Rock Climbing

The Top Routes in Pembroke?!

Sea Cliff Climbing at Mother Carey's Kitchen 

It’s a funny old thing choosing a “favourite route”. There are so many crags, with different character and situations. Nowadays I spend most of my time climbing by the sea in Pembrokeshire and have had time to think about what makes a route above and beyond the rest of the great climbs here. The other day I had a morning’s climbing that made my mind up. 

Mother Carey’s Kitchen is in my opinion THE best crag in Pembrokeshire. It hosts a wealth of quality routes on perfect rock through a good range of grades. The setting is exquisite and there’s almost always routes to get on even if there’s a big sea booming away at it’s base. 

A few days ago I met up with Louis (a Pembroke local) at the MCK car park for 9am - I had to be back home just after lunch. It was mid November and even though the forecast suggested it would be a max of 8 degrees, the sun was out with little wind. I suggested starting on Brazen Buttress - a classic Pat Littlejohn E2 5b that I’ve climbed many times and one of my all time favourites. The climbing is sustained but with no definite crux’s. The climbing flows beautifully, with moves that role into one another and more opportunities for protection than you could ask for. The only problem I had was that I’d started the climb with my fleece on and soon started to over heat! 

It was a different story when Louis said he wanted to climb Deep Space - another Littlejohn route given the same grade as Brazen Buttress. In contrast this route takes the outer edge of a huge dark cleft, in the shadows and cold. As Louis arrived under the roof I called up to him to make a belay as it was mid tide and the sea was coming in at a speedy rate. The rock was just about dry but cold and lay backing on jams soon chilled the hands to a point of numbness. Arriving at the hanging belay the world below you drops away in a fashion that only climbers can enjoy. Above the way is blocked by an imposing roof but thankfully the holds are as good as you could ask for. A couple of wild pulls and you’re deposited on the upper wall and straight forward climbing on wonderfully sculpted stone to a point where you’re able to bridge across the cleft in dramatic positions to the top.

If you haven’t already, go and do these routes. Of course, when you have there’s all of the other blinders to do at MCK as well!  Enjoy… 

I Heard The Roar of a Wave That Could Drown The Whole World

Well done if you registered the title as lifted from a Bob Dylan lyric - that means you're of a certain age or you just have good taste in music, either or, well done. The sea around Pembrokeshire has been fairly calm of late, disguising the political waves that are rolling over the UK with force.

I guess I should put politics aside and post some recent Pembrokeshire sea cliff action - as the mind has no other option than to put dilemmas to one side and focus on the task in hand while perched on the rock above the sea... Thanks to everyone I've had the pleasure to take out climbing and not talk politics. 

Work and Play


Climbing in Pembroke and Snowdonia 

What I really like about working as a guide and instructor, as well as managing my own business is the variety of work. There is of course the slightly less interesting side of the job - invoicing, tax returns and the endless sorting of kit but it’s a price I’m happy to pay for such a life in the great outdoors. 

Mid May I took the Guardian’s Adventure Travel writer, Kevin Rushby out for a couple of day’s taste of sea cliff climbing and exploration. He’s a top fellow and had some existing climbing experience, so adventure was on the cards. Here’s an article he wrote in the Saturday travel supplement.

The day after Kevin left it was straight into a large block of private guiding and courses run for the Army. There were a few after work “snatch and grab” climbs with local mates, as well as a great afternoon climbing at an obscure area near Saddle Head with Alun Richardson, climbing two established routes and a first ascent of a quality E2 worth a couple of stars. 

There was also time to make a flying visit to Snowdonia to hook up with Pat Littlejohn to climb on and amazing inland crag on the North Lleyn Peninsular, first developed by the Legend Joe Brown in the 70’s. Pat explained to me on the drive that the multi pitch routes we were going to try were graded HVS in the guide - “But Joe graded all his routes HVS in the 70’s…” Pat also explained that these routes most likely haven’t had second ascents… The crag looked unremarkable from a distance but soon became large, impressive and foreboding up close. We climbed two routes; A two pitch “HVS” that turned out to be E2 5b, 5c and another three pitch “HVS”  that also turned out to be E2. The rock was the kind that you had to take care with but the climbing was amazing and I was out with one of my heroes - what more could I ask for?

Never Ending Adventure

It's been a good couple of weeks with loads of climbing in Pembrokeshire, a couple of trips to the Wye Valley and an overnight stay while working on Skomer Island. Some guiding, new routes, classic's and some new routes that turned out to have been climbed already - it's all good... 

Green Bridge of Wales - The Movie!

Rock Climbing Adventures in Pembrokeshire

Thanks to the handy work of Dave Linnett of Bald Eagle Productions, we have a great little movie of climbing Isambard's Kingdom, an anti-classic HVS on one of the most iconic of Pembrokeshire landmarks. Thanks Dave for the invite to tag along and the resulting film! You can check out other Bald Eagle Productions films here.