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Staycation Destination: North Wales Climbing

In the 'new normal' world we now find ourselves in, 'Staycations' are the new order of the day and our Ambassadors have assembled their top tips for climbing closer to home.

North Wales Climbing

North Wales is one of the most historically rich, developed and accessible venues in the whole of the British Isles, from the first recorded climbing routes in the 1880's through to the boom of routes in the 1980's and beyond to the modern day classics; N. Wales truly has something for everyone. Having lived in this climbing utopia for over a decade, I have explored its more hard-to-reach crags as well as its well-traveled classics, enjoying the sea cliffs, mountain escarpments and roadside limestone in equal measure.

North Wales' climbing centers around the bustling village of Llanberis, where cafes such as Mafon (Vegetarian and Vegan options) and Pete's Eats provide the perfect start to a day out at the crag. The area of North Wales is covered by 12 separate guides however select guides such as the brilliant “North Wales Rock” by Ground Up Guides covers everything you will need for a visit and is available in most outdoor shops in the village. The folks in V12 Outdoor are particularly friendly, serving strong coffee and local knowledge in equal measure. Llanberis is also home to several campsites and hostels including the well equipped Camping Llanberis campsite.

Guide in hand and breakfast weighing heavy in your stomach, it's time to go out to the crag. For this mini-guide I have selected my favorite crags for traditional climbing, sport climbing and bouldering in the hope you can go out and enjoy them as much as I do.


Heading out from the cafe and up the Llanberis Pass (using the park and ride system from Nant Peris) you will find hundreds of crags either side of the road, but the Dinas Cromlech stands above the rest and is by far my recommendation for a short visit.

The Dinas Cromlech is home to trad routes from moderate grades through to E9 with the centerpiece of 'the walls' housing some of the best routes in the whole area. The climbing on these walls is all accessed by a short scramble to the belay ledge, this is a comfortable ledge for 3 or 4 parties of climbers. It is often best to leave your bags below on the trail and gear up before making the scramble to the base of the routes.

The rock is pocketed and well- featured with cracks giving (mostly) well protected routes that flow up the 30m faces. All the routes have in-situ belays at the top that you can abseil on. These are replaced regularly but discretion should be used and they should be checked before each use. The nature of the opposing faces gives plenty of options to climb in the sun or the shade throughout the day, but the crag is predominantly south facing so enjoys sun for most of the day.

Top route tips:

Route Name Grade Comments

Flying Buttress

VD ***

This climbs the whole height of the crag landing you on top with
a spectacular view down the pass. I climbed this after a long
day at the crag, enjoying sunset on top of the crag only to realise I hadn't brought a head torch!

Sabre Cut

VS 4c ***

A long and winding multipitch route that takes in some spectacular ground culminating in a clean cut corner with a crack in the back. Take plenty of gear and expect the leg pump!

Ivy Sepulchre

E1 5b **

Brilliant corner stemming with plenty of gear and a beautiful position. A great introduction to the main section of this crag.

Cenotaph Corner

E1 5c ***

A Joe Brown classic. Legend has it that on the first assent Joe dropped his hammer and knocked his belayer out whilst near the top. He down climbed the whole pitch and took him to hospital before climbing it again the next day.

Left Wall

E2 5c ***

This is a must do route of the grade in North Wales. Take plenty of gear, I once saw someone place over 30 runners in this single pitch! Following a
crack, the rock is well-featured and compact.

The Thing

E2 5c ***

This one is for the connoisseurs of the more peculiar, just
remember it was first done with pit boots in 1954!

Nouvelle Cuisine at Castell y Gwynt


After all that trad climbing you may want to retire to the coast for some ice-cream and limestone sport climbing. Llandudno and the A55 crags are a short drive north from Llanberis and are host to hundreds of small limestone crags.

The Great Orme sticks out into the Irish sea and is home to famous crags such
as Lower Pen Trwin and Parisellas cave, however perched on the very end is the Castell y Gwint (castle of the wind). The Castell y Gwint is my recommendation for a visiting climber who wants to get the full North Wales limestone experience.

The crag has a mixture of sport and traditional climbing with good gear and well bolted routes throughout. The approach down a grass gully is protected with a hand rail and leads to a small ledge below the crag, perfect for a picnic whilst watching the seals below. The aspect of the rock and the fact that it is on the end of the Orme often leads to good conditions in summer. The crag is under a bird ban until August each year; for more information and to check
restrictions, visit the BMC website.

If the Castell y Gwint is not your cup of tea then there are plenty of smaller crags in the same area boasting outstanding routes at lower grades too. The Lighthouse crags, Hornby crags and the Teal wall all get my recommendation for good grade 5 and 6 routes.

Climb Grade Comments

Hidden Sign

7b ***

An amazing euro-style tufa-pulling pump-fest.

Nouvelle Cuisine

7b+ ***

Lots of really flowing climbing leading to a spectacular position on a hanging arete above the sea.

Central Pillar

8a ***

A classic and perhaps the first 8a in the UK (although graded E6
7a at the time). Thin and
technical climbing up the middle of an amazing wall.

Special K

7C ***

If nature created something for humans to climb it would be this
boulder. The holds are just perfectly designed for climbing. Go to it!

Special K 7c at Crafnant Image: Hazel Findlay


Having had your fill of sport climbing by the sea it is probably time to head back into the mountains for a bouldering session before the weekend is out. The North Wales Bouldering Guide proudly boasts thousands of problems and is available in all major climbing shops in Llanberis.

The mind blowing number of areas around N. Wales can be quite overwhelming to the first time visitor who may be tempted to stay at the Cromlech roadside boulders in the Llanberis pass, however if you venture a little further it is possible to find secluded and beautiful boulders up in the mountains. Llyn Crafnant is one such place and is therefore my final recommendation for your staycation in Wales.

With 61 problems from 3+ to 8B+ this crag is stacked with quality blocks for all abilities. The valley has a very wild feel with a large lake running its length with the boulder field at its head.

Climb Grade Comments


6A+ *

An underrated wall climb above a comfortable landing.

Crafnant Arete RH

6B+ ***

A proud line up the arete in the middle of the boulders. Delicate and powerful in equal measure.

Ratt Roof Short

7a **

Short and burley with perfect grips at a steep angle. Will definitely suit those who climb indoors a lot.

Riley's Arete sds

7a ***

A classic sloping arete problem full of cross overs and heel hooking. As expected from Crafnant-perfect rock!


7B+ ***

Situated at the top of the boulders this wall climb is possibly the best of its grade in
Wales...yes I think its that good!

Special K

7C ***

If nature created something for humans to climb it would be this
boulder. The holds are just perfectly designed for climbing. Go to it!


Guidebooks: North Wales Climbs, North Wales Classics, North Wales Bouldering

Where to stay: North Wales is host to many a fine campsite/hostel.

Want more Staycation suggestions? Check our Ambassadors tips for a range of UK venues

James is a 3RD ROCK Ambassador and North Wales resident originally from London, he now calls Caernarfon home and takes full advantage of ALL the climbing North Wales has to offer.

James currently works as as a Therapeutic Care Practitioner with young people.

Follow James on Instagram

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