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Rivelin Edge: a connoisseur's crag

Rivelin Edge is something of a connoisseur's crag. It lacks the quantity of routes of Stanage, the height of Millstone or the views of Dovestones Tor. But to focus on those would be to miss the point. It is small, but perfectly formed – charming and with a very special quality to it.

Access from central Sheffield could not be simpler, just follow the A57 from the inner ring road for five miles. It is only just outside the city limits and makes an ideal venue for those in a hurry. But Rivelin Edge is definitely not a 'fast food' crag.

Most of the major gritstone crags of the eastern Peak District face roughly west, for reasons best left to geologists to explain, and the land around them usually grazed by sheep. Rivelin Edge is different on both counts – it faces south and is in the middle of an extensive wood of silver birch.

In the past this fact has, unfairly, left the crag with the reputation of being overgrown and green – a reputation that certainly isn't deserved. The quality of the routes and the rock itself is second to none. In fact this wood protects the crag from the worst of the weather and its southerly aspect means it is often in pleasant dappled sunlight.

The star attraction is the Needle, a tower that's 20m on its longest side. It was one of the first targets of the early climbers at Rivelin, but resisted many efforts from the great and the good of the '20s, '30s and '40s before a clean ascent was finally made. Today eight distinct routes (and two historical girdle traverses) can be found on it, with high quality outings to be had from VS to E6. Topping out above the trees with views across Rivelin Valley is always a great experience, and you then get to enjoy what must be a contender for the shortest abseil in the Peak District (6m) to get back to the ground.

The quality does not end there. Dotted along the short edge are high quality trad routes across the grades. For the most part protection is good and the rock is clean, allowing you to push your limit in comfort. The relative compactness of the gritstone and short height also make it a fine soloing venue for those who like that sort of thing. Limited bouldering does exist, although it is probably best left for quick evening sessions.

After you've ticked all the popular classics, dig a little deeper and you will be rewarded. These don't see as much traffic as they deserve. (Routes described left to right):

  • Birch Crack (HD)
  • White House Crack (S)
  • Twister (VS 4c)
  • Scarlett's Chimney (HS 4b)
  • Party Animal (E3 5c)
  • Ring of Roses (HVS 5a)

Written by Gabriel Morrison

17.08.2015

Information

Location: Between Manchester Road and Moorwood Lane.
Parking: By Rivelin Dams (gates to the car park are locked in the evenings but there is limited parking just outside).
Where to eat & drink: Try nearby Rivelin Hotel on Tofts Lane.
Recommended guidebooks: The definitive book is Burbage, Millstone and Beyond, published by the BMC.
Useful links: BMC's Regional Access Database.

Photo by Gemma Thorpe.

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