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Dinas Cromlech

By: Nicholas Hobley, photos Alex Messenger & Don Sargeant
Country: Wales, Region: Snowdonia, Town: Llanberis (Gwynedd)

There can be few crags in Wales, and the entire UK, as important as Dinas Cromlech. Situated high above the Llanberis valley this historic cliff, famously shaped like an open-book, boasts some of the best extreme climbs anywhere.

Three star routes of all grades abound here, including what is probably the most sought-after E1 in the entire United Kingdom, Cenotaph Corner. Dating all the way back to 1952, this climb was first ascended in wet conditions by none other than Joe Brown wearing nothing but socks on his feet. "The Corner", more so than perhaps any other route, stands as a lasting testament to Brown's outstanding brilliance.

Just as the Cenotaph Corner is probably the most desired E1, its lefthand neighbour Left Wall is probably the most dreamt of, and agonised, E2. This climb accepts as much gear as is physically possible to carry but the crux, right at the top where the crack peters out, bites hard and stings fast! Be warned.

Its brilliant opposite number Right Wall is, as the guidebook says, a route-finding masterpiece. First climbed in 1974 by Pete Livesey, this E5-must heralded a step into the unknown at the time and even today should never be underestimated. Although the protection is good, it is fairly run-out and requires a very cool head as you inch your way ever upwards in search of those elusive thank God holds...

Spiral Stairs, Lord of the Flies, Cemetary Gates, Ivy Sepulchre, Sabre Cut, Resurrection... all of these climbs are legends in their own right and, added to the rest, the reason why the Cromlech held, holds and will always continue to hold such an important place in the history of British rock climbing.


Reach Llanberis in Wales. From Llanberis drive up the pass until Dinas Cromlech springs imposing into view on the left. There is limited parking close to the boulders, alternatively, park at the pass or take a bus from Llanberis. In the interest of avoiding further erosion, from the Cromlech boulders head up the grassy spur towards Colgwyn y Wennol. Continue up the slope just right of the stream and then head diagonaly up right towards the crag until near the western descent gully.


Vertical face climbing on diorite characterised by small edges and cracks.


Accommodation in Llanberis, ranging from hotels and B&B's to campsites. Pete's Eats is the tradional climber's hangout for meals, while The Heights is the climber's pub.


There is excellent bouldering on the Cromlech boulders next to the road.

Nico Favresse, trad climbing in Wales taken from Onsight by Alastair Lee

Access and Care of the Environment - Land Ownership, Access & Legislation
The bulk of the land within the Llanberis guidebook area is owned by local farmers, or by larger landowners with their land being worked by tenant farmers. The National Trust does not have a presence in the valley.
Climbers have been fortunate in the past to have enjoyed a long tradition of free access to almost all the crags in the Llanberis area. Access restrictions have been necessary in only the most exceptional of circumstances, such as the 1967 and 2001 outbreaks of Foot and Mouth Disease. Major legislation in the form of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act of 2000 is now in force governing matters of access; although in practical terms very little has changed locally from the status quo. Briefly, the CRoW Act gives members of the public the right of access on foot, to take part in a number of recreational activities, including climbing, in areas designated as Open Access land. Land owners have the right to impose temporary restrictions for purposes such as land management work, wildlife protection and fire prevention. 1:25,000 Ordnance Survey maps are now available showing the areas of Open Access land. This information can also be found on the website of the Countryside Council for Wales (details below). All the cliffs covered by this book are on Open Access land.

The Countryside Council for Wales
The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) is the statutory body responsible for conserving areas of natural beauty, wildlife, and for safeguarding the enjoyment of the outdoor environment by members of the public. It gives advice to government, policy makers, landowners and the public, and funds sustainable land management to achieve these aims. The CCW runs an informative website www.ccw.gov.uk, which gives detailed and up to date information on access and conservation matters including:
The Countryside Code, which everyone using this area is asked to observe. The code has now developed a style that aims to inform and educate, rather than presenting a simple list of dos and don'ts. Areas of Open Access land, with current details of any temporary access restrictions permitted under the CRoW Act. The location of Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSls), Special Areas of Conservation (SACs), and other protected sites. The work they undertake to conserve and protect wildlife and habitats, through research, monitoring, licensing, and land management.


Llanberis by Iwan Afron Jones (2009), Climbers' Club

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