Rocktype Sandstone (hard)
Altitude 41m a.s.l
Anisha eyeing the crux move of Kingfisher f6A+ © ericinbristol
The jewel of Hambrook and indeed Bristol bouldering is the Ring Road Boulder - it boasts superb gritstone-like problems on slopers and pockets, with a good range of grades f5-f7B, fairly flat landings for the most part and the perfect height (four metres) to be high enough without being highball. The rock is generally clean and free of brambles and ivy. It is impressively solid, apart from the top out where care is needed on fragile and sometimes loose thin horizontal flakes. The various link-ups and traverses are well worthwhile. It features quality problems like Knuckle Duster f6C, Knuckle Duster (Sit) f7A and Living the Dream f7A+, with traverses into these (Under My Skin and Wabi-sabi) going at f7B. There is also excellent fun to be had on Nose Picker f6B and The Nose f6A, and Central Arete is exciting at f5.
Next in quality is The Cave. This wide, low feature is in a very pleasant, flat spot and is about two metres high. It is marred slightly by various flexing flakes (please handle with care). It is popular for some steep f5s (such as Dinner Plate Roof and Cave Roof) and for The Rocker (f6B). It also has Youch! which is a fierce f7A and Creaky Roof Traverse (f6C), which is a relatively easy but pumpy traverse that then does the finish of The Rocker.
The Stream Bluffs features the impressive highball arete of Warsame f6A - the best problem of its grade in the area - plus a couple of other exposed lower grade highballs and some pleasant easy problems.
Hidden Wall has a flat landing and some decent offerings, including a few worthwhile f5s, a fun traverse at f6B and a couple of wild dynos at f7A and f7B. There are some decent easy problems on Shelf Wall plus the technical Shelf Traverse f6C.
There are some good things to do in the Fisher's Wall Area, notably Fisher's Wall (E1 5b), Bronson (f7B) and Hambrook Arete (f6A). Plus there are some okay lower grade problems and various run-out trad routes on Ring Road Tower.
Lots of tree cover means that the boulders can be a good choice even in hot, sunny weather. However, with long wet spells there is little that is not green and dank.
All of this is set in the lovely Frome Valley with a walkway along the small river. The ring road hums away in the background but your ears soon tune that out. If you sit quietly you will have a chance to see herons, little egrets, kingfishers, dippers, red and black great spotted woodpeckers, buzzards (sometimes mobbed by rooks), yellow wagtails, dragonflies and damselflies of various colours, voles and various species of fish such as trout and chubb rising in the river. On a mild, breezy day during a dry spell with a bit of sun it can be a blissful place even if you don't send.
The most popular access option is to park in the lane by The White Horse pub (BS16 1RY) in Hambrook on the Bristol Road B4058. Don't use the pub's parking. Walk to the end of the lane then right over a small stone step to the left of a gate with a sign saying 'Fairwater'. Walk downstream along the path under the double flyover. The Fisher's Wall Area will appear on your right: this is six minutes' walk from the parking. Walk one minute further and you will see The Cave set back on the right and on the left a metal pipe with blue graffiti below it spanning the river. The minor right fork in the path takes you after a few seconds to The Stream Bluffs and beyond that to the Great Western Brewing Company parking if you follow the directions below in reverse. If instead of turning right you continue downstream on the main path beside the river and over a tiny footbridge above a side stream, after 50 metres you will see if you look carefully The Gallery tucked high on the right above a wide clearing and then after two minutes the Ring Road Boulder will appear up on the right. Shelf Wall is just right of Ring Road Boulder and Hidden Wall a few metres right of that. If you stay on the main path by the river for another 100 metres or so you will see the Ring Road Tower on your right. Five minutes further downstream is The Anvil and then a few minutes further again Fromeshaw Bluff.
If you are approaching via the A4174 Ring Road, a good alternative is to park by the permanently closed Great Western Brewing Company building (BS16 1RF) on the Bristol Road B4058. Don't park in front of its large wooden yard gates, as vehicles do still sometimes use the yard. Also, for good relations with residents it is vital that you do not park in front of the windows of the terracotta-coloured house or in front of the other houses. There are lots of parking spaces outside the old GWB Co building and also past it towards the Ring Road, with a wall covered in bushes to the side. Walk up a short and very narrow lane entered between two vertical stone slabs next to the terracotta-coloured house and emerge over a stile into a field. Skirt the trees on the left side of the field until you come to a metal gate up a short slope (watch your pad on the barbed wire). Turn left and go over the 17th century pack bridge. Go over the bridge stile and immediately right through another metal gate. After a few moments The Stream Bluffs will appear on your left and right. After another few moments you will see a metal pipe with blue graffiti below it spanning the river in front of you. Seven minutes' walk from the parking to here. The Cave is tucked back on the left and one minute to the left upstream on the main path is the Fisher's Wall Area. If instead you turn right downstream on the main path beside the river and over a tiny footbridge above a side stream, after 50 metres you will see if you look carefully The Gallery tucked high on the right above a wide clearing and then after two minutes the Ring Road Boulder will appear up on the right. Shelf Wall is just right of Ring Road Boulder and Hidden Wall a few metres right of that. If you stay on the main path by the river for another 100 metres or so you will see the Ring Road Tower on your right. Five minutes further downstream is The Anvil and then a few minutes further again Fromeshaw Bluff.
If you are cycling from Bristol and approaching from the south, the best option is to use the Ring Road Path. Go past the Bromley Heath Roundabout on your right where the A4017 and A4174 meet. On the left there is a gate and steps down to the Frome Valley Walkway. Upstream a short way is Ring Road Tower etc. Downstream about five minutes' walk is The Anvil.
There are three more approaches from the south but the parking for them is more likely to antagonise residents and so is best avoided. Two involve parking on Penn Drive. Either walk north across the busy Ring Road and then the field to the gate and pack bridge as described above for the GWB Co approach. Or join the Ring Road Path, turn right and just before the bridge take a gate on the right with steps down to the Frome Valley Walkway. Finally, you can park on Grange Park: access the Frome Valley Walkway via a narrow path between hedges.