A history of climbing in the Chew Valley

Attracting walkers, cyclists, dinghy sailors and climbers, the area around Dove Stone Reservoir in Saddleworth’s beautiful Chew Valley is a popular location for visitors from across the North West.

However, few people who stroll around the tranquil moorland reservoirs within this picturesque location are aware of the area’s history in relation to international climbing achievements.

Once a Mecca for gritstone climbing, the Chew Valley, which boasts some of the most difficult and exposed routes in the Peak District, has been the training ground for both local and famous climbers and mountaineers. Legendary climbers such as Oldham’s Paul Braithwaite, Tony Howard and Kevin Thaw, all began their climbing careers on the crags and rock faces in and around the Chew Valley.

Tony Howard and several fellow members of the local Rimmon Climbing Club, went on to make the first British ascent of Norway’s 4000ft Trolltind Wall, back in 1965: the highest vertical rock face in Europe.

Paul ‘Tut’ Braithwaite is most famously known for his key efforts, along with climbing partner Nick Escourt, in securing the successful British Mount Everest South West Face Expedition, in 1975. In addition, Paul has climbed the North face of the Eiger, scaled K2 and reached the summit of the Matterhorn, just to mention a few of his great achievements.

Decades later, Kevin Thaw went on to become a professional climber and mountaineer climbing and summiting some of the world’s highest peaks.

Today, a new generation of climbers are developing their skills in the Chew Valley: climbing, bouldering and scrambling on the areas gritstone outcrops.

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