Years ago, I asked Niall Grimes to entertain the resurgent Peak Area BMC meeting. It was during the Foot and Mouth crisis and it immediately became apparent that Mr Grimes had prepared for the task assiduously. One of the slides he used to illustrate his talk was of himself sitting totally naked in one of the foot baths that were dotted around the Peak District at the time to disinfect walker's boots. It's an image that stays with me to this day, not necessarily a good thing, but I think it says a lot about the man. He could have just turned up and rattled on in his usual stream-of-conciousness style and we'd have fallen about the place and gone home happy. Instead, he knuckled down and got himself photographed in his birthday suit just for our amusement.
The moral of the story is don't be fooled by the gentle, slightly bumbling persona that Mr Grimes affects. You don't produce drop dead gorgeous award winning guides without having something about you. Also, you don't climb fierce gritstone aretes without having something about you. Now we can add the recently published bouldering mega guide Boulder Britain. When I originally heard the title, I thought it was some kind of political manifesto, Bolder Britain, but it turns out to be a selective guide to British bouldering stretching the length and breadth of the country. Seven years of hard labour have gone into Grimes' magnum opus and it shows. Lovingly illustrated and full of humour, it's an absolute must for any climber.
Free of the burden he's been carrying, attention has turned back to BMC guides and the long anticipated Peak Limestone guide. It's twenty four years since the last definitive guide and a lot of water had flowed down the Dove since then. Grimes has enlisted the help of the one man whirlwind that is Gary Gibson, so things will move on apace. It will be fascinating to see what new features Grimes will introduce given that the last few grit guides have been full of innovations. There are many reasons for the rude health apparent in the British guidebook scene, new publishers upping the ante every time a guide comes out, the mix of volunteer and commercial publications and the wealth of talent working in the field. With Niall Grimes at the very heart of things, it can only get better.
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