UKC

Climbs 84
Rocktype Limestone
Altitude 21m a.s.l
Faces N

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Jon in cruise mode © tomrainbow

Crag features

A working quarry until the 1960s, Berry Head Quarry combines some excellent DWS on the quarry rim with some soaring lines on the intimidating Main Face.  The latter has a reputation for some suspect rock, although this has been mitigated to a degree by the efforts of several local climbers since 2014.  Leaders should be suspicious of any cracked holds/blocks (pull on something else!) and belayers should stay out the drop zone.

The headland has important statutory environmental designations and is a Local Nature Reserve.  Dolphins or porpoises are commonly seen off the headland and a seal may sometimes displace the obligatory jellyfish in the DWS splashdown zone.  Fulmars may nest on ledges on the main face and smaller birds may inhabit the solution holes and small caves.  The rock face is perhaps most important as a habitat for rare bats, which also occupy the caves and holes.  The quarry area is popular for fishing, birdwatching, dogwalking and swimming, so climbers should take due account of the recreational interests of others.  Any loose rock removal on the Main Face must be carried out with great care.

In communication with the moderator in early 2022, the Berry Head warden explained that Torbay Coast & Countryside who manage the site are against the establishment of any further 'fixed anchor' climbs (sport climbs in our terminology) being established at the quarry, observing that they result in increased climbing activity - that being considered unfavourable in terms of impact on birds in particular.  So as not to risk access for all climbers, anyone left frustrated by that position is encouraged to take up the debate with the warden, who has an office on the reserve and is approachable and willing to discuss the conflicting issues which affect the nature reserve.  He emphasised to the moderator that, although there is no bird ban on the quarry face, any birds that do nest on climbs should be left alone or given a wide berth - temporary signs or notices might be placed at the base to this effect.  Avoiding the nesting season on the Main Face is no great hardship as the best climbing conditions on the north-facing crag typically do occur from mid. July through to late September.        

[Also in relation to access, clarification that the BMC RAD text which appears below applies to the South side Old Redoubt to Oz Wall, not the North side quarry area].  

Approach notes

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). Walk up the gated road towards the Northern Fort, but bear left before the fort and follow the continuation road to a rightwards curve where the view ahead of the quarry opens out and the road falls towards the quarry floor.  A large, very chossy quarried bay (Bay 1) is passed on the right.  A second, large bay (Bay 2) is then passed, reaching an area of concrete slabs with a gateway.  Beyond that, DWS lines are located along the seaward rim on the left. The high quarry face which is now present on the right is the Main Face. The first high tower delivers the first of the full-height routes, Dirt Eater, with Yellow Rurties to the left.  A prominent projecting tower further along is taken by Equipoise.  Continue eastwards along the base of the face to reach Arch Zawn and the Eastern Headland.

Access Advice

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.

Seasonal Restrictions

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.

The climbs are really good but the area needs a fishermen ban! ( the chavvy littering types at least) On a positive note, the area is home to a friendly but massive seal.
francois - 22/Jun/14
The DWS area is absolutely disgusting, litter and stagnant pools everywhere around the fishing areas. Lead by example and take your crap home. Still, the DWS routes are good fun!
Cheese Monkey - 14/Jul/11
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