Caley

Written by Alexander Minshall

How to get there:

Caley is on the A660 road out of Leeds (Otley Road), a few miles before you get to Otley. Heading out of Leeds, follow the signs to Otley (duh).
When you pass a Subaru/Suzuki garage on your left, the road bends right, back left and then curves right again.
At this point you'll see some boulders (the stile and roadside boulders) on your left.
- If you're in a car, park on the verge wherever you can, or drive another 200m or so and then park so that you're nearer to the main gate.
- If you're on the X84 bus (which stops at several points on the main road in Leeds, including outside the Parkinson Building, at Hyde Park corner and in Headingley), you can get off at the 'stile' boulders (the stile was removed in 2005, now there's only a few stones set into the wall), or at the next stop which is just after the main gate.

Crag Character:

The crag is mostly made up of boulders scattered across a wide area, some big enough to have proper routes on with runners and everything, some merely waist-high to a sheep that still manage to feature an arse-scraping bouldering traverse. The main edge is at the right-hand end of this area, which is where some of the best proper routes are to be found.

Parts of Caley can get very green over winter, and parts will stay damp for a few days after rain, but there is usually something that is clean and dry if you know where to look. Exploration of the entire area will usually reveal something in condition, but some 'local knowledge' might be useful, so ask Sean if in doubt.

There's loads of top-quality boulder problems here (some say the best in the UK, I wouldn't argue with that), and a fair few routes as well, of which the best are in the VS-E5 range.

Many of the so-called 'routes' at Caley are short, poorly-protected or unprotected lines up the many boulders dotted around the hillside, and as such appear in both the Yorkshire Gritstone guide as routes with E-grades and also in the Yorkshire Gritstone Bouldering guide as boulder problems with the (ir)relevant V-grade.

Examples of this type of 'micro-route' are:

  • Angel Wall on the Sugarloaf boulder (HVS/V0)
  • Permutation Rib (E1/V1)
  • Rick's Rock (E4/V5)
  • If in doubt, consult both guides and have a good look at the landing before committing. Many of these lines can be treated as highball boulder problems, given enough pads and spotters, whilst some have terrible landings and are most definitely serious solo routes with no chance of retreat once you've committed. If you're still not sure, give Sean a shout and he'll try to advise you on the best way of maximising your chance of survival!

    Good routes:

    Despite the very best routes being VS and above, there are still some good easier routes at Caley; if you avoid the horrid dirty chimney/gully lines along the main edge (unless you're into that sort of thing, shudder), then some very good easy routes are:

  • Pedestal Wall (S)
  • Zig Zag (S) with its fantastic final rising traverse, one of my favourite easy routes in the area (watch out for the loose block at the end of the leftwards traverse section though)
  • Holly Tree Scoop (D) is worth a mention here, when it's not damp, and is a good first lead, especially if you head leftwards up the crack system once you've passed the eponymous holly tree.
  • Around Rabbit's Paw Wall area there's Morris Minor (MS), which is unprotected but involves nice moves on positive chipped(!) holds and is reasonably safe with pads and spotters. Also check out Morris Crack (HS) next to it, a wide deep crack that is laybacked with a thrilling finish. Protectable if you've got a very big cam or a giant hex, else it's a bit scary at the grade to solo.

    If you're a VS leader, then Caley really starts to offer something; check out Unfinished Crack, Boot Crack, Route 2, the Scoop' At HVS, you've got some of the classic solos;

  • Rabbit's Paw Wall
  • Angel Wall (which could be led if you feel so inclined)
  • Sneakers
  • Morris Dance
  • Once you hit the magic grade of E1, then get yourself onto the scary unprotected Permutation Rib, do-or-die on the first move of Black Jumper and sketch your way up the arete to runners and glory, or get smearing on the just-about-protected Welcome to the Neighbourhood. And of course, do Noonday Ridge, which is one of the best E1 ticks in Yorkshire. It's even got some decent gear on it (well, one cluster of bomber gear halfway up. The start of the route is tricky, with an airy swing around the arete to get to anywhere near the gear. The top slab is safe, but don't fall near the top or it's a long swinging, scraping fall)! Tippling Crack is also 'good value' at E1, and has been known to kick the ass of certain E3 leaders (I'm naming no names!).

    If you operate at a higher level than most, then check out the awesome slab of Tip Off (E2 5b), Fingerknacker Crack (E3), the fingertips-only crack of Quark (E4), the tenous Adrenealine Rush (E5) and the awesomely imposing arete of High Noon (E5).

    And if you have truly lost the will to live then throw yourself at the mercy of To Be Is Not To Bolt, Strangeness or Marrow Bone Jelly, becoming either a hero or a zero in the process. Note that the routes of Gary Cooper (E3) and Fred Zinnerman (E4) are no longer protected by the controversial lone bolt, which was chopped by persons unknown in Spring 2007 (The bastards! I wanted to do those routes someday dammit!), new grades are probably in the region of E7, with a dodgy taped-down skyhook providing the only protection. Bastards.

    Good Boulder Problems:

    Where to start? There's so many classic problems, most of the best are mentioned in both the Yorkshire Gritstone and Yorkshire Gritstone Bouldering guidebooks. But my personal favourites are:

  • Otley Wall (V2 6a)
  • Bob's bastard (V2 5b/c)
  • Chicken heads (V2 5c)
  • The Playground (naturals) (V0 5b/c)
  • Low Pebble Wall (V3 6a)
  • New Jerusalem (V6 6c)
  • Forked Lightning Crack (V4 6a)
  • The Pinch (V5 6b)
  • Sucker's Rib (V1 5b)
  • Mr. Smooth (V3 6a)
  • Roof of the World (V1 5b)
  • RotW R Arete (V0 5a)
  • Hanging Flake (V3 6b)
  • Smear Arete (V1 5b)
  • Tombstone (V0 5a)
  • ..and those are just the easier problems with names.

    There's thousands of problems there, many of which are hiding on the boulders below the main track at the main crag area, where you could easily spend days doing laps on the easier problems (V0-V2). If you're after easier problems, then a visit to this area might prove fruitful, if you're prepared to wander around the woods for a while.

    The best boulders to check out in this area are the Scone, the Flapjack, the Misshapes and the Yule Log. Or go for a wander around the stile and roadside boulders, there's a few gems hidden there if you're prepared to spend time looking for them.

    As for harder problems, where to start?

  • The Pinch (V5)
  • Pine Tree Arete (V5)
  • Green Wall (V5)
  • Creme Egg Eliminate (V6)
  • New Jerusalem (V6)
  • ..all get my vote as quality problems.

    Or if you're a real hard man (or woman) then get stuck in to:

  • Block Buster (V9)
  • Ju Ju club (V7)
  • Zoo York (V7/V10 ss)
  • Syrett's Saunter (V8/9)
  • Nothing's Safe (V8)
  • Scary Canary (V8)
  • ..and that's ignoring the harder solo routes.