Sean Cullins on Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove
|Rock Type||Natural Carboniferous Limestone|
|Approach Time||12 minutes|
|Sub Area||Shire Combe to Southgate|
|WGS-84 Location||51.564963, -4.092269|
|OS Grid Ref.||SS 550 871|
|WGS-84 Parking Location||51.566835, -4.087865|
|GR Parking Location||SS 553873|
|Parking Postcode||SA3 2DH|
|Base Elevation||5 metres (Other)|
|Seepage||Needs a short dry spell|
|Before/After Low Tide||6.0 hours (See Note)|
|Crags Within a Half Mile.|
Anemone Wall, Bowen's Parlour, Foxhole Cove, Golden Wall, Heatherslade Bay, Marble Arch, Minchen Hole, Pantheon, Pobbles Quarries, Prawn Zawn, Ravens Cliff Gully, Shire Combe Buttress, Watch House East, Watch House Slab, West Promontory Corner, White Cove, White Edge
Foxhole Crag itself is non-tidal. The lower crags 2½ hours either side of low water.
No bolting except at Foxhole itself. At Foxhole - Retro-bolting permissible with first ascensionist’s permission. Replacement of worn fixed gear on a point for point basis with bolts is permissible. New sports routes allowed.
Foxhole Cove is the small bay between Watch House East and Heatherslade Bay itself. Foxhole itself is a superbly steep crag, basically the roof of a large cave, tucked back well back and above the sea at the back of the cove. It contains some of the best sport routes on Gower. The crag does seep after prolonged rain, but otherwise it performs good umbrella service. It is always possible to climb in or out of the sun by selecting the correct wall. There are a number of smaller areas and the easy routes on Wrinkle Slab and Grey Wall, are well worth seeking out.
GR551872 Note that this is not the Fox Hole marked on the OS map. From the B4436 follow the offshoot into Southgate and continue to the National Trust Car Park by a roundabout at the end of the village (GR554873). Park here and follow the private road along the cliff top westward (right when looking out to sea) until opposite Number 9. Go down and left to the top of a gully. Scramble carefully down this taking care not to miss the path leading left across the top of the cave otherwise you will arrive at the base of the crag rather too quickly. Follow a poor path down for 50m, which comes to the cave entrance of Foxhole itself. The lower crags are reached by scrambling down in front of the cave. Deep Cut is to the west (right looking out to sea), Wrinkle Slab and Grey Wall to the east.
Most routes at Foxhole itself have lower offs.Descents for the other crags are by easy scrambling.
- Never Out-Fox the Fox - Fr. 5
Start on the grass bank, and begin up the black slab. Move up the slab and use massive holds to progress up a groove, make use of smaller holds to reach the distant belay.
- Reynard - Fr. 5
A direct line using some of the best rock on this wall. The belay is a little higher than the neighbouring routes.
- Cunning Little Fox - Fr. 5
Easier warm up/intro to Foxhole on the left hand side of the crag. Start just left of the black slab, tending leftwards initially before rocking over onto the slab/ramp. Head straight up to the belay, then try something a little more overhanging on the main crag.
- Vulpes vulpes - Fr.5
Steep but juggy climbing up the overlaps left of the yellow runnel.
- Vulpix - Fr. 4+
A pleasant exercise in bridging up the cleaned runnel.
- Basil Brush - Fr. 4
Long,steeper and better than it looks.16.69m.
- Unholy Alliance - Fr. 6a+
On the left wall of the crag, outside the cave proper, is a steep tower. Take a vague flake line up this. Was a bold trad route. 12m
- Marmalade Skies - Fr. 7a+
Very nice moves up the steep orange wall. The boulder-problem start can be avoided by climbing in from the left. 12m
- Connard Canard - Fr. 7b
The black wall to the right of Marmalade Skies proves harder than it looks and is tricky to on-sight. 12m
- Goose In Lucy - Fr. 6c **
Down to the right of Connard Cannard, just inside the cave, are a couple of finger pockets. Gain and use these to work up to a bounce to get the conglomerate ledge. Finger traverse 1m to the left then climb the steep wall above on superb undercuts and jugs. 12m
- Surplomb De Ray - Fr. 8b
A very steep route to the left of Pioneers of the Hypnotic Groove. Climb straight through the overhang via a very hard bouldery sequence to eventually gain the tufa jug at the intermediate belay of Hypnotic Groove - continue all the way to the top of the crag. 18m.
- Pioneers Of The Hypnotic Groove - Fr. 7b ***
A stunning route climbing the angle of the cave at 45 degrees all the way up. Looks improbable, but the holds are massive! BB at the lip of the cave. 25m
- Un-named - Fr. 8a
The overhanging wall to the right of Pioneers Of The Hypnotic Groove. Follow the bolt runners to a jug half way up the wall and swing leftwards boldly to reach the slab above. Lower off the following route. 14m
- Palace Of Swords Reversed - Fr. 8a+ *
Follow the BRs to where the lines diverge. Take the right-hand line with some very powerful moves off small pockets to gain good conglomerate holds and the slab. Lower off, or move right to finish up Foxy Lady. 15m
- Chicken Licken - Fr. 7a *
Climb the overhanging wall just left of the arête marking the right end of the lower cave roof. 10m
To the right is small left trending wall at right angles to the cave and left of a prominent groove.
