Female first as climber bags long list of classic rock routes in non-stop self-powered journey

Anna Taylor in action on Sron na Ciche on Skye
Anna Taylor in action on Sron na Ciche on the Isle of Skye (Image credit: Neil Gresham)

A young climber has completed what is thought to be an iconic first. Taking inspiration from a book called “Classic Rock”, which lists 83 of the "best climbing routes in the UK", Anna Taylor, 23, set out to do them all.

But it wasn’t enough for the athlete from England’s Lake District to simply climb the routes. She decided to cycle between the geographically spread climbs and therefore before the first known female to finish a self-powered Classic Rock Round.

It took Anna 62 days and 1500 miles of cycling from south west England, to Wales, the Peak District and Lake District, and to the Scottish Highlands. She climbed more than 32,800ft (10,000m) of rock.

She said: “I am both delighted and relieved to complete my Classic Rock journey. I’ve learnt so much over the last couple of months and the experience has certainly been memorable – it’s been good, bad and at times downright ugly.” 

Anna heads up a route in Wales as the weather closes in

Anna heads up a route in Wales as the weather closes in (Image credit: Marc Langley)

Anna Taylor tackles the final section of Cioch Nose on Skye

Anna tackles the final section of Cioch Nose on Skye  (Image credit: Neil Gresham)

History of the Classic Rock Round

First published in 1978, the book Classic Rock by Ken Wilson features 83 rock climbs (up to the grade of VS) in England, Scotland and Wales.

Similar to Munro or Wainwright bagging, some climbers make a long-term project of ticking off all of the routes. 

A self-powered Classic Rock Round was conceived by the late Jamie Fisher. A couple of years before his death in a storm in the French Alps in 1999, Jamie completed all routes except for one where there was a nesting bird.

Another climber, Oliver Warlow did similar in 2018 and again missed a route due to nesting birds.

Anna in action in Wales during leg 2 of her Classic Rock tour

Anna in action in Wales during leg two of her Classic Rock tour  (Image credit: Marc Langley)

Anna Taylor climbs Cioch Nose on Skye in wet weather

Anna Taylor climbs Cioch Nose on Skye (Image credit: Neil Gresham)

Climber Anna’s Classic Rock Round

Anna successfully climbed the 83 routes and also completed the vast majority solo. She cycled between all the routes, or took a ferry to an island where required, and carried all of her own kit.

Anna revealed some tough times. She said: “Soloing a wet, vegetation-covered chimney is not much fun and my legs were definitely not ready for cycling hundreds of miles while carrying all of my gear. 

“Add in a bout of sickness and some typically lively UK weather and the journey was far from straightforward, but the compensations more than made up for all of that.”

She described some highlights, such as soloing long pitches on beautiful faces high in the mountains with minimal equipment. 

She added: “The round took me to some new and wonderful places – physically and mentally – and I have gained an even greater appreciation of the climbing that’s available on these shores. 

“As for the 83 routes that Ken Wilson collected in Classic Rock, I think I can understand why he chose almost all of them.”

Anna’s trip was sponsored by Berghaus, which supplied her with the latest performance outdoor kit and arranged for photographers to document the round.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.