Tom Rainbow's Top Ten Not-So-Well-Known SW Classics
And now.....without further ado.....is Tom Rainbow's top ten not so well known SW (and Pembroke - sorry) classics, with little bits of hyperbole about each one. They're are in no particular order, except the best ones are at the beginning...
We need more photos for this article so if you have any of routes featured please get in touch
Rainbow Bridge XS 6a/b (E5), Berry Head,Devon
The best route in the world. Almost 1000ft of perfect fused limestone, almost every move 5a or harder and above the deepest, bluest water imaginable. What could be better than experiencing the route's unfolding secrets with the sun on your back, the rope in the rucksack and your mates by your side, rather than getting bored on a belay some 100ft away? Beware the last move, jumping is a (painful) option. Guidebook South Devon and Dartmoor (Nick White/ Cordee)
Hanging by the Bridge E5 6a/b, 6a, The Cauldron, S. Pembrokeshire
This was one of those *** routes of Mr Gibson's that appeared when the last Pembroke guide came out. 'Yeah right' you thought, 'it's as if the Pembroke pioneers did all the average routes first and left the best ones for the raider from the Black Country'. Well this one really is that good! An awesome position is attained before the route even starts, the first pitch improbably traverses the very lip of the through cave to the cauldron, the second boldly blasts its way up an impeccable groove system to finish through a roof two hundered feet above the waves. You will not be disappointed by this route. Guidebook Pembroke (John Harwood, Dave Viggars et al/The Climbers' Club '95)
White Rhino Tea XS 6a, Berry Head, Devon
Everyone knows that the deep water soloing in Devon is the best. Best rock, best water - even the Dorset crew know this if they're honest. White Rhino Tea is a prime example of the art - the holds are huge and plentiful, the route is only about 30ft long, so why is it so pumpy? A great find by your favourite climbing website designer! Guidebook South Devon and Dartmoor Supplement (Dave Henderson fill in form to order) The area is covered by South Devon and Dartmoor (Nick White/ Cordee)... also Devon Deep Water soloing guide at javu! (this will soon include White Rhino Tea!)
Arapiles Syndrome E3 5b, Amphitheatre Ledge, Swanage,
This little known route lies tucked away beyond the Boulder Ruckle on a rarely visited and underated wall. The approach is reasonably complicated and very committing, the route is adventurous, probably unchalked (and all the better for it)and feels big. The final wall is horrible - make sure you can jug up the ab rope. Deserves much better than the measly one star awarded in the Rockfax, the route almost lives up to its name. Guidebooks Swanage and Portland (Nigel Coe/ The Climbers' Club '95), Dorset (Pete Oxley/ Rockfax 2000)
Milky Way E3 5c, The Black Hole, Lundy
Take a look in the Lundy new route book next time you're there and you'll soon realise that for the majority of climbers who visit there may as well be 20 routes on the island. Ice, Formula One, Indy 500, Satan's Slip, Albion, Wolfman Jack...all fine routes, but the island has so much more to offer. Next time you're there you could check out Hidden Zawn; sort out the thread and get on Great Divide/Golden Gate; go to the wonderful Goat Crag; do The Howling or Bender or Brisket or...Milky Way has to be the most atmospheric route on the whole island. A zawn 150ft deep, 15ft wide, pitch black at the bottom (it's hard to see cracks for gear placements) and with only the narrowest of tidal windows, you won't find many more memorable experiences than this in climbing. Guidebook Lundy (Paul Harrison and Gary Gibson/ The Climbers' Club)
Dawn E4 5c, Bass Point, The Lizard
The Cull may have more continuous and sustained climbing, but the top pitch of Dawn oozes character and will set your heart racing as you commit to the crux moves some way above your last decent gear. Make sure you read the guidebook description carefully as the direct finish is considerably harder* and can lead to 30ft falls. Guidebooks West Cornwall (The Climbers' Club 2001), South West Climbs (Pat Littlejohn/Diadem)
* This finish was climbed by Paul Twomey and called Dusk E5 6b
Pulses Unreal E4 6a, Pentire Head, N.Cornwall A great route for those of us who love to avoid the issue - the start to Darkinbad looks so bloody scary. You can do Pulses and still hold your head up high, knowing that on any other crag, climbing of this quality would warrant ***s. Impeccable rock, as much protection as you can carry and fantastic, technical moves - what were the guidebook writers thinking of when they dropped its star? Guidebooks North Devon and Cornwall (Brian Wilkinson adn Dave Hope/ The Climbers' Club 2000. The crag is also included in South West Climbs (pat Littlejohn/ Diadem), but not the route.
The Olive Branch E4 6a, Mowing Word, S.Pembrokeshire
Tucked away from the hoardes on the West Face is this delightful little crag packed with lesser known classics - Charenton Crack is as good a 50ft E2 as any and the Olive Branch is yet another class Pembroke E4. Technical and sustained climbing, good postions on the arete of the buttress, a friendly setting and back to Mrs Weston's for tea and cakes - is there anywhere on Earth that can rival the Pembroke experience? Guidebook Pembroke (John Harwood, Dave Viggars et al/The Climbers' Club '95) The area is also covered by The Rockfax Guide, but not the route.
Paragon/Paradise Connection E1 5a 4c 5c, Bosigran, Cornwall
How many fond memories are born out of adversity? The top pitch of Paradise was never a consideration (and the guidebook does its best to put you off) until I stumbled upon a distraught gull and its nest whilst halfway up Paragon. A tactical retreat ensued, hastened by the razor sharp aim of the gull and a rethink was called for. The powerful, puzzling crux moves of Paradise were climbed in a sticky, guano induced haze, a beady eye watching my ever so quiet progress. And of course, the first two pitches of the link up approach perfection. Guidebooks West Cornwall (The Climbers' Club 2001), Cornish Rock (Tim Dennell and Rowland Edwards)
The Lumpy Universe E2 5c, Anstey's Cove, Devon
An unfashionable part of an unfashionable crag. This route needs gear - shock horror. Because of this it reamins unfairly neglected and deserves many more ascents. Its 90ft of climbing tests a multitude of disciplines - a straightforward start to the cave on Moonshot leads to the crux traverse, which is technical and bewildering at first. This is followed to a scoop, hard pulls through a bulge and intricate route finding throughout. One of Torbay's unsung gems. Guidebook South Devon and Dartmoor (Nick White/ Cordee)
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