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Peter Goulding

Slatehead: The Ascent of Britain's Slate-climbing Scene

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Shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature 2020

Winner of the New Welsh Writing Awards Rheidol Prize for Writing with a Welsh Theme or Setting

Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2021


Join Peter as he ascends Orangutan Overhang, Supermassive Black Hole and Mental Lentils in the disused Dinorwig slate quarries of Snowdonia. Part creative nonfiction, part memoir and sports documentary, Slatehead is set in Thatcher's Britain and the present day. This was Thatcher’s lost generation.

The slate quarries were walking distance; they’d have a smoke, a party in an abandoned hut, try and climb something. A small culture emerged of punks, nutters, artists and petty thieves, crawling up abandoned rock, then heading to the disco at the Dolbadarn. These were the Slateheads.

The people in these interleaving worlds – the punk dole dropout star- climbers; the Victorian quarrymen pioneers; the Welsh-speaking grandson of a ropeman, abseiling in to bolt sport climbs like Orangutang Overhang in the Noughties, Lee and his mates slogging west today – all are polished like nuggets in this 360° view over patience, pride, respect, thrill, movement, the competing claims of home and agency, and above all, a belief in second chances.


Peter Goulding is a climber from the north of England. He has spent most of his working life in pubs, kitchens and on building sites. He currently works at Center Parcs as an instructor and is an alumnus of UEA.