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WEST CORNWALL - THE LIZARD

North Coast | South Coast (now on separate pages)

Guidebook: West Cornwall Authors/Year: loads (edited by Nigel Coe) 2001 Publisher: The Climbers' Club

Cornish Rock by Rowland Edwards, Tim Dennell and Mark Edwards

A selection of the best routes in the area can also be found in South West Climbs by Pat Littlejohn (Diadem)

Further details on the area


The Lizard

Predannack Head
Nantivet Cliff
The Horse
Vellan Head
Hollywood Walls
Pen Olver
Amnesty Wall
Bass Point
Carn Barrow
The Grove
Black Head


Predannack Head

The crag on the tip of the headland is quite extensive. Routes described can be reached between low and midetide. Scramble down the front of the headland to a large ledge 25 metres above some shelves of rock which are above high tide mark. Abseil in from good threads (or climb down at VDiff - care with rock).

Start the Week Very Severe 50 metres #
A good exploratory route up the left side of the crag. Start from a small ledge behind a huge boulder.
1) 4b 30m Climb the groove/crack to a handrail traverse leading leftwards below a bulging wall. Having cleared the bulge climb up and rightwards to a stance. 2) 4c 20m Follow the L-ward trending crack above, step left and take the obvious line past a bulge to the top.FA Pat Littlejohn, D Garner 21/05/07

Raconteurs' Route Hard Severe * 45 metres #
Probably the easiest line on the cliff. At mid-tide or below, traverse right from the non-tidal ledges beneath the cliff to an obvious pillar at the base of the main face. The route follows the crack rising rightwards from the top of the pillar.1) 4a/b 25m Climb the crack to a steepening at 18m then trend left to a stance. 2) 4b 25m Pull straight over the bulge on good holds then follow the crack on the open slab, bearing left to pass the final nose. FA Pat Littlejohn, D Garner 3/05/07


Nantivet Cliff

OS ref SW 682 135

500m NW of Kynance Cove, a big barrel-shaped crag forms the back of a small bay enclosed by the rounded sea stack of Nantivet Rock. On the left (NW) side of the crag a broken area of low-angled rock forms a corner with the main mass. Approach by abseiling 50 down the slabby rock to ledges near the base of the corner. From about 2hrs after LW it is possible to traverse right across huge boulders beneath the cliff till they end at a flat rock.

Give and Take MXS 60m #
The only apparent breach in this 'impregnable' cliff. Begins enjoyably. 1) 8m Traverse right to belay at a big hidden crack splitting the bulge.
2) 52m 5b Climb through the bulge and follow the groove pleasantly on to the upper wall. Continue directly up the continuation groove, trusting nothing, to reach poor belays at the cliff edge.FA Pat Littlejohn, D Garner 22/05/07


Vellan Head

Serpentine Ridge Mild XS 5c #
500 feet The crest of a dramatic knife-edge ridge north of Vellan Head on the Lizard. One of the longest and most striking lines in South Cornwall. Mostly technically easy climbing on rock varying from reasonable to attrocious. The crux involves a precarious mantle onto a rotten pillar... The best protection came from 16 foot slings draped over the crest. FA Steve Findlay and John Alcock August 2003 (on-sight)

A big rockfall has taken some of True North (pitch 2 the top of the corner); Beauty and the Beast and The Falconer may also have been affected.

Pat Littlejohn: "Repeated The Falconer, which after the rockfall is now the only route taking the central part of the cliff. Still E4 6a and good climbing till the rock quality deteriorates near the top forcing you to escape rightwards. Serious."

Africa Slabs Area

This newly developed area lies on the west side of Vellan Head itself, which is some 500 metres west of the established climbing on Hidden Buttress. The headland consists of a broad, broken ridge, easy-angled at first but steepening and narrowing as it descends. The east side (left facing out) is made up of slabs broken by horizontal breaks.

Scramble easily down broken rocks on the West side of the headland to a terrace above more substantial gentle slabs. Continue down diagonally left to a spur which allows easy access to the base of the cliff. Ledges (sea-washed at half tide or when a big sea is running) lead back right towards the overhanging seaward nose of Vellan Head itself. At higher tides, a straightforward abseil from blocks on the crest of the ridge lands on ledges just East of the nose.

The East side of Vellan Head consists of an area of seemingly easy-angled slabs - Africa Slabs extending for 150 metres, where a number of low to mid grade routes have been climbed.

