Caswell Bay

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Caswell Bay
Great Slab
Great Slab
Rock Type Natural Carboniferous Limestone
Climbing Style Trad
Approach Time 10 minutes
Area Gower
Sub Area Caswell Bay to Mumbles
Geodata
WGS-84 Location 51.568715, -4.036611
OS Grid Ref. SS 589 875
WGS-84 Parking Location 51.570976, -4.030482
GR Parking Location SS 593 877
Parking Postcode SA3 4RY
Base Elevation 0 metres (Other)
General Info
Faces Direction South
Aspect Partially Sunny
Wind Sheltered Mostly
Climbing Type Normal
Seepage Quick drying
Crags Within 400m

Caswell Bay



PREAMBLE

A pleasant slabby series of cliffs with some fine climbing for the lower grade climber. Situated within easy reach of Swansea and only 5 mins from the road, it is Gower's most populated beach in summer and is not the crag for the self-conscious climber.

Far South Slab and Yellow Flecked Slab are suitable for top-roping and beginners under instruction. These two areas are also subject more to tides.

ACCESS

From Swansea go towards Mumbles, at the mini-roundabout in Mumbles (White Rose pub on the corner) turn right and head up the hill. At the top of the hill turn left at signs for Caswell Bay and follow the twisting road (B4593) to the Bay. Park in an obvious "pay or be fined" car park opposite the beach. The climbing is on a series of slabs on the west side of the bay. The most prominent of these is Great Slab, with an obvious through cave at the base. About 50m West is Yellow Flecked Slab and 50m further on is Far South Slab, bounded by a tapering triangular fissure at its West end.

To find your desired crag, type the name in to the Filter Markers box (top right corner of the map).

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TIDAL STATUS

2½ hours either side of low water.

BOLTING POLICY

No bolting.

DESCENTS

For the Far South Slab, scramble down either side. For other routes descent is via a path west for a short distance then down easy slabs and corners, or east if the tide is high.

THE ROUTES

Far South Slab

This is the most westerly of the slabs at Caswell and the most seaward. It consists of a slabby wall of fine quality rock, with generally good gear. It is therefore ideal for new leaders or for a pleasant half-hour of soloing. The west (left) end is bounded by an obvious triangular fissure, called rather logically, Fissure.

It's probable that the sand level in the late fifties (and early seventies when Jeremy Talbot wrote his guidebook), was considerably higher than it is today. If so, then the first four routes here would have had easier starts than they do now.

Far South Slab
  1. West Slab - D
    Gain and climb the slab left of Fissure, with an awkward start. 15m.

  2. Fissure - D
    The obvious triangular Fissure, starting on its left wall. 14m.

  3. White Slab - D
    Start at the base of the first proper crack Curve (rising from the fissure) but climb the slab directly. 14m.

  4. Curve - D
    The first of the diagonal cracks running to the top of the crag. 14m.

  5. Central Flake - D
    Climb the raised-flake slab from below it's lowest point.. 13m.

  6. Direct - HD
    Start just right of Central Flake below where the raised slab forms a small roof. Climb directly to the top. 13m.

  7. Central Crack - M
    Climb the central crack of the slab R of the raised slab and L of the black slab. 12m.

  8. Black Slab - VS,4c
    Climb the black slab to the right of Central Crack. Contrived.[1]

  9. Right Corner - HVD
    Easy, but poorly protected. The very faint left facing groove to the right of Black Slab. 12m.

  10. Smooth Slab - VS,4c
    The smooth black slab to the right of Black Slab. 12m.

  11. Left Y Crack - D
    Climb the left arm of the y-crack, right of Smooth Slab. 13m.

  12. Y Wall - D
    Climb the right arm of the y-crack, right of Smooth Slab. 10m.

Yellow Flecked Slab

To the east of Far South Slab and west of a prominent inlet leading to the base of the Great Slab, is a yellow stained slab about 20m high. It is bounded on its west (left) side by a diagonal chimney and a loose corner.

Yellow-Flecked Slab
  1. West Fissure - VD
    The diagonal chimney on the left side of the wall is vegetated and probably quite lethal. 20m.

  2. Coloured Slab - S *
    Climb the slab about 5m right of West Fissure. 20m.

  3. Direct - VD *
    At the base of the slab is a rock step. Start from this and climb the slab about 5m right of Coloured Slab, finishing up a shallow scoop. 21m.

