Wednesday, 5 October 2011

This week: Harold Drasdo on poets and crags up north

" The argument has become that if Marvell didn't visit the crag then Fairfax had given him his information. The literature is as daunting as that on Marvell though it's mainly devoted to the war and its aftermath. The Fairfax Correspondence (4 vols. 1850-52) deals almost entirely with matters of state and the biographies yield nothing. The manuscript Letters and Papers are a massive archive dispersed in three main collections and are only accessible to academic researchers.

At present Fairfax is simply linked to Almscliff by circumstance. Yet he had endless opportunities, ample motives, and is the only suspect we have as Marvell's source.Almscliff is one of the marker crags of British climbing and its great test-pieces Frankland's Green Crack, Great Western, Western Front, Wall of Horrors — are indicator climbs for the limits of achievement in several decades. It would have been gratifying to be able to install the Lord General not only as its first known visitor but also as an habitue. Clearly we can't. Nevertheless Marvell's epigram remains unique for its instant of concentration on the form and nature of a celebrated crag long before the Romantics decided that cliffs and mountains are there to be admired.'

This week,veteran climber and all round clever clogs,Harold Drasdo, looks at the relationship Andrew Marvell had with the area around the popular Yorkshire climbing venue, Almscliffe. Warning...this essay does not contain any references to slopers,red pointing,dynos,crimping and ripping RP's !