south coast winter © Tommy Harris
The Cattle Troughs routes are easy to reach and have generally sound rock. However, gear can be a bit sparse on some climbs and it is a dangerous venue in rough, or even moderate, seas. The Cattle Troughs Area is popular with novices and beginners, although for a first taste of Swanage, Subluminal may be a better bet.
The Unknown and Flake Ledges are very quiet venues that have a number of interesting and varied climbs spanning the grades. Amphitheatre Ledge Area has some quality harder climbs on reasonably good rock, whilst the slabs and short friendly walls of the Hangover and Isis Areas are favourites with those looking for good easier and mid-grade routes.
From Durlston car park, follow the road towards the lighthouse then turn west along the coast path (right - looking out). Continue to 150m beyond the fourth stone wall from the lighthouse (the western limit of Durlston Country park) where the cliff-top path dips into a small valley above a slabby cove. Cross the fence here at a small stile. This is Amphitheatre Ledge. For the Isis, Hangover and Flake Ledge Areas follow a narrow, exposed path that contours rightwards along the cliff-top (looking out). Pass several belay stakes until until a large gearing-up ledge is reached after 200m (just beyond a large amphitheatre known as the Lecture Theatre). Alternatively continue along the main coast path, cross a stile and follow a steep path leading down through nettle beds, and past a tall post, to the cliff-top gearing up ledge.
Additional details - July 2010: There appears to have been some land slippage a couple of feet in length halfway along the narrow cliff top path. It was still passable but very suspect. Probably now best to take the alternative approach path mentioned above and make your own assessment of the situation from there.
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