  4. Grooved Slab - HD
    To the right of Direct is an area of honeycombed rock at the base of the slab. Climb the left side of these combs to gain the left end of a horizontal crack. Finish direct. 18m.

  5. Curving Crack - D
    Start right of Grooved Slab at a weakness in the honeycombes. Finish slightly left. 21m.

  6. Loch - D
    The arête to the right of Curving Crack and before a series of shallow corners. 15m.

  7. First Corner - VD
    Climb the corner to the right of Loch and finish up the slab above. 21m.

  8. Second Corner - VD
    Climb the shallow groove to the right of First Corner. 21m.

  9. Third Corner - VD
    The corner right of Second Corner. 21m.

  10. East Edge - VD
    The arête to the right of Third Corner. 21m.

Zawn

The rock now drops back into a vague zawn, at the back of which is the obvious Central Slab. The more continuous west (left) side of the zawn has two narrow slabs running up it.

  1. Purple Haze - VS,4b *
    Start up the first of the two narrow slabs, but break leftwards onto ledges and finish via a short slab. Interesting route. 21m.

  2. Kiss the Sky - VS,4a
    Work your way up a slanting ramp and then climb the centre of the top slab. Top is run out and poorly protected. 30m.

  3. Sibling Arête - E2,5b
    Climb the right arête of the first narrow slab in its entirety. No protection. 27m.

  4. Once In A Blue Moon - HVS,5a
    Gain the second narrow slab from the corner on its left. Take the subsequent corner to finish up the earthy crack. 27m.

Great Slab

This is the most obvious and highest slab at Caswell, containing the through-cave at its base.

Great Slab
  1. What Not - S
    Start below the Great Slab at a narrow slab leading up to an earthy gully on its left. Climb the narrow slab to its top, then traverse right on obvious pockets to the left edge of the central slab. Follow the edge to the top. This point can also be reached by traversing in from Nat Not at a harder grade (Left Edge VS,4b J.Brown, A.Kyffin 1996). 22m.

  2. Pleistocene Dinosaur - E1,5b
    Reach the cave apex via the huge block overhang and obvious large hole. Climb the slab to the overlap. Finish up the slab above. 22m.

  3. Nat Not - VS,4c **
    The best route at Caswell. Start on the rock neck below the Central Slab. Traverse deviously into and climb the right wall of the through-cave to its apex. Pull over this onto the slab above and continue directly. 22m.

  4. Bridge Over Troubled Waters - E3,6a ?
    The roof of the through-cave in its entirety, starting at its depth and bridging until a finish as for Nat Not is possible. 22m.

  5. Great Slab - HS,4b *
    Climb the centre of the Great Slab linking up the two obvious holes. Not well protected. 21m.

  6. Right Edge - VS,4b
    Follow the right side of the slab. Poorly protected. 22m.

    Caswell Right - Needs Work


  7. Mac The Knife - E5,6b *
    Painfully attack the overhanging crack in the right wall of the central slab, to finish up the central groove to the top. 22m.[2]

  8. Frantic Corner - E4,6a
    Start on the block below the lower shelf of Antic Corner, step up onto the slab and using the right edge, move gingerly into the corner and up into the block overhang. Follow a line of flakes left into Mac The Knife at a large 'handle' hold. From here attack the upper wall left of the finish of Mac The Knife. 25m.

  9. Antic Corner - E1,5b
    Start in the east (right) entrance to the through-cave. Chimney up and pull onto the slab at the foot of the corner. Follow this via an overhang, to the foot of a grass tongue. Climb the rib on the right to the top. 20m.

  10. El Condor Pasa - E3,6b -
    Provides a logical continuation to the direct start of Antic Corner. Start as for Shufflebottom Crack, then pull over an overlap to gain the pod of Antic Corner. Continue up to the block overhang, which is taken at its right-hand side, then the arête above. 21m.

  11. Shufflebottom Crack - HVS,5a
    A fun route requiring unique contortions. Start at the foot of a wide smooth crack right of Antic Corner. Climb the crack to the overhang and shuffle up it to the slab. Move up and over to the right edge and finish up this. Belay well back across the path. 22m.

  12. Great Gully - M
    To the right of the Great Slab routes is a square-cut gap before a prominent yellow raised slab is reached. Gain this gap via the offwidth below and continue up the slabs above.

