Coffee table tome Peak Rock is proving a huge hit with climbers past and present

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A new book about the history of rock climbing in the Peak District – first conceived 20 years ago by an outdoor enthusiast who died in a caving accident – has finally hit the shelves.

Coffee table tome Peak Rock is proving a huge hit with climbers past and present and has sold more than 1,000 copies within three weeks of publication.

Peak Rock book cover. Photo: Bernard Newman.

Peak Rock book cover. Photo: Bernard Newman.

The book was started by Giles Barker, from Hathersage, in the early 1980s but progress was halted by his death in a caving accident in 1992. He was just 36.

In 2010 two Sheffield-based climbers decided to pick up where he had left off to chronicle the Peak District’s climbing heritage.

They interviewed some of the region’s top climbers, who shared their stories of pioneering and daring climbing exploits on the grit and limestone edges of the Peak District – a world-famous climbing mecca.

Phil Kelly, from Greenhill, Sheffield, worked on the book along with Giles’ friend Graham Hoey, who met Giles at Sheffield University.

Phil said: “Giles worked on the book for about 10 years but sadly died in 1992 during a caving trip to Spain.

“He had carried out more than 40 hours of interviews with a great number of activists in the Peak District and did a heck of a lot of research.

“He wrote chapters up until the 1980s and it was all stored on computer disks, printouts and notebooks when he died.”

The pair pulled together Giles’ original research and interviews, which were stored at the Mountain Heritage Trust in the Lake District.

They even managed to track down the great niece of James Puttrell, a Sheffield man who died in 1939 and was credited as the founder of gritstone climbing.

The manuscript was updated with their own interviews and they wrote a number of missing chapters and added their own which include the significant developments of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.

Phil and Graham brought in a team of experienced Peak District climbers with knowledge of specific developments – including traditional climbing, sport climbing and bouldering.

The book features some of the Peak’s top rock stars through the ages – including Joe Brown, Don Whillans, Ron Fawcett, Jerry Moffatt, Ben Moon, Neil Bentley, Pete Livsey, Tom Proctor and Pete Whittaker.

Graham, a teacher from Sheffield, said around 150 climbers had contributed to the book.

He said: “Everyone that I asked was really keen to get involved with it.

“Some of the professional photographers very generously handed over their images,” he added.

The book launch took place at the Climbing Works bouldering centre in Woodseats, Sheffield, and was attended by around 300 people.

All proceeds from the book, priced £37.95, will be donated to Mountain Heritage Trust and Giles’ family.

The book is published by Sheffield-based Vertebrate Publishing.

Visit to order the book.