , plenty of routes exist in the easier grades.
Fell Sandstone Carboniferous, Dinantian
Access issues:
There have been issues with people obstructing the gate. Don't. Only part of teh crag is on open access land.
Protection on some of the middle E grades is a bit poor, not much (comparatively speaking) for the VS and below climber.
Absolutely top notch. Some very hard stuff, lots of workouts and is often dry in the rain
Other interesting stuff:
There are some good plant fossils on the ledge at the top of Hazelrigg Wall area.
Back Bowden Doors has a fairly early history with climbing first recorded in the 1935 Oxford and Cambridge Mountaineering Journals under its local name of Lion Rock. It mentions routes which sound suspiciously like those on the south end of the crag. Unfortunately the routes ascended up to 1965 are without documentation. In 1965 Rodney Wilson climbed the brilliant Arches, a soaring diagonal traverse on the north crag. 1968 saw Allan Austin and Dave Roberts climbing the ferocious Sorcerer which still demands respect today. Also around this time Ken Wood climbed The Sorcerer's Apprentice. In 1973 Hugh Banner, doing what he does best, jammed over Roof Route. 1974 saw the first ascent of the Central Wall on the north crag with The Witch by Malcolm Rowe and Nev Hannaby. In 1975 Bob Hutchinson and John Earl produced two bold companion routes for The Witch, The Enchanter led by Hutchinson and the Broomstick by Earl. 1976 saw four more routes climbed, Magic Flute and Glass Slipper by Hannaby and Rowe, and the bold On The Verge by Earl and Hutchinson. Later in that year Hutchinson climbed Black Magic. In 1977 Earl and Hutchinson came across The Duke of York. The following year produced a spate of fine hard routes with Earl and Hutchinson (again) climbing Broken Glass and The Wand. The same team, this time led by Hutchinson, climbed the brilliant Tube and Hard Reign. Unfortunately this was to be Bob Hutchinson's last route on the crag. Also in 1978 Steve Blake and Jeff Lamb came under The Spell. 1979 saw Tommy Smith going head over heels with the very impressive Lost Cause and Dwarfs Nightmare with brother Bob. Meanwhile Paul Stewart along with Earl stretched it out on the intimidating Outward Bound. 1981 was to see the first breach of the impressive overhanging North Wall with Merlin by Bob Smith and Earl. Later in the year Earl and Bob Smith collected Pyewackit and Shackletack with Ian Kyle. In 1982 the second route on the North Wall fell again to Bob Smith and Earl with the bold and technical Macbeth. On a summer's evening in 1985 Smith and Earl extended The Tube with Uncouth Youth and Smith stretched it even further with the relentless but well protected Right of Reply. The following year Bob Smith was at the North Wall again this time with brother Tommy producing Morgan. 1987 proved to be a popular year for bold technical routes starting with Bob Smith's ascent of the much sought after On The Rocks while Tony Courts smeared his way up Peak Technique in slippers. Karl and Graham Telfer woke up with Charlotte's Dream and the bulging When The Wind Blows. Leading up to the publication of the 89 guide, activity was rounded off with Bob Smith and Earl climbing the very sustained Mordreth also on the North Wall. Cutting edge development continued on the impressive North wall in the early nineties with a Scottish raid from Dave Cuthbertson adding the desperate County Ethics. In 91 Dave Pegg brought his new routing eye and not inconsiderable fitness to claim the very bold Pixies and the powerful but safe King Lear. Whilst working at Proctor and Gamble, Pegg added his last new route to the crag in the form of the very short and very hard Big Aerial Dynamite. 1994 brought two big routes with big numbers. I bet he drinks Carling Black Label added the longest and hardest route on the North wall to date, whilst Malcolm Smith picked of one of the Counties last great lines with the fantastic Transcendence. 1995 saw the addition of yet another fine bold climb on the Tube wall with Nick Dixon going Off the Rocks. Due to the bouldering trend, recent years have seen little activity in terms of new routes or significant repeats. It is hoped that the trend will reverse and that the routes on this crag, which offer one of the finest collection of outcrop extremes in the country will be enjoyed in the future. To this end, descriptions and accurate grading for on sight attempts have been carefully examined to encourage activity on the extremes.