I have been out in the mountains, hill walking and scrambling about since I have been about 6 years old. As a family, we have always gone camping which has allowed me to see many beautiful places around Europe and the UK.
As I have become older, I have had a go at saving up and trying a few of these trips to the fancy hotels with the all-inclusive bar. But if I’m honest, it’s pretty crap! Sure, it looks nice on a Facebook post and the weather is always great but sitting on a beach or by a pool all day is bloody boring!
“Good company and a friendly face that will smile and crack a joke when you think it’s all going tits up!”
Maybe it’s that old philistine in me, but give me a muddy field and the welsh rain any day; heck I’d even take the infamous Scottish midge! Joking a side, you just have a far better time roughing it, it’s where the memories are made. All it takes is a bit of good company and a friendly face that will smile and crack a joke when you think it’s all going tits up!
The thing is, camping, climbing and generally being outdoors having a go, just seems to make you feel damn good! The exercise, the elements, the freedom. It has a way of clearing your mind and giving perspective. Its natural meditation. Being in the mountains builds amazing friendships and bonds that last a lifetime (it’s hard not to dangling on the end of a rope!). The point is, it is so uplifting and liberating it makes you hungry. For me, I actively seek adventure, wild spaces or the chance to be outside experiencing the elements in as much of everyday life as I can. But as soon as I get a bit of time off or the chance to go on holiday my favourite medicine is rock climbing.
“It has a way of clearing your mind and giving perspective. Its natural meditation.”
There is no better feeling than moving dynamically over an impressive rock medium, linking up thought out, fingery moves when clinging to a cliff in a beautiful, but completely exposed corner of nature. And how better to immerse yourself in such an environment than to feel, touch and grab it?
To summarise, I would have to say my favourite type of climbing has to be long mountaineering routes that combine technical elements and big mountain settings, these make super days out. Having said that, there can often be no substitute for a five-minute approach to go climb some hard trad!
Now, bear with me! This post started life in my head, thinking I was going to discuss some of the more interesting adventures I’ve had since last winter. The only trouble with this is, it was way before I got going with this blog and got started filming stuff with the GoPro.
Therefore, I have only limited photos and definitely a limited memory – I have had a bit of a jam-packed summer to say the least. So, to say I’m struggling to remember in any interesting detail would be an understatement.
With that said, I figured I’d focus on rock climbing, get the guide books out and try my best to remember what we have climbed this year and let you know my impressions of some of the crags and the routes.
Okay – I think the first proper trip I had this summer was at the end of May/beginning of June. We went for 2 weeks in total. Stopping in Somerset for a few days, before heading down to Cornwall and then staying at Dartmoor on the way back up. We camped of course and were treated to some pretty terrific weather early on.
So good in fact it was too hot to climb in the heat of the day so we got up early one day before the sun was up and climbed a few routes at Avon gorge. This is a handy little place with some good long pitches and a collection of technical routes on a sort of basalt rock.
If you are ever down in the area I’d recommend a trip even just to take in the evening summer air. It’s right next to the river seven, just off from the road, and you can even climb underneath a big suspension bridge which seems quite cool. Rewards are then given for your efforts from the top of the crag, there is a fantastic view of the river disappearing down into Bristol.
Crag: Avon gorge
- Morpheus – HVD
- Nightmare – S 4a
Introducing…Cornwall. I have been to almost every county in England but this is the first time I have ever been to Cornwall. It was fantastic! A bit more windy down on the coast, but so beautiful. It reminded me a lot of Pembrokeshire only there is a lot more sandy coves to go and explore. Having them completely to yourself is a privilege and well worth hunting them out. Especially when you take a trip to Lands end and almost suffocate under the hordes of people (tip: don’t go in the car and pay, walk like we did – its free!).
We got up to quite a bit in Cornwall. We walked the coastal path from Lands end round to Porthcurno and biked in the opposite direction on a different day all the way to St. Ives, staying the night before coming back the next day via every pub we could find. By the time we got to St. Just there was a severe case of wobbly bike going on! Nevertheless, we got some great sea cliff climbing in overlooking Lands end and beautiful calm seas.
We had the place completely to ourselves on both days we went (despite the odd nosy coastal path walker) we even managed to entice a touch of modest sunshine from behind the clouds too!
Nice sticky sea cliff granite on short multi pitch climbing – location could not be better!
- Senior’s route – Diff
- Monday face – VS 4b
- Hayloft – VS 4c
- Dolphin cracks – HVS 5a
The last stop on our trip was Dartmoor. We stayed up in the north end of the park and enjoyed some cycling to explore as much as we could. The little medieval hamlets around that part of the UK are splendid little walks of life you would otherwise never see.
