/ swanage trad
The limestone there is less reliable than most Lakeland rock, top outs require care. The tidal range is not huge and few of the climbs are inaccessible at high tide, nevertheless awareness of the sea state and the potential for freak waves need to be kept in mind.
On the whole holds at Swanage are good, but the climbing is typically steeper and more sustained than you would expect of equivalent grades elsewhere. The rock isn't always easy to read, but protection is usually to be found.
Many people head for the easier bolted lines at Portland to get a feel for Dorset Limestone before climbing at Swanage, although the style of climbing at Portland tends to be more fingery and technical as opposed to the thuggy steep Swanage experience.
Agreed with Ivanator. Swanage hasn't many routes below VS and you need to be confident as you have to be able to climb out after you've abbed in. Portland Sport would certainly be a good way of getting to grips with things and the sandstone isn't too far to your East: both with significantly lower objective risk.
Be the master of abseiling, and prussiking, before you climb at Swanage.
I think ill take some gear to my parents next time and prussick up some trees!!
Thanks for the help so far
Swanage is a very rewarding place to climbe.
Sounds to me like you could get a lot out of finding a club in the area. If you have a year plus grounding in trad climbing there should be plenty for you to have a go at at crags like Subluminal at Swanage with the right guidance.
There is some good climbing at Portland but also a fair share of rubbish. Either way its a very different experience to the Swanage trad areas and not particularly good preparation IMO.
I agree with GrahamD.
Swanage is very rewarding and as a Londoner, was one of the first places I climbed.
It's good honest climbing, steep, often good gear, big holds, big abseils and often with some looseness. You usually get what you see at Swanage, in the sense that there's no great mystery to it unlike the way there can be on say gritstone. There's no walk outs once you're in though!
Not the best place at those grades, but not the worst either. I'd probably led up to about severe when I first climbed there.
Further west, there's lots of quality easy stuff at Avon, further west still on Dartmoor and in the far west, the cream of the crop of easy sea cliff trad is in West Penwith (Cornwall).
Worth picking up a copy of South West Climbs, although Volume 2 is not yet released.
Heading west your best options are the Wye Valley and the Gower. The latter despite being limestone seems to have plenty in the lower grades. The lower grade routes in the Avon Gorge are very polished. You should also find plenty to do on Dartmoor but you are starting to get into weekend territory rather than day trips so you might as well bite the bullet and get up to North Wales.
You do get more going further west, but if you want a day trip these are a bit of a trek.
An alternative for a day trip is Fairy Cave Quarry, takes about as ong to drive from Portsmouth as Portland does and it's trad, though not as steep and technical in my view.
Cheddar or Avon valleys may also be just reachable for a decent day trip.
Will find it less busy than Subliminal.
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