Climbing In Pembrokeshire
The incredible formations of Pembrokeshire’s towering sea cliffs and its diverse variety of rock types and landforms are what make the county one of Britain’s most popular climbing destinations. Offering amazing natural architecture, phenomenal views and habitats for some of the country’s rarest plants and animals, it’s not surprising that Wales is proud to be host to the UK’s only coastal national park.
Pembrokeshire has been a climbing destination since the 1900’s, with climbers exploring every nook and cranny (and crag), developing routes of World Class status. Today, the rugged coastline remains in excellent condition thanks to the various environmental groups and communities working together to preserve the park, whilst still allowing access to visitors, enabling them to explore it from a unique perspective.
As the Pembrokeshire Green Climbing Guide explains, ‘the rocks of Pembrokeshire can be split into two geological areas, approximately split by a line from Newgale beach in the west, through Haverfordwest to Tavernspite in the east. North of this are older rocks of late Pre-Cambrian to Ordovician age (approx. 440-650M yrs old) while the southern area consists mainly of younger Silurian to Carboniferous rocks (290-440M yrs old)’. North Pembrokeshire offers sea cliff climbs on sandstone, gabbro and volcanic rock up to 90m high whilst the South of the county boasts steep limestone cliffs overhanging the pounding sea.
The options for climbing in Pembrokeshire are vast, from bouldering and short slab climbs for beginners to steep and extreme ascents up to E9 for the more experienced. Climbers new to the area are encouraged to seek out the latest information on Pembrokeshire’s ‘Agreed Climbing Restrictions’. This content is widely publicised via the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and is in place to protect the rare species of plants such as thrift and sea lavender and the nesting and feeding sites for colonies of seabirds including chough, peregrines and ravens.
With Pembrokeshire being a popular choice for adventure loving individuals and families taking their holiday in West Wales, climbing has evolved as a hobby for not only the serious sportsman but as a family fun activity for all ages and abilities to enjoy.
Why not try an indoor course of climbing, New for 2014 is the 'Overhang' Climbing Centre in Tenby. It's situated right on the edge of the wonderful Castle Beach and is open all year round! The newly opened club offers instructor led sessions both on the wall and out on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Cliffs and is great fun for both children and adults, they also do parties! The Overhang is a definite must the the next time you are in Tenby, so make sure you pop in and see Dave, Alex, Helena and Tom for some awesome climbing fun!
There are many adventure centres and qualified climbing guides within the Pembrokeshire area that offer climbing as a one-off experience or in the format of a multi-tiered course. Morfa Bay Adventure in Pendine and Pembrokeshire Adventure Centre in Pembroke Dock provide indoor climbing wall facilities where beginners and younger children can get to grips with the basics such as climbing movement, rope work, belaying techniques and abseiling. If you’re keen to get straight out onto the natural rock face to learn your climbing skills, you can book a day or half day session with Rock-Up Climbing or TYF in St Davids or Newgale YMCA, Adventure Beyond, Dragon Activity Guides, Sealyham Activity Centre in the North of the county. All of these centres are members of the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group which encourages the outdoor industry to work together to protect and sustain the beautiful environment and vulnerable wildlife of Pembrokeshire.
Whether your experience of climbing in Pembrokeshire is a Climbing Taster on an indoor wall, a Crag Master course overlooking the sea or a one-to-one guide introducing you to some of the less accessible jewels of the local coast, it is highly likely that you’ll return home with that buzz of adrenalin and urge for your next vertical challenge. Next time you are wearing a helmet, a harness and some rock boots and they are NOT hired, you’ll know you are hooked!