Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Climbing at the Beach

A Trip to The Gower 19th-21st September

Following their attendance on the trip to Burbage the previous weekend, Debs and Neil very kindly invited your intrepid News Editor to sample the delights of seaside climbing on The Gower in South Wales, together with some of their friends from Hangin' On (The outdoor club that's not a club).


After a long drive down from Warrington we arrived, after dark, at a busy campsite with no sign of their friends. After a flurry of texts and mobile phone calls it was established that they were on their way but had been delayed by traffic.


Next morning we eventually awoke to bright sunshine and blue skies. After a leisurely breakfast and packing of equipment we set off to find the beach.

The crags at Three Cliffs Bay are only accessible for about three hours either side of low tide so we had some time to kill and a game of cricket ensued.

At last the tide retreated far enough and we rushed over to see what the crag had to offer. The classic route is Scavenger VS 4c 3* which goes up the slabby corner to the right of the arch.

We also enjoyed Arch Slab VS 4c 2* which starts up the left hand side but then crosses rightwards to the apex of the arch before going directly up the slab to the top. Opinion was divided however, regarding the merits of Under Milkwood VS 4b which ascends a slab inside the archway but then exits by a narrow squeeze through a blow hole.

Another route worthy of note is Inverted Vee HVS 4c 1*. There is also a good selection of easier climbs ranging from Moderate to Hard Severe. Anyway, time passes quickly when you are having fun and it was soon time to leave before the tide returned and it got dark. Besides there was food to be eaten, drink to be drunk, cards to be played and forfeits to be avoided.


Another leisurely start after a cold clear night. Tents and equipment had to be dried and packed away after the heavy dew fall. There was much debate and searching of the guide book to find a suitable venue because the tide was going to be well in for much of the morning.

Eventually a decision was made and we set off to find Little Tor. It wasn't straight forward, either to get parked or to find the right crag but we persevered.

The route of the crag is undoubtedly Central Flake HS 4a. This climbs the front of the large flake which lies aginst the front of the crag and the route can be extended right to the summit for best effect.

There are a good number of other routes graded from Difficult to HVS on the smaller walls to either side of the Central Flake area.

Time passed pleasantly in the sunshine. Your editor even got to go and fly his kite over the wide expanse of clean soft sand recently exposed by he retreating tide.

Unfortunately it was soon time to leave and start the journey back up north. However, it was a very enjoyable trip and has just whetted my appetite to return and explore some more of the wonderful scenery in The Gower.

Finally, thanks again to Debs and Neil in particular, for inviting me, and to all the Hangin' On crew(Mick, Scott, Jo, Louisa, Graham and Lyndon) for making me welcome.