Altitude 21m a.s.l
Seventh Dread © Kafoozalem
The massive yawning mouth of the Old Redoubt's Great Cave is one of the most intimidating sections of sea-cliff in the West Country; its tiered overhangs seemingly impossible to breakthrough. However, the rock is some of the most climbable to be found anywhere, and is peppered with jugs and handrails that allow the outrageous overhangs and walls to be scaled.
The Old Redoubt holds some of the most sought-after long sea-cliff classics in the UK, but increasingly its flanking sea-level traverses, tackled as deep water solos, are catching up the popularity of the 'roped' routes.
The starts of the routes on the main section of the Old Redoubt cliff are tidal and calm sea conditions are required for the approach traverse to the base of the Old Redoubt. Rainbow Bridge is non-tidal but requires a calm sea. The routes are often in condition, although they can be guano-covered in places immediately after the bird-ban has finished. Seepage does occur after prolonged periods of wet weather. The sea conditions are often benign, the bay being sheltered from westerly swell or winds.
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, NOVEMBER 2018 UPDATE: The latest in a series of rockfalls has made the original finish of swimming the cave to the Promontory impossible since it is now impossible to safely scramble back onto the mainland. All future ascents will need to finish through the very excellent Blue Grotto via excellent climbing or failing that, by swimming.
Follow signs for Brixham. On approaching the town, pick up the brown tourist signs for Berry Head and follow them to the car park on the headland (fee).
It is important that climbers wanting to deepwater solo on these crags MUST call Brixham Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre on (01803) 882 704 before descending to the base of the cliffs. Climbers have caused a number of false call outs in the past - this creates significant problems for the rescue service and may jepordise future access on the Nature Reserve.
Dates: 1 March to 31 July
Reason: Nesting Birds
Berry Head is becoming a mecca for deep water soloing, but it is also an important breeding site for many seabirds. Historically, access was completely restricted during breeding but thanks to the efforts of local climbers, the BMC and Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, the restriction has been made variable. This means it will be lifted as soon as nesting has been completed. The variable restriction has been granted on the condition that the following is adhered to:
1) The Great Cave and pitch 1 of Rainbow Bridge is still covered by the restriction (1st March to 31st July) and NO ACCESS is permitted. This is because the birds frequent the large platform. The standard approach for Rainbow Bridge (and The Great Cave) crosses this platform and will disturb the birds so climbers must choose one of the following options: a) Abseil from the metal post en route to The Great Cave (just beyond a red access notice) to an in-situ thread at the end of pitch 1. b) Down-climb HVS rock just to the left (looking out) of the post. This is not recommended for those who don't know the route.
2) The final Terminal Zawn (pitch 11) is still restricted. A marker just before this shows the extent of the ban. Climbers should exit up VS territory above the marker.
3) Access restrictions still apply to the following: - White Rhino Tea Buttress (Barnacle Traverse Continuation) - The Oz Wall - The Ledges above the Oz wall, beyond the Terminal Zawn. - The Great Cave and Bismark Wall. Markers have been positioned at both ends of the "open" section and these will show whether or not you are allowed on the traverse. This can be checked by contacting the Berry Head Rangers office (01803 882619).
Please contact the ranger if you are confused about cliff accessibility. A few other considerations: If you fall into the sea (during the restricted nesting season) getting out is now much more problematic as you must NOT get out at the Great Cave ledge (doing so would disturb the nesting birds). Those concerned by this should opt to abseil in (see b above) - doing this allows you to leave a rope through the in-situ thread at the base of the abseil to facilitate pulling out of the sea....or make the big swim to the ‘ Red Walls’ area.
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