/ Pembroke - where to start?
I live there and couldn't really tell you where to start. It is hard to go wrong if you stick to routes with stars. Some of the un stared routes are good too, but some aren't.
East to west:
Mother Carey's great exciting routes from S - E1, and lots more if you want to push on to the E2's
St Govan's East
St Govan's, some people will tell you it is not that good, but they are wrong, lots of good routes HVS - E2.
Huntsman's leap, although probably best if you can climb E2 or have some prussiks with you.
The list goes on, before you start on the less accessible crags, or the N pembrokeshire slabs.
Just get your head round the tides (for some of the crags), and the Range west military firing times.
Stennis Head + Mowing Word + Carreg Y Barcud
Don't go to St Govans
> Stennis Head + Mowing Word + Carreg Y Barcud
> Don't go to St Govans
^^^ this + mother careys. And yes, St Govan's is mostly bobbins.
I told you.
One of the very best E1s in Pembroke is Wishful Thinking at The Castle, but the tidal window is very short - get there around 3/4 of an hour before low tide.
There's also Crickmail Point - lots of great HVSs plus B Team Buttress at E1. And Magic Flute at Beck's Bay - lowish tide essential again. but more leeway than Wishful Thinking.
St Govan's is amazing. Cool Hand Blues Band. The Arrow. Depraved.
Don't know where you should start but I'd like to suggest that you finish up at Mur Cenhinen and have a crack at Cordelia. Just so there's someone else I can compare notes with.
There is absolutely no reason to go to St Govan's when you've got the rest of Pembroke to go to, ignore the St Govan's die hards - its polished as F@ck.
It's also a bit Pembroke-lite, with it's non-tidalness and 30 second walk in. It kind of misses the point.
Everyone starts at St Govan's with good reason. It's 5 minutes from the car park, it is mostly non tidal, you can scramble in, it's easy to escape from, lots of stakes at the top to belay from, there are no firing restrictions and there is a good selection of quality routes from VS upwards.
You can therefore get used to the rock without other complications. The rock is a bit weird to begin with especially with respect to placing pro so a day getting used to it is a good idea.
You wouldn't want to climb there all your trip but it is the perfect place to start, which is what your question was.
> St Govan's is amazing.
I'm in the bobbins camp.
I'm guessing you meant Deranged, the classic (yet forgettable) E2? 'Cause Depraved is hard for E2 and f^cking crap - loose dusty blocky stuff, protection involves small wires in pulling-blocks-off the crag placements. Stinking.
Didn't think St. Govs East was any good for E1s either, but good E2/3s.
With the others on Stennis Head as intro (Riders is fantastic, and the big E1s are good soft touches, all juggy fun). Mother Carey's for the real deal (Strait Gate best E1 in Pembroke for me, Deep Space is probably only HVS/E1 if dry) and Barcud if you like that kind of thing (I love the place - like slate with friction, beautiful setting).
All good stuff though.
Down the chimney.
straight down the gully
Do you mean the chapel area? How often can you walk around to the main area? I can't think of a chimney I'd want to scramble down?
That's not St Govan's, that's Chapel point. The chimney is behind the big block with Army Dreamers on it. Just next to the Butcher.
Never thought about scrambling down there when you can ab in and leave it there for the day. How hard is the scramble? Can't be a way in to recommend surely?
> Never thought about scrambling down there when you can ab in and leave it there for the day. How hard is the scramble? Can't be a way in to recommend surely?
It's really handy to escape, it's fine to scramble up in lashing rain, but I'd much rather ab down. Would be OK to scramble, just not desirable.
Well it used to be the regular way in. It isn't hard at all - not even diff.
Ah I see, will have a look next time I'm down.
Manzuku (5* E1, bit pumpy, good holds tho)
Cool for Cats
The Arrow (5*)
Army Dreamers (decent warmup, get am sun to degrease before most other crags)
Hangover 77 (hard)
Too Much Pressure (softie)
Strait Gate (More like E2 IMO)
Rock Idol (easy E1)
Riders on the Storm
B Team Buttress
Heart of Darkness (good partner needed)
Calisto (super soft E1, get am sun to degrease before most other crags)
> Well it used to be the regular way in. It isn't hard at all - not even diff.
I have to say that the last time I did it it (and that might be 10 years ago now) it was getting pretty unpleasant and abseiling had become usual. It's less scary going down the other side of the pinnacle, as a I recall...
> There is absolutely no reason to go to St Govan's when you've got the rest of Pembroke to go to, ignore the St Govan's die hards - its polished as F@ck.
I have to agree if you are looking at E1 and below. I never did find St Govan's very inspiring for some reason.
There are some amazing HVSs and E2s at Pembroke, but I'm struggling to think of a really outstanding E1. Pigs on the Wing is as memorable HVS as you'll do anywhere.
Nice list of the obvious classics.
