Monday, 28 February 2011

Coming Up: David Craig amongst the rocks of home

Sally Baxendale and Richard Tolley on Pillar Rock's classic severe-Rib and Slab: Photo Stephen Reid

"Twenty metres up on the belay ledge, still high on a burst of adrenalin, I looked about me to savour the barely accessible grandeur we had dared to enter. From the uppermost profile of Pillar a shaggy grey limb was growing rapidly outward. It dropped and curled under on itself, like a raptor's claw.

There's a really weird cloud up here,' I called down. 'Looks like a bit of a storm coming up.'
Beside me on the rock small spots were appearing, darkening enlarging as though the flanks and limbs of the crag were turning into a leopard's coat beneath my eyes. As soon as Neil reached me we decided to retreat,  with hardly a moment's discussion. The sky was unruly In three or four minutes dark shapes with dragon-toothed edges appeared all over the livid glare of it, fretted crests and manes, wisps wreathing like smoke above a bonfire.
By the time we had packed our gear into our sacks, every rock was glistening and slippery. We were soaked through and still warm. The water sluicing on to us out of the sky felt not adverse like British rain but close to blood-heat. I had felt that just once before, in the monsoon rains of Sri Lanka. We took off as many clothes as possible and plunged down the fell side in an ecstasy of sweat and rainfall, running like waterfalls, like becks, like the showers teeming between clouds and treetops.
Long after the sun had set and on past midnight, we watched from the back door of the farmstead at Gillerthwaite as Pillar and its parent mountain behind it came leaping into sight, a black tusk on a black brow, silhouetted against the flaring yellowed whites of the sky.Above them, far huger and higher than the mountain, the torsoes and heads of the the cumulo-nimbus glowed suddenly neon in the discharges of lightning.'

This Friday,another delicious slice of mountain prose from the master craftsman-David Craig. David travels through the mountains of home.Taking on the ever popular polished stone phallus which looks down upon the green fields of Wasdale-Napes Needle,to the lonely citadel of Pillar Rock,high above Ennerdale.