On August Bank Holiday weekend, 15 members of MKMC journeyed down to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales for a fantastic weekend of Climbing, Walking, Surfing, Swimming and Pubbing. This is the first time that MKMC have headed to this location, which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty situated just to the west of Swansea and offers stunning coastlines and fantastic sandy beaches.
We camped at the Pilton Cross Caravan Park in an idyllic spot offering sunset views over the Bristol channel.
Neal and Alex Ward headed down early to get some Surfing in (with mixed success).
James joined them on friday and after dodging a few showers they headed to Black Buttress, a Sport crag in the Rhossili area, the highlight of which was Monica’s Dress, an exciting line following a crackline up a groove and overhang.
Most of the rest of us arrived on Friday evening after fighting through the Bank Holiday Weekend traffic on the M4.
Unfortunately, the tides were not especially favorable this weekend, low tide being at ~07.30 on Saturday and ~10.50 on Monday. However, not to be put off, Alistair and Kieran made a very early start and headed to the Sport Crag of Mermaid wall on Rhossili beach which is only accessible for about 2 hours either side of low tide.
The rest of us took a more leisurely start. Nigel and Michelle went for a hike along the coastal bath from the campsite in Pilton Cross, to Port Eynon and back, taking in the flora and fauna, fantastic sea views, cliffs and beaches and were even graced with some wild ponies.
Meanwhile the remaining climbers headed to Carbon Slab, for some non-tidal sport climbing. This area is a compact slab of back rock offering climbs within the grades of 4b to 6b+. The highlight of this crag was Carbonate, a technical 6a up a soaring arete, Mary in particular was “well chuffed” to get this line. Other notable routes included Carbon Times, a delicate 6a+ up a slab with surprisingly positive hand holds, and Wait for the Fat Lady’s Thong, a varied 5+ following a groove and flake line up to an overhang with a stopper move to clip the chains.
Neal took a mini-whipper on this and ended up inverting, fortunately he was ok other than a few bruises and managed to complete the route, but lessons were learned about the importance of making sure you don’t get your feet caught up in the rope.
We’d spent most of the day watching rain clouds approach from the sea but somehow falling either side of us, but our luck could only hold out so long and we got caught in a deluge. This resulted in a heroic lead from Josh on a soaking wet Carbon Times in order to retrieve the quick draws.
Gower seems to be a place of many micro-climates and by the time we’d backed up and started walking back to the cars the sun had come out and things had brightened up considerably. Alex Ward, James, Naomi, Josh and myself spotted some dry rock and decided to try and squeeze a few more climbs in on Wedge Wall while the others headed to the pub.
The pub in question was the Worm’s Head Inn which turned out to serve both great beer and very tasty food. We ended up spending both Saturday & Sunday evening’s there.
On Sunday Alistair and Kieran got another early start and returned to the Tidal Crags on Rhossili beach before heading home.
Michelle had a nice solo walk along the coastal path past the Worm’s Head (a small island that is connected to the mainland by a causeway at Low tide).
Mary, Josh and Nick had aspirations to do some Trad, and headed to Trial Wall, however on discovering the rock was somewhat friable, made the sensible decision to stick to sport, moving onto Black Buttress after ticking most of the routes at Trial Wall.
The rest of us headed to Third Sister, another Sport climbing area, this time in a much more remote and secluded setting with multiple cliffs on different levels . We were the only people we saw for the whole day. The highlight for most people here was Gadaffi Groove, a steepish 6a line on very positive holds but with some tricky route finding. Another highlight here was the “discovery” of Bottom Third Sister, an almost secret cliff tucked well below the main climbing in a really idyllic spot above the sea. Alex Ward did a great lead here of The Haworth Lassies a very technical 6a+ up a steep slab and an overhang.
On Monday it was finally time to do some trad, and with the tides looking more favorable we headed to Tor Bay, climbing on Little Tor and Little Star Wall. These crags are in an absolutely stunning setting sprouting directly up from a golden sandy beach. The belay from the top of Little Tor has to rank in my top 5 belay spots! With time being somewhat limited and many people wanting to get off early in an attempt to beat the traffic home we weren’t able to get a huge amount done hear, but various people lead/seconded Right Edge (VD), Flake Corner (VD) and Central Flake (S) all three of these were of excellent quality. Michelle Ward joined us on the beach for a quick swim, and Michelle Neville and Alex Teixeira climbed briefly before also being drawn to the Sea for a swim.
With time pressing on, we set up a couple of top tops to allow us to get a bit more climbing in, in the time we had left. The first was on Left White, HVS 5a, an enjoyable slab climb with a delicate crux move from a good undercut (I regretted top-roping this as it felt quite leadable). The second top rope was on Superdirect E1 5c, a technical climb up cracks with poor feet.
Everyone involved had a fantastic weekend, and we’d all highly recommend The Gower for future MKMC trips.