Altitude 15m a.s.l
When the sun drops and the walls start to glow © Tommy Harris
The Hedbury and Smokey Hole areas encompass four very different crags to the west of Dancing Ledge. The main interest for most climbers will be Hedbury Quarry, which is a similar but more compact version of the main quarry at Dancing Ledge. The rock here is steep and solid and dotted with flowstone holds. It is a good place for an afternoon's sport climbing in winter, getting lots of sun and being set back away from the sea. Just around the corner from the quarry is the atmospheric Hedbury Big Cove with its leaning walls, massive overhangs, slightly unstable rock and hard trad routes. Smokey Hole, on the other hand, is more solid and less steep than Hedbury Big Cove but has a similar set of high quality, high grade trad routes in a sensational setting. The tucked away Topmast Quarry has three steep and sheltered sport routes.
Hedbury is approached from Langton Matravers. From just outside Swanage town, turn off the A351 towards Langton Matravers. Once in the village, go past the post office and turn left into Durnford Drove. The free car park is 300m down the road (on a track for the last 150m) just beyond Langton House. From the parking, walk south on a good path/track to Spyway Barn. Continue through two fields until the cliff-top path is reached. Head down the big hill (via stone steps) to the coast path, which lies above Dancing Ledge.
For Hedbury Quarry and Big Cove (Left) - Once at the coast path, above Dancing Ledge, turn right (looking out) and follow it for 500m over a gentle hill. At a stile, drop down a ridge path on the left into a huge open quarry with a large cannon in its base. The quarry routes are on the wall on the left (looking out). To get to Hedbury Big Cove, drop down some rock steps to a sea-level ledge that leads left (looking out) into a cave.
For Big Cove (Right) and Smokey Hole - The cliff-top quarry is situated 50m further on from the open-cast Topmast Quarry, which in turn is 300m further on from Dancing Ledge. The descent path is below some planks on the coast path that cross a dry stream bed. The four routes are gained by an abseil (no stake currently in place but there are plans to place one) from a point 10m left (looking out) of the descent to the hidden quarry. The abseil leads down Diving for Pearls.
The Dorset Rockfax covers the superb sport and trad climbing in Portland, Swanage and Lulworth on the Dorset coast. This amazing area is one of the most popular sport climbing areas in the country with a huge number of routes across the grades and great appeal to climbers of all abilities. Thousands of brilliant routes and a relatively friendly climate mean that the area is always busy with climbers.
The 2021 edition of the Dorset Rockfax is the biggest Rockfax to date with 2700 routes on over 600 pages. It is a complete update of previous guides and released in print and digital at the same time. All the crags have been re-photographed using aerial photography and a new set of detailed maps created to make finding and choosing your chosen route even easier than ever.