The sun always shines on Shorn Cliff, or so it seems to me. Three trips and each time I’ve been slathered up in factor 50. Add to that sylvan beauty, a fabulous view of Tintern Abbey, the laid back climbing and you have a cliff that’s hard to resist. That’s laid back in every sense, both rock angle and vibe. Don your stiffest boots and perch on the perfect limestone, luxuriating in the time it gives you to assess both gear and the next move. The foot of the crag is usually a jumble of bodies, ropes, gear and rucsacs, making for a uniquely convivial atmosphere. This is classic British outcrop climbing, and there’s nowt wrong with that.
There’s only one beta item, the approach - Park in Tintern (the abbey car park is free), and walk back to the footbridge over the river. Follow the path until a fork left takes you through some iron posts. Follow the path until you reach a wall on the left, turn right and then take the rightmost path at every fork. You'll reach a forestry track after about 25 minutes walk. Turn right onto the forestry track, a sign saying "R4" leads to the foot of Tigers Don't Cry. Keep going along the forestry track to pick up paths to other areas.
In 1798 Wordsworth witters on about the beauty of Tintagel Abbey while completely ignoring the brilliant cliff just above it. Bleedin’ New Romantics. Climbers unknown fertle about in the ‘60s but it’s not until the ‘70s that a host of Bristol and South Wales climbers descend on the place. Roy Thomas, Steve Moss and Gordon Irvine pitch in and Moss prepares a chapter for the 1977 Wye Valley guide. His manuscript mysteriously disappears and also, subsequently, does any interest in the crag. Eventually, in 1984, The Gibson arrives. Aided and abbetted by Matt Ward, he unleashes a welter of routes including the classics Bitter Battle Tears and The Laughing Cavaliers. Great sheets of ivy are dispatched and the development gathers pace as the team grows. Ward and Paul Begley add, amongst others, Tiger’s Don’t Cry. Begley risks all to clean routes, once disturbing a bees nest resulting in a world record speed abseil. New faces arrive in 1985, Roy Thomas returns and Party Piece is the result. The blank wall right of Tiger’s Don’t Cry falls to Martin Crocker, Three Score Years and Ten (E5), the crag’s toughest route at the time and still no picnic. Careful, it’s missing a peg.
Generally solid, unquarried Dolomitic limestone.
Sometimes it’s as if this place was specifically designed for nuts 3, 4 and 5. You really could get by on a lot of climbs with a rack of mid-size nuts.
Single pitch climbs from 35ft up to 100ft. Abseil descent is by far the best method, so take twin ropes.
Suits you Sir!
Look at the stats. If you’re solid at HVS and looking to move into the extremes, this may well be the place for you. It’s a pocket pulling paradise from HS through to E2 and the temptation to stick your neck out a bit further will be hard to resist.
The Bitter Battle Tears, what a great name for a route, a perfect piece of Elvis Costello alliteration. The climbing is as silky smooth as Elvis’s lyrics too, apart from an ungainly heave off the floor. After that it’s steady HVS all the way. The gear is infrequent but sound, the moves teasingly technical. Frankly, I could have gone for No Musketeers or The Laughing Cavaliers, but Battle Tears just shades it. Hell, do the lot.
If it was a person it would be
A stoned surfer dude, laid back but still capable of generating some radical moves.
Truly the $64,000 question. If you get lost on the way in, your plaintive cries will haunt the crag for years and you may have to rely on your hunting skills to keep the wolf from the door. Even if you navigate without deviation, expect to be coming over all peckish by the time you get to the crag.
Popular with groups lured by the superb selection of routes in the VS to E1 range.
Check out the village shop in Brockweir. A co-operative run by villagers, it carries a wide range of local produce, the all important alcohol, opens on a Sunday and is on the way to the crags. It even has a small café serving good coffee. As for pubs, The Moon and Sixpence in Tintern gets a good press but there are a number of pubs in Woodcroft and Tutshill.
If you like Shorn Cliff...
Pocketed, slabby limestone? How about the brilliant Beeston Tor? Orgon? Pen Trwyn?
That your calves won’t be screaming for mercy by the end of the day. With that walk in? After balancing up those slabs?
It’s Been Said
Anyone got another nut four?
Lower Wye Valley Edited by John Willson (Climber’s Club Guides 2007).