Northumbrian Climbing Guide

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Sandy Crag (Key Heugh) What the symbols
& colours mean
Grid Ref: NU968972   Aspect: W   Routes: 39   Max Length: 25   Average Length: 11 
Altitude: 277 mtrs   Walk in: 25 mins   Route quality: ** 
Click here for StreetMap Right of access under CRoWThis crag is in an area designated as an SSSI
The crag is easily seen to the south of the Elsdon-Hepple road in the centre of a large grouse moor. Make a mental note to where the crag lies because it isnít visible from the car park at the picnic site (NGR 970995). Go right along the road to the bridge then take the track signposted Midgy Ha. Follow this for about I kilometre to the house. Take the bridge over the stream past the house then follow the track up the crest of the spur (true left bank of the stream) to the plantation of Humble Law when the crag is sighted on the left, strike straight for it down across the Darden Bum and up the moor to the base of the crag.
This large, quarry-like face is situated at the end of a spur overlooking the Darden Bum. The crag is not marked on the 1:50,000 OS map although clearly shown on the larger scale maps as Key Heugh. The Sandy Crags marked on both maps are a collection of boulders 1 kilometre east which are of no real climbing interest. The rock is less compact than the other Simonside outcrops. The best climbing is to be found on the central section of the crag, which attains a height of 20 metres. On either side of this central section are lower, more broken rocks. The hillside below the main face consists of chaotically arranged boulders and tilted blocks, some of which give routes of up to 6 metres. They provide good sport and an opportunity for exploration in this interesting area.
Fell Sandstone Carboniferous, Dinantian
Access issues:
None, but this is an active grouse moor and there will be closures under CRoW from time to time.
The first routes on Sandy Crag were climbed in the 1950ís by the College Club. They may well have been Question Mark Crack and the Vertical Vice. Details are very sketchy until 1974. The following two years were probably responsible for the major change in climbing attitudes to the crag. John Earl and Bob Hutchinson removed the large rotting, wooden wedges from Angel Fingers and climbed the Elegant Ladyí of the crag, Sandy Crack, which was to become one the classics of the county. Also around this time Hutchinson and Earl climbed the very bold and committing Salvation in 1977 and the same team added Goldfinger. 1978 saw Hutchinson and Earl again at the crag this time on Vincent so named because an ear of rock broke off during cleaning and nearly made the route a non-starter. Also in this year Steve Blake swept up Basil Brush with the help of a yard broom. 1979 only had one recorded route Pall ArÍte by Bob Smith. The next phase of development came from Tommy and Bob Smith in 1980 with The Anvil, Classroom Worm and the very technical Greenford Road. No further development took place on the crag until 1985 when Bob Smith and Earl climbed the very powerful Leonardo and reversed leads for the problematical Corporal Punishment.