/ Access/approach to Craig y Merched, Rhinogydd
Access Update - June 2018
The once well-established and relatively easy to follow approach path to Rhino's Buttress (and therefore to most other Lower Craig y Merched and to all Upper Craig y Merched crags) is now very obscured and consequentally difficult to follow due to rapid growth of heather and willow scrub following deforestation, compounded by seasonal growth of bracken. In November 2017, BMC Cymru was been given permission by Coed Cadw, the landowners, to improve access along the 'path' (such as it is) by the installation of temporary waymarking posts, combined with some limited vegetation clearance work. The marker posts would hopefully not only act as a very useful guide for visiting climbers, but will also encourage all future visitors to follow the same route to the crag. Over time it is hoped that this will help re-establish the path and generally make it easier to follow. Once the path is reasonably re-established, the temporary posts will be removed. This work has now been completed by BMC volunteers. The new waymarking posts are a bit incongruous, but are extremely effective.
BMC Cymru, in partnership with local landowners and the Snowdonia National Park, has also now effected a permanent solution to the issue of climbers needing to climb over the drystone boundary wall above Rhino's Buttress in order to access the Upper Craig y Merched crags. (The long-established 'gap' in this wall was expertly and solidly repaired at the beginning of 2017 but, disappointingly, had re-collapsed in a matter of months. Perhaps not unreasonably, this new collapse - in exactly the same place as the previous collapse - was being blamed on the actions of goats and/or (more likely) climbers.) A new wooden stile, supplied by the Snowdonia NP, has now been carried up by BMC volunteers and has been erected over the wall above Rhino Buttress' descent gully.
The superbly positioned Craig y Merched/ Rhino's Buttress crag complex, with its many starred routes (including a 3 star VS), was for many years a very popular little crag, but anecdotal evidence suggests fewer and fewer visits over the last 3-4 years or so. If climbers don't continue visiting this crag, then the work done on footpath re-establishment will essentially be a waste of time. Basically, the crag needs visitor numbers to return to what they were in the not-too-distant past, benefiting both the path and the crag.
Steep Stone Climbing/Publishing currently has a fully updated draft script to both Upper and Lower Craig y Merched crags, definitively detailing both new and existing climbs as part of its ongoing Welsh Grit guidebook project. As soon as some better quality topo photos can be taken, Steep Stone has readily agreed to make this script available as a free PDF download from its website, with the sole aim of encouraging more climbers to visit this excellent group of crags in order to sample its many delights, both old and new. Further details to follow asap on this excellent and generous undertaking on Steep Stone's part.
In the meantime, please refer to the UKC Crag Database (link above) for further detailed and updated Access Advice, particularly as the access notes in the guidebook (Meirionnydd) are now totally out of date, especially as permission to use a permissive path detailed in the guide was withdrawn last year.
Please note that updates to the BMC RAD database have also been made.
BMC Access Rep, Central Wales and Ceredigion Coast
Keen to have a look at the topo. How much work is left to be done on the guide? I've just moved back to the area and have done new stuff in the rhinogs in the past, so keen to get out and climb stuff/take pics.
Thanks to all the volunteers for the remedial work.
Craig y Merched is a beautiful place to climb with great routes in the VS - E1 range (there are probably harder/easier routes there too ... but I can't remember them!)
I last visited in 2017 and if I hadn't known the approach would have struggled to find the crags
Thanks for your kind words Mike; much appreciated. Having done most of the starred routes there up to E3, I readily agree about the quality of the climbing on Craig y Merched.
>I last visited in 2017 and if I hadn't known the approach would have struggled to find the crags.
This is precisely why the BMC has now taken action. Another year or two and the path would have completely disappeared. I was there a couple of weekends ago doing survey work on the path prior to marking it out and met 2 first-time visitors who were scratching their heads at the base of the 'jungle' section, wondering where to go. I showed them the start of the 'path' and left them to it. Within 10 mins they were back down, having totally lost the path. I had to literally guide them up to just beyond the first stone wall. They admitted that if I hadn't been there, they wouldn't have found the way up to the crags.
The new marker posts - 20 in total - with canary yellow painted tops, should hopefully be a big help as they've been placed so that you can always see the next post from the one before. At the moment, all encroaching conifer and birch trees have been cut down and removed, but the heather at ground level is yet to be properly tackled. Unfortunately the landowner won't allow the use of a brush cutter (which is what's really needed) on H&S grounds and short of employing an approved contractor (at great cost), clearance of heather will have to be done by hand - which'll be far less effective and take a great deal longer.
Hopefully the new crag topo photos (only needed for Rhino's and 2 of the main lower crags) can be taken within the next couple of weeks. After that, full details of both pre-2002 routes and the great many post-2002 new routes will be made available by Steep Stone. Hopefully, this'll encourage more visits.
Please PM me if you want to get involved with new guidebook work. Steep Stone's Rhinogydd guidebook team is very small but dedicated; no serious offers of assistance will be turned down.
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