Paviland Main Cliff
Seasonal restriction on the routes in the vicinity of East Gully Groove. Please see the BMC RAD Database
Access from the free parking at Pilton Green, (SS 446 871 or 51.561586, -4.242797). On the right-hand side of the B4247, approx. 2 miles from Rhossili. Park on the grass at the edge of the track leading to a farm. Cross the road, bear left and take the public footpath (signposted to Foxhole Slade) through the 'kissing-gate' on the left of the sandy-coloured house (Clifflands). Reach the top of a dry valley after about 20 minutes and numerous gates. (1.34km). At the landward end of the valley is a wooden kissing-gate (SS 438860).
From here you have two choices. Either:
- Abseil Access. Go through the gate and then, shortly, go through the green metal gate on the right and up the steep side of the valley. From the top of the path head south, winding your way through gorse to a point on the cliff top just west of the valley and at the top of a steep (south-facing) gully leading down to the sea. At this point there is an old abseil ring (51.5503450, -4.255659) which you will have to search for. (Back it up if you use it).
- Scrambling Access. Go through the gate and then head down the valley to a point where you can cross a fence and scramble along the western side of the narrow zawn. At a suitable point, step over the narrow cleft and scramble up and out. Continue the scramble around until you see the routes.
Either walk inland to gain the stile at the top of the dry valley or abseil from the huge ring bolt at the top of the cliff (51.550388, -4.255550) above East Gully Groove (see Access section).
Routes below East Gully Groove end at the base of the main cliff, so the descent is as for the approach. The routes are described from right to left since this is the direction of approach.
The first feature to be seen is a large cave Paviland Cave (or more correctly, Goat's Hole Cave). High above and to the left is Shelob’s Cave. Immediately left is an obvious groove/gully with numerous holes East Gully Groove. Left again is a prominent calcite encrusted crack, taken by The Ring. There are many possible variations linking up routes, but only the major ones are described.
The slabby buttress above Paviland Cave is loose and not recommended although routes have been recorded. The first route described is situated on the east face (i..e overlooking the dry valley), above blow holes at the base of the cliff.
1. Polly's Route 56m VD
Take a vague line up the cleanest section of the slab, then trend up the crest of the ridge to finish at will.
The next route climbs through Shelob's Cave, high above Paviland Cave.
2. Shelob 36m HS,4b *
"Don't do Shelob if you are fat or pregnant!" (Jeremy Talbot 1997). An unusual route, with daft finishing moves in an exposed position. An optional stance is available in the cave. Climb easy vegetated slabs right of the obvious trench of East Gully Groove, heading for the cave. Climb up the back of the cave and make a contorted sequence of moves, many old TRs, to exit through the hole. Short legs are an advantage.
3. East Gully Groove 36m HVS,5a **
A good, well protected route. Climb the obvious gully in its entirety, passing Jeremy Talbot's workshop at halfheight. Finish rightwards at the top. Some of the tats are getting a bit worse for wear.
The routes between East Gully Groove and The Ring are a little contrived and close together in places. Their descriptions may vary from the original lines due to rationalisation.
4. Talons 32m E2,6a
A short fingery pitch up the right side of the steep smooth wall. Quite hard for the grade. Whilst originally climbed via the first pitch of Half Dome, with a belay in East Gully Groove, this is a bit pointless. Follow East Gully Groove to the first big hole, bridge up and lean out to a good hold on the left wall. Follow the pockets above with difficulty to finish, TRs, PRs.
5. The Cure 33m E3,6a *
Essentially a direct on Half Dome. As for Half Dome, but continue more directly to the break, making a couple of hard pulls to rejoin Half Dome at the thread in its top crack.
6. Half Dome 36m E2,5c **
A good route. Start just to the right of the base of the slab on the left side of the gully and pull onto it. Head up the slab, moving slightly left to the good stance on Babylon (possible belay). Move right to the crack at the end of the ledge and move up into this, TR, finishing up and slightly left.
7. Babylon 42m HVS,5a *
This takes a line right of and parallel to The Ring. Start at a deep slot at the foot of East Gully Groove. Climb cracks in the wall 1m right of The Ring to reach the ledge (variations possible). Climb the cracks directly above and left of the more obvious Half Dome crack (good threads - not in situ).
8. The Ring 42m HS,4b **
The calcite-encrusted line rising from the foot of East Gully Groove. Climb to an obvious hole and follow the calcite line to the niche, possible belay. Climb the crack/groove above to the top.
