/ swanage trad

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dmor9 - on 09 Jun 2013
hi im hoping to get out climbing this year in the next few weeks. just moved to the south (portsmouth) from the lakes so im looking for crag recommendations. im a solid vdiff leader in the lakes and ok at severe but need to put in more mileage at the grade. so im looking for somewhere with a good range of vdiff to hs routes ideally not to busy as im not a fan of crowds! i also have no experience on sea cliffs and have only abbed once or twice. or if someone wants a mid week partner in the next few weeks and happy to show me the area ive got gear and a car!
cheers dave
The Ivanator - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to dmor9: Swanage is not the best area for beginners in general, the sections that do have more in the way of easier grades (Subluminal and Cattle Troughs) tend to be the busiest too, understandably. Almost all Swanage climbing requires an abseil approach, although you can scramble into Cattle Troughs.
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.
 
Theeni - on 09 Jun 2013
In reply to The Ivanator:

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.
dmor9 - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to dmor9: hmm not sounding to hopeful! I do plan to give tr on sand stone a bash and not to fussed about sport! What is there further west? I'm only on my phone till friday so can't really use crag finder! How's exmoor etc?
I think ill take some gear to my parents next time and prussick up some trees!!
Thanks for the help so far
Dave
GrahamD - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to dmor9:

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.
Tom Last - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to GrahamD:

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.
GridNorth - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to dmor9: I've pulled more holds off at Swanage than all the other crags in the UK put together. I would put it at the adventurous end of the adventure scale as far as UK trad climbing goes. The starred routes tend to be more solid but the majority of all the routes are loose for the last few metres and like most limestone crags lower grade climbs are in short supply.

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.
colinmcmanus on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to dmor9: The adivce so far re Portland and Swanage is pretty sound.

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.
clipskipper - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to colinmcmanus: May be worth mentioning Cattle Troughs at Swanage. Plenty in the lower grades and you can scramble in and back out.

Will find it less busy than Subliminal.

Lee
jonnyblindsign - on 10 Jun 2013
In reply to dmor9: There's a few good routes at Subluminal and Cattle Troughs up to severe, might be worth being guided around some of these for a day if you are new to the area (or find a more experienced climber to show you around for free :)) . Neither area were busy when we were down there last week, if you go midweek it should be fine. There is a certain amount of polish on these popular low grade routes, but you will also see that in other areas with low grade limestone routes such as Chudleigh Rocks or Gower

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