Classic routes

Top 5 rock climbs in Pembrokeshire

Avid Pembrokeshire climber Alan regularly dangles from a rope, halfway down a cliff for fun.

Here he gives his five must-do classic routes in Pembrokeshire.

“There are hundreds of classic lines on Pembrokeshire’s cliffs so how on earth do I narrow it down to just 5? The grade is a good place to start. I’ve only ever managed a few E grade climbs, so I’ll leave those out. There are a few decent lower grade climbs around but I guess they really start getting interesting in the HS (Hard Severe) to HVS (Hard Very Severe) grades, which is a level mere mortals like me can manage and, more to the point, enjoy! So here goes, my top 5.”

  • Sea Mist at Saddle Head. HS 4a

This is a fantastic exposed fin jutting out over the sea. It’s a superb photo opportunity and apart from a couple of dainty moves as you traverse out onto the fin, it’s pretty easy. Saddle Head is one of the busiest faces on Range East because there are lots of good single-pitch, low-grade climbs to practice on and you don’t have to abseil down to the base. This does mean that you’ll probably have an audience but you’ll have to wait in line! When you’re done, have a go at nearby Blue Sky, a two-pitch VS 4b.

  • Threadneedle Street at Mother Carey’s Kitchen, Lydstep. HS

Nicknamed Mother Scary’s partly because of the BIG abseil in but this route is such fun, it’s worth the vertigo-inducing drop in. The base is tidal too so check your tide tables. The route starts at the back of a cave before traversing out onto the face on lovely ledges before joining ‘The Cracks’. Guillemots sometimes nest in cracks on the traverse so it’s best not to climb this between May and July even though it isn’t covered by the bird nesting restrictions.

  • Deidre Sud, Mowing Word. HS 4a

Mowing Word, in between Broad Haven South and Barafundle Beaches, looks impossibly steep and hard but there is one route right in the middle that’s really easy. It isn’t easy to locate and is used as the preferred abseil route down to the bottom but to climb on this face amongst all the E grade climbs is great for confidence building. This is a two pitch climb up a prominent crack.

  • Armorican, Craig Caerfai. VS/HVS 4c

This is another popular practice crag with several good quality lower-grade, single-pitch climbs and it’s in a lovely south-facing spot on the headland by Caerfai beach. Some people abseil in but it’s an easy scramble down if you prefer. The one truly great climb on this cliff is Armorican at the top of the VS grade. It starts off at an easy angle with good holds but gradually steepens and steepens and the holds get thinner and thinner. It’s nicely protected but very delicate at the top.

  • Razzle Dazzle, Crystal Slabs. VS 4c

This is a lovely slab in Range East and closer to Stack Rocks car park than St Govan’s. Access is via an easy scramble descent, which is great if you’re not keen on abseiling. No tidal issues here either. The slab is at an easy angle to start but has a big bulge at mid-height, which provides most of the fun as you try to pull over it. Most of the dozen climbs here are similar but Razzle Dazzle and Gadfly have the best lines.

If you have always thought you’d love to give climbing a go, well Pembrokeshire is a great place to begin a life long passion.

You can try indoor climbing to start with at The Hangout, a climbing wall within Haverfordwest Leisure centre, they have one-hour long taster sessions.

If you dream of having the sound of the ocean below you as you climb then one of our highly qualified climbing schools that can cater for all abilities – search here for a climbing school.

Whichever option you choose, you’re going to have an incredible experience. Enjoy.