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Crystal Slabs
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Crystal Slabs

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Crystal Slabs

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Castlemartin - Range East, Wales, Europe

Lat/Lon: 51.60960°N / 4.98108°W

Object Title: Crystal Slabs

County: Pembrokeshire

Activities: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 131 ft / 40 m

 

Page By: Nanuls

Created/Edited: Jun 9, 2009 / Dec 19, 2014

Object ID: 519996

Hits: 2791 

Page Score: 93.35%  - 42 Votes 

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Overview

The headlands of the Castlemartin Range are home to some truly world class climbing, and the headland that separates the golden beaches of Flimstone and Bullslaughter Bays is no exception. It’s obviously identifiable from a large rock arch, known as Moody Nose, which sits uncomfortably upon a landward slanting slab on the headland's most southerly tip.

The headland has a long history of use. During the Iron Age it was the location of a small fortified settlement, known locally as Crocksydam Camp, the remains of which can still be seen today. Within the battlements of the fort are the remains of an early lime-kiln, and evidence of quarrying can be found throughout. These days the area is part of an army firing range, but is open to the public when not in use and is a popular destination for climbers.

The climbing can be found to the east of Moody Nose, and is reached by scrambling down the headland to the east of said arch. The routes are a satisfying mix of easy, moderate and hard grades, which are split between a number of crags of surprisingly different character. The Crystal Slabs themselves are by far the most interesting of these crags, taking the form of a large, apparently smooth slab with an obvious overlap which runs the length of its upper quarter. More difficult climbing can be found just to the east on Mosaic Wall, which appears to be broken and perhaps quite lethal, but is in fact home to a number of solid routes graded E3 and above.

Rock Climbing

The climbing at Crystal Slabs can be split between five areas: Levitation Wall, The Crystal Block, Crystal Slabs, Mosaic Wall and Thunder Wall. With the exception of Levitation Wall and the Crystal Slabs themselves, all areas are in some way affected by the tide, the degree of which can depend of the time of year and weather. All of the crags can be reached by scrambling down rocks to a grassy ramp on the eastern side of the large rock arch. Descend the ramp eastwards to the base of the slabs, which also gives access to the area’s other crags.


Crystal Slabs (Photo by Nanuls)

Crags and routes are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the old Climbers' Club Guide to Pembroke, the old Pembroke Supplement and the 2009 Rockfax Pembroke guide. Since then, the Climbers' Club have published a new comprehensive guide for this area, Pembroke Volume 3: Range East – Stack Rocks to Hollow Caves Bay, 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 or the Rockfax book for up-to-date information and route descriptions. In addition to these sources Rockfax’s website also has descriptions for the routes included in its book, which can be viewed on its online route Database.

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.

Route Symbols:

NO STARS A so-so route, neither good nor bad. Not unpleasant unless otherwise stated.
1 STAR A good route which is definitely worth a climb.
2 STARS A very good route, one of the best on the crag and well worthy of attention.
3 STARS An excellent route, one of the best in the area, and probably in Britain too.
NO RESTRICTIONS No Restrictions

Used to indicate that there are currently no restrictions, either seasonal, temporary or permanent, affecting a route.

RESTRICTIONS Restrictions

Used to indicate that there are restrictions, either seasonal, temporary or permanent, affecting a route. See the Red Tape and Access Section for more details.

Levitation Wall

This is the steep wall around 50 metres west of the main slab, and is the first crag reached on the approach. At its right end is a big corner leading to an overhanging cracked wall, Overhead Cam and Crankshaft start up this corner.


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
1. Captain Cat and the Fish-Head Nibblers 17m 1 HD NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
2. Pump up the Volume 18m 1 E3 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
3. Levitation 20m 1 HVS 5a/b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
4. Packed Lunch 18m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
5. Overhand Cam 18m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
6. Crankshaft 18m 1 E2 5b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE

The Crystal Block

The Crystal Block is located just below Levitation Wall and takes the form of a square cut promontory with a narrow zawn on its east. Routes Crystal Block Arête to Isn't Gold are on the seaward face, while Crystal Facet and Crystal Facet Arête are on the slabby face on the east side of the zawn.


