Embracing An Extended Summer

This year I’ve spent a large proportion of my Spring and Summer climbing down at Swanage – I got stuck into a 7a (Peppercorn Rate), enjoyed the picturesque walk-in, and of course regularly stopped at the Square & Compass for a well-earned drink. But recently I’ve returned to Portland. After the havoc the January storms played on the cliffs, it was with somewhat dainty steps that I trod the approaches, but was welcomed back with quality limestone and incredible views. And more sunburn than I would’ve expected for a British September.

Embracing the good weather this weekend, even postponing by a day to let a night-time storm break at least some of the humidity, it was time to venture back to Blacknor Central. This time, I had a few BattleOats for crag food. A relatively new company based in East Yorkshire, they boast that “snacking never tasted so awesome!” with their gluten-free, high protein, British oats bars. Generously they sent me their two flavours – Cranberry & Blueberry, and Dark Chocolate Chip – to test out, and I was very grateful to receive them in time to accompany me to the coast.

My first impression of these new bars with their exciting name was they are very chunky! In fact, part of me wondered if they might be too big. I often find that flapjacks can be stodgy, and in general I’ve stopped eating them as I just feel a bit sick and stuffed afterwards. After a walk-in that I still find a little hairy, a long belay session as the other half worked his route, and a shamefully poor performance on what should have been an incredibly easy warm-up, I thought it was time to try out one of them. I cracked open the Cranberry & Blueberry, and was surprised to find the oats to be light, with a slightly biscuit texture. The normal greasiness you get on your hands after a standard flapjack wasn’t there, and even the fruity bits weren’t overly sugared as you often find; it definitely helped to shake the disappointment of my last climb. Whether it was the extra energy from the bar (1197kJ, 9g Fibre, 15.4g Protein), or just the fact that the blazing sun was momentarily hidden by clouds, but I ended the session getting most of the way up an awesome 7b+ (Cocteau Phenomena) without finding any of the moves especially hard. Well, we’ll see if some stamina training can knock that one together soon..!

As well as trying out some new crag food, I treated myself to a rucksack in anticipation of a trip to Spain I’ve got planned in a few weeks time. I’d tried the Osprey Tempest 30 back in January and really liked its fit, lightweight frame, and handy pockets and pouches, but was put off by the fact that it was currently only being sold in fuchsia pink. I don’t think I’ve been a ‘pink’ girl since I was under 10, so was a bit sad to see no other options. However thankfully Cotswold Outdoor now stock the bag in Storm Grey, which just looks a lot cooler with sky blue accents. On first trip with it today I’m already in love with it – super comfortable, easy to adjust, and has far more space than my old Lowe Alpine 32l one (yes, I know, the Osprey is technically 2 litres smaller… but it really isn’t). So all in all, a good day with great testing success!!

Driving home – and navigating as far away from the M27/M3 junction as possible due to numerous accidents and hold ups – I tucked into the Dark Chocolate Chip BattleOats bar and was again pleased to find that it wasn’t sickly or over-processed. The chips were chunky and well dispersed, and the bar itself has a great buttery flavour. It’s been a great few weeks back at Portland, and will be only postponed by a birthday weekend at Stanage next week. There’s still lots to get stuck into whilst this weather remains glorious!

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