Cuckoo Rock and Combeshead Tor SX588688
A stunning area which is home to several of the best problems on The Moor. The only two possible drawbacks are a walk-in of about 20 minutes and the spread out nature of some of the problems... having said this 20 minutes is not long and when I say spread out I only mean in comparison to Bonehill Rocks. If you're going to boulder on in the South West this is a must-visit venue!
Many thanks to Sam Arkle for his invaluable help with this guide.
From Plymouth or Princetown: From the village of Dousland on the main Yelverton / Princetown road. Turn off the main road by the Burrator Inn (signed Sheepstor and Meavy. After ½ mile turn left (signed Sheepstor and Burrator Reservoir). Carry straight on with the dam on your right to a small bridge (Norsworthy Bridge) followed by a sharp right turn. After another small bridge there is ample parking just before the road veers right. SX 568693
From Exeter/A38: Take the A38 to Lee Mill (the exit after Ivybridge. Follow signs for Cornwood and then straight on until a right turn just passed the village of Wotter – this is signed for Meavy and takes you over Cadover Bridge. Take the next right (where the main road takes a sharp left) and continue straight on to Meavy. Up the hill after Meavy turn right (signed Sheepstor and Burrator Reservoir). Carry straight on with the dam on your right to a small bridge (Norsworthy Bridge) followed by a sharp right turn. After another small bridge there is ample parking just before the road veers right. SX 568693
Walk up the good track in a south easterly direction, passing the ruins of a building on the right, until the track opens out (just after more ruins on the left) and a paths leads on across a couple of fields. When you get to a boggy area you will see a smattering of boulders strewn across the hillside – the largest one at the top of the hill is Cuckoo Rock SX 584687.
After crossing the stream/bog (there is a technical sequence to this for those who want to keep their feet dry!), start up the hill and follow the path towards Cuckoo Rock.
Photo topo - well worth a look!
Halfway up the hill on the right is a block with a prominent horizontal crack:
1 Cracked Boulder Traverse V2 5c Traverse the obvious right to left break.
2 V2 6a The slabby face from midway along the traverse. A precarious step up into the break (tip: undercut!) and teeter up to the top. V6 6c Also goes with a bum start – reachy.
3 Traverse and Slab V3 6a A real gem. Start as for 1 then finish up 2.
4 V2 5c x The narrow face on the right hand end of the block (i.e. downhill!) climb straight on. The fist move isn’t too bad on the way up but is tricky to reverse if you bottle the terrifying finish!!
Moving right around to the backside of the boulder is a sheltered alcove, the left wall of which has an obvious rising ramp.
5 Ramp Traverse V2 5c Left to right traverse of the obvious slopey ramp. This does get a little lichenous early season so a quick brush may be a good idea.
6 V2 6a The vague groove on the right with a left hand finish. A sneaky trick helps!
7 V1 5b The right hand version of the groove uses a good hold on the arête up to the right…
Five metres to your right is a large boulder balanced on a ledge.
8 Zealous V2 6a A sit-start (only on the rock directly below the main boulder) allows you to reach flakes on the large boulder above followed by a tricky and scary topout.
Sharp Arête Block
Down to the The Cracked Boulder is a pyramid-shaped boulder. Starting on the South Face (i.e lowest) from left to right:
9 Sloping Arête V1 5b The left arête using jug to the left. A fine, scary stretch for the top of the pinnacle.
10 V4 6b Bum start on two low holds to gain edge just left of centre. Stretch up left to reach the slopey arête and use these to reach the summit. No use of jug around on slabby side of arete at this grade.
11 Sharp Arête V2 5c The right arête of the south face is a mega-classic. Start on the left and twist round to the right halfway up at a good hold. Delightful!
12 V1 5b The right-hand start to the Sharp Arete.
13 Crystal Wall V3 6a The wall up right of the Sharp Arete (East facing) – a matchstick edge up and left is the key to success at this grade. An eliminate super direct at goes at 6b/c ?
