Back Bowden Doors

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Back Bowden Doors
Nearest cityBelford, Northumberland
Coordinates38°50′07″N 79°20′00″W / 38.83528°N 79.33333°W / 38.83528; -79.33333
Climbing typetraditional crag
Rock typeSandstone
Quantity of rockover 200 routes
Developmentwell developed
Cliff aspectwest
Classic climbs
  • County Ethics E7 7a
  • Lost Cause E4 6b
Stars5/5 stars

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: ***

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.

Rock:  [edit]

Fell Sandstone Carboniferous, Dinantian


Access issues:[edit]

There have been issues with people obstructing the gate. Don't. Only part of teh crag is on open access land.

Routes/Bouldering:  [edit]


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.

Name Grade Stars
Diagonal VD -
The Toppler HVS 5b -
Lichen Groove D -
The Tippler HVS 5b -
Tippler Traverse f6C -
Pedestal Problem f6B+ -
The Bogie S 4a -
Quarry Face S 4a 1
Glass Slipper VS 5a -
Broken Glass E2 6a -
Twisting Crack HS 4c -
Route One f6A 2
First Traverse f5 -
Black Triage f8A -
County Ethics E7 7a 3
Merlin Traverse f6A -
Merlin E5 6a 3
Hard and Low Traverse f7C -
Darth f6C -
The Pixies E6 6b 1
Little Pixies f7A 1
Little Piggies f7C -
The Emperor f7B -
Emperor RH f7A+ -
Morgan E5 6a 1
Morgan (start only) f6B 1
Lady MacBeth f6B -
I Bet He Drinks Carling Black Label E8 6c 2
MacBeth Low Level Traverse f6C -
Black Mirror E7 6c -
The Dark Side E9 7b 3
Empty The Bones Of You f8A+ -
Mordreth E6 6b 2
Macbeth E6 6b 3
Paradise Road f7A -
MacDuff f7B -
Easy Up f6B+ -
Sigurd E6 6c 2
The Arches E1 5b 3
The Arches (start only) f6A 1
Low and Hard f7B 1
Lower And Harder f7C 2
Roof and Wall f7A+ -
Cauldron E1 5c -
King Lear E6 6c 1
Hard Reign E3 5c 2
Hard Reign Direct f7B 1
Hard Reign (start only) f6A 2
Underneath the Arches f6A -
Blood Gutters E5 6b 2
Weird Sisters One f7A -
Weird Sisters Two f7A -
Weird Sisters Three f6C+ -
Holly Tree Corner S 4b 1
Hollybush Crack MS 4a -
The Big Sister f8A+ 3
Pyewackit E4 6a -
The Witch E2 5b 3
Shackletack E3 6b 1
The Wand E3 5b 1
The Broomstick E3 5b 1
The Enchanter E3 5c 2
Low Level Traverse f5+ -
Bottle Arete SS f5+ -
Strange Brew E3 5b -
Bottle Crack VS 5a 2
The Young Warlords f6C 3
The Wizard E3 5c 1
The Wizard (start only) f5+ -
Black Magic E1 5c 1
Harry Potter f7C 2
Dead Severus f7C 3
Severus Snape f7B+ 1
Movin' On Up f6C -
Merlins Pubes f6B -
Merlin's Beard f6C+ 2
Pockets Traverse f7C 3
Intermediate Traverse f6C+ -
The Vole Left Hand f6A -
The Vole Left Hand SS f6C -
The Vole E1 5c -
The Vole, Alternative Finish E1 5c 1
The Vole Right Hand f6A 2
The Vole Right Hand SS f7B+ 2
Solastalgia f7C+ -
Sorcerer's Apprentice E1 5c 1
Sorcerer's Apprentice (start only) f5+ -
Sorcerer's Apprentice SS f7A -
The Sorcerer (full route) E1 5c 3
The Sorcerer E1 5c 3
The Sorcerer SS f6C -
Pockets Extension f7C+ -
Under the Spell f7A 2
The Charm E1 5c 1
The Spell E1 5c 1
Straight Crack HS 4b 2
