Some of the best rock climbing in England can be found in Cornwall and climbers from around the world journey there to take advantage of the wide choice of climbing and abseiling available whether it be on inland rock faces such as Bodmin Moor or rocky cliffs towering over the sea.
Bodmin Moor, in northeastern Cornwall, has dramatic granite tors rising above rolling moorland: the best known are Brown Willy (the highest point in Cornwall at 417 m (1,370 ft) and Rough Tor at 400 m (1,300 ft). This is a beautiful part of Cornwall and the tors of Bodmin Moor are good for climbing and bouldering. There are several other climbing areas closeby…
HILL: Kilmar Tor (396m)
UK Area: 40 – Cornwall & Devon
OS Grid Ref: SX252748 (10 figure Grid Ref: SX2525174881)
OS Maps: 1:50(201) 1:25(109)
Latitude: 50.547502, Longitude: -4.467936
POI Name: 0396fp – Hills Database Unique ID: 5402
CLASSIFICATIONS: Trigpoint, HuMP.
Data courtesy of the Hills Database v11.5
Kilmar Tor on the eastern side of Bodmin Moor, is a rugged granite ridge and the highest tor here is 396m. There are two climbs that you will need climbing equipment for and plenty of scope for bouldering.
The Cheesewring on Bodmin Moor offers further challenges with many climbs around the wall of the granite quarry. This quarry is on Access Land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. Climbing is permitted on Access Land provided there are no local restrictions.
The cliffs around Cornwall offer a wealth of sea climbing routes which rival any in the country, so whether you’re an experienced climber or eager amateur wanting to improve your skills, you will find the perfect location for your climb at sites such as Bosigran, Halldrine Cove, Rosemergy Towers, Sennen, Land’s End, The Lizard, North and South East Cornwall and the Chair Ladder. These all provide a variety of climbs with varying levels of difficulty.
The area is composed of mostly granite sea cliffs, although there are a few examples of Greenstone and Killas Slate crags scattered around the north coast between St. Just and St. Ives. The granite cliffs offer superb rock quality and natural lines, which allow for perfect protection. The 3 main crags are Bosigran and Sennen on the north coast and Chair Ladder on the south.
Sennen Cove is north of Penzance and has a lovely climbing arena just 5m above the sea. Expect to get wet if it’s rough. The rock is granite -very grippy – and the routes are all short and severe. Grades range from Difficult to E6. Demo Route and the Overhanging Wall – both VS 4c – are worth trying though it is worth noting that the routes are short and so have been graded down by the authors of the Guidebook. Leaders should ensure that their protection is very good here – no errors will be forgiven.
Bosigran is a little further round the north coast (near Pendeen). It is a superb line of cliffs 150 feet above the sea. The granite is fantastic and so are the routes. Most of the grades here are accurate and routes tend to be about 150 feet in length, or more. The Climber’s Club have a luxurious hut (with double glazing, showers, phone, cookers, beds…) near the top of the cliffs, so if you’re a member… you’ve got it made, and the milkman passes at about 10:30 every morning! Doorway and Doorpost are both excellent climbs. Also recommended are Little Brown Jug (VS 4c/5a) and Autumn Flakes.
Chair Ladder, just south of Lands End, has long, exposed and well climbed routes which are true to their grades. It is best to have a guidebook (see below) as the cliff is very complex and the access is tidal.
The Lizard Peninsula is a relatively recently developed climbing area. The rock is of 3 main types – Mica Schist, Ampribolite and Serpentine. These rock types vary dramatically in quality. Fans of steep juggy routes will love it here. There are single- and multi-pitch routes up to 170ft, and it is here that you will find the remarkable roof route of Aboriginal Sin (E3 5c)
A standard rack of gear should suffice and an abseil rope will be very useful – but don’t take my word for it, always check it out with the locals or a guide book before you set off. The definitive guidebook is ‘West Cornwall’, published by the Climbers Club. It gives updated descriptions for the cliffs previously covered by the CC’s Bosigran and Chair Ladder guidebooks as well as the crags of the Lizard Peninsula. It gives you the most complete coverage of the climbing available in this region. 2,160 climbs are described!
I need say no more…
Or perhaps just a little bit more…
The bold statement that “The Sun always shines!” is not strictly true… this is, after all, England we’re talking about – that green and pleasant land! However, the statement holds enough credibility to lure hundreds of British and foreign climbers to Cornwall every year. The weather is warm, nearly Mediterranean, the climbs come in all varieties from pleasant rambling to the really tough, skin tearing pitch of shear desperation. Cornwall is a satisfying rock climbing area and once hooked you will return again and again.