West Country Climbs - Rockfax
Published in July 2010 West Country Climbs has to be a contender for Rockfax’s biggest guidebook to date (425 pages). I remember when I worked at the BMC, realising just how big an area the ‘South West’ covers – basically draw a line from Bristol to Bath to Swanage, and it covers everything to the West of that line. An awful lot. Clearly there is a very wide range of climbing in the area. This guide covers a selection of 900 or so of the best trad and sport climbing, but doesn’t touch on the deep water soloing or the bouldering. Interestingly Rockfax also do a selection of other guides to the region, some of which are free downloads. Next month will see the publication of a guide dedicated to Dorset.
Inside it is very much standard Rockfax fare: decent quality colour topos with well marked route lines, plenty of information and a good smattering of inspiring photos. I do like the way they now include GPS coordinates for all parking areas (note to self: must work out how to enter coordinates into my satnav!).
There is a short section on fixed gear which is good to see as it’s always been a hot topic in the South West, with vociferous protagonists on both sides of the argument. The current thinking, as described in the book, is that the majority of fixed gear on sea cliffs should be treated with care and most likely will not be replaced which will lead to a fair amount of re-grading. Probably worth checking the BMC website (see the community section Area Meetings for minutes of a few key meetings that took place in 2010 / 2011: http://community.thebmc.co.uk/).
Retails at £24.95 which, for 425 pages represents excellent value for money by my standards.
The Rockfax website description of the book:
West Country Climbs is a major new Rockfax guide to one of the UK’s most celebrated, sunny and diverse climbing regions. The book is fashioned in Rockfax’s award-winning layout and design, and copiously illustrated with action photographs of the climbs and cliffs that reflect the quality and variety of climbing experiences to be had on offer in the UK’s most popular holiday destination - the West Country. Many of these cliffs have never been illustrated so clearly before and this book has some of the best crag photographs ever taken.
The book covers around 900 of the West Country’s most popular and highest calibre climbs, which span the full spectrum of climbing styles and grades; from committing multi-pitch sea cliff routes, to easy-going inland sport climbs. The rock ranges from the moorland and sea cliff granites of Dartmoor and West Penwith, through the geological weirdness of North Devon and Cornwall, to the multitude of limestone’s on parade in Devon, Somerset, Avon and Dorset.
West Country Climbs is an essential reference book to the climbing available in the region. The guidebook appeals to the holidaying or regular visitor to the West Country whilst also offering a vast amount of up-to-date and inspirational coverage for the local climber.