Borders has ‘hidden gems’ for climbers

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The Borders might not be renowned for rock climbing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to hone skills or enjoy challenging outings.

So says mountain instructor Dan Morgan, who moved to Kelso when he married his partner Sarah in August.

The former sports sociology lecturer admits he’s been revelling in the region’s hidden gems and hopes to introduce many more climbers – beginners, intermediates and the experienced – to the area.

He said: “Rock climbing has been my passion for 40 years. The appeal of climbing is part athletic, part psychological and a big part aesthetic as it usually takes place in beautiful parts of the countryside.

“The sandstone outcrops of Northumberland are a ready playground for single-pitch climbs and the cliffs on the flanks of the Cheviot hills provide the excitement of multi-pitch climbs.”

In addition to his own experience of climbing around the world, he has qualifications, including summer and winter mountain leader, the Austrian Alpine Club Hochtouren and Skitouren awards and the Mountain Instructor Award.

He said: “The Northumbrian outcrops lend themselves to athletic exercise on a vertical plane where strength and agility prevail. Although rarely more than 50ft high, the climbs pack in a lot for a little height gain and provide fantastic views over the surrounding landscape.

“In contrast, the less steep but higher flanks of the Henhole on the Cheviot require a steady nerve to make progress in its cauldron of cliffs, waterfalls and moorland terrain.”

He is also a fan of the Lake District, which he says provides a world-class venue for traditional climbing. Dan, 57, teaches clients using the area’s classic climbs, which often have historical connections to the founding fathers of the sport.

His own interest in climbing allows him to elaborate on the routes and provide an historical context for clients, which deepens their understanding of the activity.

Using his qualifications, Dan introduces aspirant climbers to the exciting, energetic, but also meditative, aspects of climbing.

He explained: “I use climbing as an antidote to the stresses of modern living, by encouraging clients to absorb themselves in the vertical problem-solving climbing provides.

“It’s an activity with no age limits – most of my clients have been in their 50s and all have succeeded in reaching new levels of challenges.

“The safe use of ropes and equipment allows those climbing with me to focus upon the balance, poise and controlled release of energy required to successfully reach the top.

“Then there is the wonderful feeling of satisfaction complimented by the superb surroundings, which combine to flood the mind with positive feelings. It’s a natural high.”

Originally from Lancashire, and latterly living near Fort William in the Highlands, Dan started climbing in 1973.

“I got into climbing as an extension to fell walking. I recall seeing climbers on crags and feeling a strong urge to try it. It seemed so exciting and daring. Through meeting friends at a climbing wall in my home town of Bolton, a whole new life opened up.

“Within a few years I had left a secure job and started annual trips to Yosemite Valley in California and the mountains of Europe. I’ve visited climbing areas in many countries, the most exotic being Malaysia.”

Dan says sitting on top of the famous El Capitan in Yosemite after completing a multi-pitch climb has been one of the best of his many climbing adventures.

But he also enjoys topping out on a single-pitch route in Northumberland and soaking up the views of the surrounding countryside.

For more information find Classic Adventure on Facebook, ring Dan Morgan on 07799 860312 or or email: Info@classicadventure.co.uk