The Nose itself is much steeper, the most obvious feature being the series of slanting offset corners taken by Hacuna.

Hacuna * E4 6a, 4a 40 metres #
1) 25m 6a. Pull steeply up the first overhanging corner to a resting ledge below the next offset corner. Tenuous moves up this lead to better holds up and to the right. Move right to the next corner and climb this to pull out onto the crest of the ridge. Belay on a large ledge 5m up the ridge. It is possible to scramble off to the right. 2) 15m 4a. Climb the crack above then the more broken rocks above. F.A. P. R. Littlejohn, I. M. Peters 03.02.2007 (onsight).

Matata E3 5c 40 metres #
Approach as for Hacuna. The route takes the steep wall and blunt rib 5 metres left of the corner of Kalahari (see below). Start at the base of the wall below a horizontal crack and roof at 6 metres Gain the crack, then move left to the rib. Pull steeply over the small roof (crux) and climb diagonally up and right to the base of a shallow groove just left of the rib. Follow the groove and pull over to better holds. Easier climbing leads to ledges and a belay. The crux is well protected by Friends, but spaced protection above. FA P. R. Littlejohn, I. M. Peters 03.02.2007

Kalahari Very Severe 4c 40 metres #
Approach as described for Hacuna. The route takes the first obvious groove to the right of the conspicuous stepped corners of Hacuna. Climb the groove, moving onto the left wall where the groove curves to the left. Steeper moves on flakes lead to an easing of the angle. Continue direct to the crest of the ridge.
F.A. I. M. Peters, D. Hillebrandt, B. Peters. September 2005

Shark's Fin * Hard Very Severe 4c 40 metres #
The next major feature to the right of the Kalahari groove is a slanting roof at 18 metres. Start below the roof. Climb slabby rock at first on the right then up and left onto a sloping ledge beneath the left side of the roof. Move left around the rib and then climb the steep arête on good holds to finish up a shallow corner in the slabs above. An enjoyable route despite a distinct lack of protection.
F.A. I. M. Peters, D. Hillebrandt, B. Peters. September 2005.

Liberia Severe 4a 30 metres #
Start as for previous routes. Avoids the slanting roof by a line at its right hand end. Start at the base of a shallow groove below the roof. Climb easily up the groove, stepping right below the roof and move up right to gain easier slabby rock, leading to ledges and nut belays. Sparsely protected but straightforward when dry, lethal if wet!
F.A. I. M. Peters, B. Peters, D. Hillebrandt. September 2005.

Midnight Wall E4 6a * 50 metres #
The impending black wall N of the slabby area gets the sun from mid afternoon. Start below the obvious niche on the right hand side of the wall.
1 25m 6a Climb to the niche, make a hard move to break out and continue very steeply to a large sloping terrace. 2 25m 5c Move left and climb the steep arête till it eases.


The Horse

(page 251 of Climbers Club guide)

Queen of the May HVS 5a *** #
A rare beauty. Around to the right of Tie That Crittur Down is a short groove leading to a pedestal. Start by soloing up to belay at the base of the groove. 45 metres Climb on to the pedestal, step up left then trend right to a good crack before bearing left again to the edge of the face. Finish directly up the yellow rib leading to the apex of the long groove on the right. FA Pat Littlejohn, D Garner 22/05/07

Sport of Kings E3 5c *** 50 metres #
Right of Queen of the May is a long groove giving a brilliant sustained pitch. Belay 4m down right from Queen of the May. Traverse right for 6m then climb the wall to a bay below the groove. Step left then follow the groove all the way, sometimes using the left wall. FA Pat Littlejohn, D Garner 24/05/07

Dropping directly from the 'summit' of The Horse on the South side is a silvery-coloured wall giving unusual climbing for The Lizard - technical & balancy.

Paleface E4 6a * 25 metres #
Climb the groove leading to the wall; make difficult moves using a thin edge then step left and bridge the shallow groove until it is possible to step right to easier ground. FA Pat Littlejohn, D Garner 23/05/07 (photo of Pat Littlejohn on the first ascent)


Hollywood Walls

Jive Pansy HVS 5a * #
Steep climbing, but the holds and protection are very good. 65 ft Start as for The Goldrush, but instead of traversing right climb straight up the overhanging wall to reach the base of a thin crack in the slab above. Climb the crack to finish. FA Brian Hannon, Martin Dunning and Pete O'Sullivan 30/1/2005

Ridley Scott HVS 5a #
Start at the apex of the recessed slab right of Limelight. Pull over the slight bulge on the left and move left and up past a good thread. Continue left across the tops of the flake pinnacles to meet a right to left rising crack line. Follow the crack line to the top. FA Ian King & David Issitt 20 May 07.


