A day at Guillemot Ledge

During the preceding week, it looked like the day was in jeopardy with 50mph winds predicted by some weather reports! However by the evening before we were due to go the smart phone apps and the shipping forecast were in perfect alignment and it was settled, the second Swanage trip of the year was on! The last trip was Subliminal Wall, this time Guillemot Ledge the chosen destination, a more serious location consisting of mostly multi-pitch routes of HS and above with plenty of classics for some of us new to leading in this area.

So five climbers and one walker piled into two cars and set off. First stop, the now reassuringly familiar site of the compulsory Swanage trip motorway services for breakfast, fifty press ups to anyone who can’t name the services! A welcome breakfast stop here as you know you’re almost there. One more climber down from London to the tally, a quick reshuffle of people in the now three cars and we’re off again.

We arrive at the car park to find a lady with more dogs on her leads then we had climbers! She was fresh from the cliff edge with more stories of strong winds, hmm what were we in for today then?

Luckily when we arrived at the quarry top by Guillemot edge is more than breezy but not enough to be concerned about. Dick’s supreme efficiency saw the abseil ropes in place by the time some of us had finished racking up! So off we went, three parties and a myriad of Swanage starred routes to choose from!

By late lunch around 2.30pm we’d all done two multi-pitch routes each, some, caught up in some serious rope drag issues on Legend, took slightly longer than others … hmmm sorry about that Ash, my bad! This was enough for the first party and they called it a day, Dick very kindly and quickly offering to leave the abseil ropes in place, we’re not sure how motivated this offer was to lighten the load on the walk out but some observed that he and John were gone and back to the car before we’d even made our minds up whether to stay or not!! Needless to say the four remaining climbers were happy to “just do one more!” So one climb later, the time is now 4pm and it’s still a good bright day, three of us pondered again whether to stay or go, Ash on the other hand, didn’t hesitate, he just pulled out a head torch … ok decision made, one more climb!!

So down the abseil ropes again, a quick soaking by an incoming wave and the best climb was saved till last. Tensor II is a top 50 climb in the Rockfax Dorset guide and rightly so, well worth putting on the ‘Swanage to do’ list … just try not to get your hand wedged in the traverse crack … it goes numb after a while!!

With only one head torch between us that really had to be the last climb! We headed back to cars and got on the road. Even without Dick present we didn’t mess with tradition, so after a quick stop at the familiar motorway services for caffeine and cake we said goodbye to Simon and headed home. After a mysterious issue with the car cutting out while going round a roundabout and failing to start again for about five minutes the only problem now, was Kev had left his car keys at John’s house early that morning not realising he’d end up coming back to collect them past 11pm!! A quiet knock on the door and was reunited with car and keys.

A long, sunny, windswept but great day at Swanage over … if you like multi-pitch and haven’t been to Guillemot Ledge before, do put it on your list, you won’t be disappointed and I’m pretty sure you’ll find more than a few people willing to come with you!


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