BERRY HEAD QUARRY
Once a neglected crag, home only to a selection of esoteric routes, this has now become a premier Deep Water Soloing venue with some of the best solos around. The routes tend to be a little bit scary, usually due to their height, so weenies/the sensible should consider getting brave! Having said that there are some reasonable graded routes to get you in the flow of things!
Approach: (also see map on Contents page) If coming from the Exeter direction, approach Torquay on the A380 and turn right at a roundabout after passing through Kingkerswell - this is the A3022 and is signed for Brixham. Follow this road, straight over a few roundabouts, through some more urbanified areas, and a right turn at some traffic lights, keeping on signs for Brixham. Eventually you will arrive at a Fork in the road (at some traffic lights and just in front of a noticeable white house on the corner) - take the right fork onto Monksbridge Road, and onto a roundabout. Take a left here and follow signs for Berry Head. These will take you to a large car park (paying) near the Berry Head visitor centre and the Southern Fort.
If coming from the Plymouth direction head in through Totnes, then follow signs to Brixham. This will lead to a right turn at some traffic lights (going straight on takes you into Paignton), after which you join the same approach as from Exeter.
From the car park take the road (gated) towards the Northern Fort and carry straight on (turning right here will lead you to into the fort and White Rhino Tea Buttress, a cafe and some toilets!). Follow the road, veering slightly left until you see a gate on your right and road leading down steeply into a large quarry. Wander down here. At the bottom of the road you will see an old building on the edge of the quarry - down to left of this is a platform and the start of Hysoscella Sideways. You may also see some cars parked and a fence!
Tides: The landing zones are, on the whole, very deep and a good deal of soloing can be done here at any state of the tide. There are a few routes where you need to arrive at the correct state of the tide - this is detailed in the text.
HYSOSCELLA SIDEWAYS TRAVERSE
Tides: A high, preferably spring, tide provides optimum conditions for the next route. When the tide is lower the climbing is much easier.
This route starts from the large ledge (mentioned in the approach) beneath the parking section/old building and traverses towards Brixham.
Hysoscella Sideways XS 6a/b S1/2 **
400ft The first few hundred feet can be climbed at various levels. Generally speaking the lower the level the better, and harder the climbing. A little way after an interesting rock bridge feature one can no longer see around the corner. Time for a nice surprise. After passing an arete the climber will enter an overhung cove of fantastic rock climbing. Initial tricky moves above a shallow, boulder-infested landing lead to a corner and then a big slanting crack. This is followed to a corner which is down-climbed to boulders. After sitting around for a rest, continue along boulders until beneath a line of holds which lead, via a powerful move, to the obvious break. Follow the break to gain a ledge. The end. A low level continuation may be possible - this would link up to the end of the Brixham-Berry Head Quarry Traverse*! FA Dave Henderson 18.7.98 (onsight solo)
* funnily enough this is the traverse from Brixham (Shoalstone car park) to Berry Head Quarry and it finishes before a junction with Hysoscella Sideways. Although not usually much fun, a bit of a swell and rain can make things more exciting but inform the coastguard of your proposed antics to avoid false alarms.
Just beyond the fence (and occasional naughty parking venue) a man-made wall leads along the seaward edge of the quarry to the:
You may notice a hole at the base of the quarry side of the pinnacle - looking in you will see water at the bottom, and probably hear some pidgeons. This is where the highly entertaining route Labyrinth emerges. The pinnacle is also home to several other fine routes, pride of place must go to Shady Lane.
T-Minus Ten XS 6a Fr6c S1 #
45ft The angular arete right of Labyrinth's chimney. The difficulties are at low altitude but the rock above requires some care. Step L onto the lower black arete and ‘rocket’ to a projecting handhold above. Pull up direct then bear carefully R to top out. About Fr.6c+. FA Martin Crocker 3.10.98 (solo after cleaning)
Shady Lane XS 6a Fr6b+ S1 **
45ft Approach as for Labyrinth until beneath an open, overhanging groove (this is just before where Labyrinth moves up to gain the the chimney). Climb this with a sequential start, to gain a jug-handle hold. From here a few more tricky moves lead to better holds and an easier finish. FA Dave Henderson 16.8.98 (onsight solo)
The Dulux Start XS 6a S1 # From the ledge where Labyrinth disappears inside the crag a groove/crack leads out to the groove of Shady Lane. Possibility of back slapping fall as several of the holds are undercuts. FA Dave Henderson 9.7.99 (onsight solo)
Labyrinth HVS 4c S0
60ft The S grade is for the section above the sea. The "internal" section is much more serious although technically straightforward.
