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Saddle Head
Mountain/Rock

Saddle Head

 
Saddle Head

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Castlemartin - Range East, Wales, Europe

Lat/Lon: 51.59790°N / 4.9487°W

Object Title: Saddle Head

County: Pembrokeshire

Activities: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 131 ft / 40 m

 

Page By: Nanuls

Created/Edited: Jun 6, 2009 / Jan 9, 2012

Object ID: 519147

Hits: 4083 

Page Score: 86.85%  - 23 Votes 

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Overview


The steep limestone cliffs of the Castlemartin Range are notorious for their serious nature, hard climbs and committing starts. Just looking at some of the routes here is enough to make your hands sweat and your legs shake in nervous apprehension. However, if you look for it, the climbing here isn't all crimpy holds and overhangs, because dotted along the coast are a number of crags with far friendlier personalities. Saddle Head is one such crag, and in fact, is probably the friendliest crag in the area, for it can boast more easy to mid grade climbs than any of its neighbours. This combined with the option to down climb rather than abseil to its base, makes it an ideal introduction to the area, and a superb initiation for the less experienced. If you are into your harder climbs though, fret not, as the grades reach a very respectable E5 6b.

Sea Mist – Hard Severe 4a
(Photo by Nanuls)
Pink ‘Un – Very Severe 5a
(Photo by Nanuls)

Rock Climbing

The climbing at Saddle Head can be split between five areas: Saddle Head North/Cyclops Eye Area, Saddle Head Main Cliff, Upper Tier, Saddle Head Tip and The Devil's Barn, which can be further subdivided into West and East Walls. With the exception of the Upper Tier, all areas are in some way affected by the tide, the degree of which can depend of the time of year and weather. Saddle Head North and The Devil's Barn both require abseils to reach. Metal stakes are in place at the top of the cliff to facilitate this.

There is a radar station surrounded by a wire enclosure situated at the top of the cliffs. It cannot be stressed too strongly that climbers should avoid damaging the wire fencing and at all costs refrain from using any part of the installation, including fence posts, as belay anchors. Past incidents have resulted in climbers being asked to leave, and in the interest of future access rights, such incidents must be avoided in the future.

Crags and climbs are listed from left to right, and are graded and rated with the aid of the Climbers Club Guide to Pembroke and the Pembroke Supplement, so for full descriptions, please refer to those books. Technical grades are generally only given to climbs graded adjectivally as Hard Severe (HS) or above.

Looking west from Saddle Head towards Stack Rocks and the Green Bridge of Wales (Photo by Nanuls)
Sea Mist - Hard Severe 4a (Photo by Nigel Lewis)

Routes are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. With the exception of Tenby South Beach Quarry, bolting is strictly prohibited everywhere in Pembrokeshire, so don’t even think about it here. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available 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.

Saddle Head North/Cyclops Eye Area


This area lies between the Hollow Caves area and Saddle Head. The eponymous Cyclops Eye is a prominent cave high in the cliff, located some 140 metres north of the radar installation. Immediately north of the Eye is a pillar, and north again a sea level cave with a fluted slab on its right. An abseil is required to reach the base of the crag.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
1. Hades 52m 2 VS 4c, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
2. The Empty Quarter 27m 1 HS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
3. Slip and Slide 27m 3 VS 4c, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
4. Unbelievable Stories 34m 2 HVS 4c, 4a 2 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
5. Telling Stories to the Sea 21m 1 E2 5c 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
6. Kipper 21m 1 E1 NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
7. Hotter Than July 30m 2 E2 5b, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
8. Sharp Practice 18m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
9. Between the Pub and the Deep Green Sea 18m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
10. Sunform 23m 1 E4 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
11. New Route Fever 23m 1 E3 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
12. Bridge of Size 18m 1 HVS 5a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
13. Size Isn't Everything 23m 1 E3 6a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
14. Persuasion 18m 1 E1 5b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
15. A Stretch of the Imagination 27m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
16. A Grand Day Out 21m 1 HVS 4c 2 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
17. Yoiks 18m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
18. Whoops 18m 1 HVS 5a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
19. Whoopee 18m 1 E1 5a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
20. Whoopee-variation 18m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
21. Low Velocity 15m 1 E5 6b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
22. So Low 21m 1 VS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
23. High Velocity 27m 1 E3 6a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
24. Trajectory 21m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
25. Honeycomb 27m 2 HVS 5a, 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
26. Brochette 21m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
27. Sea Serpent 24m 1 E4 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
28. Spring Low 18m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
29. Sweet Chariot 18m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
30. Dunk 24m 1 VS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
31. Blazing Saddles 24m 1 HVS 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
32. Stirrup Pump 27m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
33. Red Toupee 24m 1 E2 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
34. Time Slip 24m 1 E3 5c 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
35. New Labour 43m 1 S NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
36. Leaning to the Left 43m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
37. Spin Doctor 43m 2 E1 5a, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
38. Orima 38m 2 E2 5b, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
39. Barbed Wire Blues 43m 2 E1/2 5b, 4b/c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE


