Two years ago, James Robinson and I went bouldering at one of our local spots up on Coniston Old Man, taking a slightly different view on things. We had found a PDF of possibly the earliest bouldering guide for the UK Fell and Rock Club journal article 'Boulder Valley', a 1916 bouldering guide to the area by climber J.P.Rogers. James and I both make films. We thought that we should come back one day and film what it was like to boulder in the early 20th century to recapture the importance of the Lake District in the history of bouldering, and have some fun!
This day out inspired us to eventually come back with some friends, lots of Edwardian clothes (some more accurate than others), cameras and a picnic. We tend to make light hearted films and this would be no exception. Infact, the wording in the guidebook is so ‘of the time’ it adds its own humour. As you will see when you watch the film, it contains extracts from the 1916 book throughout.
As a close friend of Philip Mitchell, the relatively well known paraclimber, it was easy to persuade him to join us and try out the hopping route. Never have I been so worried about watching someone climb! He refused to have any spotters and tottered up this in leather boots and tweeds!
The aim of the project, as well as to have fun with mates, was to raise awareness of the importance of Lake District bouldering in history and to see if a bunch of OK modern climbers could climb these 100 year old routes in tweeds and leather boots. We decided against hobnails for ethical reasons but other than that, we stuck to the dress code as best we could. We even did a bit of body belaying on the higher lines. See how we got on in the video.