Monday, 23 January 2012

This week: Steve Dean sends a postcard from Lundy.

 Satan's Slip:Photo Ken Latham

"Apart from our blue abseil rope, there was not the slightest indication that mankind even existed in this place.Place yourself there, ten thousand years ago and it would look no different, the only creatures are the birds and the seals, it is truly their place and I almost felt we were intruding.

Just to add to the increasingly oppressive atmosphere, strange sounds were coming from the back of the zawn; howls and almost dog-like yelps echoed off the walls. I realised that this was of course adult seals mating, and sometimes fighting. These strange sounds were juxtaposed with the continuing crack of the rifle shots on the moors above us, as the goat culling continued. The combination of these two sounds, the oppressive character of the zawn itself and the increasingly threatening weather was quite unsettling.

For a few moments, I really felt as if we shouldn't be there, that we were not welcome and that we clearly did not belong there. There were no other climbers on the island and no one had a clue that we were here in this deeply impressive place. From Deep Zawn north to the Devil's Slide is perhaps only a ten minute walk but a greater contrast with the white, sun-kissed granite of The Slide would be hard to imagine. I unclipped from the abseil rope, having fixed a secure belay looking into the zawn.

Mick and I started to sort the gear out, when suddenly the sky darkened some more and the heavens just opened. It absolutely poured with rain, drenching our route (and everything else!) We waited awhile to see if it would relent but if anything it got worse. I watched Mick prussic out up the abseil rope as mist rolled in off the vastness of The Atlantic. Below us the seals were still howling, while above us they were still busy goat killing. I clipped the prussic clamps onto the blue rope, took a last look around, stepped up, slid the clamps up the rope and started the journey out of the zawn.'

Later this week a new and previously unpublished piece from respected climbing writer Steve Dean. Best known for his acclaimed biography of pre-war legend, Colin Kirkus. In 'Lundy Sketches' Steve paints a beguiling picture of climbing on the magical island of Lundy twixt the coastlines of Devon and South Wales.