Symonds Yat

Review by planetFear
Thursday 1st July 1999
At last, it’s out. The missing link in the Wye Valley chain but was it worth waiting for? I have to say after seeing the front cover that, yes, it was. You would not believe the fuss that the delay of this section of the Wye Valley has caused. It is without a doubt the most popular area in the Wye as was demonstrated when the climbing shop at The Warehouse indoor climbing centre sold 60 copies within a week of its appearance.

What is the attraction? With easy access, ample parking, tree belays and idyllic surroundings it is one of those cliffs that appeals mostly to the low/middle grade climber as well as groups but perhaps a word of warning here, the rescue services attend more cliff accidents at the Yat than at all the other Wye Valley crags put together.

The guide itself is a slim hardback which looks and feels good and with over 450 routes represents excellent value for money. The layout is clear and concise with some useful crag diagrams throughout the guide. I was concerned that many of the climbs would be dismissed with route descriptions which do not do them justice as has happened in one section of the main Wye Valley guide. I’m pleased to be able to say that the climbs have been fairly treated. The Symonds Yat sandbag should now be a thing of the past as the climbing grades have also been sorted out by this team of authors and are now more accurate.

All of the photographs in the guide give a feel for the Yat and the atmospheric black and white photo of Picket Line at Near Hearkening Rock looks positively scary. David Hope and Roger Lanchbury should be congratulated for taking care of Symonds Yat over the last 25 years both on and off the crag, particularly the access situation, the historical records and the Yat’s ethics.

John Willson’s contribution to the Wye Valley guides since 1975 should also be recognized. He says that this is his last guide and I for one will miss his particular style of writing and his meticulous editorship. Willson’s editor’s notes provide a fitting finish to this review.

‘Scope for development seems now restricted to finding scrappy areas of rock that can be plastered with bolts for those no longer wishing to make adventurous forays through the delightful perfumed gardens and grand if occasionally unstable rockeries of the traditional crags of this unique and powerful canyon’.

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