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The Depot Manchester (or, confessions of a self conscious boulderer)

So, I’ve never been a diligent, or good boulderer. I just don’t get it. Well I do, it just doesn’t float my boat…particularly. I understand the training benefits from a broader climbing perspective, the overall ‘challenge’ of it and to be frank, I am struggling to recall the last time I went. we are talking years!  Its something to do I think with people standing around, posing, tops off and watching… I think!

So why today then?  Well a mate had suggested checking The Depot out, a posh new wall in Manchester a few weeks ago. I had read some press, seen some reviews it all sounded very positive, so said yes, lets do it.  However he then cried off sick, so I went for a long run instead.  Skip to the present and I thought, I have a few hours, why not head to The Depot.  So I did.

After an epic snow filled, roadwork infested trip round the M60 taking nearly twice as long as it should have, I walked in, clean lines, ‘new’ feel definitely, and SPACE.  Lots of SPACE.  For a Friday late morning session there were people about, but with loads of space between them, pairs, solos, three’s all ascending and largely descending a variety of well spaced lines. I liked that… its clear to see the problem you are facing, rather than trying to decide if that hold is a yellow or green under layers of chalk/rubber/grime, they are clearly laid out and well spaced.  A good start.  So after the usual safety registration piece (membership is a fiver) I was pointed in the direction of the circuit board and each coloured line was graded from V0 to V10 some encompassing a range. The Junior ones were green and a bit “squished together” which I thought was good – challenges with the young’uns in mind and they had left up the competition routes as well from a bash a few days previous.  I scoffed and offered the fact I would be staying well away from those! To be told they start dead easy (they did too!) and get progressively harder… (they did that an all.)

So I started at the bottom (V0-V1) and thought I’ll bash through them all and then go on to some V1 to V2’s and maybe a comp line.  there were loads!  To be honest I lost count, but comfortably over a dozen – that is a good number for beginner lines and despite my discomfort “bouldering”  (be assured my top was on and staying there) I was enjoying the fact that I had been there 45 minutes and wasn’t bored yet having blasted through the easy stuff and getting spanked on the moderate grades!  I had a go at a few comp lines – I got to the third problem and two blues, before grabbing some food (kind of pricey, £1.50 for a coffee £3.90 for a pannini -but nice). Feeling replenished and rested I went back to the white circuit and went again… but by the 6th or 7th line I was feeling it in the arms so decided with a big race tomorrow I didn’t want to injure myself or stretch too far, so time to retreat.  So for £5 membership for the year – I will be back.

It looks like they change routes regularly, host other events (a film screening coming up, the comp the weekend previous, do parties etc) and run ‘Yoga for climbers’ sessions.  Location wise if you are Manchester based or west/south of Manchester, then its a no brainer.  For me, with the road works on the motorway (and okay the weather didn’t help) it took me three and a half hours to get there and back… I was expecting two!

Still, here it is:

A very small section of the Depot


Bob Graham Recce

A good running mate has decided that he is to take on the challenge of the Bob Graham Round in summer 2017.  For those that do not know, this is a historic fell running challenge, first completed by hotelier – Bob Graham in 1932, where by he set out to travel 66 miles including 42 peaks (Wainwrights) within 24 hours.  The challenge now has summer and winter completions, clockwise and anti-clockwise route choice and a whole lot of folklore surrounding it.

My mate, just fancies “having a go”.  And why not!  My running club, Clayton -le-Moors Harriers has a long record in fell running and ‘BG’ attempts. With several members having completed BG’s or supported BG’s there is no shortage of expertise in the route.  With a small hardy group of 7 (and Rosie) we arranged to meet in Threlkeld at the “leg change over” point so we could pile in to one vehicle to drive down to Dunmail Raise to then run back to the other car.  CleM run the BG anticlockwise.  I don’t know why… why not?

Threlkeld in the rain. Before we set off

The forecast was mixed, but with all saying sub zero in the wind, wet and fog/mist for much of the day we all took the decision to set off in full waterproofs.  For a fell runner – that never happens!  By the top of Seat Sandal, the first of our 11 “peaks” on this leg the decision was justified, with snow on the ground still and moisture pretty much everywhere, progress was steady, with time taken to view alternative lines of ascent and descent between the peaks on route.

top of Fairfield

All of us are experienced runners and mountain walkers so staying fueled, hydrated and warm was easy as all of us kept tabs on each other.  The youngest member of the group (aged 8 – Rosie) got extra attention, especially when the snacks were broken out!


Our day – approximately 23km, with 1600m of ascent took us over Helvellyn and the Dodds, some of the Lake’s biggest mountains and a cracking days walk for anyone.  We were rewarded by the fog and mist lifting briefly as we came off Fairfield toward Grisedale Tarn, before Dollywagon Pike.  What a view!

looking across Grisedale Tarn to Seat Sandal and Fairfield, from the slopes of Dollywaggon Pike

We made good progress and got back to the car (and near by pub) in five hours, with the weather improving all the time as soon as we got off Clough Head.  My lessons learned were very much personal -I can’t imagine the time when I will be fit enough to even dream about doing my own BG!  Other then that all my gear worked and I was comfortable all the way round, we didn’t need the group shelter as we didn’t stop long enough to need it.  It made a pleasant change to not be focussed on the nav for this one as three of the party have done and supported multiple BG’s – their ‘local knowledge’ was astounding.  Given how poor visibility was for much of the route I think I saw two bearings being taken all day!

Rosie on Dollywaggon Pike