The Rainbow Bridge, Berry Head.
New Variable Climbing Restriction
For those who are not aware this is the traverse running from The Great Cave towards Coastguard Cliffs and it is without doubt one of the best routes in the country. Although it has been climbed on a number of occasions with ropes, it is now the norm to solo the route as the majority of the climbing is above Deep Water. In this form it warrants about E4/E5, although is a demanding expedition due to it length (or should that be girth?). The Rainbow Bridge Cliff is also home to a number of high quality routes, further details of which can be found in the South Devon and Dartmoor Supplement (available in The Moorland Rambler, Exeter or here). In the near future we hope to have a detailed guide of this traverse so keep checking javu regularly!
Berry Head, as well as becoming a mecca for the Deep Water Soloist is also a breeding site for a large colony of Guillemots and a few Kittiwakes, Fulmars and Shags. Up until recently access was completely restricted to the non-birdy times of year but now, thanks to the efforts of Ken Palmer and the BMC with the co-operation of Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust, the restriction has been made variable. This means that it will be lifted early provided there are no "proper" seabirds nesting. This permission has been granted on the condition that several rules are adhered to:
1) The Great Cave and pitch 1 of Rainbow Bridge is still covered by the ban (1st March to 31st July) and NO ACCESS is permitted. This is because the birds like to dry their wings on the large platform. The standard approach for Rainbow Bridge (and The Great Cave) crosses this platform and will disturb the birds so climbers must choose one of the following options:
a) Abseil from the metal post en route to The Great Cave (just beyond a red access notice) to an insitu thread at the end of pitch 1. b) Down-climb HVS rock just to the left (looking out) of the post. This is not recommended for those who don't know the route.
2) The final Terminal Zawn (pitch 11) is still restricted. A marker just before this shows the extent of the ban. Climbers should exit up VS territory above the marker.
3) Access restrictions still apply to the following: - White Rhino Tea Buttress (Barnacle Traverse Continuation) - The Oz Wall - The Ledges above the Oz wall, beyond the Terminal Zawn. - The Great Cave and Bismark Wall.
Markers have been positioned at both ends of the "open" section and these will show whether or not you are allowed on the traverse. This can be checked by contacting the Berry Head Rangers office (01803 883262/882619 or 07770 728666) or the BMC Access officer (0161 4454747) (BMC). Please contact either of these if you are confused as to which parts of cliff you can climb on, or if you notice any birds other than pigeons whilst traversing.
A few other considerations: If you fall into the sea (during the restricted nesting season) getting out is now much more problematical as you must NOT get out at the Great Cave ledge (doing so would infringe the "nesting restriction" and could well prove very costly!). Those concerned by this should opt to abseil in (see b) - doing this allows you to leave a bit of rope through the insitu thread at the base bottom of the abseil to facilitate pulling out of the sea....OR MAKE THE BIG SWIM TO THE " RED WALLS " AREA (nice!)
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