Penally – Pembroke off the beaten track

Having made a Pembroke Pilgrimage at least annually for the last 30 years or so, there aren’t too many unexplored areas for us, especially ones that aren’t affected by bird bans or MoD firing. Penally ticks all these boxes (all be it only the west end is accessible when there is firing on the Penally Range – status at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/penally-gallery-range-firing-notice) and has the added benefit of some very friendly slab climbing; just the job after a couple of days pulling hard on the more usual steep stuff.

It’s an absolutely lovely spot too, and positively tranquil after the bustle of Mother Carey’s. We kicked off on Rusty Slab, with its profusion of characteristic “splodge” holds – these look potentially fragile, but actually turn out to provide great crimps and enable the 20m face to be climbed just about anywhere at VS. Here’s James on Rust Slab…

Helen and Steve practicing for the Olympic speed climbing…

… and Helen leading Ferrous Rib

Next we ventured back in to overhanging territory on Scoop Wall and James led the extraordinary Magic Flute, E1, involving a subterranean journey through a blow hole (really tricky to enter) and some unlikely moves up the final headwall to top out. Well worth 3* and seeking out. Here’s James on the headwall (just about visible in white on the nearest triangular buttress)

… and Steve approaching

… and just emerging from the tube.

Back in slab land, Helen and I did a couple of fine routes on Jackdaw Slab. Here’s Helen following Chunky Bunky, HVS (with a run-out smeary crux to reach the welcome “porthole”)

… and we also enjoyed Don Canute, VS, up a hanging groove bordering the left side of the slab.

Great little venue to swap tired arms for tired toes and calves, and escape the hordes, with plenty more to come back for.

A couple of tips:

– Even though the path to the west end / Becks Bay area passes along the edge of the firing range, you can still access the climbing even when the red flag is flying (usually a helpful sentry to point you in the right direction)

– You really need a low to mid tide to make the most of the area, though some pinpoint abbing might just work at higher tides.

– The most comprehensive coverage seems to be in the Wired selected climbs guide (more routes since the Lydstep CC guide was published)

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