Stanage - The best 50 routes

England's most popular, and arguably, best crag. If nothing else, for the sheer variety, number, quality and enjoyment of the routes. The crag is 4 miles long, and has over 1000 routes.  Despite it's popularity, even on the busiest days it is usually possible to find a quiet spot away from the crowds. Just don't go to the aptly named Popular End if you are seeking solitude, there is always someone climbing there. The climbs are invariably solid, and their short, often bouldery nature makes soloing very popular. The crag is entirely traditional, no bolting is allowed. The nature of the climbing often leads to a "should I place a runner, and run out of strength, or just go for it?" decision. Many people have made the wrong choice over the years. Be warned. The routes described here are amongst the finest in the country. What they lack in height, they more than make up for in character and history. The routes were selected based on the many years of climber feedback, the view of the guidebooks and yes, some not inconsiderable Climbapedia insight. Boulder problems are not included (with one debateable exception), but saved for a future list.

England - Peak District
Rock Type
Number of routes
Range of Routes
VD - E7
South West

Trad Climbs

Topo Reference Title Trad UK E Grade Trad UK tech grade Length Quality Description Tick
01 The Vice E1 5b 10m

What a route to start the list with! Brutal jamming up the overhanging crack.

02 Surgeon's Saunter HVS 5b 20m

A pleasant exercise in laybacking and jamming. The crux is low down.

03 Terrazza Crack HVS 5a 10m

The perfect jamming crack. Strenuous. The extension Harvest (E4, 6b) has repulsed many people

04 Nectar E5 6b 15m

A classic route with two very different parts that can be climbed in one pitch. The first is technical bridging up the corner, well protected with small wires. The second, the crux, is pure strength and jamming technique through the roof crack. One of the hardest routes in Britain at the time it was done.

05 Meysner's Link up E3 5c 20m

A contender for the only 5 star route on Stanage, combining the best parts of Orang Utang and Lamia, both classics in their own right. A long, sustained and strenuous route, with no obvious crux. Double ropes advised. Climb the arete/crack of Orang Utang until it is possible to traverse right towards Goosey, Goosey Gander. "Escape" up the roof crack before getting involved in that route.

06 Goosey Goosey Gander E5 6a 15m

The obvious crack line on the right hand side of the marble wall is strenuous, technical and well protected, if you can hang around long enough to place the gear. E5 for effort.

07 Right Hand Tower HVS 5a 15m

Climbs the arete, starting on the left. A scary lead that can be protected if you know how.

08 Kelly's Overhang HVS 5b 15m

A good introduction to harder roof climbing, and a classic in it's own right. Start up the corner to reach the roof and make imaginative moves right to reach better holds and finish up the short slab

09 Quietus E2 6a

Climb the hanging groove to reach the slab underneath the big overhanging crack. Placing runners carefully, climb on big holds to the lip, and before strength runs out, work out the best way to get over the roof. Then put your theory to the test. Brilliant.

10 Old Friends E4 6a 15m

Climbed by John Allen at the age of 14, this route marked a step up in standards after the Joe Brown /Don Whillans era. Brave, strenuous and technical. Start in the corner and head up and left to reach the flake. Get a cam in here, which may or may not hold (but note they did not exist in 1973), then launch up and right (crux) to reach the break and finish more easily.

11 Titanic VS 4b 10m

On an isolated buttress 300m right of High Neb. Climbs an obvious corner to a roof, then moves right to an exciting finish up the arete.

12 Count's Buttress E1 5b 15m

From the right hand side of the cave climb up to the arete, then move back left to finish up the crack

13 Archangel E3 5b 20m

Route 13, unlucky for some. The perfect arete can be climbed on both sides. Starting on the left, facing right is the easiest and most popular. If you must do the right hand variant, it is called Don (E4 5c). Either way, commit yourself, and keep repeating the first move until you reach the break where the difficulties ease, but don't finish. A cam in the break is useful.

14 Goliath's Groove HVS 5a 20m

The corner crack separating Archangel from Ulysses Bow. A complete test of corner climbing techniques. Davids will of course bridge it, Goliaths use strength to layback it.

15 Ulysses Bow E6 6b 20m

Often "snowballed", when the E grade is considerably less, Ulysses has claimed several victims during the warmer months. Climbed first by Jerry Moffat who allegedly demonstrated the power of the new sticky rubber "Fire's", but more probably his considerable talent, drive and bravery. Start up the arete right of Goliath's Groove and layback with increasing difficulty until you fall off, or reach the ledge. Falling off is not recommended.

16 White Wand E5 6a 20m

The third of the trilogy of aretes is harder than Archangel, but more feasible than Ulysses. Climb the arete!

17 Not to be Taken Away E2 6a 5m

Debatedly a higball boulder problem, the ramp is worth its E grade when done in it's purest form, and always worth a photo. A hard start leads to a committing finish

18 Tower Face HVS 5a 25m

Despite relatively poor quality rock (by Stanage standards), Tower Face remains ever popular. Start in the gully, reach the flake and continue up to the second flake

19 The Strangler E4 5c 15m

Another committing arete, not quite as fine as its nearby neighbours, but very good all the same, and with the added bonus of some gear. Climbs the left arete

20 Millsom's Minion E1 5b 20m

On Paradise Wall 50m to the left of Calvary. Climb the wall on the right hand side of the buttress, moving right to the arete.

