Reviews - Guidebook: BMC Burbage, Millstone & Beyond - Heason Events

Guidebook: BMC Burbage, Millstone & Beyond

30th Jan 2006

Burbage, Millstone & Beyond
Eastern Edges: North

Just finished browsing through my copy of the new BMC guide. I have to say that once again I am impressed. That’s not to say that I didn’t have high expectations – on the contrary in fact – but it is always nice to have your expectations met. At 340 pages that’s almost exactly 1 page a year for the rest of 2006 – now wouldn’t that be a tick list! I suspect I will fail at almost the last hurdle – Voyager at Burbage North has snuck in on page 342. Not only is this the hardest bit of climbing in the area, but it looks hard for the tall! Just kidding. I pointed out this pic as I am seriously impressed that it is there at all. Ben Moon only climbed it in November and the guide hit the shelves just two weeks ago!

This is the fourth BMC guide to be published since the BMC employed Niall Grimes as a full time guidebook editor. The Roaches and Horseshoe to Harpur Hill both came out at about the same time in 2004 whilst a significant update and reprint of On Peak Rock pre-dated these two. Each has been a roaring success as far as I am concerned, proving that the BMC can put up some lively competition to the Rockfax empire. Niall’s sense of humour, long exposed to us through the climbing magazines, shines via countless subtle, and some not so subtle, remarks to provide an air of fun about the guides, which let’s face it, could be oh so dull.

This guide, as the Roaches edition did in 2004, brings us the most up to date information on every route and every boulder problem within its realm. That’s right, it is a definitive guide. The crags covered are listed below. Most you may have heard of – Burbage, Millstone etc, but there are a few in there which you may not have done – Hallam View Buttress, Wyming Brook for example. What these new guides do so well that their predecessors failed at, is to inspire you to go and check out these less popular spots. How? With colour topo’s, decent quality photos, and proper crag descriptions – check out page 234 to see what I mean!

I’ve given Grimer a pat on the back for his part in editing the guide, but haven’t yet mentioned the main man behind the scenes. Dave Simmonite is known to us all as a quality climbing photographer (and also a small car sales yard on London Road in Sheffield!), but his attention to detail and encyclopaedic knowledge of all things gritstone are obviously second to none! One of the major benefits of having Dave as volume editor is the very high quality and number of photographs throughout the guide. He has not been greedy, using just a hand full of his own shots alongside a wide selection of others, every one of which is good or excellent. It should also be pointed out that these definitive guides come about thanks to countless hours of effort by volunteers.

There are two things I was not keen on guide. The first is a minor point, but I don’t like the map on the inside front cover. The crag locations are virtually obscured by the fat spaghetti roads and the hulking mass of Sheffield. In the Roaches edition the map was much more subtle, with a green background, and gave a nice impression when turning back the front cover. Secondly, and perhaps a bigger issue for some is the use of V grades and English technical grades to grade the bouldering. We live a ten hour drive away from Fontainebleau, and the other side of the Atlantic to Hueco (where the V Grades originated). Admittedly the people I see bouldering use these two systems almost interchangeably, but very few use English technical grades. Personally I’d ditch the English tech grades and go with a straight Font or V grade.

What haven’t I mentioned yet? The guide comprises 2,200 Routes from Diff to E10, 750 Boulder Problems, 120 full colour all-action shots, 290 full colour photo topo’s and each area chapter finishes with a definitive historical section listing the first ascents of the area. Given that the two points above are the only things I could find wrong with the guide and the fact that it retails at £18.95, get out there and buy it.

Crags covered:
Burbage North
Burbage South
Burbage Boulders
Carl Walk
Higgar Tor
Millstone Edge
Mother Cap
Over Owler Tor
Bell Hagg
Rivelin Edge
Rivelin Quarry
Hallam View Buttress
Wyming Brook
Derwent Edges
Ladybower Quarry
Bamford Edge
Agden Rocher
Stannington Ruffs

You can download a PDF sample of the guide here