Pen Olver

(page 260)

Les Grands Pifs Severe #
15m
. Start 2m right of "Descent Route". Climb the twin "nostril" cracks below the obvious nose. Climb the crack on the LHS of the bridge of the nose and continue up the arete to block belays at the top. FA Mick Cooke, Barry Issitt, David Issitt 11/08/04.

Anne's Famous Pasty Shop E4 5c ish #
A steep little chap which is also a tad scary - the crux section is protected by RP's which are not completely above suspicion. A Friend #0 will also come in handy. 35ft Just to the left of The Womb Tomb is a blatantly obvious and steep arete. Start to the right of the arete and climb direct to gain thin crack on the right. Arrange gear then move left to the arete, which is climbed to gain good flat jugs a little higher (RP's). Move up the arete above and around to the left side, which is climbed to the top. FA Dave Henderson, Carrie Hill 5.5.2001 (abseiled first)

The Giant Carrot E1 5b ** #
75ft The obvious, striking arete right of The Womb Tomb. An excellent route. Start below the arete down left of the roof. Climb the wall just left of the arete to good small wires. Move right out to the arete itself, using footholds above the roof. Finish up the delightful slabby arete. FA Dave Pickford, Mike Robertson, May 2006 (Climbed onsight no inspection)

Lily's Velvet Claw Hard Severe #
50ft
. Climb the claw shaped crack 2m left of "Vumba" to just short of the arete of "Songs From a Gentle Man". Then make ab airy nove left to the arete and follow this to the top. FA David Issitt, Barry Issitt, Mick Cooke 11/08/04. (may be the same as the following route)

Prorper Jawb VS 4c #
Takes crack line up steep wall right of Vumba. 50ft Boldly climb up jugs to small ledge through bulge. Step left and go up the wall to a large break finishing slightly rightwards. FA Chris Hall and S Edwards 17.12.02

Next two routes take the wall and slab between Letting Go and Great Slanting.

Loner Happy E1 5c #
40ft
Boulder out centre of bulging wall on small holds and a long reach, continue up easier slab to finish. FA Chris Hall (solo) 5.12.02

Socially Sad HS 4a #
40ft
Gain ledge at head height and tackle bulge above slightly rightwards to finish direct up slab. FA Chris Hall (solo) 5.12.02

Tidal Look HVS 4c #
50ft
The wall between Salt Heart and Mule. Climb steep wall onto slab to gain ledge. Move leftwards and climb crozzly crack in steep headwall above.

Over by the pinnacle on the east side is:

Darn Tarn HVS 4c #
40ft
The thin crack line up friable rock to the right of Down the Welly. FA Chris Hall and Barnaby Carver 11.02

On the flat topped pinnacle:

One Arm Bandit HVS 5a#
40ft
Good slots and flakes lead steeply up the E face until moves up and right gain the arete and black slab which leads easily to the top. FA Chris Hall and Sion Edwards 03/05/03 .


Amnesty Wall

(page264) An excellent wall which is at least as good as the nearby Cull Wall at Bass Point.

Alabama Thunderpussy E3 5b ** #
Climbs the hanging arete right of Amnesty. 1) 70ft Start R of Amnesty at the foot of the arete. Climb up to join that route at a spike, then traverse rightwards with hands on good ledges and feet on the lip, to the arete. Make an exposed move up the arete and follow this to the top. FA Chris Snell, Tom "the tongue" Rainbow 21.7.2001

Cian E4 5c *** #
Another superb route on this exceptional wall combines the winning formula of steepish climbing and good holds... and it's safe! 1) 70ft Start just left of International, from the raised corner of the ledge. Climb the wall for 20 feet until a move up right gains the base of a leftward slanting crack. Follow this (plenty of gear) to where it ends, beneath a tiny left-facing groove. Move up to the groove and climb it to a good jug. Steeper climbing on positive holds leads through a bulge more or less direct to the top. FA Dave Henderson, Carrie Hill (onsight) 6.5.2001


Bass Point

Bellicose E6 6b **/*** 28 metres
Bellicose takes the impressive seaward arête to the right of Lazarus. Start from a projecting block beneath the arête on its right hand side. Face-climb up to a diagonal break, follow this leftwards to gain the arête proper. Move up the arête to gain a large flat jug (camolot 2), swing left to gain more jugs and a good resting ledge. Step back left onto the face and continue enjoyably to the top keeping just left of the arête. FA Martin Haycock (unseconded) 18/05/08 (Headpoint - all gear placed on lead).