Saddle Head Main Cliff


The Main Cliff lies directly below the radar station and rises over 50 metres above a huge flat platform, which is exposed for a short time at low tide, and not at all during neap and heavy tides. The crag can be accessed by scrambling down towards the tip of the point until easy rock leads down to the long terrace that gives access to the Upper Tier climbs. The flat platform is reached either by abseil or by down climbing to its right-hand end.
Abseiling is the quickest way to the start of the routes (Photo by Nanuls)
Saddle Head glowing in the winter sun (Photo by Nanuls)


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
40. Rimoa 38m 2 E4 5c/6a, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
41. Illusion 46m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
42. 1988 Aktivator 52m 2 E1 5b, 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
43. Birdman of Alkatraz 55m 2 VS 4a, 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
44. Political Animal 24m 1 HVS 4c/4a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
45. The Love Commandos 24m 1 HS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
46. Snap 24m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
47. Evening Light 24m 1 E4/E5 6a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
48. Underklingon 24m 1 E5 6a/b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
49. Houlet's Chimney 61m 3 HVS 4c, 4a, 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
50. Rantum Scoot 55m 3 E2 5b, 3d, 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
51. Mustapha Bindum 30m 1 VS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
52. Eaves Dripper 46m 2 HVS 4c, 4c 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
53. Blue Sky on the Right 55m 2 VS 4c, 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
54. Blue Sky 55m 2 VS 4b, 4b 3 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
55. Blue Lagoon 21m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
56. Red Alert 40m 2 HVS 4b, 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
57. Landvetter 55m 2 VS 4b, 4b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
58. Air Waves 46m 2 VS 4b, 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE


Upper Tier


The upper tier is passed en route to the Main Cliff, and can be reached either by abseil or by scrambling down towards the tip of the point. The crag is entirely non-tidal, and is an ideal initiation ground for begginers.
Sea Mist – Hard Severe 4a (Photo by Nigel Lewis)
Small Beginnings - Difficult (Photo by Nanuls)

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
59. Haze 30m 1 VS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
60. Sea Mist 27m 1 HS 4a 2 STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
61. Breaking Wind 27m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
62. Sunset Boulevard 27m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
63. Pink 'Un 27m 1 VS 5a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
64. Broade 27m 1 HS 4b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
65. Infra Red 27m 1 S 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
66. Wetstone 27m 1 HS 4b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
67. Urchin 27m 1 S 4a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
68. Buff 27m 1 VD 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
69. Flake-Quake 27m 1 S NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
70. Fel Gwyr 27m 1 D 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
71. Forgotten Corner 27m 1 VD 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
72. Small Beginnings 27m 1 D NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
73. Nameless Wall 27m 1 HS 4b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
74. No Hands 27m 1 VS 4b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
75. Smilin Jugs 27m 1 E2/3 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
76. Get on Lord 27m 1 E2 5b 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
77. Final Groove 21m 1 D NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE


Saddle Head Tip


Saddle Head's Tip is reached by descending a slanting ramp and chimney on the west side of the headland to high tide level.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
78. Assassination Run 21m 1 E1 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE
79. First Time 46m 2 HVS 5a, 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE


The Devil's Barn


Sitting between Saddle Head in the west and Bosherton Head in the east is the lardge double zawn known as the Devil's Barn. With the exception of the period around high tide, the bed is dry, and can be reached by abseiling from a cemented post at the back of the landward zawn. There is a restriction because of nesting birds here between 1st March and 31st July, the geographical extent of which is marked by a couple of small red bollards.
The Devil's Barn and Saddle Head (Photo by Nanuls)

