Rocktype Welsh igneous
Altitude 264m a.s.l
A gear placing lesson © omerta
Set in the idyllic Shropshire hills and providing a concentration of lower grade climbs.There are both multi-pitch routes of up to 60m and single pitches of 15m.
Nice little crag with excellent views. Routes are long enough to be interesting and the rock felt secure even in the middle of January. Descent from routes is either a long walk-around or down a steep muddy gully; either way, take a change of footwear unless you like tobogganing down slopes at speed.
As you enter the village of Pontesford on the A488, look for a tractor Emporium on your left and immediately afterwards a small side road with a sign for the Earls Hill Nature Reserve.
Follow the single track road up to a car park on top of a small crest signed Earls Hill Nature Reserve (previously there was room for about 7 cars but was extended in early 2017, and will now accommodate ~20).
After parking follow the left-hand path from the car park end (not the steps through the woods or the main path that climbs through the woods). Walk for 10-15 minutes on that path and through woods then fields and after you go through a third gate take an obvious path that heads off up to the right from the main path towards a steep scree slope and the crag. Immediately after the third gate is a sign/notice board about the area, including signs about the bird ban.
The crag is within Earls Hill Nature Reserve which is managed by Shropshire Wildlife Trust. The Trust have a positive view of climbing here providing that people are sensitive to the ecological interests of the site. In particular the scree slopes should be treated with care. No camping and no fires, please.
The 'Fifty Foot Wall' routes were cleaned up and extensively restored in early 2013, with the intention of giving climbers an alternative area if (as often happens) Peregrines choose to nest on the main crag. Feel free to go try these - you might actually like them...
In late 2013, the Wildlife Trust undertook some further vegetation clearance work, mainly of invasive trees on the scree slopes, but also of scrub on the rocks. The intent was to improve the cliff environment from the climbers' point of view, as it will allow more light and air to dry the rocks better.
Dates: 1 March to 16 July
Reason: Nesting Birds
Peregrines normally nest at Pontesford Rocks each year, with the nest site changing from year to year.
In 2020, we attempted to find a way to permit the use of some routes whilst closing others, but a number of incidents occurred which meant this was not really workable. This included one party who apparently abseiled right over the ledge with the nest and caused considerable consternation to the birds.
Mid March 2021
The birds have already been seen prospecting the crag, and the current assumption is that they will use the same next site as last year. In the circumstances, an agreement has been made between the BMC and the Shropshire Wildlife Trust to ask climbers to avoid the whole crag once again this year, until mid July, to avoid disturbance to the birds. The situation will be monitored by both the BMC and the SWT, and if it turns out that they choose a different next site, the situation will be reviewed and hopefully a new agreement can be made. In that case, the update will be published here on the Regional Access Database, and on notices in the fields etc at the foot of the crag. Please note that there is considerable local interest in the peregrines, and a number of nearby residents will once again be visiting the hill and surrounding paths on a frequent basis. Anyone seen climbing can expect to be robustly challenged!
Notes retained here from 2020 - update mid July 2020
The birds have now (16th July) successfully fledged two chicks, and no longer need to use the 'scrape'/nest site.
All routes at the crag can now be considered open, and the site signage is being removed as soon as it can be.
The Shropshire Wildlife Trust, The Shropshire Peregrine Group and the BMC would like to thank all climbers who have avoided the rocks during the 2020 nesting season.
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