Perfect Storm E5 6a ** #
Steep & exciting though low in the grade. 30m E of the great cleft containing the arch is a steep wall split centrally by a crack and bounded on the L by a blind corner. The route takes the buttress/arête immediately L of the corner. 90ft Climb a groove for a few ft then swing R on to the arête. Pull up to a horizontal crack then trend R up the steep wall and span across to the corner to rest. Move back L and up on improving holds to the bulging upper prow. Reach a shelf high on the L then swing R on big flat holds to regain the arête which is followed to the top. FA May 24, 2006 P Littlejohn, D Garner


Carn Barrow

(GR720139)

A reasonable new crag on The Lizard with potential for more middle grade new routes.

Approach: 10 -15 minutes - Park in Cadgwith and follow the coast path West. Pass the Devil's Frying Pan, and then a white house inland. The remains of a wall soon appear on the hillside below. Go down to the right hand end of this (facing out) and then contour back left until a cliff-top platform, with obvious blocks, is visible below. This is the abseil point. An easy abseil reaches a large rock platform below the crag.

The first route takes the obvious groove/corner line near the right hand end.

Shrink Wrapped VS 4c #
75 ft
Climb just right of the obvious corner, using it for protection. At its end, move into the steeper continuation groove, pass a roof and reach the top. FA Brian Hannon, Rik Meek, Pete O'Sullivan 17/02/02

The next route follows the large slab to the left.

Freeze Dried VS 4b #
75 ft
Climb straight up the slab slightly left of centre. Pass the obvious roof on the left. Not particularly well protected - it is probably possible to climb the slab anywhere at about the same grade. FA Brian Hannon, Rik Meek, Pete O'Sullivan 17/02/02

The final route is the best of the three and gives relatively straightforward climbing in poorly protected and exposed positions. It is reached by traversing left from the platform, at high tide level, for about 20 ft, to reach a small ledge at the base of an obvious short arÍte.

Vacuum Packed E1 5a #
80 ft Climb the initial arÍte steeply to reach a large black slab between the layers of roofs. Follow this easily to its apex and make exposed moves up and then left to an awkward, rounded finish. Bold. FA Brian Hannon, Rik Meek 17/02/02


The Grove

GR 792193

This is a newly developed crag. 1 km NW of Coverack sits a small buttress of excellent quality Gabbro. Set back from the sea the easiest approach is by a mild bush whack from round the back! All three routes are short but are well worthwhile if in the area.

South Face S 4a #
25ft
Gain hanging ramp then climb slightly rightwards on hidden finger jugs up wall. Reach break and finish up crack. Variations exist, just follow the holds. FA Chris Hall (solo) 11.02

Big Chief HS 4b #
25ft
Step onto nose and climb via bouldery moves. Surmount top of the semi detached pinnacle and pull over forehead to the top. FA Chris Hall (solo) 11.02

East Face VS 5a #
25ft
The best of the bunch. Climb blankish wall on perfect rock and perfect holds. After a technical undercut move and stretch for the break finish slightly leftwards. FA Chris Hall (solo) 11.02

TOP


Black Head

From the disused coastguard lookout descend onto the headland, as for the approach to the main cliff. This route lies some 75 metres below the lookout, on the small cliff to the right of the descent path.

Pustule E3 6a #
40ft Start from a flat boulder beneath the centre of the face. Climb up on flattish holds to the left of the small central prow. Make a hard move to gain the start of the main L to R slanting crack and move up and right to a resting position on top of the prow. Follow the easier but still steep crack to the top. F.A. Brian Hannon, Rik Meek and Martin Dunning.


Copyright 2002 © ...javu/Dave Henderson javu info
This file last modified 19 March, 2003.