I had been working in London for three years in a ridiculously focused way. I’d moved to London with my first love. After a year she left which broke something in me. Curiously Derek and the Dominoes playing Layla on the jukebox in the pub or Carole Kings ‘Its too late’ piano chords still cause that emotional wave to break. I submerged myself in work and work did the trick. I made sure there was no time to dwell on things, just stuff to do and others to look out for. At the end of three years I found myself driving out at night from Kew in London where I rented a flat to the first open fields I came across so I could stand in the dark with space around me and look up into the sky. Even I could see that this was unusual.
In 1978 I changed direction and left the school and the city.
Climbing with pupils at Harrison’s Rocks Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Roaches rock outcrops in the Peak District
I wasn’t sure what it was but something was missing.
I spent weekends in the Peak District or the mountains of North Wales. There I learned to challenge myself again. I was scared of heights but strangely taught myself to climb.
Life on a vertical rock face was utterly and sometimes terrifyingly absorbing. Together, Colin my climbing partner and lifelong friend and I slowly became competent. This was during a time when climbing without modern ropes and equipment was much more dangerous.