While not exactly being the highest or most prominent of summits, there are few hills in Wales that have a more distinctive profile than Carn Llidi. Sitting proudly upon the famed promontory of St. David’s Head, it is the most prominent element of one of the country’s most treasured landscapes. Few who visit the area will be unfamiliar with its form, either having glimpsed it from the narrow streets of the tiny city of St. David’s, or having become more personally acquainted with it by scrambled up its slopes from one of the areas best beaches, Whitesand Bay.
Most choose to climb the hill along the spine of its ridge, which offers good and surprisingly sustained easy scrambling and even better views. In effect, this probably makes it the most southerly scramble in Britain, although some may argue that there are some southern sea cliff routes that are more like scrambling than climbing in character. For the rock climber, three routes have been recorded on the hill’s southern side, all of which are graded at Severe 4a. Unfortunately, the climbing is poor in comparison to the surrounding sea cliffs, the rock being more vegetated, the protection being less stable, and the difficulty of the routes being too intermittent. That said they are perhaps worth giving a go, if only for the view one is treated to once reaching the top.
The technical routes on Carn Llidi are all found on its southern landward side. It may be reached along good footpaths in around fifteen to twenty minutes from the campsite or car park at Whitesand Bay. Only three routes have been recorded, though no doubt there are other lines for those who look for them. Carnllidi Groove starts just to the left of the lowest rocks on the cliff and the other two are found just to its left.
Routes are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the old Climbers' Club Guide to Pembroke and Pembroke Supplement. Since then, the Climbers' Club have published a new comprehensive guide for this area, Pembroke Volume 1: Pembroke North, which adds a significant number of new crags and routes to the area, though the changes to this pages' crags are few. Nevertheless it is recommended that you refer to this book for up-to-date information and route descriptions.
Routes are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available: download it here. With the exception of Tenby South Beach Quarry, bolting is strictly prohibited everywhere in Pembroke, so don’t even think about it here.
|No.||Name||Length||Pitches|| Adjectival |
| Technical |
Weather Conditions and Tides
When to Climb and Essential Gear
The most reliable conditions are in the summer, but the low altitude of the crag may make it a viable option in winter. The gear needed depends entirely on the routes you plan to do. Easier routes will only require a moderate rack, while harder routes will require a something more comprehensive; a good compliment of friends or other camming devices will certainly help. A single 50 metre rope should serve well on most easy routes, however, double ropes would be a wise choice if you intend to also climbe elsewhere.
Carn Llidi is located in north Pembrokeshire, just to the north of the tiny city of St. David's Head. Although there are a variety of ways to get to Carn Llidi, which is located just the south of St. David’s, most will probably be coming from the west. If so, when approaching from Carmarthen (SN 405 196) take the A40 Truck Road signposted for Saint Clears (SN 274 160). At the Saint Clears roundabout, continue along the A40 towards Haverfordwest (SM 962 158). Here you will need to leave the A40, take a short detour through the town, and take the smaller A487 which will signpost St. David’s (SM 753 253).
Drive into the centre of the city and at the traffic island at the bottom of the hill (marked in the centre by a tall Celtic cross), continue along the A487 signposted for Fishguard and Cardigan. Just as you are about to leave the city limits, there is a left hand junction (SM 757 258) which will signpost Whitesand Bay. Take this junction, and soon afterwards another left hand junction, and follow the road (the B4583) to the Whitesand Bay car park (SM 734 272). Park at the car park, where you will be charged a small fee for the privilege. There is a café and toilet facilities here. Incidentally Whitesand Bay is home to one of the best beaches in Britain, and is well worth a post climb visit.
For the ordinary route to the summit, from the car park follow the coastal path north towards Porthmelgan (SM 728 279). Before Porthmelgan is reached a 'kissing gate' will need to be crossed (SM 729 276). From here follow the stone wall to your right around to the beginning of the crest of Carn Llidi's ridge. Follow the ridge to the summit.
For the technical rock climbs, from the car park, walk back up the road you have just driven down for around 300 metres. Take the second small lane on the left (SM 737 272) and follow it past the farm of Upper Porthmawr (SM 737 275). Not long after the farm a path junction with a wooden signpost will be reached. Take the right-hand branch, which will take you along Carn Llidi's southern side, and when you see the lowest point of the cliff, leave the path and make your way towards it. Carnllidi Groove starts just to the left of the lowest rocks on the cliff and the other two are found just to its left.
Camping and Accommodation
There’s an almost unlimited supply of accommodation within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park so it would be inappropriate to list it all here. The city of St. David’s and its hinterland is particularly well provided for. For budget accommodation it’s worth checking out some of the following sites:
For everything else and more see Visit Pembrokeshire’s website.
Red Tape and Access
No red tape or access issues here!
For climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) runs a Regional Access Database, which holds mountain/crag specific information on matters of conservation and access, including issues such as nesting restrictions, nature designations and preferred parking:
If you are in any doubt about any particular access arrangement, or need to report an incident, you should contact your local BMC Access Representative or the BMC Access Officers for Wales: Elfyn Jones.
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Government Bodies and Other Organisations
Outdoor Organisations and Companies
Weather and Tides
Maps and Guidebooks
Wildlife and Conservation