In reply to OP's "where to start?" - pretty much anywhere, you're going to have an amazing time.
I went through a phase of bashing St Govan's, then I grew up and realised that I was just trying to show off my knowledge of Pembroke's lesser known crags. St Govan's on a sunny bank holiday may get a little busy but it quite plainly isn't bobbins. Catch it on a quiet afternoon and it's one of finest crags in the country for low-mid E-grades.
Ha, well yes, the last time I climbed in Pembroke was more than twice that long ago! So is there one defined abseil like the one that Ian and I established at Trevallen? Or do people abseil down next to their planned route? Whatever, it's useful for climbers to know that there is a way back up in case of bad weather etc. Clearly stu maci didn't...
I was wondering what had changed at St Govans last to make it from one of the best crags in the UK to one of the worst ???????????????
I always reckoned at HVS Front Line, Army Dreamers and Tactician were pretty good St Govans options despite the polish.
Overall I think the Arrow and Manzuku are as good a single pitch E1 as anywhere.
People were mostly abbing near the descent chimney when I was there. I think that there is a rather reduced tolerance to the inconvenience to scrambling down to the bottom of sae cliffs generally but sometimes it is at least partly because of the polish (or increased looseness, like at Baggy).
> I was wondering what had changed at St Govans last to make it from one of the best crags in the UK to one of the worst ???????????????
Me too Al. It's got some great routes, though sadly it's lost a few of the best to catastrophic rockfall. I'd also take issue with Jon Stewart's assessment of Depraved as being 'f*cking crap'. Whilst admitting it's not as good as Deranged, and my bias aside(!) I really don't think it's that bad. Interesting that I gave it E1 - grade creep?
St Govan's wasn't my favourite bit of Pembroke even when there was nobody there on sunny bank holidays (those were the days!) I preferred the more compact rock in the Leap, the spectacle of the Cauldron or Triple Overhang or the atmosphere of Mowing Word. Or the easy slabs...
> I'd also take issue with Jon Stewart's assessment of Depraved as being 'f*cking crap'. Whilst admitting it's not as good as Deranged, and my bias aside(!) I really don't think it's that bad. Interesting that I gave it E1 - grade creep?
Haha. Sorry. To me it felt like climbing a freshly worked quarry - that horrible dusty, blocky rock where you shove in little wires down the cracks filled with the dust and mud that's cementing the crag together.
It's the usual sort of grade creep where inconsistencies are ironed out with a preference to upgrading. Depraved couldn't sensibly be the same grade as Manzoku, Cool for Cats or Rock Idol, and feels a good bit harder than, say Baker's Door which is probably worth E2 IMO (it's not much different to Keelhaul).
My personal reason for St. Govs bashing is that I've done most of the classic round about E2 and none of them were at all special, while some I really didn't like (the polish of Army Dreamers and CHBB, the blockiness and avoidable crux of War Crime). Contrast that to such brilliant crags only 10minutes walk away - the amazing rock and classy climbing around Keelhaul, complete with its spectacular, atmospheric setting; or the Leap or any of the others. All are just so much better by every measure apart from convenience.
My Pembroke experience is very mainstream, I don't know any of the quieter venues and I haven't explored much of the Range, so I don't have anything to show off about. I certainly haven't done any hard routes! But St. Govs is the worst crag by a mile, it feels like a dirty quarry and the routes I've done have all been rubbish. Can't say fairer than that, surely?
While St Govans hasn't got the ambience of places like Mother Carey's, you can't argue with multiple 3* routes at all grades between HVS and E5.
Lucky Strike is a superb borderline E1/2
Keelhaul is my favourite: elegant slab climbing, fanatastic rock, nice little run-out, and a roof on good holds.
Brazen Butress is a brilliant 'big E2' route as good as The Strand or Left Wall and better (but much easier) than Darius IMO. Deep Space just next door is easy if it's dry, incredibly atmospheric and brilliant memorable route. Some people think Strait Gate is worth E2 (I don't, it's a clearly a grade easier than Brazen) but it is absolutely fantastic. Whatever you do, don't miss Mother Careys, it's easily my favourite Pembroke crag.
. . . which is as far as I got, so I moved over to Deranged - much more amenable :-)
> Keelhaul is my favourite: elegant slab climbing, fanatastic rock, nice little run-out, and a roof on good holds.
Oh OK, I forgive you!
Must have done John, I've usually been criticised for over grading, if anything. Apart from White Heat, of course... I was so surprised to get up it, I was sure it couldn't be E5!
> Oh OK, I forgive you!
Nothing like a little flattery, hey?
Haha, brilliant - I didn't check the FA details, it's the only south Pembroke route in my list of favourite ever routes.
John2, GrahamD and John Stewart have suggested most of the E2s I was thinking of. I'd add Stingray and Uncertain Smile on the north coast.