Solastalgia ss f8A+ 1
Dead Sirius f8A 1
Straight Crack, Alternative Finish E1 5b -
Magic Circle HVS 5a -
Golden Stairs, Direct Start S 4c -
Golden Stairs VD -
Magic Flute E1 5b 2
Boulder Lands E5 6b 1
Dead on Arrival E6 6a 1
Short Wall f6A+ -
Pick Pocket f6B+ -
Savage Slab E7 6c 1
Magic Leap f6A+ -
The Grim Creeper f8A 1
Bubbles f6C -
Larn Streng f7B+ 3
Thundering Apoplexy f7B 2
Peak Technique E6 6b 3
On the Verge E4 5c 2
Woodcutters Crack HVD 1
Wood Splitter VD -
Forester's Corner D 1
The Tube, Left-hand Exit E3 5b -
The Tube, Direct Finish E5 5c -
The Tube E4 5c 3
Uncouth Youth E4 6a 1
Right of Reply E5 6b 3
Charlotte's Dream Direct E7 6b 2
Charlotte's Dream E5 6b 1
On the Rocks E7 6c 3
Off the Rocks E8 6c 1
Duke of York E1 5b 2
Transcendence E8 6c 3
Leap of Faith E6 6c 1
Lost Cause E4 6b 2
Angle Corner VD -
Angle Corner, Alternate Finish E3 6b -
Back to Back E5 6b -
Gangway VS 4c 1
Holly Tree Corner (Alt Finish) MS 4b 1
Purgatory E8 7b 3
Scabby Hand E4 5c -
When the Wind Blows E6 6b 1
Peace at Last E5 6a -
Outward Bound E3 5c 2
March Line VD 2
Wall and Crack S 4b 1
Roof Route, Direct Finish E2 5c -
Roof Route E1 5b 3
Roof Route Traverse f6B+ -
The Dead Horses Tea Party f6C+ 2
Door Mats Wall f7C -
Door Mats Wall SS f8A 1
Four Mats Wall f7B+ -
Four Mats Wall SS f7B+ 1
Stepped Flake f3 1
Smooth Wall f7A -
Hazelrigg Wall Left-Hand E3 6b 1
Hazelrigg Wall E1 5c 1
Hazelrigg Wall Direct f6A -
Pinup E2 6a -
Risk and Hope E1 6a -
Hazelrigg Wall Traverse f7B -
Original Route VD 1
Original Wall Traverse f5 4b -
Highland Fling E1 5c -
Final Wall VD 2
Bullet E1 5c -
Four Mats RH f7A 2
Tree-way V7 2
Chiroptera f6A -
Big Aerial Dynamite E5 7a 1
Dwarfs Nightmare E2 6b 1
Vespertilion f7B+ 3
Barbastelle f7A -
Brokeback Bowden f7C 2
Bechstein f6C -
Brandt f6B+ -
Serotine f6A+ -
Pippistrellotine f6B+ 1
Pipistrelle f6B+ -
A Short Sharp Shock E3 6a -
Griffon HVS 5b -
Rays Roof VS 4c -
Footless Fulmar VS 4c 1
Ra's al Ghul f7C 1
Sharp Arete f6A+ -
Sharp Arete SS f6C -
The Bitch f8A+ -
Potty Mouth f8B -
Undercut Arete f5+ -
Little Arete f6A+ -
Crimp Slab Eliminate f6B+ -
Crimp Slab f6B -
Warm Up Arete f3 -
South Wall f6A+ -
The Stud f7C+ 2
Mini mouth f7A 1
Mantel Miser f6A+ -
Mantel Misery f6A -
Mantel Underclass f6B -
Mantel Masterclass f6C 2
Ripples f4 -
The Runnel f4 -
Slab Eliminate f6A -
Super Slab f4+ -
No Hands f7A -
Shallow Groove f3 -
The Craic f3 -
Smooth Wall One f5 -
Smooth Wall Two f5 -
Fickle Flakes f4+ -
Other Eliminate f5 -
Eliminate f6A+ -
South Arete f6A+ -
Upper Traverse (Boulder 3) f6A -
Low Traverse f6A+ -
Reverse Traverse f6A -
B4 Traverse f6C 3
Springer's Mantel f7B+ 1
Overlooked f6A+ -
Upper Traverse f6A+ -
Lower Traverse f7A -
Rawhide/Gate Traverse f7A -
Final Traverse f7A+ -
Lip Traverse f5+ -
Final Mantel! f6B+ -
Not the final traverse f6C -
The Long Run f7A -
Old Money For Old Rope f6C -
No Time For Caution f7A+ -
Slab Problem f6B -
The Heathen f7A -
The Argonaut f6C -
Bob's f6B+ -