- Nine of us gathered on a damp Friday evening at this unique hut. Originally built as a Gamekeepers cottage in 1862 and belonging to the Swythamley estate, it is now managed by the BMC and is a memorial to Don Whillans.
It has a fantastic position overlooking the Merebrook valley and nestling right below the Roaches lower tier, with the kitchen area built into the rock. (This was originally a cave where Bess Bowyer lived for nearly a century, until the early 1800’s).
With a cold forecast for Saturday and the rock looking damp and green expectations for climbing were low. However, Dan and 5 coats Brayshaw and Dave and his guest Chris did manage some climbing. Shirley, Barbara, Dick, Martin and Chris went for a good walk. This took in the Roaches ridge, Luds Church (a narrow gorge), the Hanging stone and a delightful small brewery in Wincle. (The combination of beer sampling, beer drinking, good coffee and a log burner meant it was a bit hard for the team to get going again!).
On Saturday night there was the usual superb communal meal, organised by Shirley. Thank you to her and to the preppers, chefs and washers up.
Sunday was again cold, but Dan and John, Dick and Martin and Dave and Chris aimed to climb again on the Roaches. Barbara aimed for a walk over Hen Cloud. Shirley and Chris headed off to Windgather and did 3 routes before the cold persuaded Chris to suggest an early finish.
Routes climbed over the weekend at the Roaches included Black Velvet, Maud’s Garden, Damascus Crack left hand, Right Route, Saul’s Crack, Technical slab, Yong, Breakfast problem, Alpha, Alpha Arete and Sennapod crack.
It was one of those weekends where it would have been easy to stay at home ( and that was my plan at one point), but going was worth the risk of bad weather and in my case was rewarded with a great walk and climbs on Windgather, a small but perfectly formed crag and new to me.