Blimey, I nearly forgot Enter the Goat. It was only Jon mentioning overgrading that reminded me. Good one to push your grade on.
Even more when it was E3!
If you make it up to the north, check out Be Clever. It gets E1 5c**, but it's definitely worth E2 5c*** IMO. It's got a big run-out, and a tough crux right at the top (not at the top of the run-out, thankfully).
Yes, if he gets up that, certainly Stingray will be OK. On reflection, at Caerfai perhaps Orogeny is a better one to push your grade on than Uncertain Smile.
> Blimey, I nearly forgot Enter the Goat. It was only Jon mentioning overgrading that reminded me. Good one to push your grade on.
> Even more when it was E3!
You know Dave, I think it may well have been at one time - I can't think that Ian and I could have been THAT far out. Just like Depraved may have been E1. Routes evolve. However, I'd just like to add that reading my post back, I made it sound like White Heat was my route, which of course it wasn't, but it was me that gave the silly grading of E4 in the 86 guide. That wasn't down to the route changing, just a mistake on my behalf.
Carreg-y-Barcud is one of those crags which is brilliant the first time you go there, but thereafter not so, the climbing is too samey for my liking. At E1 only Sinecure stood out for me as having any unique climbing; Be Brave and Be Clever are basically easier/less-bold versions of Kitten Claws E3, which is an easier/less-bold version of Mean Feat E5 etc. It's a spectacular sweep of rock though.
And if we're getting on to E2 now, First Blood at St Govan's east still ranks as my favourite single pitch ever. Lucky Strike a close second but for my money, right bang on E1 - I think the intimidating atmosphere makes people want to push the grade up, but there are no hard moves and you can lace it with gear. I've still yet to do Keelhaul, to my shame. That whole slab of rock looks amazing though.
When I did Enter The Goat I thought it was dangerous for E2 because you were basically doing a 5b move trusting one old rusty peg, with no other gear, above a groundfall!
It's 31 years old John! How solid can it be?
I think that anyone who thinks St Govan's is bobbins, can't have done...
Charisma, Test Case, Space Cadet, The Arrow, Get Some In, Deranged, Tangerine Dream... and loads of others. Now that'd be a good day!
I always assumed the route name was a play on Enter the Dragon - can you confirm or deny that?
Interesting thread. Did someone really say that Pembroke is a bit light on quality E1's? Where else can you find Rock Idol, Arrow, Manzoku... and Strait Gate is probably E1 as well, as others have said.
For my best Pembroke E1 experiences I'd perhaps rate Wishful Thinking, or, of course Preposterous Tales (which seems to vary from HVS to E2, so it must have been E1 at some point??). But despite what someone said above about Wishful Thinking, I wouldn't rate it as a good early Pembroke E1 unless you're very comfortable at E1 - nothing really hard on it for E1, but quite a scary situation. And don't take Preposterous Tales as a recommendation unless you get the beta and really want an adventure.
> I always assumed the route name was a play on Enter the Dragon - can you confirm or deny that?
It's a reference to the Vicar of Bosherston's goat. The goat had a thing about rubber. If you'd managed to accidentally camp within the range of the beast, you'd likely wake up to find it had eaten the rubber tensioners on your tent. Cars suffered the same fate - it was particularly partial to windscreen wipers or you might find it had stripped any rubber trim from the bodywork. This was in the days when you could camp in the vicarage garden. It was therefore a rather notorious animal... everyone had some sort of story about it.
The name Enter the Goat was a sort of stage direction... you know, like 'enter inspector Clouseau, stage right'.
Rock Idol, Wishful Thinking and Heart of Darkness/New Morning stand out for me. Honourable mention for Lucky Strike (since it's inexplicably back at E2 in the latest guide, which is clearly nonsense).
Another vote from me for Wishful Thinking. It's probably my favourite Pembroke E1 (it pips Lucky Strike because I wussed out and sat on the gear on that one).
Regarding the St Govans debate - I used to hate the place after having an absolute epic on Army Dreamers when I'd not warmed up, had never climbed HVS on limestone and found it desperately polished and greasy. But on my last trip there we did Deranged and The Arrow, and I realised that just because it's polished, non-tidal and popular it doesn't mean that the routes are bad. The thing is, I wouldn't make a special trip there, its non-tidal nature means if you spend any time in Pembroke you'll end up climbing there anyway. If the tides are right go to Mother Carey's or similar, just don't dismiss St Govans based on the postings on here.
No, sorry! It was Ian's name and Ian's peg.
> Snobbery, mostly.
Or ignorance maybe. By the way, have you done your eponymous route yet?
I meant Depraved! I thought it was as good as it's neighbour! Wasn't loose when I did it? I don't think I ever really felt exposed either apart from the easy but airy slabby wall at the top?