14 Crystal Arête V0- 4c The short arête to the right of crystal wall.
15 V4 6b Right to left traverse. Start on left side of Sharp arête, twist round the arête and traverse across the Crystal Wall to the right arête.
A few more problems can be found on the boulders just beneath The Sharp Arete Boulder, the best of which is found on a narrow slab:
16 V0 4c A rising hand traverse along the right edge of the boulder.
Over to the east is a 20 foot high buttress with an obvious cleaned crack (unfortunately this is prone to winter seepage).
17 The Crack V1 5b A mini-route up the crack! If only it were longer!
Just around the right arete is a low sloping shelf:
18 V5 6b From the slopey shelf move up to the obvious undercut and finish at the obvious large crack to the right. Crimps on the lefthelp. Finish by stepping right to the crack. There is a traverse "Power Traverse" V7 6c that starts on the left arete and incorporates this problem.
Just right of the wide crack is a vague scoop/sloping ledge
19 V4 6b A funky mantle onto the scoop from a hanging start. There is a trick to this! Either finish up the slab above up onto the slab (dirty, scary and bolder than life itself!) or, more sensibly, step off onto the boulder on the left!
Walk right leads to the top of a large, clean slab. The first problem is on boulder the above the slab.
20 V2 5c The shallow vertical crack in the boulder is climbed by stepping in from the left. A low, direct start should also go ? (at 6c?)
On the lovely slab:
21 Slab Right V0- 4c Start on the right of the slab to gain the top, then traverse left to finish on the highest point.
22 The Slab V0 5a The centre of the gorgeous slab is thin!
23 Slab Left V0- 4c The left-hand line on this slab using the arete. Missing out the left arête makes a V0 5b!
24 Cracked Slab V0- 4c The smaller slab to the left.
To the left of the Cracked Slab is the narrow overhanging face of a thin boulder.
25 V0- 4c The left arête starting on the narrow end face and swinging right to hand traverse right.
26 Dynamic Arête V2 6a The slopey version of the arête. A hard start on slopers on the arête gains jugs above!
Just over to the east (15 metres) of The Slabs are two large blocks. The closest one is undercut:
27 V1 5c The right arête of the block.
On the east side of the boulder is a low overhang:
28 Simon’s Roof V5 6b A hard pull from the obvious crimps right of the crack gains a jug on the lip and tricksome top out using holds up and right.
Below The Slabs is a large but low boulder with a mini ramp on its south side.
29 Balancing Act V2 5c The mini-ramp provides a precarious problem above a sloping landing.
On the next boulder downhill:
30 Strong Man V2 6a The left arete/rib type thing! A powerful start leads up right to a good flake and OK finish..
Just below is another boulder. The following problem is found on the green, lichenous north face:
31 V0- 5a The low right arête from sitting start. A bit crunchy.
The slab on the west face of the block is dirty. The following excellent problem is found on the south face.
32 Breakdown V0- 4b The face is climbed via a few breaks and a curious slopey ledge about 7 feet up.
33 V2 5c Left to right traverse. Start just left of short overhanging finger crack (Mercy), then hand traverse right until you get bored.
34 V7 6c (?) Hard bum start to 35 up the low arete to the left
35 Mercy V4 6b The short overhanging crack. A sit-start on painful holds leads to a rock-over onto the slab.
A few more problems can be found just to the East – these are left for your own discovery!
CUCKOO ROCK AREA
Hanging Groove Boulder
About 25 yards north of the The Cracked Boulder is a large boulder with a prominent hanging groove. This is easily seen up to the left when you on your way up the approach path.
36 Hanging Groove V1 5c The obvious hanging groove has a rather sloping landing; fortunately only the first couple of moves are tricky. Classic.
37 V1 5b The short flake crack up to the left of the hanging groove. A bum start makes the most of it; the top out is the crux and safe landing zone a tad on the small.
