Access for climbing at Minchin Hole on the South Gower coast has been agreed in time for the Gower Festival, in an agreement between the BMC and the National Trust.
Following prolonged discussions involving the BMC, the National Trust and local climbers Stu Llewelyn and geology expert Professor Danny McCarroll from Swansea University, an agreement has been reached that allows climbers to enjoy this spectacular, but very sensitive venue.
Minchin Hole is a vast non-tidal sea cave, which is internationally important for its nature conservation and in particular its geology and archaeology. Remains of prehistoric animals such a mammoths and hyenas have been excavated from this cave, and the conglomerate features are of unique importance in identyifying previous historical sea levels and glacial activity.
The development of new sports routes at this venue were regarded as highly controversial at the time, due to the environmental damage that could occur at this particiular location, and also as most of the Gower coast is a traditional climbing area, where bolting was not generally tolerated.
In the late nineties a number of new sports routes were established here, but concern was expressed that climbing could damage the features of this very fragile site. The bolts on many routes were either chopped or removed and a ban on climbing was imposed. However following site visits and specialist advice (the site is aslo a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest), it seems that climbers can once more enjoy some of the routes at this venue.
It is critically important that climbers do not damage any of the conglomerate features, that no new additional routes are established, and that the floor of the cave remains undisturbed. Further details on the agreement and a free topo guide can be got from the Gower Festival Web site
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