Amidst the craziness and confusion of 2020 a group of four and a group of five of us headed out to Lundy to take over the two accommodations at the Old Light House. The Journey initially seemed somewhat confused by the ferry departing from Bideford instead of the usual Ilfracombe. This was then followed by the notification that due to high winds we would need to take a helicopter rather than the MS Oldenburg. Further confusion made itself apparent surrounding baggage allowances. A 20kg personal allowance was confused with, 20kg for hold bags, in Jamie’s optimistic case 20kg per bag and finally it turned out to be 500kg per helicopter including body weight of those on board. Try and figure that one out the night before when you’re trying to decide whether you will need more coffee or cams. Still, we were all divvied up based on weight and allocated a spot with one, both or none of our bags. Initially having never been on a helicopter this leg of the journey seemed quite exciting and would allow us an extra two hours of sleep. However, it quickly turned out that we would be losing half a day’s climbing and paying £40 for the pleasure. Still, it was a new experience for some of us and one I will not forget. Transport over we had arrived on Lundy.
Straight away three climbing groups headed to the flying buttress with Dave buoyantly leading two parties downclimbing the mod flying buttress. While myself and John set off on “The easy way down” to go and climb a nice easy warm-up of Alouette (S). We decided to stick to the crack on the right, which provided some bigger moves and seemed more interesting than scrambling round to the left. All of which was fine until I decided to throw the number 1 nut off from the top of the route. With some hope of finding the flung nut we headed back down the easy way again (Definitely easier the second time) To head up Cappucino (VS) This proved to be a nice little two pitch route with an interesting traverse at the end. As a bonus we found the nut that I had previously launched from the top.
Climbing these routes provided a fantastic viewing point to watch the other two parties make their way up Double Diamond (HVS) , Diamond Solitaire (VS) and Horseman’s route (HS)
The weather was stunning and the whole atmosphere of the flying buttress with the waves crashing beneath us and the first glimpse of Lundy’s seals was enough to excite us for the coming days ahead.
The group of three that headed off alternatively to Sunset Promontory were spotted with the 100m abseil rope on a long ascent over what looked to be interesting terrain, more on this to come. At the pub later we were informed that The Black Hand (VS) and Ecliplse(VS) were the routes of choice and both were worthy of the stars.
On the Sunday John and I set off with the ambition to tick the three three-star routes on The Devils Slide in increasing order of difficulty. The Devils Slide is truly a majestic piece of granite and it’s clear from the rock and the setting as to why the routes are held in such high regard. That being said it is also just a lot of slab climbing. Some people love it, some like myself aren’t so keen. Personally, I found the climbing only really got interesting at the traverse on the fourth pitch. A quick discussion with John and we decided that spending the rest of the day going up and down the same slab might not be the most enjoyable, we packed up after ticking the Devils Slide Route and headed off to Beef Buttress to find something a bit different. We decided on Oxtail Soup (VS) which after a short abseil put us on a nice ledge with a few seals meters below us for company. The climb begins with a large step left that puts you into a beautiful crack system with very enjoyable climbing to the top.
Pleased with the climb we headed back towards the pub for dinner.
On the way we passed Helen and Matt at the top of American Beauty both with big smiles on their faces. Testament to the quality of this line. Jamie and Mike successfully tackled Road to Moscow (E2) and Separate Reality (E1) despite a hairy moment when a large block came loose on one of Mike’s leads. Robin and Rob completed Bridge of sighs (HVS), Nonexpectis Jusimisius (HVS), Uncle Fester (VS) with positive reviews of all of their climbs but particularly enthusiastic about Bridge of sighs which has now been moved onto my Wishlist.
On the Monday myself and John set got very excited about tackling the sea stacks Lundy has to offer. Excitement which quickly disappeared as we realised we hadn’t properly interpreted the tide times for the approach and this was not to be. As we had teamed up with Matt to climb as a three, we had three brains to quickly re-evaluate our options. We decided to see what else Beef Buttress had to offer after enjoying it the day before. As the three of us had not climbed together we picked Jumpers (HS). The line starts off on the same ledge as Oxtail Soup which definitely felt a bit cosier with three of us on it, but not too bad. A slightly difficult first move puts you on to perfect jugs and cracks all the way to the top. Craving something with a bit more bite we headed to the Flying Buttress to climb Double Diamond (HVS). After a barefoot abseil on a 50m line which just put us at the bottom, John comfortably lead the route despite trying to find a harder way to finish it. This for me really proved to be the climb of the trip with excellent moves throughout on superb rock with a location that is hard to beat.
Rob & Robin – Mary Patricia Rosalea (HVS), Margin (VS) – Far North, Albion (VS) – Devils Slide
Jamie & Mike – Quatermass (E2)
Tuesday our final day proved to be the end of the glorious sunshine we had enjoyed since arriving with a damp morning and grey clouds. Undeterred, we set off to Sunset Promontory to climb The Black Hand (VS) before heading for the ferry. After a successful trip with no falls, I felt it personally was important not to die on the last morning. However, the approach to Sunset Promontory proved to give me some doubt as to whether this was achievable. The 50m abseil seemed to be keen on pulling me into the void on the left or the void on the right. After managing to prevent this from happening and coming off the abseil it turns out that we had a short pitch of damp vertical grass to climb which as some point had me proclaiming or just claiming to be a rock climber and not a grass climber. Definite type B fun was had here. Anyhow, as you have probably guessed I didn’t die and after another abseil to the base of the climb the Black Hand proved to be very enjoyable with interesting moves up a corner and over a couple of ledges.
As we all reached the top we were afforded a great view of Mike steadily leading Indy 500 (E1).
Jamie tackled Ice (E2),
Rob & Robin – Centaur (HVS) & Road Runner (VS)
Lundy’s general store is surprisingly well stocked, with fresh fruit, vegetables, milk and other basics. However, on days when the boat isn’t arriving it is only open from 10am -12 noon so you will need to use a sort of click & collect system if you require anything. The pub however, was open from 8.30am til late every day. My kind of island. The meals at the pub were reasonable and tasty. However, as they are only served at set times it means you may need to cut your climbing short in order to be at the pub for the latest dinner slot at 7.10pm.
The accommodation at the old lighthouse was fantastic and ensured we were covid compliant and also importantly, well situated for some of the best climbing.
As a general “find the difficult way up little rocks and put the draw in the bolt” kind of guy with no real sea-cliff experience, this trip gave me a taste for something I now want a lot more of. I have to give a massive thanks to Robin for organizing so much of the trip. To Jamie for his time spent teaching me to abseil, ascend on prussiks and always carry a head torch if you are setting off late up an E2 in the gorge (I now carry a head torch with me at all times). To John for stepping in at the last minute and doing so much hard work. Also, to everyone on the trip that provided excellent company and advice, thoroughly making me happy to be part of the AMC.
Horseman’s Route (HS 4a)
Ligamentum Flavum (S)
Stuka Direct (VS 4C)
Clea (HS 4a)
Justine (S 4a)
P.s. Many apologies for this taking so long to be submitted.