|Unexplored coasts full of potential.|
The A487 coastal road draws you south from Aberystwyth to Newport; a tarmac trail that hugs the edge of civilised cultivation before it drops into the wild surf below. Vistas of sea and cliff rob you of your conscious self, testing your powers as the mind drifts and the smell of brine hangs heavy in the air. Villages which have fed the Welsh diaspora, depopulated by the Pied Piper of progress and urban dreams, tick by; acting as a yardstick on a journey so stunning that you lament its end. Every mile reveals another ripple in the rocky coastline: beaches, coves and cliffs tempt you to stop to see what potential might lie there. However time is a cruel mistress, When it is short you will always drive on to established venues, developed, described by a book leading to you to an experience that deftly fits into the few hours you have; leading you to ignore what lies in between.
|Some of the unclimbed Rhyolite that exists above Newport|
|A strong line at Garn Fawr|
Over the early summer I spent a lot of time on the LLyn, following my namesake Mr Heyward as he developed his way around the peninsula. Porth Ysgo and Trwyn Talfarach are established locations on the British Boulderer's map nowadays giving all the rasping experience that only seaside gabbro can provide. However Owen delved a bit deeper and unearthed unanticipated quality. Porth Nefoedd had been reworked the previous winter and new blocks had materialised further along the beach; where climbers had assumed there were none. The Hell’s Mouth block drips with quality, wave-washed dolerite that begs to be climbed. The walk in and the location gives you a real feel that you are 'there' - bouldering at the edge of the map, immersed in nature, unhindered by the complications of the human world. Individuals like Owen don’t wonder about what lies in-between, they seek out the gaps in the map: they find what's there and they fill in the gaps, increasing the size of our shared bouldering world in a time when technology seems to be making the actual world smaller as every day passes.Late July and the commencement of high summer saw me travel back down the A487, back to Newport but on this occasion with time to explore. I passed Aberystwyth, the centreline of my life, with its developed wave-washed shale and drove on to the in-between; where the bouldering map is incomplete and gaps exist. As I passed Llanrhysud, Abeaeron, New Quey, Llangranog and Cardigan I thought of the way the Llyn has been developed recently and looked at this coast and the coast of North Pembrokshire with a new zeal. The bouldering map down here isn’t even a pencil line on the back of an envelope, the areas in-between undiscovered: stretches along the coastal fringe from Clarach to Newgale and then on round to the industrial bays of the Cleddau all waiting for someone to explore them, to tame them and bring them into the fold. So I explored when I was down there. Not too far from an established bouldering venue I found a little bit of class amongst the sandstones and shales: a wall fifty feet in length, twenty feet high at its highest point, overhanging by twenty degrees and covered by enough holds to make this find a challenge (there will be more about this venue another time). Another piece of the map had fallen into place, pushing the bouldering horizon that little bit further out for others to discover.
|Doug Kerr on the boulder problem Chop which exists in the space at the edge of the bouldering map|
A guide is being written at the moment that will take in some of the areas that, at present, exist in-between the known and unknown. A dedicated group of locals are out there scouring the bays for potential, but why leave the immense task of rewriting the bouldering map to the few? We are the many and the task is large. Instead of spending yet another bank holiday weekend abseiling into an overly used coastal limestone crag in South Pembrokeshire, why not quest north with a brush and a pad? It’s amazing what you can find on that wild, deserted North Pembrokeshire / Ceridigion coastline. Be a map-maker - be creative and anchor your own personal geography to a little piece of coastline that will inspire others.