- No Epoxy Au Oxley - Fr. 6b+ *
A partial girdle of the crag. Start up the crack of the now bolted Hooker to gain a slab. Traverse easily left across the slab to gain the now bolted extension of Pioneers etc. groove which is followed to a BB. 35m
- Gypsy Eyes - Fr. 6c
As per Epoxy Au Oxley then take the headwall left of Little Miss Lover. 34m
- Little Miss Lover - E4,6a
As for No Epoxy Au Oxley but when halfway across the traverse, 2m after the conglomerate holds, pull up the impending wall to good holds and a hidden PR. Follow a steep crack to the top. A lower off rope is required. How many repeats? 25m
The following three routes have had their starts swapped round for convenience. The grades are not really affected. They start on the pillar which leads up to the right end of the traverse slab.
- The Hooker - Fr. 7a **
A furious layback up cracks on the left of the pillar. Move 2m left and up to a PR and fight up the difficult impending headwall. 21m
- Foxy Lady - Fr. 7a **
an intricate start in the center of the pillar leads to a good rest at the right end of the traverse slab. From here pull up on steep rock to a final thuggish move which can be done quite stylishly with the use of a right heel. 25m
- Joy De Viva - Fr. 7a **
Start in the groove to the right of the pillar. At the top of this move right by a long reach to a good conglomeration - then move up with difficulty to jugs. Keep moving before you burn! Excellent sustained climbing. 20m
- Turkey Lurking - Fr. 7c *
Hard to follow. As for Power Struggle to a point 3m below the top. Blast leftwards, all very difficult to read, to eventually finish at the top of Foxy Lady. 30m
- Power Struggle - Fr. 7b+ *
On the right wall of the crag is another big hole/flake at 4m. Gain this via the handrail on the right, move powerfully up and left to finish direct. 15m
- Ducky Lucky - Fr. 7a+ **
A sharp but worthwhile route to the right of Power Struggle. 12m
- The Day The Sky Fell In - Fr.6b+*
The last groove on the right-hand wall of the cave. 10m
The following three routes start from the raised platform on the right.
- Easter rising - Fr. 5
Pleasant slab climbing, with a hard rockover at the 4th bolt, and a delicate airy finish.
- Welcome to the World of Trad - VS,4c
To the right of the main crag is a slab with a diagonal, right to left, crack. Follow this and continue to belays on a block slightly to the right (or lower off as Easter Rising). N.B. Bolts removed and reverted back to its original state. 12m.
- Evening Primrose - Fr. 5
Avoid the queues on the VS and enjoy this jug-fest up the steep wall right of the slab. Gets the last of the evening sun.
There are now many many links up's at the crag, probably more than the described routes. These are useful as a training resource for those devotees bored of lapping the same old lines. However, they are not all described here and are best identified by talking to locals.
Easy-angled and bolted slabs down and to the left of Foxhole cave.These slabs are used by the outdoor industry so you may find a small group under instruction.The bolt fund has provided a low simulated belay so that instructors and others can demonstrate and practice safe threading proceedure.
- Cleft a bit - Fr4
Left hand line of bolts started by bridging.
- Cleftomaniac - Fr. 4
A steep start, or wide bridging, gains entry to the clean slab which is climbed to the left of the bolts. Watch your back when lowering.
- Leopard Prints - Fr. 4+
Climb the pleasant slab just right of the corner. 13m.
- The Power Of The Leopard Skin Warmer - Fr. 4
The left side of the slab above the zawn. 12m.
- A Leopard Cannot Change His Spots - Fr. 2
After a hard start, pleasant bolted slab on right of slabs, low rings L.O. 10m.
- Leopard Cub - Fr. 2
Similar to Leopard Spots, without the hard start. 10m.
Deep Cut (Dark Side of the Moon Zawn)
This is the narrow east-facing zawn at sea level, below and west of Fox Hole proper. It has an overhanging northfacing wall, which takes time to dry out and a low angled slab. Some of the first few routes have almost certainly been done before.