We also went backpacking a few days up on the moor amongst the wild horses, it was so special watching the sun set with them grazing on the upland in front of you.
“A fabulous setting and gorgeous weather, cloudless blue sky without a breath of wind. Ace!”
We did get some good climbing in here too. Short single pitches but remarkably good grit stone. The fun was had at Haytor rocks, but boy was it rammed with tourists! We shared the crag with a few other climbers but the highlight had to be the fabulous setting and gorgeous weather, cloudless blue sky without a breath of wind. Ace!
- Step across – Diff
- Zig-zag – Diff
- Bulging wall -VD
- Raven gully – S
- Raven wing – VS 4b
- Aramis – VS 4c
If you haven’t realised by now Snowdonia is my second home. I scoot off in all weathers even just for the day. Basically, whenever I get an excuse to, I’m off climbing, walking, camping, sailing, kayaking, running, swimming, mountain biking, road biking – you get the picture! However, because I’m there so often I can’t remember which order of what trips we did, for how long in which location or in what order!? I’m not even sure that makes sense! But it does all seem to have blended into one!
For the sake of my memory, and the risk of repeating myself in the future, most of these places will more than likely be revisited in individual blog posts; so I will just list all the routes I climbed with the crags and grades. I’m pretty certain I’ve covered all the routes from this summer, but I could be missing a few. I will put some of my favourites in bold (I’ll try not to put them all in bold!) – give me a comment below and let me know if you agree with my choices!
Crag: Craig y tonnau
- Central crack – VD
- Diane’s approval – VD
- Robbins right hand – S
- Sunday lunch – HS 4b
- Brewer’s troupe – VS 4c
Crag: Cadair Idris
- Table direct – VD
- Cyfrwy arete – Diff
Crag: Craig yr ysfa
- Amphitheatre buttress – VD
Crag: Craig bwlch y moch (Tremadog)
- Hail bebe – VD (first route I ever led!)
- Boo boo – VD
- Oberon – S
- Christmas curry – S
- Valerie’s rib – HS 4a
- Micah eliminate – HS
- One step in the clouds – VS 4b
- Striptease – VS 5a
Crag: Tryfan bach (Little Tryfan)
- Crack 2 – Mod
- Slab 2 – VD
- Central slab route – VD
Crag: East face Tryfan
- Pinnacle rib – VD
Crag: Idwal slabs
- Tennis shoe – HS 4b
Crag: Milestone buttress
- Direct route – VD
Crag: Clogwyn Bochlwyd
- Chimney climb – S
- Two pitch route – S 4a
- Five pitch route – HS 4a
- Marble slab – HS 4b
These next two are not strictly in Snowdonia but both fairly local and well visited…
Crag: Pot hole quarry
- Sesto – HVD
- Mestre – S 4a
- Right angle – HS 4b
- Selva – VS 4a
- Un-aided – VS 4b
- The watzmann – VS 4b
- Grizzly – HVS 5a
- The dog – HVS 5b
Crag: Frogsmouth quarry (Sport climbing)
- Orgy of ruin – 5b
- Assassin bug – 5b
- Savasana – 5b
- Apple crumble – 5b
- Dogsbody arete – 5c
- The flying school – 5c
- Anaesthetic – 5b
- Hot dog, jumping frog – 6a
Finally, for completion, a quick list of the scrambles. I couldn’t decide, so I left the bold out. I love them all!
Tryfan – North ridge 1, Little and north gullies 1, North buttress 2-, Milestone buttress scramble 3.
Glyder fach – Bristly ridge 1, Main gully 1+, Dolmen ridge 3, Chasm face route 3+.
Cwm bochlwyd – Y Gribin true start 1-, Y Gribin ridge 1.
Cwm idwal – Seniors gully 1-, Idwal buttress and continuation 2, Idwal staircase 2+, Cneifion arete 3.
Pen yr ole wen – Pinnacle ridge 2.
Crib goch – Cwm glas spur 1-, East ridge 1, North ridge 1, Main ridge traverse 1, Crib y ddysgl 1.
Snowdon – Lliwedd traverse 1-, Y Gribin 1.
A fair old whack of routes thus far hey?!
My next adventure came in early July, at a place that has been close to my heart for as long as I can remember. It’s a place we used to spend our summer holidays with all the extended family, camping, fishing, walking, rock pooling and BBQ’s on the beach. Here, there is magnificent coast line as far as the eye can see. Charming seaside towns complete with some of the best beaches in the whole of the UK. That place, is Pembrokeshire.
