There’ll be a welcome at the seaside – Pembroke’s open for business!

With restrictions easing in Scotland and Wales we had a choice to make for the next stage of getting RockAroundTheWorld back on the road. In the end, the forecast made it an easy decision – lashing down across the North and scorchio in the south west. Added impetus came from Paul’s invitation to join a gang in Pembroke for a few days – Here we come!

We avoided the weekend, fearing a post-lockdown influx, but needn’t have worried – it was remarkably quiet when we arrived on Sunday evening and the boys reported few climbers in evidence on the usual Range East honeypots that day. The campsite at St Petrox was less than half full – no doubt due to the (somewhat bizarre) “no facilities” dictat still in force for another week (I’m all for caution, but struggle to see the benefits of this one…)

Anyway, we made it to the St Govans carpark by 5.30pm to be greeted by dazzling blue skies and a first sight of sparkling sea for around 4 months – we simply had to grab a couple of routes for our first seacliff hit since Sagres, Portugal, half a year and seemingly half a lifetime ago.

Stennis Head provides the perfect quick fix evening venue – west facing, 5 minutes approach and not affected by bird bans or tides (nor firing range restrictions on a Sunday at least – for a bit of a write up on the logistical challenges of Pembroke climbing check out this blog post from a couple of years ago:

World War III Blues is a “cracking” steep E1 crack, and gives continuous interest (still uncomfortably hot even at half past six). Quickstep is an absolute belter of a VS – just shows that one star at Pembroke is equivalent to 2 or 3 elsewhere.

Still toasty as we wandered back through wildflowers and discarded military detritus.

Range East is open on Monday so we decide to explore some of the less travelled sectors. Sitting Bull and Space Buttresses are situated between the more famous neighbours of The Castle and Triple Overhang, and both represented new ground for us.

Three of the routes on Sitting Bull get stars. Little White Dove, VS, pulls dramatically around a nose / fang and then finishes through a hole:

Running Bear, HS, takes the obvious central crack:

… and Jolly Sensible Arête, E1, takes the highly photogenic left edge (so good it featured on the back cover of the Red 1985 De Montjoye guide):

Helen’s and my plan to climb on Crickmail Point was undone courtesy of a recently introduced bird ban (apparently Herring Gulls are now on the Red List of endangered species) but Charlie and Graham kindly offered to give me a tow up Planet Wave on the west face of Space Buttress. Given E2 and 2 stars, we reckoned it had been short-changed on both counts.

Here’s Charlie setting off on the first pitch:… and making the crux pull through the overlap (5b my arse!)… and the same move captured by Helen from across the zawn, which gives a great view of this impressive face.The crux involves a massive rock-over on a really high foothold. Here’s me mid-move… and Graham from closer up.Pitch two is much more my cup of tea – a weaving quest seeking out the line of least resistance up a steep wall. Here’s Graham showing how it’s done:Oh I do like to be beside the seaside… Time for a beer!

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