Labyrinth Variation Start XS 5c-6b S0
This route enters the chimney of Labyrinth through a lower hole, providing gymnastic climbing very close to the water. The grade depends on the level of the tide. Once through the entrance slippery rock leads up to the original. FA Dave Henderson 18.7.98 (onsight solo)
Pigeon Street XS 5b S1/2
45ft Follow Labyrinth to the point where is disappears into the guts of the crack then carry on traversing to gain ledge on the opposite wall. Climb a line of weakness above, passing 2 prominent holes, to finish more or less direct. Beware of ornithological encounter on the way and if you fall remember to push out a bit. FA Dave Henderson 16.8.98 (onsight solo)
Facing the finishing hole of Labyrinth (“The Squinting Rebirth Hole”) walk to your right and descend some steps. To your left you will now see an arete above nice deep water – Austin’s Powers takes the R side of this.
Austin’s Powers XS 5c S0 **
30ft A very friendly, enjoyable, any tide Deep Water Solo! Down climb a corner from the steps then traverse right to gain the arete. Move around the arete to better holds on the right side – this traverse is easier at low tide and it is also possible to gain the arete from the other side (i.e. by traversing from the Labyrinth end of the pinnacle. This option makes the routes XS 5b). Climb the R side of the arete! FA Dave Henderson 16.8.98 (onsight solo)
An eliminate has been climbed to the right of Austin's Powers Brown Paper XS 5c 30ft S0 # FA Dave Henderson 7.99 (onsight solo)
Barefoot and the Hendersons VS 4c S1
30ft. 12 ft right of Austin’s Powers is an obvious line of weakness. At 4c you will need to gain the route from the other end of the pinnacle (if gained from the Austin's Powers end the grade is 5c, due to the technical approach!). The route is technically alright but does possess some loose rock - take care. FA Phil Austin 16.8.98 (onsight solo).
Labyrinth Pinnacle Traverse XS 5a - 5c S0 *
150ft An excellent traverse of the whole pinnacle which can be climbed in both directions. The most common way is to approach from the Labyrinth end - doing it this way will allow you to avoid the 5c crux (if necessary) by finishing up either Austin's Powers (best option and 5b) or Barefoot.... One can traverse at several different levels - if a low level is taken underneath the Labyrinth entrance hole the grade is 6a and a bit pumpy! A higher level is about 5a if you get it right. FA ?
Moving further right (facing out to sea) the next significant feature is The Navigator Pinnacle - a lump of rock with a very impressive leaning prow dropping into deep water. This is between two flat fisherman platforms.
THE NAVIGATOR PINNACLE
Tides: Refer to notes on the individual routes, but to generalise you'll be alright if you go at mid tide!
M.C.Navigator XS 6b *** S1
The definitive deep water solo; one of the best in the country. This is the leaning prow that forms the Western edge of the boss. Worth waiting for mid tide and above so it's not too high! Also note that this route can get greasy and should be in best condition after the sun's dried it out, or when there's a breeze, or if it's not too hot etc...The crux is at half-height. Probably Fr.7b. 45ft Approach across a vertical wall to the west and gain a chimney below the right side of the prow (or more easily, descend the chimney). On the left is a widening shelf. Grapple onto this and a full body rest. Reach up for a pocket-line in the arete and follow it to a finger jug at the apex. Rock up left, then climb the scalloped scoop to the top. FA Martin Crocker 20.9.98 (solo after top-roping upper half).
The following 4 routes require an abseil approach down the large central corner. An interesting earth-cone belay can be used, but you may wish to back this up!
Soul To Soul VS 4c * S1/2
40ft The large central corner has ample holds, but a fall could potentially be awkward. Abseil to a small ledge at the HWM. Bear rightwards on huge holds, pull into the corner, and continue steeply on jugs to the top. FA Martin Crocker 20.9.98 (solo)
Disco Babes From Outer Space XS 6a (S1/2) #
Awesome commitment. Hard for the grade and if you’re short you could be stuffed! There is a large rock underwater beneath the route and it is well worth waiting for high tide. 45ft From a right-pointing flake 15-18ft up Soul to Soul move up and right to a bulge. From a good round pocket pull up to hidden finger pockets and make a long stretch right to the arete and hopefully a "feeling of overwhelming relief" (or despair at being too short, or maybe that feeling of air rushing through your hair as you plummet seaward!). FA Martin Crocker 3.10.98 (top roped first)
Deep House XS 5b * S1 #
45ft The square-cut overhanging corner left of Soul to Soul. Step left from the small ledge into the corner and bridge up to the capping roof. An exposed traverse R beneath the roof and an awkward move to turn the arete gains the exit of Soul to Soul FA Martin Crocker 3.10.98 (onsight solo)
Rhythm of the Night XS 6a *** S0 #
A deep water solo with few equals; inescapable, unrelenting and above good water at all tides. Best at mid-tide as some of the footholds on the approach traverse are located at or just below the HWM. "At least Fr.7a , with high plunge probability". 45ft Abseil down as for Soul to Soul and step left below the corner of Deep House. Traverse left, moving down slightly to the HWM, and gain a vertical crack. Intricate climbing up and left on slick, compact rock should reach a flake right of a corner-line. One move up the flake then stretch left into the corner. This leads strenuously to a niche and an easier final roof. FA Martin Crocker 3.10.98 (solo after inspection) (flippin eck - 3.10.98 that's the blimmin winter that is!)
