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Best VS crags

Best VS crags

Spring is finally here and our trad gear is rattling to get out of the closet and onto the crag.

For some early season inspiration we thought we’d bring you five of the best crags in England and Wales (sorry Scotland and NI!) for climbing that lovely mid-grade VS (Very Severe), with some added bonus places you might like to check out too.

Shepherd’s Crag

With excellent views looking across Derwent Water and further into the Lake District, this is one of the most picturesque crags in the UK. Take in your surroundings from a hanging belay on Eve (VS 4c ***) or her neighbour Adam (VS 5a ***) and creep up the cosy corner of Fisher’s Folly (VS 4c ***).

In need of a warm up? Look no further than Classic Rock’s Little Chamonix (VD ***). Pretty much all the routes here are multipitch, so make sure your rope skills are up to scratch before you go. And what better way to end the day than with a brew and a slice of cake at roadside Shepherds Cafe?

The big drawback of Shepherds however, is it’s popularity. Only a short walk from the road, on a bank holiday every man and his dog can be found at the crag (very literally, you are guarranteed to meet some nice crag dogs). No space in the car park? Carry on down the valley to the comparatively quieter Quayfoot Buttress where you can enjoy the very sustained Aberration (VS 4c **) in comparative peace.


What better way to climb than with the sound of the sea in your ears but without the commitment of abseiling in? Nestled in deepest darkest Cornwall, Bosigran boasts a variety of single- and multi-pitch granite routes. Warm up on Doorpost (HS 4b ***), before taking in the wonder of Little Brown (VS 5a ***) and Anvil Chorus (VS 4c ***).

Not feeling up to VS? Enjoy a grand day out on the eight pitches of Bosigran Ridge (VD ***).

Fancy another crag to finish off your trip? Head over to the more committing abseil-in Chairladder and try out Diocese (VS 5a ***). Make sure you check the tide times before you go!


Home to Wales’ most climbed route One Step in the Clouds (VS 4c ***), this North Wales suntrap boasts more than it’s fair share of quality routes. Also have a go at Christmas Curry (Duff Plum Finish) (VS 4c **) and Striptease (VS 5a **). Tremadog is also hosts to a huge array of harder routes. If you’re lucky, have a watch as someone gives Extreme Rock’s Strawberries (E7 6b *** 16 ticks on UKClimbing) a go. And whilst you’re there, why not try pushing your grade on The Fang (HVS 5a ***) – bring your small wires!

And of course, the absolute highlight of the crag – a trip to Eric’s Cafe at the end of the day!

Yearning for the mountains? Head further North to Idwal Slabs and try out Tennis Shoe (HS 4b ***), it might not be VS but the polish makes it feel a lot harder. And if you need a further challenge, take it on like climbing legend Gwen Moffat and go barefoot (not recommended).

The Roaches Lower Tier

Whilst sadly the friendly neighbourhood wallabies are long gone, the immense trad climbing remains. Just a few miles from Leek in Staffordshire, The Roaches has the extra bonus of not being too far out on a limb and quite convenient for a weekend trip for most of us in England. Get your teeth into the popular Valkyrie (VS 4c ***) and Classic Rock’s Via Dolorosa (VS 4c ***).

If the gritstone walls are getting too dull, try something different and give Sifta’s Quid Inside Route (S 3a) a go – a dastardly squeeze that perhaps deserves a star if purely for it’s entertainment value.

“Interesting! This variation avoids the hard section of the regular route by some speleological lunacy. Climb towards the slot beneath the boulders then get squirming. Helmet, harness and runners will all impede your progress.” – Rockfax route description.

Natasha Hirst Photography

Stanage Popular

Of course, we couldn’t complete this list without giving Stanage a mention! But which section to aim for if you’ve got VS bagging on your mind? We plumped on Popular. Boasting the edge’s only Classic Rock VS – Hargreaves’ Original Route (VS 4c ***), alongside over 500 other ways to get up the 20 or so metres of grit.

If you’re new to the grit, Inverted V (VS 4b ***) makes an excellent intro to the grade, whereas if you’re more of a pro, get your jam on in Hell Crack (VS 4c ***).

If Popular is proving… well… Popular, there is plenty more to explore at Stanage, you could even try out the 36 route Stanage VS Challenge – featuring all the area’s starred routes of the grade.

More from us on Stanage…..Twelve reasons to love Stanage

So here’s to a fun and fantastic new season of trad climbing! What’s your favourite crag to climb at? Is there somewhere we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Climbing!

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