Hare's Castle

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J345255 Hare's Castle is a prominent quarried knoll lying low down on the eastern flank of the Annalong Valley. Clean, sound rock gives excellent climbing in a sheltered and sunny location. In contrast to other crags friends are not de rigueur because of the quarried nature of the rock and small wires are most useful. Indeed on some routes they are the only available protection at the crux. However some small friends should also be carried to avoid embarrassment.

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The easiest approach is through Annalong Wood, past the water supply workings, and striking up the hill from the end of the roadway. Cars cannot be taken beyond the outer gates (357223) on the Head Road but it is an easy and pleasant walk through the forest to the workings. Alternatively drive up the lane about 200m beyond the sharp bend in the Head Road to parking places. From here go through the middle gate and follow the track to join the road to the workings. About 45 minutes to the crag.

The climbs are all obvious from the quarry platform below the crag. On the left is the large projecting block of Block Route, with the fine Thin Arete a couple of metres to its right, forming the left edge of the main, west, face. At the right-hand end of this face is the prominent Hellfire Corner, with the smaller south face to its right.

Descent from the crag is easiest by scrambling over the top and down the right-hand side. It is also possible to descend, especially for routes on the left-hand side of the crag by following a path leftwards across the top of Block Route.

Pieces of April 20m HVS 5a
G. Murray. 23/4/85.
Although bouldery in nature the diligent searcher will find enough protection to prevent a hospitalising landing. Start - 4m left of Block Route at the left end of large boulder. Up to small broken ledge. Step right to thin curving crack and up (delicate) to easy ground above.

No Footprints 20m VS 4c
G. Murray. 23/4/85.
No protection so a boulder problem start with a nasty landing. Start - 2m left of Block Route. Climb wall to thin crack. Up crack (crux) and easy slab above.

Block Route 30m D
I. Firth, C. Leeke, E. Wilkinson. 30/10/60.
Start - at a raised platform a few metres left of the main face, below the large projecting block. Climb to a ledge on left of the block. Surmount the block on this side and follow cracks up to the top. Variations exist between the original route and Thin Arete.

Thin Arete * 25m VS 5a
F. Devlin, D. Agnew. 15/7/65.
Technical crux low down but keep the VS 'head' for the top. Start - the first half of the climb takes a narrow ramp on the very crest of the rib which runs down to the lowest point of the crag. From the right edge of the raised platform gain the ramp, over slight bulge (crux) to easier ground and ledge on left. Pull up to flake and traverse boldly right to gain crack on the edge. On up to top.

Third Party * 25m VS 4c
I. Firth, C. Leeke, E. Wilkinson. 30/10/60.
Interesting all the way with a neat little crux. Climb the corner just right of Thin Arete. The crux is the step left to avoid the square overhang.

Allsorts * 25m HS 4c)
I. Firth, C. Leeke, E. Wilkinson. 30/10/60.
The crux is notoriously tricky but very safe. Start just left of the centre of the black wall at a drill groove. Follow a series of mantelshelves heading for a blocky niche capped by a steep bulge which forms the right-hand side of the square overhang (on Third Party). Step right and surmount the tricky mantelshelf then easily to top. Variation Direct Finish HVS 5a B. McBurney, R. Archer. /80. From the blocky niche climb directly up the steep bulge above the peg swinging left to a slappy mantelshelf.

More variations exist on the walls to the right including

Hidden Agenda 25m E1 5c
G. Murray, B. James. 21/9/96.
New and old climbing combined to give a useful addition with a fingery contrived crux. Start - 1m right of Allsorts below vertical bore hole. Directly up to heather ledge past this bore hole. From the left-hand end of large block forming ledge climb wall above to flat ledge below the mantelshelf on Allsorts. From right-hand edge of ledge gain the sloping ledge above with difficulty and finish up rib on the left.

Taco Bell 20m VS 4c
I. Rea, M. Rea. 6/10/84.
A very eliminate route with some good moves. Start - in the same niche as for Duet. Pull out of niche on the left and go up to heather ledge. Up slab on right to small ledge on Duet. Step left and climb faint depression (long reach). Finish as for Duet.

Duet ** 25m VS 4b
J. Sloan, J. Milligan. /60.
A superb combination of balance and delicacy. Start - in a square niche at the right edge of the black wall. Climb the rib on the right and move left to ledge on left. Delicately up at the thin crack trending left to gain small ledge. On up to slot then left along the ledge for 4m to gain top of large block at its left edge. Pull up the bulging wall to the top.

Hellfire Left-Hand * 20m VS 5a
T. Maguire. 9/6/79.
An infamous start for the vertically challenged. Thin steel wire fingers would prove useful failing that combined tactics! The lanks will wonder what all the fuss is about. Start - just right of Duet. Layback past the large roof right of Duet and move up to a ledge. Step left to triangular scoop. Climb this and the arete beyond using holds just to the left.

Mother's Pride 22m E1 5b
J. Codling. P. Douglas, M. Manson. 11/4/81.
Climb the overhang of Hellfire Left-Hand to a ledge just on the right. Make a sustained series of moves up a shallow groove above and past a bore hole to top. Alternatively start a few metres left of Hellfire Corner and climb direct to the ledge at the base of the groove.

Hellfire Corner ** 22m HS 4b
E. Wilkinson. /60.
The distinctive corner at the right-hand edge of the face gives a sustained technical outing for the grade with good protection. Start - at the right-hand edge of the face. Up gently leaning corner to a ledge at base of a diedre. Climb this by a series of strenuous but delicate moves to gain a good ledge. Finish by a crack near the left edge, passing a quarryman's feather.

Smudges Doom 25m HS 4b
R. Merrick, S. McKay. 6/9/64.
Start - just round the corner from Hellfire Corner in a short corner. Pull up onto a ledge and climb the vertical grooves to the cleft, which leads behind a pillar to a good ledge. Finish as for Hellfire Corner.

Biggles * 23m E1 5c
P. Douglas, M. Manson. /80.
A sharp but short crux with bomber gear. Start - in the middle of the short orange-coloured wall right of Smudges Doom. Climb the short wall to a ledge, then obvious crack to another ledge below a thin crack. Continue steeply using this and small edges on the right wall to good flake. Then up more easily to the belay.

All Quiet 16m VS 5a
I. Rea, K. Lindsay. 11/11/78.
The short wall at the start is avoidable reducing the grade to HS 4b). Start - as for Biggles. Up the same short wall and walk rightwards along the ledge to a white patch. Make an awkward move to the foot of the obvious diedre. Climb this directly to top.