Rock climbing on the Gower Peninsula remains a very sensitive issue. Whilst the rough limestone coast here is a natural draw to climbers, the practice of bolting the rock they climb has been the cause of some very serious consternation. Whilst many bolts have been removed, this does leave the rocks looking very scarred.
There is also the issue of damaging cliff vegetation and of disturbing nesting seabirds in the area, all of which are legitimate worries and ones that often bring climbers and conservation groups to heated debate. Whether this sport causes as much environmental damage as the building of sports fields or cycle paths, or even footpaths, is a question that could be argued by climbers to support an argument that theirs is a pastime which is unfairly treated.
The controversy of bolting notwithstanding, the peninsula does afford the climber with some breathtaking assaults. Please ensure that permission from the relevant landowner is gained before attempting any of these climbs, however, and be respectful of all indigenous life.
Pennard Cliffs offers rich pickings to the rock climber. Its three main sites are:
- Pennard Buttress - 23 climbing routes ranging from difficult to extremely severe.
- High Pennard - offering some truly awesome climbs.
- Gravesend Wall - situated above High Pennard with nearly 30 more climbing routes.
Three Cliffs and Tor Bay
This stretch of limestone coast offers some of Gower's more splendid vistas for the climber.
Three Cliffs is Gower's second greatest natural feature, after Worm's Head. With well over 20 separate climbs available on this rock it is also one of the most popular climbing regions on the peninsula. Climbs here are rated difficult and higher.
Three Cliffs' most popular climbing route called Scavenger, rated as very severe, is one of the few routes in Gower whose rocks have become quite polished from overuse.
Tor Bay has a variety of crags, the more important ones being Great Tor and Little Tor. Most of these climbs range from very difficult and higher.
The cliffs west of Port Eynon offer the best coastline scenery in Gower and the climber with a great range of routes.
Boiler Slab is perhaps the best known crag of this limestone region as it hosts up to 15 separate climbs. These range from one of Gower's easiest climbs, called Classic, to an extremely severe route, named Middle Age Dread.
Rhossili and Fall Bay
There are several good climbs at Rhossili.
- Trial Wall, Rhossili Bay - a number of climbs ranging from very severe to extremely severe.
- Sheepbone Wall - accessible for only 2 hours each side of low tide, has a range of climbs from difficult to extremely severe.
- Fall Bay Buttress, Fall Bay - a couple of very severe climbs.
- Lewes Castle East, Fall Bay - some very popular severe climbs.
- King Wall - a large slab of rock beneath Lewes Castle East, has numerous climbing routes that are very popular with new and advanced climbers alike.
- Giant's Caves Crag, east of Fall Bay - some extremely severe routes.
- Yellow Wall Crag, further east again - by far the most difficult crag of the area. Yellow Wall Crag' must not be climbed between March 1st and August 14th of each year because of nesting Choughs.
- Great Deirdre - probably Rhossili's best location with climbs rated extremely severe.
Paviland offers good, if rather difficult, climbing. These rate from a minimum of hard, severe and get a lot, lot harder.
- Paviland Main Cliff - close to Paviland Cave, mostly slabby but with an abrupt overhang at 2/3 height.
- Juniper Wall - has a good climb titled Assassin, rated hard, very severe.
Not the richest pickings for the adventurous climber, north Gower does, however, possess a few noteworthy challenges. The crag at Whiteford Sands and Nottle Hill Tor (overlooking the Burry Estuary at Llanmadoc) are the two main climbing opportunities here and both are worthy of an afternoon's endeavour.