- Talbot’s Peugeot - VS,5a
Start at the extreme left side of the overhanging wall. Layback up the arête to finish above a prominent roof. 10m
- Mind Of A Talbot - VS,5b
The vague diagonal scoops to the right of Talbot’s Peugeot. 7m
- Antipodean Hero - HVS,5a
The first real line. Climb to the prominent roof right of Mind Of A Talbot. Reach over this, move right to a sharp flake and finish direct. Awkward. 8m
- Malice Down Under - HVS,5a
A worthwhile route up a line of square jugs to the right of Antipodean Hero. 8m
- Maurice In Undies Land - E1,5c
The wall to the right of Malice Down Under, PR. 8m
- The Illywhacker - E4,6a *
Climb the centre of the north wall directly on small holds past twin PRs. The crux is at the top on the crozzly rib and a fall could be interesting, depending on the level of the pebbles. 8m
- Roygoi - E5, 6a
Bridge up the cleft at the right-hand side of the wall for 2m, then move onto the wall and rock up for a finger flake. Follow a thin crack, to finish just right of The Illywhacker. 8m
- Requin - HS
Climbs the leftmost groove at the back of the zawn. 8m
- Coral Corner - Fr. 5
Climbs the stepped hanging slabs to an exciting finish. Walk round to rescue your clips from the lower-off. Hangers missing Oct 22
- Deep Cut Slab - HVD
Worthwhile. On the slabby side of the zawn is a diagonal runnel. Start where this touches the ground and balance up it to gain a sloping indentation. Get established on this, then climb directly up the slab above to finish. 12m
This brown slab is below and east of Fox Hole proper, where the rocks start to open out.
- Direct - D
Climb the centre of the slab. 12m
- East Corner - M
Climb the corner bounding the slab to below an overhang which is turned on the left. 12m
This is the eastwards continuation of Wrinkle Slab, starting with an arête.
- West Edge - D
The left arête of the slab.
- West Side - D
Takes the slab to the right of West Edge. Many variations are possible. 12m
- Cleft - VD *
In the middle of the slab is an obvious “4” shaped sentry box. Climb this and the delicate slab above. 12m
- Ramp - HVD
An artificial climb squeezed in between Cleft and East Corner. 12m
- East Corner - M *
The obvious corner bounding the slab on its right-hand side. 12m
Some 100m to the east (right) is Great Corner, described under the Heatherslade Page
- Never Out-Fox the Fox - Stuart Llewellyn 10.06.2010
- Reynard - Danny McCarroll and John Bullock 2022
- Cunning Little Fox - Stuart Llewellyn 10.06.2010
- Vulpes vulpes - Danny McCarroll and John Bullock 2018
- Vulpix - Rhiannon McCarroll 17.04.2017
- Basil Brush - Danny McCarroll and John Bullock 2013
- Unholy Alliance - M.Crocker, J.Harwood 01.05.1994
- Marmalade Skies - Danny McCarroll and John Bullock 2012
- Connard Canard - G.Gibson 01.09.1998
- Goose In Lucy - R.Thomas, S.Coles 11.05.1996
- Surplomb De Ray -
- Pioneers Of The Hypnotic Groove - R.Thomas 6pt 1994, FFA G.Ashmore, S.Coles, J.Tracey 19.04.1996
- Unnamed -
- Palace Of Swords Reversed - G.Ashmore 08.09.1996
- Chicken Licken - R.Thomas 19.07.1996
- No Epoxy Au Oxley - R.Thomas 1994
- Gypsy Eyes - '
- Little Miss Lover - M.Crocker 01.05.1994
- The Hooker - J.Bullock, R.Thomas 00.06.1990
- Foxy Lady - J.Bullock, R.Thomas 00.05.1990
- Joy De Viva - G.Gibson 05.07.1997
- Turkey Lurking - E.Travers-Jones 10.08.1996
- Power Struggle - M.Crocker, J.Harwood 01.05.1994
- Ducky Lucky - R.Thomas 10.08.1996
- The Day The Sky Fell In - R.Thomas 18.05.1996
- Easter Rising - Rhiannon McCarroll, Easter Sunday 2018
- Welcome to the World of Trad - Gwyn Evans, Gareth Tucker, Rob Howells 01.06.2005
- Evening Primrose - John Bullock and Danny McCarroll April 2022
- Cleft a Bit - Rhiannon McCarroll and Bethan McCarroll 2017
- Cleftomaniac - Bethan McCarroll and Danny McCarroll April 2017
- Leopard Prints - Steve Rusling and Bethan McCarroll Jan 2017
- The Power Of The Leopard Skin Warmer - Rhoslyn Frugtniet March 2010
- A Leopard Cannot Change His Spots - S.Rawlinson - 04.05.2014
- Leopard Cub - Nick Rocke - 5th June 2022
Deep Cut (Dark Side of the Moon Zawn)
- Talbot’s Peugeot - G.Ashmore solo 19.08.1996
- Mind Of A Talbot - G.Ashmore solo 19.08.1996
- Antipodean Hero - R.Thomas 19.08.1996
- Malice Down Under - R.Thomas 19.08.1996
- Maurice In Undies Land - R.Thomas 19.08.1996
- The Illywhacker - A.Long 1991
- Roygoi - M.Crocker, J.Harwood 28.02.1998
- Requin - J.Talbot 1962
- Coral Corner - Conor White and Bethan McCarroll May 2016.
- Deep Cut Slab - J.Talbot 1962
- Direct - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959
- East Corner - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959
- West Edge - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959
- West Side - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959
- Cleft - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959
- Ramp - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959
- East Corner - J.Talbot, D.Thomas 1959