Northumbrian Climbing Guide

Intro Access Accommodation New Routes Map Archaeology Winter NMC homepage

Simonside What the symbols
& colours mean
Grid Ref: NZ025987   Aspect: N   Routes: 105   Max Length: 21   Average Length: 6 
Altitude: 420 mtrs   Walk in: 30 mins   Bike in: 20 mins   Bike out: 5 mins   Route quality: ***   Bouldering quality: ** 
Click here for StreetMap  This crag is in an area designated as an SSSI
The most popular approach is from the Forestry Commission picnic area and car park (NGR NZ 037997) on the minor road between Great Tosson and Lordenshaw. A footpath leads from the south east corner of the car park and soon bends round rightwards up the forested hillside. At the second forestry road turn left and follow the track until it reaches open moorland. Ignore the outcrops on the hillside above and continue along the track until the North Face comes into view. Numerous paths lead up through the heather most heading for a large boulder just below the central section of the crag - about thirty minutes. It is also possible to approach the crag by following the footpath from Great Tosson.
Just below the summit of Simonside this is an exposed sandstone escarpment with excellent views over Coquetdale to the Cheviots and beyond. The lower tiers of the crag form rounded buttresses projecting from the hillside while the upper tier is split by numerous vertical cracks and chimneys that form the basis of many of the routes. Recent developments have led to an increase in the number of extreme climbs on the crag but the majority of the routes are still in the easier grades. South of the summit are a group of buttresses on which are several good routes and some decent bouldering.
Fell Sandstone Carboniferous, Dinantian
Mostly excellent, but the rounded sections get sandy.
Access issues:
In 2006 & 7 the Alnwick estates, ie the Duke of Northumberland, banned access to all of their recently acquired land, which is all of the northern Simonsides from the Ravensheugh fence eastwards. This was under the CRoW 28 day rule, we believe to protect ground nesting birds. This was from June to Mid July. Climbing on the crag during that period was banned. The situation next year is unknown.
Lots of well protected sub-E grade routes which are excellent for beginners.
The best stuff is on South buttress and on the main escarpment by the fence east of the main crag.
Exact details of the early routes on Simonside are unknown however it was certainly visited by climbers in the early 1900ís. It is likely that some of the first climbs were made by members of the Trevelyan family along with G.W. Young, M.B. Heywood and R. Bicknell who were joined in the 1920ís by F.R.G. Chew, Jack Longland. P. Bicknell and C. Bicknell. Later the Kingís College MC. made frequent visits eventually producing a short guidebook. Development continued during the 1940ís and 1950ís. Routes such as Vibram Wall were probably climbed about this time, possibly by Eric Rayson. Malcolm Lowerson claimed Delicatessen in 1959. In the 1970ís the pace of development increased. George Micheson, John Earl and Ian Cranston added Les Perchass in September 1972 and Nee Perchass was climbed by Earl and Cranston. Hugh Banner climbing with Earl and Hutchinson stormed up Thunder Crack in October of the same year. During the late seventies several teams were active on the crag, Geoff Lamb grabbing one of the best lines with his ascent of Over the Edge in 1978. The same year Martin Doyle discovered Dirty Thorít with Karl Telfer who, with a sharp eye for a line, returned in March 1979 to climb Gillette while Hutchinson added The Stoic. Following publication of the 1979 Guide new route activity continued. Bob Smith added several routes including Cut Throat, On the Brink, Regular Nightmare and the hard Command Performance. Paul Stewart, partnered by Earl, climbed On The Border. Karl Telfer found several new climbs amongst them Gimme Wings, Bee Bumble and Golden Days, his brother, Graham Telfer. was active too with the bold Master Plaster. Finally, during August 1988 Andrew Moss and Mark Goodings developed South Buttress although Hutchinson had climbed the excellent Wise Crack during the 1970ís. Routes included Wicked Child and the bold Top Gun both by Goodings while Moss led Smart Alec and Clever Dick.