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Pembrokeshire offers some excellent and diverse climbing for all from bouldering and short slabs for beginners to steep and technical climbs up to E9. North Pembrokeshire has sea cliff climbing on sandstone, gabbro and volcanic cliffs from 10m to 90m high. In the South, the main climbing is typified by stretches of steep limestone cliffs, particularly around Lydstep, Stackpole, Bosherston and Castlemartin. Some easier slabs can be found but the majority of the routes are at VS grades or above including a high concentration of extreme routes that are amongst the best climbs in the UK. Most routes around the county are tidal and access is usually by abseil.
North Pembrokeshire has some fantastic slab climbing on old red sandstone, and Parth Clais is a good place to start with routes from Diff to E1. Nearby, Porth Y Ffynon has some good lines, and there are some quiet crags such a s velvet crag and initiation slabs to discover. Once you have perfected the easier routes, you could head to Carreg Y Barcud with steep technical slab climbing in a fantastic situation with routes ranging from easy to E7.
For some traditional adventure climbing and even some multi pitch sea cliffs, try St. Davids head. You can walk out in 1/2 hour from Witesands carpark near St. Davids. The gabbro rock here has great friction and the routes are mostly quite adventurous. You might also see cetaceans passing by such as porpoise, dolphins and even whales. On summer evenings Manx Shearwaters are returning to Skomer in their thousands. Top Spot!
There are also nesting season climbing restrictions in place on several crags in North and South Pembrokeshire. For up to date information a climbing access leaflet is produced annually by the National Park – check the notice boards at car parks or click here. The climbs are covered in the Climbers Club guide to Pembroke which includes information on access arrangements but these are updated each year so you need to check the current situation.
Many of the best areas are on land owned and used by the MOD as part of the Castlemartin Firing Ranges. Access are as follows:
North Pembrokeshire – open access, but be sure to follow the guidelines for parking in the Climbers Club guide, and respect local residents / agreed seasonal access resrictions.
Range East (St.Govens Head to Stack Rocks)
Check firing times on Bosherston cafe’ notice board or Western Telegraph newspaper (the last Wednesday of each month) or phone the 24 hr information line 01646 662367. St. Govans Head and Trevallen are sometimes open but the rest of the range East is normally closed during weekdays until about 4.30pm. There may also be night Firing in Range East. All the crags in Range East are open at weekends.
Range West (West of Stack Rocks)
Climbers need to attend an annual briefing meeting to get a pass for this area.. The whole of this range is littered with dodgy ordnance as well as having some amazing conservation features. The briefings which are run by the MOD and conservation organizations will enable climbers to go into this area safely and with minimal impact on the geology, archeology, birds and plants of the range. Contact Lynne Houlston for more info about Castle Martin Range and briefings on 01646 662213
Pembrokeshire is famous for its sea cliffs but there are also a few quality bouldering venues which you will nearly always have to yourself. Mynydd Dinas, just South of Dinas Cross is a great hilltop location for some quality gritstone like bouldering although a spotter and a crash pad are highly recommended as many of the problems are quite highball. There is also some good traversing near St. Davids at Porth Clais and Nine Wells (low tide), and some bouldering inland a little at Plumbstone Mountain.
Things to Consider when climbing in Pembrokeshire:
- CHOOSE an appropriate crag for the weather and tidal conditions, your ability and that of the people you are with.
- CONSIDER your impact on the environment, wildlife and other people. Avoid gardening routes, don’t climb routes with nesting birds and try to leave the crag in a better state than you found it.
- FIND OUT about any local codes of conducts, byelaws and restrictions as well as general good practice and safety guidelines and follow them.
- PEMBROKESHIRE is a bolt-free climbing area. Do not place bolts and minimize any fixed equipment. Pegs tend to rust fairly quickly and excessive tat can make the cliffs look tatty!
- DO NOT PLACE BELAY STAKES without consulting the land owner – these can become a visual eyesore and a health and safety hazard.
- TAKE CARE when finishing routes – there are often loose blocks in the final few meters.
- MINIMISE the impact of groups by keeping group size small, avoiding monopolizing routes for long periods of top-roping and avoid abseiling down popular rock climbs.
- SMIILE A LOT – you are on the best sea cliffs in the country!
If you see:
Any wildlife which you believe to be injured or in distress contact the RSPCA on 08705 555 999
Other useful Websites and numbers…
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: www.pembrokeshirecoast.org.uk/
Countryside Council for Wales: www.ccw.gov.uk/
Pembrokeshire Marine SAC: www.pembrokeshiremarinesac.org.uk/
National Trust: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
Ministry of Defence: www2.army.mod.uk/ate/public/castlemartin.htm
British Mountaineering Council (BMC): www.thebmc.co.uk/bmccrag/
The Climbers Club: www.climbers-club.co.uk/
Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group: http://www.pembrokeshireoutdoors.org.uk/
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority: 08453 457275
MoD 24 hour telephone message for Castlemartin firing range activity: 01646 662367