This guide covers the climbing at Hownsgill Quarry in County Durham in the North East of England. This is located on the outskirts of Consett and close the the Hownsgill Viaduct. The railway line over the viaduct was closed in the early 1980s with the tracks lifted by 1985.
Aspect and Climate
Hownsgill Quarry is a large old sandstone quarry a short distance from the viaduct. Unusally for sandstone a large section of rock has been excavated out of the face and this has left some large caves supported by pillars of rock.
The upper levels of the quarry are composed of a number of bands of fragile shale which makes topping out dangerous. Most of the trad routes are top-roped.
The sandstone varies in quality. The Pillars are composed of very hard sandstone, whilst the upper sections are more soft and sandy in nature.
The cliff faces south west and gets the sun from mid-morning onwards. A number of trees have been cleared so the quarry is now a pleasanter place to visit than in the past. Saying that the rubbish and graffiti are still present.
The faces tend to remain quite dry and suffer little from light rain. After longer rain a number of sections can retain the wet for a few days and the caves are susceptible to prolonged seepage in places.
Take the A692 from Consett towards Castleside. Halfway down the hill take the left turn signposted for the old railway lines which are now foot and clycle paths - "Waskerley Way" and "Lanchester Valley". Park at Lydgetts Junction car park adjactent to the old railway lines and just before the road goes under the old railway line.
Leave the parking up the back onto the pathways and take the railway line going away from Consett sign posted Stanhope, Allenhead and Whitehaven. Pass through a cutting and reach Hownsgill viaduct. Skirt close to the anti-jumping barriers and go left down a path. This levels out and leads to a more open section where the quarry is below you.
Approach straight down the bank or for a slightly easier descent continue along the top and descend down a path that takes you through the cave.
The walk in takes around 10 minutes.
The topo to the left shows some of the sports climbs on the pillars.