21 Calvary E4 6a 20m

A hard mantelshelf commits you to the route, when you either bottle it, or arrive very pleased at the top. A bold lead with (just) adequate protection. Starts up a crack, moves left to the hard move, then trends right, hopefully to the top

22 Left Unconquerable E1 5b 15m

The left hand of this pair of classics. Climb the initial crack, place some good gear, and then continue in the same line to the top. Beautiful line, beautiful climbing.

23 The Right Unconquerable HVS 5a 15m

Start as for the Left Unconquerable but move right at the break to the right hand flake and follow this to the top and a difficult pull over. Also a beautiful line and beautiful climbing, although the flake was damaged by someone removing a stuck friend.

24 BAWs Crawl HVS 5a 10m

An entertaining climb. Gritstone fun at its best. Climb creatively from the boulder to reach the slot and then to the upper wall.

25 Off with his Head E4 6b

Naming routes is part of the fun of first ascents, what else would you call a route that the Guillotine cuts through? Start at the bottom as for the Guillotine, but continue straight up, over the overlaps. A soft touch 6b, but still a hard route.

26 Heaven Crack VD 10m

The steep crack is a lot easier than it looks and lives up to it's name. Great value, metre for metre. Please don't top rope it, believe me, one day you will be able to lead it

27 Dark Continent E1 5c

Starts left of Congo Corner and where that route goes right, continue direct up the wall, with a hard committing move.

28 Congo Corner HVS 5b 20m

Not quite as perfect as the direct variation, but a tad easier. Climb the corner, move left to avoid the roof, and then back right to an exhilirating move to a good spike

29 Congo Corner Direct (The Link) E1 5b 20m

Climb direct where Congo Corner and Dark Continent come in from the left, deciding when to go for it, and when to waste strength and place gear. At the youthful age of 18 we watched in amazement and admiration as the locals climbed Congo Corner Direct. That night in the pub, someone asked "What do you want to to when you are 60?". One member of our group replied, "I want to be dead. Life just will not be worth living. Your joints don't work, you are always ill, and you have to rely on relatives to keep you alive." I disagreed. "When I am 60 I want to be climbing HVS, you know, those routes we saw those guys do today". And sure enough, 42 years later I returned to an almost unchanged Stanage, and led the route. An emotional trip down memory lane. Climbing may not get easier over the years, but, with its mix of sport, the outdoors and friendship it always gives just as much pleasure as before.

30 Mississippi Buttress Direct VS 4c 20m

A tremendous climb at the grade. Climb the obvious line to reach the top, enjoying the moves all the way up

31 The Asp E3 6a 15m

The snake like crack has a nasty bite

32 Wuthering E1 5b 20m

A great balancy, bold, slab route with nice bridging moves to get established on the face. Starts up the chimney on the right and moves left along and up the front face of the buttress

33 Robin Hood Cave Innominate with Harding's Direct Finish HVS 5a 20m

Excellent. Climb up to the right hand cave via the thin crack (Cave Innominate) , and then climb over the roof using undercuts and big holds to finish up the wall above (Hardings Direct Finish)

34 Ellis's Eliminate VS 4c 20m

A classic jamming testpiece traversing out to and then climbing the exposed arete

35 Robn Hood's Right Hand Buttress Direct HS 4a 20m

A contender for the longest name on Stanage, but it describes the route well. The clean crack is visible from a long way away, and needs big runners.

36 Whillan's Pendulum / Black Magic HVS 5b 20m

Gain the slab from the left by a pendulum to some big jugs, and then continue up the lovely slab

37 Hargreave's Original Route VS 4c 20m

Another beautiful VS slab. Take some cams

38 April Crack HS 4b 20m

A steep well protected crack

39 Christmas Crack HS 4a 20m

The delightful crack. Guess when it is most popular?

40 Hollybush Crack VD 20m

The lovely crack, thankfully without a hollybush

41 Queersville HVS 5a 20m

Delightful climbing up the wall right of Hollybush crack, with an interesting mantle half way

42 Flyiing Buttress VD 25m

One of the classics of the crag. Starts leftwards up the slab, then moves into the groove, and finally climbs the exposed slab above

43 Flying Buttress Direct E1 5b 25m

A bold lead that climbs the slab and then pulls through the overlaps. One of the most popular routes on Stanage, low in the grade, but nevertheless an exciting route

44 Censor E3 5c 15m

The bulging wall on the left hand side of the Tippler Buttress is bold, sustained and tricky to protect (small wires and cams)

45 Dangler E2 5c 15m

Another testpiece roof crack. Climb to the cave, and then simply said, climb the roof crack.

46 Tippler Direct E2 6a 15m

The direct on Tippler requires a long reach, a strong lock or a little dynamism. Oh, and then you need to do the crux of Tippler.

47 Tippler E1 5b 20m

Climb the right hand side of the buttress and then make a bold traverse right to reach the crack in the roof. Pull over the roof before strength fails and finish more easily.

48 The Chameleon E4 6a 15m

Hard moves up the leaning prow. Good wires

49 Eliminator HVS 5b 15m

The arete, crack and wall to the right of The Chameleon. Excellent climbing

50 Manchester Buttress HS 4b 15m

Climbs the arete of the buttress, moving left and back right to avoid the overhang