Leicestershire Climbs

climbing in Leicestershire

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Home Cliffe Hill
Cliffe Hill


Cliffe Hill Quarry is situated just off J22 of the M1. The amount of exposed rock in the quarry has been massively reduced since the quarry was reopened by its owners Tarmac who are in the process of extracting as much of its granite contents as possible. Due to this there are routes that had been developed since the last guide that are now no longer there due to the quarrying, but are to be included as a historic record of what has been done. Nothing remains of the S.W side of the quarry, there is only soil which means the ‘Wizard Face’ and all of the routes on it and around it are gone. The ‘Big Crack’ area along with White Slab, Curving Slab and The Shield were once thought to be safe from quarrying due to the road that runs behind them. This was not the case and these areas have also been quarried leaving nothing but mud.

Anyone who enjoys a slightly more adventurous day out cragging; sneaking in, climbing in the dark, loose rock, chance of being caught by security and having details taken before being kicked out, may still be able to find something left to do on the rock that remains but at the time of going to print nothing has been recorded.


The best place to park is in the services and then walk up Cliffe Lane. Either follow the footpath that runs around the back of the pit or continue further up the road and hop over the fence to gain entry.

The best trad’ in the county was once to be found on the S.W side of the quarry;


1. White Van Man E3 5c **

Scramble up rocks on left side of buttress onto an obvious ledge. A curving crack on the left side of the buttress leads up to the bottom of the headwall. Place some gear and move up and across the headwall to gain the left arête which is lay backed in a spectacular position to the top.

FA Robin Richmond Scott Chidlow January 16.12.00

2. The Beast E4 6a***

Scramble up boulders to the prominent groove on the left side of the crag. Move onto the top of a large block at the base of the crack. Climb the crack and groove to the top. Excellent!

FA Robin Richmond unseconded 18/2/01

3. Mystery Man E5 6b**

The route climbs the vague crack line between The Beast and Don’t Panic. Climb the first 5m of The Beast. A committing move right gains an obvious slot in the centre of the face. Follow the vague crack by way of long and powerful reaches in a serious position until it is possible to use the arête to make a committing slap up to gain a good fingerlock. From here make more long moves on better holds to the top.

FA Robin Richmond Rich Lucas 4/9/01

4. Don’t Panic E3 5c***

A sustained pitch which climbs the main flake across the face to gain and climb the upper groove. Climb as for Solemn to the large spike. From the spike step left until directly beneath the start of the flake. A long reach to a good hold enables the flake to be gained.  Climb boldly around the flake and into the groove above which is followed to the top.

FA Robin Richmond Scott Chidlow 4/3/01

5. Don’t Panic/Solemn Connection E3 6a***

As for Don’t Panic to the top of the flake where a thin crack leads off rightwards across the headwall towards Solemn. Follow this in a superb position until the rest on Solemn  is reached. Finish up Solemn.

FA Robin Richmond unseconded 2/5/01

6. The Wizard E5 6a**

Follow the Don’t Panic/Solemn connection until 1m from the end of the traverse. Here a thin crack leads off up the centre of the headwall. Where the crack ends make hard pulls up and right to gain another crack which leads to the top. Fierce, pumpy climbing with bomb proof gear; amazing!

FA Robin Richmond Mark Richardson 28/06/01

7. Solemn E3 6a***

The original route on the crag. Was originally graded E2 5c, now correctly graded at top end E3 6a. Start at the obvious thin crack.  Climb this using small finger locks to a good hold. Either climb the groove above or swing left onto the face and layback up the arête. Stand on top of the large spike. A tricky sequence of moves leads rightwards to a triangular hold. Hard moves (crux) allow access to the upper crack. Once established in the crack a bold layback sequence leads to good jams. Continue up the crack to a good rest. Move up and step left and follow the thin crack to the top.

FA Robin Richmond Paul Bradshaw 11/7/00


8. Merlin E2 5b*

Start as for Solemn to the spike. From the spike move right along the ledge for 2m. Hard moves round a bulge and up a short groove lead onto the slab above. Climb the slab to the top keeping as close to the arête as possible. Poor protection.

FA Robin Richmond Scott Chidlow 5/5/01

9. Close Shave E1 5b

Follow Merlin to the slab.  Make thin moves right into the centre of the slab which is climbed direct to gain a thin crack. Follow this to the top.

FA Robin Richmond Scott Chidlow 5/5/01

10. Super Mop Head E1 5b

Follow Close Shave until 3m below the top where a slim groove leading back left provides an alternative finish.

FA Robin Richmond Scott Chidlow 5/5/01

11. Cross Town Traffic E4 6a, 6a, 5c ***

A superb traverse of the crag pulling in the best bits of Solemn and White Van Man with some new climbing on the main middle pitch.

1) As for Solemn until a hanging belay by a horizontal crack 5m from the top.

2) The big pitch. Follow the horizontal crack leftwards across the face to join the groove of Don’t Panic. Ascend the groove for 2m where hard moves left allow a good hold on The Beast to be gained. Swing round and make balancy moves down onto the ledge of White Van Man. Belay.

3) Finish as for White Van Man

FA Robin Richmond Karl Baker 30/5/01

30m right of the main crag across the scree a small crag with a thin crack running up it;

12. The Sherwogamonster E1 5b

From the bottom left corner of the buttress move up to the obvious finger crack. Follow this to the top.

FA Robin Richmond Scott Chidlow 22/4/01


The Shield is most easily reached from the quarry road which runs through the quarry. It is the obvious large slab on the right side of the road that you can see as soon as you drop into the quarry. Routes are described from left to right. The routes are between 22-25m in length and are bolt protected.

All the routes on the slab start from the obvious ‘toe’ on the right end of the slab.

  1. Tinky Winky  F6a **

From the toe of the slab traverse left above the lip of the slab before taking a direct line up it.

FA Ian Waterhouse summer 1998

  1. To Infinity and Beyond F6a*

Originally a bold E2 but has since been retro bolted and now a pleasant F6a instead. From the toe of the slab climb direct. The original line traversed right at the top to top out, there is a lower off now so this is not necessary.

FA Andy Pemberton/ Paul Handley June 1996 retro bolted by Ian Waterhouse summer 1998

  1. Buzz Lightyear F6a

From the toe of the slab trend rightwards before heading up the slab direct.

FA Andy Pemberton/ Andrew Porter June 1996 retro bolted by Ian Waterhouse summer 1998


The Big Crack area at present only has one route but there is scope for many more probably of E2 and above.

1.  The Big Crack VS 4c 20m

On the right side of the buttress an obvious big crack/ chimney runs up the wall and round onto the slab above. Climb it.

FA Andrew Porter/ Andy Pemberton June 1996


The Curving Slab at present only has one route on it.

1. Two Peg Slab VS 4b 50m *

Takes a rising line to the top from the bottom right corner of the slab. Some suspect rock but that will soon clear up with a bit of traffic.

FA Aidrian Jones/ Vincent Jones June 1996


The White Slab would appear to have been worked out. The slab has 8 routes on it varying in grade from VD through to E2. The harder routes are not technically hard but bold.

20m right of White slab is;

Lick Me Crack VS 5a 15m **

The climb starts below the centre of the slab. Climb onto the slab and take a rising traverse line rightwards to a steep crack in the right wall. Make a couple of steep pulls onto the slab above.