Tom and I used to do a fair bit of climbing before pregnancy and having a baby. But it has to be said, it’s not the most baby-friendly sport. Mummy and daddy tie themselves together to climb while a toddler wanders around the base of the rocks? Nope, it’s not really a go-er.
Bouldering, on the other hand, is possible. It’s essentially climbing without ropes, but never going more than a couple of metres off the ground. We took Ozi for the first time when he was just a couple of months old – pictured above. And we used to call the bouldering venue nearest to us ‘The Cratcliffe Creche’ because there were always so many families picnicking there with climbing shoes, bouldering mats and M&S scotch eggs.
So on the sunny bank holiday Monday, we decided it was time to give it another go.
To be honest, looking at these pictures, I’m not sure Ozi really enjoys rock climbing. Fair enough really, given that he can’t yet walk. I on the other hand have been walking for 31 years so don’t have the same excuse – but I do love picnicking, and the area around Cratcliffe and Robin Hood’s Stride is simply one of the loveliest picnic spots in the Peak District. The air seems to be purer here; the birch trees make it feel pagan; and the boulder make all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes – if you visit, keep an eye out for the frog.
What makes me happiest though is that on any sunny weekend, there will be dozens of kids playing mega games of hide-and-seek among the rocks while their parents thrutch their way up an awkward new bouldering problem. Of course you don’t have to be a climber – it’s a lovely spot just to hang out (just keep an eye on how high little feet wander). I really believe this place is good for kids, and even better for parents. After all, sometimes we grown-ups need a little adventure time, too.