North Wales A55 Sport Developments 2011

Over the last five years the small sport crags along the A55 road in North Wales have been revitalised. Classic venues like Castle Inn and Llanddulas Cave received makeovers and the development of a 'new' crag in the form of the now popular Penmaenhead culminated in Michael Doyle's A55 Sport Climbs guide being published in 2010.

Chris Doyle on Chilly Tea 6c, Ty Newydd, 200 kb
Chris Doyle on Chilly Tea 6c, Ty Newydd
© Michael Doyle

The area is now a popular option for sport ticking as the crags are friendly, convenient and non serious and many routes can be racked up in day. The area provides a wet weather alternative to the ever-popular big days out on the world class mountain and sea crags of North Wales.

Development of the area didn't stop with the publication of the guide however. In fact it has accelerated, prompting a second edition to be published imminently.

The development has been carried out mainly by a small group of obsessed activists including Michael Doyle, Chris Doyle, Norman Clacher, Tony Shelmerdine and the evergreen Colin Goodey whose new routing career now spans 7 decades.

Chris Doyle has been the man behind many of the new harder routes, which now range up to 8b.

Chris Doyle on The Hole Truth 8b, Dyserth Waterfall, 224 kb
Chris Doyle on The Hole Truth 8b, Dyserth Waterfall
© Michael Doyle

Alex Mason on Release the Hounds 7c, Craigiau Gigfran, 92 kb
Alex Mason on Release the Hounds 7c, Craigiau Gigfran
© Michael Doyle
The quiet backwater of Dyserth has been opened up as a climbing area with 3 new crags and 39 routes ranging from 4 to 8b. Waterfall crag provides beefy roof testpieces alongside some fine easier walls. A limestone slab has been developed above the Dyserth/Prestatyn Walkway providing long, low grade routes. Ty Newydd is the jewel in the crown and gives technical and interesting climbing in a lovely setting. Once again there is a big grade range from 6a right up to Pete Robin's desperate First Round, First Second 8a+. (NB: It is imperative that the strict access restrictions at this crag are adhered too. That is no climbing on Friday's and Saturdays from 1st October to 31st January (shooting days). Follow the agreed approach route and no dogs at any time.)

Llanddulas Cave now sports 3 new sectors with The Tower being a rather significant addition that is guaranteed to be popular. Colin Struthers and Harold Walmsley have developed a new sector at Penmaenhead (Trench Wall) with 14 new routes. Colin Goodey returned to his old stomping ground Castle Inn and kick started proceedings on 5 new little walls which cater for low grade sport climbers and beginners.

Finally development at Craigiau Gigfran above Penmaenmawr unearthed the best route in the area. Gav Foster's Release the Hounds (7c) follows an immaculate overhanging, curving prow to a lovely headwall and it became an instant classic.

Colin Goodey bolting at Castle Inn, 157 kb
Colin Goodey bolting at Castle Inn
© Michael Doyle

Helen Ashman on Dyserth Castle Slab, 227 kb
Helen Ashman on Dyserth Castle Slab
© Michael Doyle

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