BMC Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Secure Sirhowy Crag for Climbing Community
Yesterday evening, the British Mountaineering Council launched a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of purchasing Sirhowy Crag. As of this morning, it has almost reached its £8,000 fundraising goal, with UKC/Rockfax's donation taking the BMC to within £600 of the target.
'This is a great initiative which everyone at UKClimbing and Rockfax is pleased to support', said UKClimbing/UKHillwalking and Rockfax director Alan James.
Sirhowy Crag, a beloved South Wales Sandstone climbing destination, has over 5000 logged climbs and 79 routes, and has been a cherished spot for climbers over the years. The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) is taking action to safeguard this iconic crag by putting in a bid to purchase it on behalf of the climbing community.
The BMC's Land and Property Trust typically considers purchasing crags when there is a threat to access. In this case, the fear is that if the land falls into the hands of individuals or entities not aligned with the climbing community, it could lead to potential access restrictions.
Ownership by the BMC would ensure the registration of the land as open access, securing it for climbers in perpetuity. Local climbers would also have a role in managing the site, improving infrastructure, enhancing habitats, and demonstrating responsible stewardship.
The estimated price of the crag is £8000, and the BMC aims to raise this amount through a crowdfunding campaign. The BMC will also seek commercial support from its partners, but individual contributions and private funding will be vital to reaching this goal.
To expedite the process, the BMC has moved up the launch date of the crowdfunding campaign to the week of October 24 2023.
Climbers and outdoor enthusiasts are encouraged to support this initiative to secure the future of Sirhowy Crag for generations to come.
Ollie Burrows, former South Wales Area Chair
I'm supporting the crowdfunder for Sirhowy and want everyone to hopefully donate because this is a special crag for both locals and those in the wider climbing community. It's got some of the most classic routes of the sandstone quarry genre and is a brilliant place to get a sense of the local scene post-work on a spring evening. I think we [climbers that is] are the best people to be looking after a crag like this, better than a random!
Hannah Roy, local climber
Sirhowy is one of my absolute favourite sport crags in South Wales. It's so easy to access and in such a beautiful location. It's truly a dream spot to work on your 7a project! And when the golden hour arrives, the Rust Curtain looks even more magical with the delightful combination of climbers' chatter and birdsong. In my opinion, the climbing community is perfectly suited to embrace Sirhowy and make it their own.
Al Rosier, local developer
Over the past 20 years I've seen a massive increase in popularity at Sirhowy. Nowadays you meet climbers from Bristol, Gloucester and even London down for the day or the weekend. Sirhowy has become a real hub for the Eastern side of the valleys. The Country Park rangers have been really accommodating towards climbers, but hopefully in the hands of the BMC and climber ownership we can secure guaranteed access for the future.
Eben Muse, Welsh Policy and Campaigns Officer at BMC
As someone who's loved South Wales sandstone for a long time, I'm so excited to be working on this crowdfunder campaign. I feel energised by it! Our access laws in England and Wales are incredibly restrictive when it comes to lowland access - the CRoW act revolutionised our access to the uplands and many mountain crags but it's easy to forget that most of us live in lowland areas where our access lacks protection. In these places our access is often delicate and vulnerable to being lost when land is bought or sold, even when we have been enjoying them for decades. We have seen so many amazing crags come and go with development, enclosure, change of use.
In this case, we have the rare opportunity to intercept. If we succeed in raising the funds and put in a successful bid, we can show, as we have at other BMC-owned-and-managed sites, that we are capable of being good stewards of the land, and of the natural habitats that we share these special places with.
As an access campaigner the nuances of land are many - how is the land designated (National Park, SSSI, AONB, CRoW, access), what's nesting there, who uses it, how accessible is it, but the fundamental question has always been; who owns it?
If we are successful here, the answer to that question is - us.
Please support the campaign, and share with your community. If we succeed here, the implications could be wide-ranging.