38 Slabby Rib V0- 5a Up to the right of the Hanging Groove is a large flake on a rib; pull up on this and rock-over to finish. A bit of fun can be had by starting with your right hand on the flake of 38 and jumping up left to catch the lip. A frantic and scary mantle to the left gains the top V2 6a
About fifteen metres towards Cuckoo rock is a triangular boulder with a vertical east face and two sharp aretes:
39 V0- 5a The left arête has pretty good holds.
40 V0 5b The right arête has a dodgy landing
41 V0- 4c Start on right side of the arête; climb the slab trending up right.
Between The Cracked Boulder and Cuckoo Rock is a slab on the right:
42 V1 5c The central line. The hard bit is getting started.
43 Rhino’s Back V0- 5a The flakes on the rib to the right with a sit start.
Just to the right on the adjacent boulder is a short crack:
44 Dragoon V1 5b The low crack from a sit start (feet on boulder).
This big boulder is home to some excellent problems – at best these are just scary, at worst they are downright dangerous. The landing are mostly poor and the problems high so you may wish to bring a rope or plenty of mats!
The West Face
45 V4 6a/b x An obvious challenge up the centre of the wall. Start by the cave and precariously balance up and right (crux) to gain the first slopey break. Move up to the next one and finish more easily. Although the first section is the crux the section above is still tricky and serious. Sometimes top roped. Mats and spotters take the sting out of it.
46 Feathers E5 6b x The extremely bold right arête of the main slab is of high boulder problem height but would probably really hurt if you fell off.
The South Face
47 V3 6a A sequency crack leads to a sketchy pull onto the slab.
48 3a The easy slab gained from the boulder.
The East Face
49 V4 6b The steep side of the arête forming the right edge of the easy slab! Start on the undercut and follow the arête up right. Take a spotter and mat.
50 V3 6a x Starting on the right arête, work up left through the two diagonal breaks into the small horizontal one on the left shoulder and rock onto the slab.
51 V0- 5a The right arête and crack-line.
The North Face
52 V0- 4b The left hand line has good holds and is the perhaps the safest way down from the top.
53 V0- 5a x The right arête.
Just north is a large boulder with a T-shaped crack on its south face.
54 Sync V0- 5a The south face.
55 Reach V2 6a The arête on the right of the steep west wall, sketchy moves off poor holds lead to a flake out left and easier top-out.
56 V4 6b Straight-up on slopers starting from the holds in the break where the boulder is most undercut. A few variations exist.
57 V7 6c Low level left to right traverse to finish up Reach. Extend it to Sync for a V8/9
A few yards over down to the left (Northish) is a low, undercut arête:
58 V5 6b From a bum start on the low holds (not much for your feet!), reach/slap up the arête with you left hand, then struggle to get your feet up! Once established step off right!
From Cuckoo Rock look west, up towards the main Tor. A few hundred yards over on the right is a large, angular boulder – The Block - and over to the left is another prominent boulder – Hanging Flake Boulder.
When approaching from Cuckoo Rock you come across the west face, a slabby wall with shallow break at half height.
59 V0- 5a The dirty left hand line on the slab. Quite high.
60 V2 5c x The central line. A fine problem but quite high above a dodgy landing.
61 V0- 4c Follow the flake on the right then step right to finish up the ramp.
62 V0 5b The steep side of the arête on the south-west corner. Sit start on the low flake and follow the steep, right side of the arête up right to the pinnacle – flakes on the right help with the top-out.
63 V4 6b Sit-start on low flake to the right. Somehow gain a reasonable hold up right then move up awkwardly!
64 V0- 5a On the wall to the right traverse right to left along the obvious break, moving up at the left end.
150 yards South West is a another large boulder - this is quite hard to see so look carefully! On arrival you will notice that it holds a splendid, rounded arête – Proof of Concept.
PROOF OF CONCEPT BOULDER
65 V0- 4b The slabby west face via a curious pocket. Eliminate the pocket for a V0- 5a
66 V0 5b The slabby left hand side of the arête without using the pocket.
67 Proof of Concept V5 6b The arête on the right side.. An exceptional problem requiring faith, commitment and technical expertise.
