On the west coast of Anglesey lies the tiny Holy Island, home to the imposing and atmospheric sea cliff Gogarth. Even though the development of this cliff started only 30 years ago, its role as a bastion of British trad climbing is undeniable. Bolts are not tolerated and the hundreds of routes, many affected by the tide, should not be underestimated. Good ropework and route-finding ability are essential, for epics are best avoided here! Thankfully the majority of the routes are in the mid-grades and the rock quality is high, making these outings highly rewarding. An ascent of the mega-classic A Dream of White Horses HVS 5a or The Strand E2 5c will be remembered for many years to come, as will Hunger E5 6a, to name just one of the many magnificent hard routes on the Main Cliff.
The controversial but undeniably brilliant John Redhead left his mark on the infamous North Stack Wall during the 1980's, creating a series of life threatening routes; his worrying The Bells The Bells E7 6b was repeated 6 years after its first ascent! Fawcett's The Cad E6 6a, described as one of the best pitches in Wales, receives more ascents thanks to the psychological assistance of the controversial rusty old bolt. This is still no easy outing, for the bolt has been replaced only once! The faint-hearted should best stay well away from this wall.
There can be few crags in the UK as important as Dinas Cromlech. Situated high above the Llanberis valley this cliff, shaped like an open-book, boasts some of the best extreme climbs to be found anywhere. Three star routes of all grades abound here, including Wales' most famous rock climb, Cenotaph Corner E1 5c. It was first ascended in wet conditions by Joe Brown wearing only socks! The stunning Left Wall E2 5c accepts as much gear as is physically possible to carry, but beware, the crux is right near the top! Its brilliant opposite number, Right Wall E5 6a, is, as the guidebook says, a route-finding masterpiece. First climbed in 1974, it should never be underestimated, for the protection is good but fairly run-out. These are just three examples of the superb routes to be found here; a couple of days climbing on the Cromlech are highly recommended and the other cliffs in the Llanberis valley are worth visiting, too.
Clogwyn Du'r Arddu
Shortly after walking past the disused Halfway House the track breaks rapidly away from the rack and pinion railway, with its crowds of happy tourists on their way to conquer Wales' highest mountain for the day. Alone at last, one's thoughts turn to the crag lying nestled secretly beneath Snowdon's North Face and, almost unnoticed, it suddenly comes into view. Even from a distance its appearance is awesome: its giant dark buttresses, a jumbled mass of protruding rhyolite walls and pinnacles, tower impressively above a small, lifeless, ice cold lake. But within this apparent chaos a strange harmony exists, for the magnificent triangular central face, The Great Wall, dominates all. And it is here that John Redhead and Jerry Moffat fought some of their most famous battles, leaving behind some audacious statements of their ability, overshadowed finally by Johnny Dawes' inspirational creation, The Indian Face E9 6c. Cloggy's most famous routes weave their way ever upwards here, including the truly unforgettable The Great Wall E4 6a. Further to the right, on the West Buttress, is the incredible White Slab E1 5b, which involves lassoing a spike and then swinging on it! And high up on the Pinnacle there is the stunning Shrike E1 5c, and the impressively airy The Axe E4 5c, immortalised by Jimmy Jewell's daring early morning solo. This is just a handful of the numerous three star routes to be found here - glancing at the guidebook it soon becomes obvious why "the Black Cliff" is regarded by many as the best mountain crag in Britain!
Pete Hardmann braving it on The Boldest E3 5c
The Peak District
The Yorkshire Dales
Clogwyn Du'r Arddu