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Item #: OP1676-560
JOURNEY AFTER DAWN Bill Peascod 1985 1st ed Hardcover DJ Fine
By Peascod, Bill
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U.K., 1985, 1st ed. 173 pp, 31 b/w photos, Blue hardcover with gilt lettering with dust jacket. Fine condition. One copy has the signature of noted British climber and author, Geoff Milburn, on a blank endpaper.
 
Bill Peascod, a native of Cumbria, was an influential rock climber in North West Lakeland, a FRCC guidebook writer and an accomplished painter.

It takes a man with a special kind of dedication to climb in an unpopular area, on cliffs that are large and serious due to their remoteness, looseness and vegetation. Bill Peascod was such a man. Hailing from West Cumberland, he became known for his development of the north-western fells. Previously untouched and relatively unknown there lay hidden, in this the most beautiful part of Lakeland, some large and major crags. He became respected for his bold and unprotected leads, his physical strength and his depth of personality. Naturally strong, he started work at the coal face and developed his physical strength even further by a dedicated program of weight training.

As for his personality, he is a rare man, being both a chartered mining engineer and an internationally renowned artist. Leaving Britain in 1952 he began a new life in Australia and inevitably pioneered a number of routes over there.

Bill was born in industrial West Cumberland, in the town of Maryport, on 3rd May 1920. Living in Workington when a schoolboy, he remembers frequenting the library virtually everyday, withdrawing a book, reading it and returning it the same day. He was an avid young reader. It was here, reading O. G. Jones's marvellous book Rock Climbing in the English Lake District and the Abraham publications, that he was given the incentive to take up rock climbing for himself.

He started work in the West Cumbrian coal pits at the age of fourteen, where hard work produced stamina and physical strength. At the age of sixteen he was walking into the Lakes, and the magic of his local Cumberland Fells enchanted him. These were 'good walks'. Starting from Workington he would walk to Grassmoor via Loweswater, climb Lorton Gully to the summit o f Grassmoor and return to Workington in the same day. Butter-mere seemed to have an irresistible draw for Bill, and he would visit there and return via Ennerdale to his home in Workington. There were good thirty-mile trips, involving many miles cat ascents and descents.
Scrambling led to climbing, and he remembers soloing gullies, optimistically trailing a fifty-foot rope behind him, hoping it would 'catch' if he fell off.

Struggling to find companions on these outings, he remembered just how incompatible climbing and living in a local mining community were. Believe it or not- and I can confirm this whole - heartedly--being born and bred in Little Langdale—locals regarded venturing onto the hills as an oddity and just 'bloody daft', so Bill would hide his climbing rope at the bottom of his rucksack. It was returning from one of his marathon walks and some three miles outside Workington that he was passed by a bus containing the local Rambling Club. The bus stopped, and from then on Bill was not without people of like mind.

He remembers one of his first climbs to be Stack Ghyll (HS) on the Haystacks-Buttermere, and in this horrendously loose route his fingers were smashed by a falling boulder. Laid off work, he was in no way deterred; in fact his appetite for Buttermere climbing became insatiable. Later, on Haystacks with S. B. Beck, he pioneered Y Gully (VS), a frightening piece of climbing. Ray McHaffie made the second ascent of the Gully and the first winter ascent—he reckoned it was easier in winter! Summer ascents can be counted on the fingers of one hand. S. B. Beck told me that he thought at the time that, if he was lucky enough to get out of the Gully alive (he did not think he would), he would never climb again. Of course he did and accompanied Bill on many more first ascents.

Bill's Lakeland pioneering activities began with a couple of rather minor sorties on Round Howe, a delightfully remote and compact little crag lying at the extreme head of the Buttermere Valley. Chimney Route (VD) and Central Route (MS) were done in 1939 and 1940 respectively.

Young and fearless, his next new route was very different: in 1940 he tackled the big dank and impressive Eagle Crag. Eagle towers over Birkness Combe on the west side of the Buttermere Valley. It is a major crag, some five hundred feet high, and is comparable with the best in the Lakes.'Far East Buttress' was the route. It is graded VS and is at the top of this grade.
Until this event Eagle had remained remote, almost unnoticed by the busy climbing world of Langdale and Wasdale. It is true that Piggot had first breached Eagle's defences in April 1925, providing a route he named Western Buttress Ordinary (HS), and Cross, with Kelly and party, had produced routes, notably Double Cross Routes (VS), 1937, but these climbs did not have the same purposefulness of line.

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