The place never fails to disappoint, Pembrokeshire! The first five day here were glorious and spent around St. Davids head, walking the coastal path, sunbathing and surfing on the beaches, I even got a spot of early morning trail running done. Of course we also had a go at the famous coasteering. Fantastic!
However, I think the pub ‘Bishops’ has now probably gone out of business since we left, they did incredibly well out of our pocket!
The campsite we stayed on gave us a sea view right from the tent and was literally a five-minute walk to both of these crags. They are lovely rock with good friction and gear. As with most sea cliff climbing the locations are spectacular, especially in the weather we had. I have nothing else to say about these two places apart from: brilliant! An abseil in and tremendous climbing all round, we even had a little swim.
Crag: Porth clais
- Inset – S 4a
- Red wall – S 4a
- Diagonal crack – S 4a
- All lines engaged – HS 4b
- Vegetable rights – VS 4c
- Frieze – VS 4c
- Sea rider – VS 4c
- Dreamboat rider – HVS 5a
Crag: Porth y ffynnon
- Apex arete – VD
- The crack – VD
- Slab recess – S 4a
- Cracked wall – VS 4c
Saundersfoot and Tenby
The second five days in Pembrokeshire were spent in a lovely camping spot, right on Monkstone point between both Saundersfoot and Tenby. From here we walked the impressive coastal path into Tenby which has the most wonderful long golden beach. A little boat trip and a visit to St. Catherine’s island, a great day out. We headed off in the other direction on the bikes again, into Saundersfoot and on to Amroth and the Caerfyrddin estuary, stopping off more than a few times at the terrific pub of Wisemans bridge.
“Spent a day with glorious sunshine in the family’s old spot on the beach.”
Saundersfoot was just as I remember it as a kid and we even spent a day with glorious sunshine in the family’s old spot on the beach. Saundersfoot is a charming little seaside town that has a picturesque harbour and character in abundance. We had a fantastic time here and didn’t want to leave – even though that was probably because we were faced with a steep climb on the bikes out of town back to New Hedges!
Again, we reserved a few days for climbing and dodging the bullets – literally! We took off in search of jagged sea cliffs once more. We arrived at St. Govern and hunted out the cliffs on the military firing range. It is the most gorgeous little stretch of coast it almost seems criminal to fire mortar shells into it or whatever it is the MOD gets up to through the week!
“Spent most of our time gawping down at the seals below in the water. What a privilege!”
The climbing here was great and we got there early to make the most of the empty routes and the atmospheric booms of crashing waves below. However, it soon became extremely crowed with climbers everywhere! Despite this, we managed to complete the classic multi pitch ‘blue sky’ twice before moving on further down the coast in search of a bit of peace.
We found a nice secluded spot as Stennis head, but we ended up just repeating the routes over and over because we spent most of our time gawping down at the seals below in the water. What a privilege! The trip was finished off by a visit to the famous broadhaven beach and a pint in the local, a great place to come to experience a bit of proper sea cliff climbing!
Crag: Saddle head
- Forgotten corner – HVD
- Flake-quake – S 4a
- Blue sky – VS 4b
- Haze – VS 4b
- Eaves dripper – HVS 4c
Crag: Stennis head
- Myola – HS 4b
- Myopia – VS 4c
In August, our final trip of the summer took us to the Peak District. Here we spent five days, admittedly mostly cycling on the national trials and getting about from town to town to explore. However, as every climber knows, no trip to the Peak District is complete without a visit to ‘The Roaches’. Interesting single pitch climbing with a lot of reliance on friction smears and slopers on classic western grit.
The weather could not have been better and we had a full day out climbing some interesting routes. Maybe we didn’t climb as many of the routes we would have liked due to a busy bank holiday and people leaving a lot of fixed top ropes unattended. Naughty!
Check out my YouTube channel for the two videos of us climbing and biking our way around the Peak District!
Crag: The Roaches
- Right route – VD
- Captain lethargy – VD
- Pedestal route – HVD 4a
- Jeffcoat’s buttress – HS 4a
- Holly bush crack – HS 4b
- Sifta’s quid – HS 4c
- Central route – VS 4b
- Rotunda buttress – VS 4c
All in all, I had a fantastic summer getting involved in some great things. If only I had bought the GoPro at the beginning!
I hope this gives you a little insight into the great climbing experience we had over the summer and an idea of the future content of this blog!
Here is a massive thumbs up to the adventures of next summer, but for now, bring on the winter!
Thanks for reading.