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
7. Crystal Block Arête 15m 1 VD NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
8. Plane Polars 17m 1 HS NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
9. Hornblende Buttress 17m 1 HVS 5a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
10. Hornblende Chimney 17m 1 HS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
11. Crossed Polars 15m 1 HS 4b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
12. Thin Section 15m 1 E1/2 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
13. Crystal Block Chimney 15m 1 VD NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
14. Powder Finger 15m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
15. Midas Shadow 17m 1 E1 5b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
16. Line of Cleavage 15m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
17. All the Glitters 15m 1 E3 5c/6a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
18. Isn't Gold 15m 1 E2 5b/c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
19. Crystal Facet 15m 1 S 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
20. Crystal Facet Arête 15m 1 HVS 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE

Moody Nose
Moody Nose
(Photo by Nanuls)
The Crystal Block
The Crystal Block
(Photo by Nanuls)
The Crystal Block
The Crystal Block
(Photo by Nanuls)

Crystal Slabs

The Crystal Slabs is the obvious white central slab, characterised by right leaning cracks. The main slab is flanked on each side by subsidiary slabs. It's heaven for those who like VS 4c's.


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
21. Bloodstone 40m 1 VS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
22. Sloose 30m 1 HVS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
23. The Gadfly 43m 1 VS 4c 2 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
24. Sixth Crack 46m 1 VS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
25. Razzle Dazzle 46m 1 VS 4c 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
26. The Crucifix 49m 1 VS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
27. Michelangelo 46m 1 VS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
28. Crystal Edge 18m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
29. 59th Street 61m 3 VS 4b, 4a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
30. Crystal Arête 46m 2 VS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE

Mosaic Wall

To the right of the Crystal Slabs is a vertical face seamed with cracks which gives superb climbing on deceptionally good rock.


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
31. Hole in the Wall 34m 2 HVS 4c, 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
32. Paint by Numbers 43m 2 E4 6a, 6b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
33. Mural Landscape 46m 2 E3 5c, 5b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
34. Rollerwall 46m 2 E3 5c, 5b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
35. Public Anenome 43m 1 E5 6b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
36. Bristol Cream 43m 1 E6 6b 3 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
37. Wallbanger 43m 2 E3 5c, 5c 2 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
38. Digital Tapestry 46m 1 E3 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
39. The Rude Roof 24m 1 E6 6b 2 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
40. Rude Route 49m 2 E6 6b, 5a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE

Crystal Slabs, Mosaic Wall and Thunder Wall (Photo by Nanuls)

Thunder Wall

This is the great impending bastion to the right of the Mosaic Wall. Like the Mosaic Wall, it looks loose, but is in fact very stable. It can be approached by traversing round from the Crystal Slabs but requires a low tide.


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
41. Concrete Jungle 67m 2 E2 5a, 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
42. Thunderdome 53m 2 E3 5a, 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
43. Thunderbird 67m 3 E2 5a, 5a, 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
44. Line of Loosed Resistance 61m 2 E4 5c, 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE

Weather Conditions and Tides

Weather Forecast

This section displays the weather forecast for Bosherston, which is located just to the east of Crystal Slabs. This gives a pretty good indication of what the weather will be like on the crag, as both Bosherston and the Crystal Slabs area sit at around sea level.

This weather forecast is generated by the Met Office Weather Widget

Tide Times

Tide times can have a significant impact on where and when one climbs. It is therefore extremely important to check the timetables before embarking on trip to the area. UK tides information for all standard and secondary ports is provided by the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO), and displayed on the BBC's website. The link below provides a link to the nearest monitoring station to Crystal Slabs:

Stackpole Quay Stackpole Quay (SR 992 957)

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 for the harder stuff. In addition to your usual gear, you might want to bring along an abseil rope to speed up access to the base of the crag.

Crystal Slabs (Photo by Nanuls)

Getting There

When approaching from Carmarthen (SN 405 196) take the A40 Truck Road signposted for Saint Clears (SN 274 160). At the Saint Clears roundabout, take the A477 Trunk Road towards Pembroke Dock (SM 969 036). Before reaching Pembroke Dock, turn left onto the A4075 (SN 019 027) to Pembroke (SM 989 012). In Pembroke, drive straight over the first small roundabout you reach and drive along the A4139 a few hundred metres and turn left and take the B4319 south towards Castlemartin (SR 915 983). Around 500m after the Merrion Camp (SR 939 968), take a left hand turn at a crossroads (SR 931 970) and drive down an unclassified road to the Stack Rocks Car Park (SR 925 946).