    The next routes are on the yellow raised slab to the east (right) of The Great Slab proper. 24m.

  13. Flake Variation - HD
    Start left of the slab and climb up a groove to gain a ledge on the arête. Swing right to finish up a wide crack. 16m.

  14. Main Crack - D
    The left crack on the front face of the slab, finishing up the wide upper crack of Flake Variation. 16m.

  15. Scoop - S
    Some 4m up the east (right) arête of the slab is a ledge. Gain this either by the right-hand crack on the front face, or from a scoop round to the right of the arête. Finish up thin cracks. 15m.

  16. Direct - HS,4a
    Climb jumbled rock to gain a corner right of an arête over to the right. 12m.

  17. Right Edge - S
    Gain Direct from the diagonal crack down and right. Finish up Direct, or up the arête. 12m.

  18. Colorado - E4,5c ?
    An exciting micro route that takes the south east arête of the enormous boulder situated right of the main climbing area on small flakes with a tricky finish. No kit. 5m.

Additional Photos

First Ascents

First Ascents for the early climbs here are not recorded. See notes.
Far South Slab

  1. West Slab - [3]
  2. Fissure [3]
  3. White Slab [3]
  4. Curve [3]
  5. Central Flake [3]
  6. Direct [3]
  7. Central Crack [3]
  8. Black Slab [3]
  9. Right Corner [3]
  10. Smooth Slab [3]
  11. Left Y Crack [3]
  12. Y Wall [3]

Yellow Flecked Slab

  1. West Fissure [3]
  2. Coloured Slab [3]
  3. Direct [3]
  4. Grooved Slab [3]
  5. Grooved Slab [3]
  6. Curving Crack [3]
  7. Loch [3]
  8. First Corner [3]
  9. Second Corner [3]
  10. Third Corner [3]
  11. East Edge - P.Thomas, R.Bennett 1983

Zawn

  1. Purple Haze - P. Thomas & R. Bennet 1983
  2. Kiss the Sky - T.Boothby 30.05.2012
  3. Sibling Arête - S.Lewis, G.Lewis 1982
  4. Once in Blue Moon - D.Butler, C.Davies 1976

Great Slab

  1. What Not - G.Evans, etc. 26.04.1977
  2. Pleistocene Dinosaur - D.Butler, C.Davies 1976 A.Berry, J.Preece, D.Naylor - ALCH 1990
  3. Nat Not - G.Evans, M.Danford, G.Richardson 26.04.1977
  4. Bridge Over Troubled Waters - A.Berry, D.Thomas 1997
  5. Great Slab [3]
  6. Right Edge [3]
  7. Mac The Knife - P.Littlejohn, C.Hurley 02.05.1984
  8. Frantic Corner - A.Berry 1992
  9. Antic Corner - D.Butler, C.Davies 1976
  10. El Condor Pasa - A.Berry 19.04.1992
  11. Shufflebottom Crack - G.Evans, P.Clay 08.08.1981
  12. Great Gully [3]
  13. Flake Variation [3]
  14. Main Crack [3]
  15. Scoop [3]
  16. Direct [3]
  17. Right Edge [3]
  18. Colorado - A.Berry 13.04.1992

Notes

  1. Given only 'IV' in Gower Peninsula (1970), p. 21. It's reported as even harder - i.e. HVS,4c
  2. Adrian Berry's old website has this to say.
    ...this immaculate line begs for inclusion. This blinding pitch always reminds me a picture in ‘Rocks around the World’ of Stephan Glowacks on Pyromania. The diagonal crack cuts the centre of a gently overhanging wall. The devious crux comes early on, but soon relents to some fantastic finger-locks, which double as nut slots, though regrettably not at the same time. A rewarding pitch, and one of the best pure crack climbs in Britain. http://www.planetfear.com/article_detail.asp?a_id=23 Use the wayback machine for this URL.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 From Gower Peninsula (1970), p. 145:
    "This area has never been really popular and is still relatively unknown. JOT, DLT, RB, DJ, and A. Bevan climbed extensively here in 1958-59 and attempts to compile a list of first ascents have proved impossible."
    Also from p. 145. JOT (Jeremy Owen Talbot), DLT (D. L. Thomas), RBO (R. B. Owen), DJ (D. Jones)