The following 2 routes are gained by descending easily to the fishermen-infested sea-washed (unfortunately not washed frequently enough - those fisherpeople are a messy lot!) platform to the right (looking out). The routes are approached via a traverse along the HWM and are described as you come across them i.e. left to right (looking in).
Crunchie HS 4a S0
35ft Traverse until beneath a corner, then climb it! FA Bruce "ye olde cidersoak" Woodley "...back in the 60's" i.e. 1983
Loftgroover HVS 5a S0
35ft The wall right of Crunchie. Move right from foot-ledge at the bottom of the wall, passing a good slot, to climb the pink wall rightwards. Finish on the crest of the buttress. FA Matthew Thompson (onsight solo) 17.4.97
The running jump from the top of this pinnacle is also a good tick!
SECTEUR ALL BECAUSE
Tides: Mid and above I guess is best!
To the right of the aforementioned platform is a higher lump of rock with a particularly angular landward arete (Sunkiss E2 5c - you will need wings or a rocket-powered mid-flight-trajectory-adjuster to consider this a deep water solo i.e. it ain't one!) The seaward arete is equally angular and taken by:
All Because XS 5b S2
If you fancy an interesting deep water solo have a look at this. Despite being more amenable than Sunkiss, and having the added bonus of being pretty-much above the sea, it is still a particularly challanging solo! 45ft Approach by traversing the HWM from a skanky gully, then climb the arete on it's right side. FSA Martin Crocker 19.9.98
Move back up to the main track that leads through the quarry, and turn left (facing quarry face). This leads to the end of the track. Nipping up and over some rock to the left, (featuring a polished fisherman descent route), then continuing out left you will find yourself atop a black wall, with an interesting looking black corner bounding the landward side.
Note: This wall is easily viewed from the seawashed platform next to Sunkiss.
ARCH ZAWN AREA
Originally a roped venue, this has now been released! Well, sort of - a rope will probably still be required to approach some of these! Abseil descent is made down the corner, and then one can sort oneself out (probably easiest on a belay in the wall to the left (facing the wall) (note: the tough may consider shimmying hand-over-hand down a knotted rope - this will avoid having to faff about removing your harness!*). It is also be possible to approach these routes via Wavewalker, thus alleviating the rope problem!.
* The Dorset lads came up with cunning wooden seat type affair for harness removal after abseil approach - basically this is a plank of wood tied onto some rope (like a swing!) which one can sit on to de-robe! Another option, if you don't want to faff about taking of your posh climbing harness (or carpentry is not your strong-point!) is to make a harness from an 8 foot sling - when you unclip the karabiner from the front this will come off easily! (if you don't know how to do make this type of harness I suggest you learn before testing it here - it's not too 'ard though!)
Tides: It would be wise to try to get here in the higher half of the tide!
Man in Black XS 5c S1 (led at E2)
The obvious olde schoole style corner. sick, slick and Black, you will need to enlist a range of fightin' skills (jammin', thrutchin and squirmin') to ascend this beauty! Enjoy. FSA Martin Crocker 19.9.98
Gothic XS 6a S0/1 (led at E4)
40ft The centre of the wall to the left (if facing) of Man in Black. The line is marked by a thread and a few pegs. Reckoned to be about French 6c. FSA Martin Crocker 19.9.98 (FA Nick White)
Breathless XS 6b S1 (led at E5)
50ft Ooh err missus! This is the line to the left of Gothic, and is also marked by a few pegs. About French 7a. FSA Martin Crocker 19.9.98 (FA Nick White)
The following route does not require an abseil approach and may give rope-free access to the other routes on the wall. Descend to the far-side of the wall.
Wavewalker XS 6b * S1 #
The crux traverse is only a few metres above the High Water Mark (HWM), the remainder is considerably easier (5c/6a) and not as escapable as it looks. 60ft Downclimb easy rock to gain the end of the wall then traverse in from the point just above the HWM until a powerful sequence clears the rib and hopefully leaves the aspirant grasping a large left-slanting pocket. Tackle the crack above, keeping just right of the arete. The final arete leads to the top. FA Martin Crocker 20.9.98 (solo after inspection)
From the far end of the quarry, after descending the awkward polished descent (as for Arch Zawn), turn right - this leads to The Quality Street Traverse:
Quality Street 400ft In it's original form (VS 4c) this is more of a roped jaunt than a safe solo; however, if it's not too rough it is possible to stay close to the sea for the entire traverse to provide a fine sea level traverse. If the low variant is taken the technical grade goes up to about 5c (if I remember correctly!). Note: this includes a low finish to gain the start of Coastguard Cliff area.
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