The rest of the routes start across the gully at the base of The Ring. Standing about 20m left of the gully, two prominent cracks can be seen high up on the crag, about 20m apart. The right-hand one is the finish of Liang Shan Po, the lefthand one is the finish of Middle Earth. All these routes are as vegetated as they appear from the ground, but they are not too overgrown to climb, due to the bizarre Paviland plant-pot jugs.
9. Liang Shan Po 45m E1,5b *
Fine climbing. Start left The Ring. Climb the wall anywhere via a tiny overhang at half-height, past loads of TRs. Take the overhang direct via an obvious crack on the left of the arête, PR. Finish direct.
10. Middle Earth 45m VS,4c *
Another good route up the deep central groove and crack leading through the high central overhang left of Liang Shan Po, characterised by the steep and obvious jam crack. Start below the jam crack and climb the wall anywhere to gain a deep groove. Follow this to reach the jam crack. Either skirt round the crack to the left, or take it direct (HVS,5b). Follow the crack to the top.
11. Black Widow 45m HVS,5a
Start midway between Middle Earth and Gimli. Climb the wall fairly directly to about mid-height then move up and right to a shaky pillar, on Middle Earth. Go up left to below the roof and pull right on a good hold to the top.
12. Gimli 42m HVS,5a
This climbs the crack and groove up the right side of the high central overhang. Start in the recess containing a hole, directly below the right side of the big roof. Climb cracks to the right end of the overhangs, move steeply up the groove until below a final overhanging crack, move up left and back right to the top. Climbing direct from the top of the crack is E1,5b and pretty tricky.
13. Armageddon 42m HVS,5a *
Gain the wide crack cutting the roof about 2m to the left of the upper crack of Gimli. The upper crack is hard for a few moves, before easy ground is gained. Lots of TRs.
14. Balrog 42m HVS,5a
Start below the left-hand side of the overhang. Saunter up a groove, onto an overhang and surmount this directly via a crack to gain wobbly holds and a worryingly loose finishing groove. It is possible to skirt the roof on the right, to gain a second groove and a further roof. Following this line, stepping left under the upper roof to gain the same finish is about VS.
15. West Arête 45m VD
A bag situated at the far left-hand end of the face. Climb to an overlap and move right into a vague corner, then left to the skyline arête. Finish up this.
A few loose routes have been recorded left of this but are held in place by beams from outer space and are not recorded here.
16. Fellowship Of The Ring 39m E1,5c,5a,4c **
A fine high level girdle of the cliff.
- Pitch 1
- 7m Follow the easy section of East Gully Groove to the base of the leftward-trending break cutting through Half Dome etc. Make a very hard move left to start, TR. Continue across the break to belay in the obvious groove line (The Ring).
- Pitch 2
- 12m Step up and left from The Ring, then cross the slab on good crozzles, TR. Gain the deep groove with a prominent jam crack above (Middle Earth). Either belay here, or on a shelf a few metres lower.
- 20m From the base of the prominent jam crack, swing left onto a pedestal. Continue at this level, across exposed territory, passing below a thin crack to gain a wide finishing groove.
17. Red Lady 48m E1,5a,5b
A rather indefinite rising traverse.
- Pitch 1
- 25m Start as for Half Dome. Climb onto the wall and make a leftward-rising ascent to the quartzy crack of The Ring. Traverse left to Liang Shan Po and follow this for a short distance to the level of a small hole. Traverse left to Middle Earth and belay in the crack below an obvious niche.
- Pitch 2
- 23m Move leftwards to the crack of Gimli and swing left onto the wall above the large overhang. Swing left and finish up Armageddon.
- Polly's Route - R.Cole, P.Cole 1976
- Shelob - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1976
- East Gully Groove -J.Talbot, C.Connick 1976
- Talons - A.Sharp, J.Harwood 01.01.1981
- The Cure - J.Talbot, C.Connick Cancer Pre-1979
FFA A.Sharp, J.Harwood 01.01.1985
- Half Dome - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1pt 1977
FFA A.Sharp, J.Harwood 01.01.1985
- Babylon - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1977
- The Ring - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1976
- Liang Shan Po - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1977
- Middle Earth - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1977
- Black Widow - J.Talbot, C.Connick - First Half 1977
G.Evans, D.Hopkins - Complete Route 1987
- Gimli - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1977
- Armageddon - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1978
- Balrog - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1976
- West Arête - J.Talbot & C. Connick 1977
- Fellowship Of The Ring - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1977
- Red Lady - J.Talbot, C.Connick 1977
FFA J.Bullock, G.Evans 1980
- "This route is probably the best route on the cliff. It is loosely based on the old aid-route Cancer and climbs directly to and up the 'Half Dome Wall" New Climbs Gower and South East Wales (1985), p. 11.