Following the disastrous cancellation of the club trip to Chorro in Spain (*suppressed sob*), I immediately decided to sign up for the climbing trip to Cornwall in an attempt to make up for that loss, a decision which proved to be one of my best this year! We headed down on a warm Thursday a few weeks ago. I was in Anthony’s car, and enjoyed a peaceful journey, interrupted occasionally by outbursts of directions from his Australian-accented sat-nav. We bumped into a few of the others along the way, when we paused for the obligatory Maccies, and pulled into the campsite not long after six that evening.
Lucy, Lydia and I were sharing a tent, and soon after we arrived we organised our belongings, ie. haphazardly chucked our stuff into a confused mass in the centre of the tent, then grabbed some essential beers and headed for Sennen Cove, a beach only a ten-minute walk away. While the others played rounders, four of us decided to take the literal plunge into the icy depths of the English Channel. This was a very effective way to wake up after a lazy day sat in a car, and we emerged from the water fifteen minutes later absolutely freezing but feeling awesome. A run along the sand and some barbequed burgers soon warmed us up and we enjoyed a lovely first evening.
The next day the climbing began at Bosigran, just a short minibus-journey away. I’d only done trad climbing once before, and it took a couple of climbs to get my head round the fact people were putting their own gear in and relying on a tiny piece of equipment to save their lives if they took a fall. We all got stuck in (except Lydia who took a nap) and the most memorable climb of the day was a chilly multipitch called Andrew, that we decided, inexplicably, to go up in tshirts (perhaps in denial that we were in England). This was the same climb that later in the week Paul took an epic lead-fall on and messed up his ankle, but that’s another story. Anyhow, Pete lead Louise and I up the climb, and his intriguing change of route on the last pitch involved a caving style scramble on all fours in the last few metres. While he was working out this creative interpretation of what was marked in the guidebook, we nearly pulled him off the wall because Louise and I spotted Rogelio on the top of another climb and started waving at him… (sorry Pete).
Saturday saw us climbing at Sennen, an amazing location right beside the sea. Su and I seconded Rogelio on some harder routes, one of which was called Africa, because of a rock that vaguely resembled said continent. Climbing this turned into quite a dramatic experience. Su asked Ali for help with the first few tricky moves, so I took over belaying Ed, who unfortunately had no clue what was going on below and was a little perturbed to spot his belayer wandering off. The tide was also coming in, and a load of spray from a wave crashed right over my head and I quickly swapped back with Ali and jumped on the climb Su was now at the top of, swiftly clambering up just to get away!
These adventures were followed by an evening at the meadery, where we all consumed a large meal and much mead (a dangerously drinkable, strong beverage made from honey). After a good few hours there, we had a merry minibus-journey back to the campsite.
The next day, some of us feeling a little delicate, we moseyed round Penzance, popping into some shops and sitting in a cheerful café. Here I ate an enormous slice of carrot cake which was the best thing ever and as equivalently filling as a three-course meal. Later on, someone suggested surfing, and though a convincing voice in my head was murmuring ‘naah, just take a nap’ I ended up heading to the beach and grabbing a board and wetsuit from the hire shop. Turns out surfing is a brilliant way to cure a hangover! After all, there’s no time for reflecting on how much you drank the night before when waves are persistently knocking you under the surface. All you can do is jump on your board and hope you don’t get thrown off it.
Me showing up Will
In the following two days I learnt how to lead climb, which is a tad terrifying but consequently so much fun. We went surfing again on Tuesday, (Will and I kind of became addicted to it) and the trip started to feel like a surfing holiday, something I would not say no to going on.
The camping was good fun too, we had some banging bulk-cooked meals together, and tried out some new activities such as acro yoga and taekwondo (lead by the legend Su!). This was particularly hilarious as we all carefully watched Su’s impressive demonstrations of each move and then made appallingly attempts to replicate them (my favourite was the spin kick). Most of the time at the campsite, however, we just chilled, chatted and drank beer in the events shelter.
Taekwondo Master Su putting us all to shame
On the penultimate day, Anthony, Will and I ascended the Long Climb at Land’s End, (we felt pretty hardcore just climbing over the tourist barrier beside the sign ‘dangerous cliffs’). This was a really fun and varied multipitch, with highlights such as when you have to lean and fall half a metre forward onto your hands, and a wide chimney pitch. Unfortunately, we had to bail a little early because it started raining, but not before Will had snapped a cracking photo of Anthony for the climbing naked calendar. As editor on the committee, it’s my job to put the calendar together, requiring me to hassle people to take these and send them to me, which is highly amusing, if a bit odd!
After the Long Climb we headed once more to Sennen Cove for our final surfing sesh, which was only an hour long but left us feeling utterly shattered after all the exercise of the week. Our last evening involved consuming some tasty fish and chips and heading to the pub down the road for a few hours.
To break up the journey back the next day, we stopped off for more climbing in Dartmoor at Hay Tor, where we had the nicest weather of the week. My last climb was a scary lead during which I realised, while perched five metres up in a not-so-comfortable position, it’s kind of tricky to put gear in. I managed it eventually, however, and felt pretty chuffed to finish the climb and gaze out across Dartmoor from the top.
Squad on a rock
An hour or so later we said our goodbyes and I got back in Anthony’s car, feeling exhausted, happy, but sad it was over, and covered in silly tan lines (I won’t forget I was wearing three-quarter length leggings that day for a while!).