Rock Climbing in Guernsey

By Bill Exley

. Our Rock-Climbing during the 1950's, was mainly done, around the South coast of Guerseys' high Granite Cliffs of differing grades of difficulty. this was safe, solid climbing. I use the term 'Rock Climbing' casually, as it was more like Coast Line 'Traversing' or Rock 'Scrambling' , across Gullies or up and bypass them. Our term between us was 'Mooching', to take a stroll. We never said at any point, standing at the base of a sheer cliff 'we will climb this one today' that would be lunacy without safety climbing aids. Guernsey climbing clubs will follow strict safety procedures at all times.

. One day at La Jaonnet Bay we did see two men scale the high sheer cliff to the top, but they did use climbing tackle. Another Sunday afternoon, a small boat came into the bay, with about a dozen soldiers and they scaled the same cliff in a controlled manner, probably a Commando or S.A.S training exercise.

. Our Climbing ( Or premeditated Scrambling ) jaunts did include the 'Dog and Lion' rocks, the Dog Rock of the pair at Moulin Huet Bay, a common view to locals, is only accessible at ultra low spring tides, so your time to get across to it , climb it and return being limited .. It was no easy climb as I had done it a few times, the ascent of this 50 to 80ft mini 'Old Man of Hoy' , was taken in a Lt to Rt Corkscrew route , and up around the back. The second time we did it we left our names in a Tobaco Tin , in a plastic bag, on the summit of only a few square feet. ( Photo courtesy of Bill Hill )

. It was a truly Memorable part of my life with Swimming , some long distance, with a potential Herm Swim at the back of my mind. Athletics and Scouting from an early age. Only now I fully realise with age and hindsight, we were all very foolhardy and dangerous with our days out and totally oblivious that we might even fall off. We always knew when to avoid suspect crumbly, loose shaley rock.

, My climbing mates were Billy Hill, David Kreckeler ( Cousin ) , Tony Le Gallez and John ( Lou ) Lihou ( Later to become a Diving Instructor with Nigel Froome at a Luxury hotel in the Bahamas ) See my Link to The Ghost of Theo's Wreck for more on this story with Nigel and Lou . We used to all charge up 5 to 6 flights of steps to a local headland site called ' Fort George', a left over from the 2nd World War and German Occupation of the islands. It is now the edge of a prestigious site for luxury houses with sea views. We worked our way around the coast regardless of tides, quickly navigating the gullies and rocks up as far as Fermain Bay

. Here the Last Challenge we did was a quick climb of Fermain Bay beach wall, about 20ft high built in Victoian times , using huge blocks of the local Guernsey Granite in different sizes . A unique Fire Place can be hand crafted to your specifications, using the many shades of Granite, Greys, Deep Blues and different shades of Greens in a Jigsaw fashion, so the finished product is very pleasing to the eye, with a nice mantlepiece of Hardwwod or stone..

. Femain Bay is in the news most Summer seasons, amongst other spots, for 'Cliff Face Rescues', for stranded climbers who take on dangerous climbs , then become trapped, freeze and unable to move up or down . There is a fully trained team of people who have to do a cliff top descent to do the rescue, being made up of competent Police, Fire Brigadr or the St Johns' Amgulance employees.

. For our wall climb there was a nice beach of shingle pebbles to land on, many feet deep, if we ran out of a hold. This took us about 15 mins and I remember that David Kreckeler was the most adept at this type of 'finger tip' climbing. We usually had a bemused audience of Visitors watching us., , . The Good Old Days..

Bill Exley // ..3rd Dec. 2019

 


For Bill Hill, David Kreckeler and John Lihou (Lou), a Link to, First Guernsey Sea Scouts

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