Park at the Stack Rocks Car Park and walk west along the coastal path, past Elegug Stacks, The Cauldron, and Flimstone Bay. Crystal Slabs (SR 935 943) are located on the headland, which on the Ordnance Survey map is called Moody Nose, just beyond Flimstone Bay, and the descent can be made by scrambling down its western end. The headland is easily identifiable by a large rock arch which sits on a landward slanting slab; the descent is to the east of this arch. If you find yourself reaching Bullslaughter Bay (SR 940 942), you have gone too far.

Red Tape and Access

Crystal Slabs is located in the Range East portion of the Castlemartin Range. This area is an Army firing range, although they do not use exploding ammunition. Access is permitted whenever firing is not taking place, which is normally on weekends, Bank Holidays, and in the evenings (after 4.30). The night firing normally occurs on alternate Mon/Wed and Tues/Thurs nights. The Range is sometimes open during the week, but it is best to check before travelling. Phone the 24 hour help line on (01646) 662367.

For further information, 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:

Regional Access Database

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

 
Castlemartin Range Warning Sign
A warning sign (Photo by Nanuls)

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. For budget accommodation it’s worth checking out some of the following sites:

Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Independent Hostel Guide
Campsites in Pembrokeshire

For everything else and more see Visit Pembrokeshire’s website.

Maps

Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

OS 1:25k Explorer Series OL 36 South Pembrokeshire/De Sir Benfro

OS 1:50k Landranger Series 158 Tenby & Pembroke / Dinbych-y-pysgod & Penfro

Road Maps

OS Road Map 6 Wales/Cymru & West Midlands

Guidebooks

Pembrokeshire Coast: The Official National Park Guide Pembrokeshire Coast: The Official National Park Guide by Alf Alderson, John Cleare and Ian Mercer.

A handy book full of useful information and interesting facts about the National Park.
Climbers’ Guides to Wales: Pembroke Volume 3 Range East - Stack Rocks to Hollow Caves Bay Climbers' Club Guides to Wales: Pembroke Volume 3: Range East - Stack Rocks to Hollow Caves Bay by Gary Gibson

A superb and extremely comprehensive guidebook to the climbing along this stretch of coastline; includes descriptions of most of the routes at Crystal Slabs.
Rock Fax Guide: Pembroke Rock Fax Guide: Pembroke by Alan James and Mike Robertson

Not quite as comprehensive as the Climbers’ Club guide, but lavishly illustrated with tons of large photo diagrams and topos.

External Links

 
Mosaic and Thunder Walls
Mosaic and Thunder Wall (Photo by Nanuls)
 
Moody Nose
Moody Nose (© Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

Government Bodies and Other Organisations

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

Council for National Parks

Association of National Park Authorities

Natural Resources Wales

CADW

Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments in Wales

Dyfed Archaeological Trust

The National Trust

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Outdoor Organisations and Companies

British Mountaineering Council

Pembrokeshire Climbing Club

Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group

UKClimbing

Weather and Tides

The Met Office

BBC Weather

BBC Tide Tables

UK Hydrographic Office

Tourist Information

Visit Wales

Visit Pembrokeshire

Travel Information

Welsh Public Transport Information

UK Train Timetable

Accommodation

Youth Hostel Association in Wales

Independent Hostel Guide

Campsites in Pembrokeshire

Maps and Guidebooks

Ordnance Survey

The Climbers’ Club

Cicerone Guidebooks

Rockfax

Mid Wales Climbing

Cordee Travel and Adventure Sports Bookshop

Wildlife and Conservation

Joint Nature Conservation Committee

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre

South West Wales Wildlife Trust

Images

Crystal SlabCrystal SlabsMoody NoseMosaic and Thunder WallsThe Crystal BlockMoody NoseThe Crystal Block
Crystal SlabsMoody NoseCrystal SlabsMoody Nose