As part of my research for Portland Pirates, I talked to a local climber about what it's like to climb the many cliffs around Portland. Rich and Sarah at New Heights Climbing take out groups of new and experienced climbers, often climbing by the Cuttings, a popular area on the east coast. I was very interested in the type of rope and equipment used to traverse the various cliff faces. Many of the nearly 900 climbs around Portland are already bolted so climbers can clip into the rocks, although some areas have seasonal restrictions to protect birds such as peregrines and puffins.
I was also intrigued by the unusual names given to the various routes, such as Yikes Shaggy! and Reptile Smile. When I lived on the West Cliffs, I often saw climbers heading out to tackle the sheer cliff faces. This inspired me to create 2 characters who would represent another aspect of the island's life.
Climbing is another unique facet of Portland, which brings people to the Isle from all over the world. Rich from New Heights helped me to piece together how my main character Isabel would experience climbing, and what kind of safety equipment would be used. to bring these chapters to life. http://www.climbingengland.com/content/photos.asp