Nesting birds, breeding seals, and exploding mortars, all combined with some seriously tidal cliffs do their best to confuse most climbers. Here's the latest news and updates on access to help you make the most of a visit to the brilliant cliffs of Pembroke.
Firstly the green bits - there are very many nesting birds along the Pembrokeshire Coast, and a quick glance at the BMC's RAD or the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park leaflet gives the initial impression of lots of restricted crags. However the good news is that less than a quarter of the whole area is subject to nesting restrictions (there's now estimated to be over 4,000 routes along the Pembrokeshire Coast!).
All of the information you need is in the National Park leaflet - available as a download from the National Park website, or in hard copy at The Olde Worlde Cafe in Bosherston (Mrs Westons' to you and me) and at the start of the paths at the car parks at St Govan's and Stack Rocks. However there are a few changes already, as the birds play hide and seek with conservationists and climbers alike. The most current changes are :-
Trevellen The birds here are now nesting on the line of the abseil approach to "The Hole" area, therefore a new restriction applies here to the routes from "The Energy Funnel" to "Enter the Goat" inclusive. The abseil can still be used, but keep a low profile and don't hang around in this area. The published restriction on the section "Meatloaf" to "Breaking the Habit" has been lifted and no longer applies this year.
Huntsman's Leap There are protected birds nesting on "Darkness at Noon" this year, so please avoid this route until August 1st, or until the restriction is lifted.
The Castle Landward Face Protected birds are nesting near to "White Knight", so please avoid this area until August 1st.
All areas with nesting bird restrictions in South Pembrokeshire will be marked by either red "flowerpot" markers on the cliff top and/or a small sign on the approaches. The noticeboards at the car parks will also have all the current and up to date information. Also, the new National Park Ranger (Paul "Pablo" Thorne) will be pro-actively monitoring all the known nesting sites and will lift any unneccessary restrictions as soon as its confirmed that the birds have either fledged succesfully or moved on.
Later in the summer and in early autumn, seals will begin to haul up on to the beaches below some of the cliffs to start pupping. Although there are no formal restrictions on climbing, if you do see seals with young pups at the base of your chosen routes, then please avoid, as the mother is very likely to abandon its young if distrubed (they can also be very aggressive, and a seal bite can have serious medical consequences!).
Access to Range West is only for those climbers who attend a formal briefing and there are two remaining dates for these - June 25th and July 31st. The rest of the Castlemartin range is also subject to restrictions due to being a live military firing range. Details of firing times can obtained either from the Castlemartin MoD website or by telephoning the Range East access recorded info-line at the Castlemartin camp 01646 662367. However all weekends and Bank Holidays are non-firing days, and access to the cliffs of Range East is unrestricted during these times, and most evenings, except for some Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Also at Range West there has been a very significant rockfall at Rock Scar Cliff - and the immediate area is still very unstable so again it makes sense to avoid this area.
Due to large scale training excercises there will be no access to Range East (including St Govan's) during weekdays 9.00 am until 4.30 pm, from 16th May until 24th June, but the good news is that there will be no firing at all in August and access will be available to all crags on the range (including Range West for briefed climbers) during that time
Finally - a reminder that camping (including in camper vans) is not allowed at the car parks at either St Govans' or Stack Rocks, and people overnighting in these locations will be asked to leave. There are no toilets or sanitary facitilites at these locations and the task of picking up toilet paper and various other items is not a nice task for a Park Ranger who would rather spend his time lifting climbing restrictions (and they are also covered by military by-laws, so it's possible to be prosecuted for camping here).
New Pembroke guidebooks
The first two volumes of a new series of guidebooks to the Pembrokeshire coast have now been published by the Climbers’ Club, and are available to purchase from the BMC online shop
This article has been read
Click on the tags to explore more