Lundy is one of the places I have wanted to climb ever since I started climbing, this is due to a few reasons. Firstly, I have heard lots of great things about it from my parents over the years and secondly, I love sea cliff climbing to so the idea of going to an island and climbing is brilliant.
Due to injury and the alps with just over a month to go until the trip I hadn’t climbed for almost two months, and when I started climbing again I felt very weak. Due to wanting to get the most out of the trip I started training a lot, and it seemed to work as by the time I was in Lundy I was feeling pretty strong.
The boat ride out in the fog was fairly rough and there were a few moments where I felt pretty touch and go, however I made it across and fixed myself up with a full english breakfast at the pub on Lundy. After we had dumped some stuff at the accommodation we headed off to the Flying Buttress to climb Horseman’s Route in the damp fog. The abseil in was fantastic, I rigged the rope on some steeper looking rock and when I was partly down I realised the rock stopped which lead to an exciting 30m free hanging abseil. It was a social day with another team climbing The Flying Buttress and another following us up Horseman’s route. Considering how damp the rock was the climbing was fantastic and a good introduction to Lundy’s granite cliffs.
Waking up with a bit of a whisky head I was initially glad of the morning fog, once it had cleared we set off aiming for Nonexpectis Jugsimisius, however the wind was in the opposite direction compared to the first day which meant that the cliffs were not drying out. I discovered this after I had abseiled into the route which meant I had to escape, thankfully the slab was climbable on a top rope so I didn’t need to prussik out. After then walking all the way back up the steep grass to the top of the island we headed over the iconic slab of the Devil’s slide where we climbed Albion. The first two ungraded pitches were dispatched with quickly as they were very straightforward, I think I climbed most of the first pitch without my hands and I didn’t place any gear on the second. Sarah was on the sharp end for the crux pitch, but it proved to be pretty straightforward despite being damp and we both felt that it was pretty low in the grade.
Due to the time it takes on Lundy to get anywhere due to the walking and long approaches it was getting on so we were after a short, non tidal route which was exposed so had a chance of being dry to finish the day. We chose to go to Picnic Bay which proved to be a mistake as all the routes on the steeper section of the crag were soaking, so after abseiling in I had to escape, again! This time I escaped by soloing a damp diff which I actually enjoyed, due to the time we decided to call it a day there and made the walk back to the Lighthouse which we were staying in where we had a fantastic homemade curry.
The third day was “the day” given the forecast of sun all day which we hoped meant that some of the rock would be dry. However in traditional Lundy style we woke up to a sea mist which meant we had another chilled start to the day. Once it started to clear we headed over to the classic American Beauty to make use of Nick’s abseil rope to avoid the harrowing approach. On the way down the rope I stopped to take a few photos of Dave and Emily climbing the first pitch. As we were following another team up the climb was very leisurely and we got to fully appreciate the surroundings. During the climb there were loads of Seals around which were making a fair bit of noise. The first pitch was pretty greasy to start with which certainly focussed the mind as the gear wasn’t brilliant, thankfully the climbing was! We were soon climbing the crux pitch which was outstanding, starting up a thin slab with some committing moves above gear to get to the overlap, before an exciting traverse to get to the thin section of the overlap which then had to be overcome with a big rockover. I was expecting it to be harder, but I do enjoy slab climbing. Sarah made quick work of the final pitch which was far better than it looked from the bottom and we were soon at the top celebrating having completed a Lundy classic. While we were climbing Dave Linnett of Bald Eagle Productions took some fantastic photos of me and Sarah climbing which he has kindly let me use.
After the success of American Beauty I decided to go and give Indy 500 a go, I had given in before the trip and looked on UKC and saw it was given solid/tough E1, however as I knew it was well protected I was pretty psyched for the route as it looked like a fantastic line. Armed with all my gear and 16 quickdraws I made the abseil down, which can JUST be done with a 50m rope and certainly doesn’t need the 70m rope described in the guide book. At the base of the route I was admiring the old line of Formula One which has unfortunately fallen down, it looks like it used to be a fantastic line! After reading the guide book multiple times, checking my knots for the final time I started the route. For the most part the route was pretty well protected, however the hardest move to read from below was above some questionable gear which got the adrenalin flowing and with the sustained nature of the climbing I was pretty pleased when I got to the rest at half height due to my arms feeling tired. After shaking out I then had to psyche myself up to leave the safety of the ledge and start the final section which the guidebook said was tiring, and it wasn’t kidding. A combination of sustained and technical climbing meant I was feeling knackered as I arrived at the final steep headwall, after forcing myself to place a few bits of gear despite(/or because of?) being pumped I started the final sequence and came very close to falling off. Reaching the top was a fantastic feeling and it was slightly odd being cheered by Rich and Izzy who were watching from another local crag, which also meant that I have some fantastic photos of me climbing.
Due to Indy 500 being a fantastic line, in a fantastic place and the route being right on my limit so having to give it everything it is now the best route I have climbed. After the route we headed back to the Lighthouse for a bit before heading into the village to celebrate Dave’s 50th Birthday.
The final day was a bit familiar with fog in the morning soaking all the rock and an offshore breeze meaning that the rock just wasn’t drying. We headed to Beaufort Buttress and climbed a few short single pitch VS routes which were pretty wet before deciding that we were going to do some touristy stuff instead for the remainder of the afternoon. After not seeing anyone else on the island for four days (apart from in the pub) it was bizarre getting back up to the top of Lundy and seeing loads of day trippers wondering around, it felt like they were invading “our” island. Thankfully the swell died down before our ferry back which meant that we had a very enjoyable ferry ride in the sun to get back to the mainland.
Lundy has certainly left an impression on me, I love the rock there as well as the positions you end up in and I can’t wait to go back next year and hopefully be a bit more confident at E1 by then too!