Casal Pianos and Cabo da Roca 

Drizzling this morning – the first really crappie day we’ve had in a month, so unreasonable to whinge (he says, whinging!) We settled for a day of exploring new crags, as there are plenty of options around Sintra / Cascais. The first plan was to check out the climbing at Ponta Atlantica, near Cabo da Roca (the westernmost point of continental Europe). 

This is where the whinging intensifies and is directed at Carlos Simes, the author of the otherwise excellent new guide to Portugal that has been our climbing bible for the past few weeks. Carlos – why don’t you include a description of how to get to the crag?!! I spent a frustrating hour or so, stomping around cliff tops in fabulous granite but failing to find the Placa Sul I was looking for. These are largely trad routes, so less obvious, and it’s a big cliff! 

I did find some beautifully sculpted granite… 

… and managed to locate sector Garganta… 

… but not the slab I was after. Frustrating! 

We mooched over to the actual lighthouse and viewpoint of Cabo da Roca and got the obligatory piccies (a fitting companion to the John O’Groats picture from the summer) 

It is a grand spot, even if inevitably busy on a damp Sunday afternoon. 

Next stop was Casal Pianos which must rank as one of the weirdest spots I’ve ever climbed. It’s a basalt seacliff about 10km North of Cabo da Roca, which has been partially quarried and recently developed as a trad climbing venue. It’s simultaneously wild and beautiful,… 

Yet grim and grungy, especially the east facing Morro Este which was the only bit that wasn’t sopping wet… Quarried rock in a quarried landscape, all of about 20ft high – it makes Hobson Moor look like the Verdon! 

… However, we did manage a couple more routes than we’d otherwise planned, so mustn’t grumble! 

… And in fairness, the other buttresses look a whole lot better. 

The final recce for the day was the climbing at Sintra, which is on top of a hill at the foot of a Moorish Fort – hopefully we’ll make it there in the dry later in the week. 

After a day of hard graft without much to show for it, we decided to reward ourselves by exploring another aspect of the Lisbon environs – the beer scene! Beer Cascais is a great little bottle shop that would rival Harvey Leonard in Glossop, one of our favourite watering holes. 

Apparently, according to Lonely Planet,  Lisbon is the centre of a craft brewing craze or “hop-heavy suds revolution” that is sweeping the country – hasn’t swept too far yet, as everywhere else is Sagres or Super Bock. These are good though… 

7 responses to “Casal Pianos and Cabo da Roca 

  1. Hi there,
    You’re standing on top of Placa Sul from the place you took the picture of Garganta Seca; also, as per the guidebook, the abseil point is around there and easy to be found (big Titan U). If you had done a walk to the other side of the inlet you’d be seeing it…The morro Este at Casal Pianos it’s the place to do intro’s to crack and cams climbing. The 300m face to the sea are the real deal, with good crack climbs that indeed feel like a 300m climbing in the Verdon, when you attempt and/or send them. Anyway, it does look like you got some damp days; forecasting for the place is well exposed in the guidebook and you’d better headed to Arrábida for the limestone which handles humidity much better.
    Happy climbs,
    Carlos Simes

    • We tried today to find ponta atlantica akd failed. Cannot find any mention of an abseil point in the guide or any access notes beyond ‘drive down tge dirt road’
      Frustrating day.

      • Sorry to hear that, but glad it wasn’t just me! See the earlier comment from Carlos (the guidebook writer) which might be helpful 🙂 Cheers, Dom

      • Yep – it wasn’t any help! We found it and went back to scour the guidebook for, you know, access notes. Perhaps An enthusiastic typesetter threw all the useful info out.. I think we ended up looking at sector gargante from the same spot as you, and kept going into the next sector (espinaço)
        We also down climbed something that was perhaps not terribly sensible, and got shouted at by some fishermen/climbers from the path above.. crazy english danger monkeys or words to that effect, I expect.

      • We thought we might head to the moorish castle for the north/west faces because tomorrow is supposed to be rrrrroasting..

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