Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Needle


A postcard of an LMS Railway poster encouraging people to visit the Lake District ("illustrated guide free") featuring a glorious sunset in the Wasdale Valley as imagined by Montague Black (1884-1964), painter, illustrator and poster artist.  The rock is Napes Needle and it, and the surrounding mountains, (not to mention the Wasdale Inn) are considered the birthplace of English rock climbing and, as you can see, the artist has included tiny rock climbing figures, two enjoying the view from the top.  The first assent of the Needle was by a young graduate called Walter Parry Haskett-Smith on a windy day in the early 1880s.   He would return fifty years later to celebrate this first assent on an Easter Sunday in 1936 when he was 74 and climb it again only this time hundreds of people had gathered to watch.  As he reached the top the crowd cheered and someone shouted "Tell us a story",  quick as a flash he replied "There is no other story. This is the top story".

Napes Needle is made of the volcanic rock rhyolite and as it keeps the sun until late in the day is quick drying. To scramble the steep polished groove between the crag to get to the starting point of Needle Ridge is called, "threading the needle" which is probably seen a little better in the photo below.
taken from the book 'Beautiful Lakeland' published in 1912 by the Abraham brothers of Keswick who ascended this pinnacle many times with the added complexity of hauling their giant mahogany glass plate cameras up with them.  This was Ashley Abraham's favourite climb although he describes in the book his unpleasant experience of Christmas Day 1897 when it started to rain and freeze immediately on the rock and at one point on the descent swinging" round and round on the rope end like a spider at the end of its clew".  Sometimes things are best viewed from afar. 



Postcards for the Weekend theme -  Any Land Form - travel to Connections to the World 

4 comments:

John Edwards said...

I haven't climbed Napes Needle but I have been to its base where the Abrahams' photo was taken from. I spent so much time in the Lake District when I was young that it was great to see a postcard of it.

violet s said...

Oh lordy.
Never would I ever think of climbing such a thing. And I wonder about people who do!!

DawnTreader said...

We probably (somehow!) missed this on our family holidays in Britain back in the 1970s... It looks like a place I should remember if I had been there!

Maria said...

That postcard has beautiful colors and what an amazing landform!