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Sea Cliff Climbing (Part One)

By Martin Chester

Climbing over the sea has its own unique atmosphere. It is committing, exciting and beautiful in equal measure. Every climber should experience the magic of a big day out on sea cliffs. Here are a handful of my top tips on getting started by over the sea.

Tip One

Sea Cliff Climbing (Part One)

Climbing above the sea can feel really committing at first. It's not a bad idea to get used to this gently to begin with. One obvious answer is to drop your grade and climb the classic easy routes on first acquaintance with a new crag. Alternatively, start off with less committing crags. The following should give you some food for thought, some pleasant climbing, and very little stress to begin with.
Sennen Cove and parts of Bosigran give an excellent introduction to Cornish Granite. Porth Clais is beautiful, and a refreshing change from the steeper Pembroke crags. Dancing ledges at Swanage will give you a taste for the limestone without the scary commitment.
Quartzite takes some getting used to with it's wide ranging quality and wacky runners. The upper tier of Gogarth and Rhoscolyn give you this opportunity in a "scramble in and out" sort of way.
For those in the North, the easily accessible parts of Reiff really are pretty hard to beat.

Tip Two

Sea Cliff Climbing (Part One)

Sea cliffs are not only special for climbers! Many sea-birds make their home here, and many twitchers look out for them. In this country, we have a fantastic system of agreed restrictions on the more popular crags (popular with the birds that is - feathered ones). To check for climbing restrictions in the nesting season (February to August) check on local bulletin boards or ask local climbers. You may like to visit the BMC website for more details. Finally, a restricted route will have an ® in the guidebook, after the route description. After all that, there is no excuse for ignorance so please don't upset the birds.

Tip Three

Sea Cliff Climbing (Part One)

Check the tides. Get a copy of the local tide table if you know what to do with it. Failing that, ask the person that was about to sell it to you! Local shops, docks and chandlers should all be able to help. To plan in advance, visit :


Be aware Spring tides come in a long way, and go out a long way. Neap tides don't come in very far, but may barely seem to go out either!

Tip Four

Sea Cliff Climbing (Part One)

Wear your rack on a bandolier if traversing in. That way you can ditch it, should you end up in the water. You may not want to lose it but it's better than drowning!

Tip Five

Sea Cliff Climbing (Part One)

Wash your kit afterwards, to get all that corrosive salt off the alloy. Once it's dry, give it a go with WD40 or something similar. You may prefer to do that after you've been climbing - or you might drop it all.


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