Articles - REVIEW: BOULDER BRITAIN
John Horscroft - Posted on 31 Jan 2012
You know the fella, Niall Grimes, works at the BMC coalface hewing guidebooks from the very living rock. Well, who’d have thought that while producing prize winning guides, he’d also find the time for a personal project so immense you can see it from space. There are books I’ve reviewed in the past and described each as a labour of love, but this is the daddy. After seven years of effort, Grimes has managed to lay that burden down having published his magnum opus, Boulder Britain.
Described as a select guidebook to bouldering in Britain, it covers 180 venues and 3,200 problems. The format reminds me of the well-known Footprint guides to mountain biking and surfing. Each venue is summarised including how to get there, conditions and a selection of problems. What marks this guide out is the bracing level of honesty in the descriptions. Grimes doesn’t pull his punches, and the guide is all the better for it. Overstate the brilliance of a minor league bouldering venue and you almost guarantee that the visitor will end up disappointed. Describe it warts and all and chances are the passing boulderer dropping in for half an hour will leave pleasantly surprised.
Which means that every entry is a treat because it’s almost impossible to predict Niall Grimes take on your all time favourite boulders. He describes Rubicon as crap then qualifies that boldness by admitting that it is a supreme place to work on power, admits that Almscliff leaves him a bit cold and that he’s not mad about the Cromlech boulders. Damn, I can’t help but agree with every word, but Grimes is at pains to point out that one man’s meat is another man’s poison, that his opinion is not your opinion. The list of venues is quixotic without being perverse, the familiar, Burbage, alongside the obscure, Pednvounder.
The book looks a million dollars from the hyper-distorted shot of Hound Tor on the front cover to the shot of Mr Grimes himself bouldering in the Lake District inside the back cover. The photo credits encompass some of the cream of British climbing photography, Long, Coefield, Hutton, Simmonite, Messenger, Wood and a few beauts from the author himself. All entries include details on approach time, type of climbing, conditions and the vast majority are illustrated with photo-topos of the most popular areas.
This book is a must for every boulderer, be they occasional or obsessed. Buy it, browse it and then make sure it’s in the car the next time you go a-wandering, because who knows where you’ll end up.
More Info: www.boulderbritain.com
This review was first published in the February 2012 issue of Climber magazine