Hands up!! No, I am not talking about the new Northumbrian habit of hunting armed gunmen hiding around your local stomping grounds, I mean, hands up how many of you in the middle of summer have decided to go to that popular south facing roadside crag, which is rapidly taking on the frictional properties of glass while fabulous north and west facing venues are dry?
How many of you just skip over the esoteric section in the back of the guidebook thinking crags with a handful of routes are not worth the walk? How many of you wish to do a new route so you can leave your indelible mark in climbing history? And how many of you dream about finding an unclimbed Crag X (that isn't a pile of choss ignored by generations of sane climbers)?
Back when I was a fresh faced first year student I remember being asked: 'if you did a first ascent, what would you call it'? I was stumped. Were first ascents not done in the seventies and eighties - when lycra was pink and bouldering mats were stolen from the back bedroom? Never did I think I would stumble upon a new route – let alone a new crag.
But with time and experience I realised that even on this small island the spirit of climbing and exploration which has existed for generations, still lives strong. It is just sometimes you have to go a bit further afield to be rewarded.
Lower Tosson – Northumberland's newest crag:
Situated in a grand position above Coquetdale is a fine addition to the Simonside Hills. With generally excellent quality rock with interesting features and tremendous three star natural lines – including the largest roof in the county, it offers a great deal of variety to the climber, whether they be a VD or E5 leader, or a dedicated boulderer. In fact the bouldering potential has barely been tapped into.
Parking and Approach
The is best approached from Hepple Whitefield (nr Rothbury) (GR: NY 987 996). A pleasant 1.8 mile walk past a country house and along access land leads to the buttresses (NY 997 985). There is a right of access under CRoW.
Free Guidebook Download
So what are you waiting for?
Photo Gallery: Lower Tosson