From Lundy to Cheddar, Wintour's Leap to Ebbor Gorge, our access team have been working hard in the South West recently. A number of issues have been resolved, check out this access update for all the details.
As well as being an internationally-important climbing venue, with incredible rock in amazing setting, Lundy provides important habitat for nesting sea bird colonies. Historically climbing restrictions have applied to many crags, mostly on the west side of the island during the nesting season to prevent disturbance.
For 2019, there are some changes to the seasonal climbing restrictions on Lundy, following negotiation between Lundy Warden Dean Woodfin-Jones, BMC Access & Conservation Officer Rob Dyer and guidebook author Paul Harrison.
Following the completion of a rat-eradication project, which succeeded in removing rats in 2004, new areas of the island have been colonised by nesting sea birds, where previously they were unsuccessful.
Initially, a significant restriction, which would have covered most of the worthwhile climbing on the island into mid-August was proposed. This would have severely limited climbing on Lundy, given that most climbers are only likely to make the journey during months when reasonable weather is likely.
Fortunately, thanks to Dean being open to discussion and having such a positive attitude to climbing on the island, those additional restrictions have been significantly reduced in areas where birds are nesting near to, but not on crags and where the access routes can avoid disturbing colonies.
Significant crags such as the Devils Slide, most crags within Landing Craft Bay, Flying Buttress and more will remain accessible year round, subject to climbers using specific access routes for some crags.
The period for most restricted crags has been extended to 14th August due to a number of years of late nesting. This will give climbers a more realistic idea of when birds will fledge for anyone with specific route aspirations on an early August trip.
For a very small number of sites, restrictions will last until 15th September in areas which have late fledging birds
The full details of restrictions for 2019 can be found on the RAD page for Lundy.
The restrictions will be under constant review throughout the nesting season and will be lifted as and when birds fledge so keep an eye on RAD and don’t forget to check in with the Warden on arrival for any updates on restrictions.
A site visit to review the nesting restrictions and see if any further access gains can be made without disturbing nesting birds is also planned for this year and will inform restrictions for 2020.
Following careful negotiation between BMC Cheddar Warden Mark Courtiour and Cheddar Caves & Gorge, there are some significant access gains to climber access on the south side of Cheddar for a trial period over 2019.
Notably, for all restored routes on crags from Reservoir Walls heading eastwards (ie up the road), access is now possible year round where previously summer access restrictions applied. Also, three crags within the remaining summer restriction are now accessible year round after 6pm: Horseshoe Bend Buttress, Yes Tree Wall and Ginsberg Wall.
The trial access agreement does, however, make an already complicated situation even more so. It was impossible to fit all of the information into the calendar format used previously, so we have designed what we hope is a much easier to understand Cheddar Climbing Access Map instead.
These access gains are fantastic news for Cheddar climbers, opening up a significant area of crags for year round access, as well as giving access to three popular crags within the summer restriction for evening cragging once the evenings get longer.
There is potential for this trial year to become a permanent fixture if climbers carefully follow the agreement this year and don’t stray into restricted areas. As always, please carefully consider where you can and can’t go at different times and double check the map before setting off to a crag.
Woodcroft Quarry has seen a renaissance in the past few years with the development of a number of new mid-grade sport routes. At the same time, unfortunately the Fly Wall and Woodcroft Quarry area have become a focal point for anti-social behaviour and access issues for climbers have arisen.
Landowners and managers have been keen to limit access through the historical access point above the quarry to reduce this anti-social behaviour, which could have resulted in climbers having to take a much longer approach of scrambling down the ‘easy way down’ and then doubling back along the bottom of the cliff. The fast approach and convenience of both the trad and sport routes in this part of the crag are one of its greatest assets, (especially as the days draw longer and thoughts turn to evening cragging,) so we were keen to avoid this if possible.
A solution which will still allow climbers to use the access point above Woodcroft Quarry has hopefully been found. The fence at the top of the quarry has been repaired and a gate installed with a combination lock. The code for this lock is listed (and will be updated if required) on the RAD page for Wintour’s Leap. It is very important that climbers ensure the gate latched behind them any time they enter or exit – failure to do so could result in future access issues for this useful and convenient entrance point.
Climbing at Ebbor Gorge has been banned for many years due to the sensitivity of the SSSI. Over the last few years, Mark Courtiour has been pursuing permission from Natural England in collaboration with Matt Cox for limited access to faces on the site which have good sport climbing potential.
With Natural England’s permission Matt has equipped 5 sport routes on one of the faces, and these are now included in a trial period of access to the crag. Although it is a little disappointing that the two additional faces originally proposed were not included in the permission, it is a significant step forward. Full details on the RAD page for Ebbor Gorge.
Upcoming access events:
Last but by no means least, two dates for your diaries:
17th Feb: Avon Gorge Scrub Bash
Calling all Bristol climbers! The annual Avon Gorge returns under the careful watch of our new event volunteer Ben Darby, to build on the excellent work achieved over the years to remove invasive scrub from the base of crags in the Gorge. This is a great example of climbing and conservation working together towards a common goal.
The scrub that will be removed is problematic both for climbers wanting to gain access to the crag, as well as rare flora which is easily outcompeted by the larger plants. Free refreshments for all participants, a fun atmosphere and a virtuous and satisfied glow guaranteed by the end of the day.
13th-14th April - YatFest 2019
Following on from the excellent work achieved at last year’s event, Graham Hassall and Robert Thomas are once again co-ordinating a crag cleanup at Symond’s Yat on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th April. The event aims to remove litter and replace any fixed gear which is showing its age, alongside an additional objective of surveying the whole crag for a rare species of Hawksweed which lives there. Again free refreshments will be provided for anyone involved and if previous years are anything to go by this event is one not to be missed!
DOWNLOAD: the shiny new BMC RAD app
Get all the info on crags with the newly updated RAD (Regional Access Database) app from the BMC! Available now for Android and iOS, it's free and comes with a host of new features like navigation and parking, weather and tidal updates, and of course information on restrictions or notes on access advice. Get it here now!
RAD is community led and your comments help keep it up to date so don’t be afraid to add any relevant information after a crag visit which might be useful for other visitors – anything from conditions on the crag, favourite routes or reports of rockfall/other recent changes to the crag are all useful for other climbers visiting.