/ Beginner to intermediate trad

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smile youve won - on 11 Jan 2019

Hi all, 

I will soon be moving to Bristol in the coming months and starting to broaden my climbing skills by getting into some easy trad. 

Can you recommend some routes up to VS in the Bristol/South West area?


Post edited at 13:59
AndySL - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Avon Gorge low-mid grade routes are mostly very polished and multi-pitch. Good examples of this are Morpheus (HVD), Sleepwalk (S 4a) and Nightmare (S 4a), all at Sea Walls. A little bit further afield, at Wintour's Leap, you could try Moth (HS 4b) and Phoenix (HS 4b), both HS on Fly Wall. There are also good multi-pitch routes at Wintours like Central Rib Routes I, II and III and Left Hand Route.

smile youve won - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to AndySL:

Thanks for that, I imagined the likes of cheddar and Avon would be polished, have no problems going across the bridge or further afield! 

petegunn on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Maybe have a look at:

Fairy Cave Quarry

Most routes feel easy for the grade there especially if you like slabs 

petegunn on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Also have a look at:

Brean Down (Fort Crags)

lots in the easier grades here and probably one of the best easier venues in the area.

smile youve won - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to petegunn:

Slabs would probably help with practising placing gear!

Martin Hore - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

If / once you feel confident at VS there's loads to do in the Wye Valley. I like Shorn Cliff especially (all single pitch with abseil descents) but there's also good opportunities at Symond's Yat,  Wintour's Leap and Wynd Cliff. Follow the stars in the CC guidebooks and you won't go far wrong.

PS. In the early 70's I lived in Bristol and climbed almost exclusively in the Gorge. We only made very occasional forays across the bridge. How things have changed since then with developments in the Wye Valley.


Climbthatpitch - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

If coming across the bridge to wintours Zelda (HS 4b) is a very nice climb. It's polished as is most of the lower grade limestone but the first pitch has excellent protection and the second pitch has a great exposed move 



NigelHurst - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Have a look at Avon Mountaineering club in bristol, They do evening climbing in the week locally when warmer and trips throughout the year

PaulJepson - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Gorge is a bit scary at VS, so unless you're confident on VS/HVS there isn't too much.

If you haven't done much/any climbing in the gorge before I would start easy and get used to it. Avon is it's own style and like nothing else. 

Nightmare is good value at Severe

Sinister is nice (HS)

Morpheus is okay (HVD). You can spice this up by finishing up the last 2 pitches of Gronk at around HS and much better climbing. 

The classics are all a bit polished and somewhat gross. There are some nice non-classic routes to get in to though, especially around the amphitheatre and suspension bridge buttress.  

Hodges Pin (VS) is quite soft and very safe.

The Drain (VS) is quite fun and quite soft

Jose Dansak (HVS) is VS all day and almost entirely on threads (one big on in-situ). 

Rockers Revenge (VS) is really cool

Bob's Climb is great for VD

Direct finish (S) and Petros (VS) are good off lunchtime ledge (Sinister will get you there)

Suspension Bridge Buttress (HVS) is nice and loads of threads

Crumble (HS) across the bridge is ace (and not crumbly at all? pretty compact arete)

Gronk (VS) is a total adventure but top end

You will quickly learn that most things are way over-starred in Avon Gorge. Sleepwalk (S) is shite, Dawnwalk (S) is shite, The Arete is shite, Dexter is terrifying, most things around Idleburger Buttress have been polished by TRers beyond any kind of enjoyment. Once you are happy at VS, there are all the classics (Giants Cave, Clarion, Piton Route, etc.) to go on but I wouldn't jump right on.


Outside of Central Bristol you have:

Goblin Combe where I'd recommend Gift Tolkien (S), Bifur (HS), Gnome King (HS), Esgaroth (HS), Bard the Bowman (HS), Bolg (S), Elrond (VS), Gondolin (VS)

Cheddar is best avoided for lower-grade (and any?) trad.

Plenty at Wintours but the grades tend to be quite stiff so VS/HVS feel more like HVS/E1. Moth, Zelda, Rib Routes all good.

Shorncliffe is the daddy for soft VS and soft HVS but not much below. Absolutely loads of great climbs in that grade but will be dirty/seepy this time of year. There are enough *** VS/HVS routes to not need my recommendations. Just get on them. 

Symonds Yat has loads but some are a bit polished. Endless options at that S-VS though. Same as Shorncliffe. 

Wyndcliffe Main has a couple of lines in that grade but same note as Wintours applies. I've been at my limit seconding VS 4c there. Weird because round the corner I can lead 6b in the quarry. 

Fairy Cave has some nice slabs (and generally soft grades). Rob's Crack (VS) is a classic and you can protect every single inch of it. Can be loose and bold in places but generally very friendly venue. 

Ban-y-Gor has a couple of nice VSs but generally a sport venue.

Portishead Quarry - Pharros (HS) and 3 HVSs. All quite soft. 






Euan Todd on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Goblin Combe is really nice at around VS, Elrond (VS)Gondolin (VS 4b)Necromancer (VS 4b) and Treebeard (VS 4c) are all worth doing at Owl Rock.  Further along at the Arkenstone Esgaroth (HS 4b) and Disaster Area (HVS 5a) are both pretty friendly for the grade.

Second what others have said about some of the easy stuff in the gorge, it's pretty polished (especially bad around Idleburger Buttress) although Daydream (VS 5a) has quite nice moves.

Down at the Suspension Bridge end, José Dansack (HVS) is really good fun, biggest holds in the world.

Gronk (VS 4c) is a good adventure, but it would be a bad idea to fall off some bits of it, so wait till you're solid at VS!

Further afield, get yourself down to Dartmoor and/or North Devon!  Kinkyboots (VS 4c) is a right laugh, and Lost Horizon (VS 5a) is an amazing route!  Not committing at all if you've got an ab rope to leave in place.

As a good rule of thumb, the steep, outcrop limestone is a lot more approachable than some of the slabby quarried stuff.



AndySL - on 11 Jan 2019
In reply to petegunn:

It's worth noting that, in order to climb at Fairy Cave Quarry you need the code for the padlock and to register by emailing Ian Butterworth at


smile youve won - on 12 Jan 2019
In reply to AndySL:

Thanks for all your help everyone, I've ordered south west climbs vol 1, as it seems to cover everywhere mentioned 

springfall2008 - on 12 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Welcome to the area, there's loads of good climbing nearby.

Try visiting Wyndcliff for Questor (VS 4b) and if you are feeling braver Fibre (VS) which are both classics.

At Wintours start on the Flywall with Butterfly (VS 4c) and Moth (HS 4b)

If you can deal with a longer walk in then Shorn Cliff is amazing with a massive number of routes, for example State of Independence (VS 4b) has some cool concretions and Emotional Dyslexia (HVS 5a) is very soft for an HVS if you want to up the grade.


Post edited at 14:50
springfall2008 - on 12 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

If you fancy some multipitch also try Joe's Route (VS 4c) is good intro, or the interesting Nibelheim (VS 4c)

dave frost - on 12 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won:

Shorn cliff over thre bridge in Chepstow is nice, single pitch and not too steep, best at VS / HVS probably.


thom_jenkinson - on 12 Jan 2019
In reply to smile youve won: 

I agreei with all of the above advice. I no longer live in the area but had many fantastic days out at Goblin Combe and Wintours etc.

If you start working up through the grades, there are plenty of safe, fantastic HVSs under the bridge which are a good starting point at the grade.

Much of the rest of the gorge tends to cover much more serious ground (not to take away from the quality). 

I miss it. Have fun.

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