Isn't it on that horrid, grey, shiny stuff that feels like an oil slick in anything other than overcast, sub-zero conditions?
I really didn't enjoy BB at all, which was a shame as I was really looking forward to it - the climbing was totally different to what I was expecting - it felt more like an awkward grit thug route with difficult gear than the enjoyable face climb it appears to be from a distance.
It's a fantastic place. Looking forward to going back to do Deep Space and maybe Zeppelin this year...
> Isn't it on that horrid, grey, shiny stuff that feels like an oil slick in anything other than overcast, sub-zero conditions?
Yes, that's it. I was apprehensive about the weird shiny bits but once you get going, it's fantastic. Until you get to the loose top bit (it is Pembroke...) it's one solid chunk of really aesthetic rock with really cool little holds all over it. Nothing like that horrible pile of dusty concrete blocks you get down the way at Govans. I don't expect the Keelhaul slab to just fall into the sea any time soon (but the top might shed a few chunks).
> I really didn't enjoy BB at all, which was a shame as I was really looking forward to it - the climbing was totally different to what I was expecting - it felt more like an awkward grit thug route with difficult gear than the enjoyable face climb it appears to be from a distance.
That's odd. It is a bit steeper and crackier than you might expect, but I'd describe it as quite an intricate route, traversing around between good cracks, with good gear (small cams were definitely handy, but it's a wall with thin cracks...). Bit of jamming certainly, but nice energy-saving jamming not grit style unjammable cracks that can't be climbed other than by being a jamming maestro.
> It's a fantastic place. Looking forward to going back to do Deep Space and maybe Zeppelin this year...
Zeppelin's an odd one - I onsighted it OK a couple of years back, and then last year I had to aid it on second (a demoralising experience). The leader - who was doing fine on E4s that week - found the crux tough too. Dunno if I just had a good day the first time or if something (for your right foot?) has fallen off the crux, making it full-on 6a.
Agree whole-heartedly with this comment. We did it at the end of hot, slippery day (so there's the excuse!) and it ruined us. My leader (who walked up a couple of E4s the next day at Range East) took an enormous whipper on the crux, and I had to have a rest or two even seconding. Certainly not one to try to push your grade on.
In fact, Mother Scarey's stands apart from many of the other Pembrokeshire hotspots in the sense that I find the whole crag a tad undergraded (e.g. The Straight Gate is definitely E2 imo), whereas much of Range-East feels a bit undergraded. Maybe it's because Mother Scarey's has that slightly more 'serious' vibe.
> Rock Idol, Wishful Thinking and Heart of Darkness/New Morning stand out for me. Honourable mention for Lucky Strike (since it's inexplicably back at E2 in the latest guide, which is clearly nonsense).
All good routes but I thought HoD/NM was HVS and LS, as you say, is down as E2 (admittedly a soft touch).
> Snobbery, mostly.
I don't think it's crap, it's just not one of my favourite bits of Pembroke, or even of Range East.
> Or ignorance maybe. By the way, have you done your eponymous route yet?
I'm not sure what you mean :-)
Quite varied I think. There are plenty of soft touches: Rock Idol should be HVS because it's a well protected route, mainly 4b/c with a 5a crux and plenty of rests. How that can be E1 I will never understand. Sunsmoke is soft E1 (no way E2) I think, an easy route with a quick 5b crux. Deep Space is easy when dry, not sure it's even 5b. But Eight Guage must be horrific at HVS, 'cause we did Tempest and found the start intimidating...and with its 5c crux I don't see why that can't have E2 (although it is escapable, so a firm but fair grade I guess).
I was asking Pagan if he'd climbed Pagan yet. I asked him a few years ago and he hadn't, but that he wanted to.
A40 is a good start ;-)
I had a great time on Baker's Door at E1 - i thought it was fantastic climbing with good gear on a cool blank looking sheet of rock & great location.
i have great memories of St Govans and none of the routes i did were polished. the negativiy seems ridiculous to me.
However if you do go to St Govans and don't like it( I'm in the bobbins camp), its a 5 minutes walk to Huntsmans Leap, another 5 to Boshertons Head, another........
Personally I like individual 'adventure' routes. Find it, ab in, track it down and climb out. Different style to day at the crag.
Pembroke is a big venue with different styles, enjoy.
Elsewhere on the site
2012 saw the release of the beautiful first volume of definitive Yorkshire Gritstone climbing, produced by the YMC with Robin... Read more
Backpackers want an extremely liveable and lightweight tent at good price. MSR answers the call with the Elixir 2 tent and... Read more
The Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 proved once again to be a busy and inspiring four days of films, photos, music, art... Read more
Skiing Baffin’s couloirs has been on my to do list ever since I saw Andrew McLean and Brad Barlage’s inspirational... Read more
The Women's Mountain Equipment Cho Oyu Jacket is the perfect choice for female mountaineers an explorers who... Read more