Stennis Head is one of Pembroke’s most popular little crags, being home to a wide range of quality routes for beginner and expert alike. Most of the routes are on the headland’s western side, and so, can become quite busy. Those looking for a quieter time may find what they want on its South Buttress, the trickier access putting most people off. At Severe 4a, Maelstrom Chimney is an adventurous route at an amenable grade, commencing with a long traverse pitch, before propelling the climber up into the depths of the chimney itself.
The best climbing is on the second pitch, which although well protected and never overly challenging, is exposed enough to send a flutter of excitement through most climbers bodies. The first pitch is more of an approach, but owing to the nature of the climbing is best done roped up. Those wishing to get to the meat of the climb sooner rather than later can simply abseil to the second stance, or better yet, to the base of the crag via the line of Stennis Arête. So if you are looking for somewhere a bit quieter to spend a few hours, this route, coupled with ascents of some of its neighbouring lines, such as Stennis Chimney (S) and the aforementioned Stennis Arête (HS 4b), is more than enough to conjure up a highly entertaining day of climbing.
FA: C. Mortlock, April 22nd 1969.
The route is located in the Range East portion of the Castlemartin Range. 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 2.5km after Saint Petrox (SR 971 975), take a left hand turn (SR 965 964) signposting Bosherston (SR 965 947). Drive through Bosherston (or stop for a cup of tea at Mrs Weston's Olde Worlde Café) to the Saint Govan's Car Park (SR 966 930).
From the car park, walk south to a small guard house and turn right (west), cross the stile at the guard house, and walk along a gravel road to Stennis Ford (SR 963 930). Follow the right (western) side of the zawn south and descend gradually to the start of the traverse. If you want to abseil in, just walk to the end of the headland and build an anchor there. Take care when doing so as some of the rocks are a bit loose.
The route begins by scrambling down ledges to a horizontal mid-height break in the cliff.
Pitch 1 (40m, 4a): Follow the break leftwards to a ledge on the arête. Belay just below a small overhang.
Pitch 2 (15m, ): Move up leftwards into the wide chimney and follow it's left hand side to the top. Great positions higher up.
Alternative Start (15m, 4b): Abseil to the base of the crag along the line of Stennis Arête and climb the initially awkward grooves above the belay leftwards to the start of the second pitch. Belay here or climb straight through with limited rope drag. Pushes the grade to HS.
The route is two pitches long and takes a variety of gear from small to large wires as well as a variety of cams. Double ropes are essential for avoiding rope drag. If you wish to abseil in, a static rope along with a set of prussiks (or equivalent) are also a good idea.
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