Morris Dancers On Ecstasy (HVS 5a, 5a, 5a, 4c, ***) Grey Wall, Snuff Mills.



Winter 2015 has not been the best in terms of climbing conditions. Or any conditions for that matter. Weeks and weeks of rain and wind have dished out 3 days of good weather over a month. But don’t be disheartened yet, as there’s still plenty of time to add to your Bristol ticklist and the new year may well bring with it better weather. Let’s hope.

You may think it’s too cold for climbing outdoors. But I’m currently living in Norway, where winter’s average is -5 degrees. Bristol’s average winter temperature is 10 degrees. So don’t complain people.

Bristol has outdoor climbing?

You’ve been climbing inside a while now, you’ve seen and heard of all the climbing that’s within Bristol’s district, but, which route should you choose? An unlikely place to find rock, Bristol actually has a few hot spots that can be found under an hour’s driving distance from the city centre.

Keeps training productive.

Having local climbs to aim for is also an easy way to keep your training productive. When the weather’s dry, it’s hassle free to go out and give it a quick go. Having a local route means a wealth of local beta is also easy to find.

But with so many routes to choose from, how do you know which ones to pick?

This mini interview series invites Bristol’s climbing community to inspire you into the somewhat ‘esoteric’ world of Bristol’s local climbing areas. Every month I will be asking a climbing local their recommended climbs in the Bristol area, under some minor restrictions:

  • Must be within 30 miles of Bristol city centre 
  • Must include routes of varying difficulty (not just a bunch of E5s/8as)


December’s Contender: Henry Castle


photo: climb pembroke

Henry is one of the rare few who actually enjoys the climbing at Avon, and is somewhat of a walking guidebook for trad climbs in the Bristol area. Formerly chief climbing instructor at Bristol’s Under-cover Rock climbing centre, the escaped Bristol-climber is now based in Pembroke. Henry runs professional climbing instructing courses, Climb Pembroke. In this article he has recommended some traverse trad routes to add to your ticklist.

Traverses have long been out of vogue for the modern climber, but for fans of horizontal movement and exposure, quality entertainment awaits. Heres some of my favourites around the Bristol area.’ – Henry


Morris Dancers On Ecstasy (HVS 5a, 5a, 5a, 4c, ***) Grey Wall, Snuff Mills.

Guidebook: the new Avon guide! (out Autumn 2016)


dave talbot-shuff mills

photo: dave talbot

Mark Davis (local climbing new-router) got in touch this summer saying that he had done a new traverse on a new sandstone crag on the outskirts of Bristol. He said that it was pretty esoteric and didn’t think it would likely be enjoyed by the mainstream – as soon as I could, I jumped in my van to drive from Pembrokeshire to Bristol to check it out!

The route takes an up pitch to a cool little ledge belay, then the second pitch traverses right along flatties, clipping the odd bolt on the sport routes.

We did the second ascent of this route in pretty raw conditions, so the grade might settle down a little but it’s a great fun adventure. In my opinion a top class addition to routes in Bristol.


The Umbrella Girdle (E2 5a, 5c, 5c, – **) Go Wall, Wintour’s Leap.

Guidebook: Lower Wye Valley



summer 2009 029

photo: dave talbot

It was raining so we decided to give this route a look.

Starting off the first pitch, the ground instantly drops away to the top of the tree canopy below, and suddenly you’re in the centre of Wintour’s most impressive cliff.

The rock was dry and after an interesting first pitch, a belay was taken at a good bolted ledge. The second pitch is the main event, and again in a spectacular position. You then arrive at the large belay ledge at the top of the first pitch of the crag’s classic, King Kong (E1, 5a).