68 Hypothesis V9/10 The wall to the right does have one reasonable-looking hold..
69 V5 6b The right arête on the south wall. 6b starting from high edge…
70 Project. A low start to the right arete.
Walking North up towards the main Tor the first big boulder you come across can be identified by a viciously overhanging west face and slopey lip traverse on
DYNO FROM UNDERCUTS
71 V6 6b A left to right traverse along the break. Extremely cunning footwork helps on the final moves.
72 Dyno from Undercuts V6 6c A classic hard dyno – the key to this is believing you’ll get the jug! From good undercuts somehow gain the flake jug miles above! A low start (i.e. hanging on the break) will be harder ? and a linking a traverse in from the left will be even harder?
73 V0- 4c On the right hand end of the wall climb straight up via a flake.
Around the other (East) side of the boulder is a slopey lip:
74 V7 6b A left to right traverse of the slopey lip, starting from crack on left and finishing up Flake n Slab on the right.
75 Flake ‘n’ Slab V1 5b Start hanging on the low flake on below the right side of the slopey lip and rock over leftwards to gain slopers. Pull over onto the slab.
A handful of good problems can be found spread around and beyond the main Tor. These are left for your own discovery.
Back towards Cuckoo Rock is a wide boulder identified by stepped roofs:
75 Pervert’s Traverse V4 6a Starting low beneath the left end of the roof and struggle along the break rightwards.
76 Pervert’s Traverse - Extended Start V5 6b An extended start from low on the left. Spikey landing and quite brutal climbing.
77 V4/5 6b? A reach dependent problem straight up the middle of the boulder from the middle of Perverts Traverse - standing start. Can be lengthened by starting along the Perverts Traverse at about a grade harder.
78 Peeping Tom V9 Above the start of Perverts Traverse is a poor edge on the lip. Move out to this the up to a hard, rounded top out. FA Mike Cleverdon 2010
(note: this is shown only on main topo)
Looking back towards Cuckoo Rock look right and you'll see a large boulder:
HANGING FLAKE BOULDER
A stunning block, home to some fantastic problems – one of the finest boulders on the Moor. Getting down is either a jump onto the boulder next to Northern Lights or down-climb of the 4c Flake Crack. Starting at the obvious hanging flakes on the south west arête:
79 Hanging Flakes V4 6b One of the best lines on the Moor is a stunning problem which is in all locals’ top 10. Layback up the rounded left side of the arête to gain the first flake; get established on this and stretch up to the distant flake above. OK for the grade but high!
80 Flake Crack V0- 4c The main crack up the centre of the slabby face to the right. Although the crux isn’t too high the top can be scary if your pushing your grade! Another first class problem.
81 V6 6c The high slab to the right – resisting the temptation to move left into the crack is tough! Can be climbed on the left or the right, the left being more escapable. Mind the step at the bottom when you fall off!
82 V2 5c x The arête to the right, starting on the left and twisting round to the right higher up. Don’t fall off.
83 V1 5b x The right hand side of the arête in it’s entirety. An easier start but still a dreadful landing.
84 Aurora V8 The slabby wall to the left of the right of the arête. Thin and hard!
85 V1 5b The shallow crack up the middle of the wall.
On the North Face:
86 Northern Lights V1 5c The left arête with help from some slopers to the right.
87 V4 6b Gain the obvious slopers at 8ft either using the left arête (easiest), bouncing off the floor or with a hard pull . Make a tricky move direct to the top (no use of left arête!). Also goes as a double handed dyno for a bit of extra fun!.
88 V4 6b Start as for 87 but move out right to a poor break and tricky rightwards finish.
89 Side Effects V10 To the right is a vague arête. On first inspection it just looks hard, however, you then realize that there are no feet holds and the start is undercut. Eventually climbed making use of an undercut/sidepull on the wall to the right. Big span probably useful.
90 Flake Wall V5 6b The wall left of Hanging Flakes. Make a couple of moves up the wall left of the arete to gain the flake and use it to make a long span up and left to a slopey break.
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