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Daring Deeds - real stories, expeditions, road trips and adventure


By Dom Bush
29, Sep, 2015

Filming the history of climbing at Armathwaite crag along the River Eden

A little over three years ago I finished a film (or a trilogy of short films) about climbing in the Lake District. Although not my first climbing film, it seemed to be when I first found my flow and made something from my heart, not my head. Although it contained some great climbing I didn’t see it as a ‘climbing film’ as such, it was a documentary about people and their motivations. I think to many people climbing is inherently boring to watch, but human beings generally aren’t. Since I made ‘Islands’ I have taken a wandering course through a multitude of projects, creating films about music, craft, adventure, running, swimming and one about an elephant. However, I always imagined I would come back to focus on climbing as a subject with the same instinct that underpinned ‘Islands’. And this is what I set out to do with Eden.

The film is set in a climbing spot beside a wandering river, esoteric in nature and shrouded in ancient woodland. The sandstone cliffs of Armathwaite are carved into incredible configurations by the River Eden and lie half hidden by Ash and Oak leaves. At first it seems there is little more than an hour or two of bouldering there, one or two good climbs perhaps, but if you take the time to learn about the nature of the architecture of the crag and how to explore it there are many gems to be found. I have spent many many hours in this place; on my own, with good friends, drinking beers in the sunshine, getting scared on slabs or lonely solos or propelling myself from high ledges in to the cold river. All of this has secured a place in my heart for Armathwaite, but it’s not just my experiences here that have inspired the project. There is a lot wrapped up in the history of this place; ancient poems and graffiti carved in to the cliffs, engraved faces staring from the rocks and some very significant climbing heritage.

Having moved away to Kendal and become a southerner it has been a real joy to re-visit my old haunt with new friends, swim in the river, climb old favourites and film some brilliant climbing. I am already very proud of this film. Eden is a film that celebrates the beauty of the valley, the particular but pleasing nature of it’s climbing, those pioneers who committed their time to future development and close relationships forged at the base of the routes. And cutting through the modern cacophony of numbers and objectives and ‘look at me’s’, I hope it can serve as a fitting tribute to a much loved and humble man, Jeff Lamb.

Eden will be premiereing at Alpkit’s Friday Night Fringe event at Kendal Mountain Festival (more details of this coming soon). For the full post about this new project - check out my Land and Sky Media blog.

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