Lake District Bouldering - Book Review
- Wednesday 11th December 2019
By Greg Chapman - Vertebrate Publishing £36.95
Review by Adam Hocking
Well, the wait is finally over for the hotly anticipated Lake District Bouldering guide, written by the area’s bouldering aficionado, Greg Chapman, and produced by Vertebrate Publishing. I was immediately struck by the size of the guide, an indicator of the sheer scale of what has been developed over the last 15 years. Who knew that the Lakes would offer up such a comprehensive list of quality boulder problems. The guidebook proudly boasts 3,000 boulder problems, variations and link-ups, ranging from an amenable Font 2 to a god-like Font 8c and spread out over 70 venues.
The book's contents are well thought out and navigation is made easy, with the five principal areas of the Lakes (southeast, southwest, northeast, northwest and south Lakes limestone) being broken down into colours for quick and easy reference. Greg's vast knowledge of the area is evident within the clear and concise details given for access, approach, conditions and over 700 colour photo topos. He's even included the occasional photographic map for ease of approach, in addition to GPS coordinates for parking. There is a section at the back of the book for details on local amenities such as gear shops, pubs, campsites, etc.
This is a guide in a pure form without the usual historical blurb, just a simple list of routes and areas to inspire the coming generations of boulderers. There are the usual areas such as Carrock Fell, St Bees, The Bowderstone, Woodwell and the Langdale Boulders, in addition to many more hidden gems dotted throughout, including the less frequented Duddon Valley and more recently developed venues like the Harter Gold Boulders in Dunnerdale.
Flicking through the pages it is easy to be inspired at each page turn and has certainly reinvigorated my personal psyche for bouldering in the Lakes. It's clear that this guidebook is born from Greg's relentless enthusiasm for his Lakes bouldering website (lakesbloc.com), spanning the last couple of decades, a true labour of love. Well done that man.
The look of the guide is one of exceptional quality and, with over 100+ high-quality action shots, it’s hard not to get inspired to get out and enjoy the vast array of problems around the Lakes. The high-quality gloss finish would take pride of place on anyone’s coffee table. But there brings my only gripe, and it doesn't relate to just this one but to all modern guides, and that is the robustness of the guide. It seems that the contemporary trend for guidebooks is one of a coffee table style book over practicality in the field. I feel the book won't easily withstand the rigours of being thrown in and out of a bouldering pad, being carried from place to place and chucked onto the ground while chalking up. This said you could always buy two... one for the crag and one for the bookshelf but that won’t be cheap.
All in all, this is a great quality piece from Greg and the Vertebrate Publishing team. I have no doubt that this is a guide that will continue to offer inspiration to many for years to come. Greg's years of selfless dedication is what has made such a comprehensive book possible. If you have any interest in bouldering in the Lake District, then I would suggest you buy this guide.
The Bowderstone area from Lake District Bouldering.
Another sample page of the Bowderstone area from Lake District Bouldering.