West Wall


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
80. Out on Bale 24m 1 E2 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
81. Making Hay 30m 1 E3 6a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
82. Wedge it in Tight 24m 1 E4 6a 1 STAR RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
83. Peccadillo 37m 1 E2 6a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS


East Wall


No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Grade
Technical
Grade
Quality Restrictions
84. Barnstorm 37m 1 E2 5c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
85. Epitome 46m 2 E1 5a, 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
86. Ruff-n-Ready 24m 1 VS 4c NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
87. Lucifer 26m 1 E1 5b NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS
88. Holey Smoke 24m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS RESTRICTIONS – ARMY FIRING RANGE & NESTING BIRDS

Weather Conditions and Tides

Weather Forecast


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



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 port to Saddle Head:

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. If you plan to climb at The Devil's Barn avoid the period between 1st March and 31st of July as climbing is banned on this section of the crag between these dates.

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 singe 50 metre rope should serve well on most easy routes, however, twin or double ropes would be a wise choice for the harder stuff. In addition to your usual gear, an abseil rope is essential if you plan to climb the crags less accessible areas.
 
Saddle Head
The Nameless Wall – Hard Severe 4b (Photo by Nanuls)
 
Sea Mist
Sea Mist – Hard Severe 4a (Photo by Nigel Lewis)
 
Finishing Sea Mist
Sea Mist – Hard Severe 4a (Photo by Nigel Lewis)

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 2.5km after Saint Petrox (SR 971 975), take a left hand turn ( SR 965 964) signposting Bosherston (SR 965 9470). 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 passing Stennis Ford and Huntsman's Leap. Soon the radar station on top of Saddle Head will come into view, head towards it as this marks the top of the crag (SR 958 929).

Red Tape and Access

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

Saddle Head 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.

There is also a restriction because of nesting birds at The Devil's Barn between 1st March and 31st July. It should be noted that Pembroke nesting restrictions are complex and vary annually. Please check the notice boards in Stack Rocks or St Govan’s car parks for more information. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority also produce an excellent annual information leaflet illustrating the restricted areas on a clear map - download it from this LINK.

It is also available from the BMC, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority and Mrs Weston’s Café in Bosherston.

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 4 Range East - Saddle Head to St Govan’s Climbers Guides to Wales: Pembroke Volume 4 Range East - Saddle Head to St Govan’s by Gary Gibson

A beautiful, colourful and superbly presented ‘next-generation’ guidebook to this particular part of Range East.
Climbers Guides to Wales: Pembroke Climbers Club Guides to Wales: Pembroke by John Harwood, Dave Viggers et al.

An extremely comprehensive two volume guidebook to the area which describes most of the routes on the crag.
Climbers Club Pembroke Supplement Climbers Club Pembroke Supplement by Dave Viggers

A little book containing updates to the Climbers Club Guide and costs around a fiver.
Rock Fax Guide: Pembroke Rock Fax Guide: Pembroke by Alan James and Mike Robertson

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

External Links

 
Saddle Head
The Upper Tier (Photo by Nanuls)

 
Huntsman s Leap
Huntsman's Leap (Photo by Nanuls)

Government Bodies and Other Organisations

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority
Council for National Parks
Association of National Park Authorities
Pembrokeshire County Council
Carmarthenshire County Council
Ceredigion County Council
Countryside Council for Wales
Forestry Commission Wales
Environment Agency
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
South Wales Mountaineering Club
The Climbers Club
UKClimbing

Weather

Weather from the Met Office
BBC Weather
Weather Channel UK

Tide Tables

BBC Tide Tables
UK Hydrographic Office

Tourist Information

Visit Wales
Visit Pembrokeshire
South West Wales Tourism Partnership
Local Information from Pembrokeshire Pages
Local Information from Pembrokeshire Online

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
Cicerone Guidebooks
Climbers Club Guidebooks
Rockfax Guidebooks
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
Sea Trust
Pembrokeshire Bird Group

Welsh Language

Welsh Language Board
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg Welsh language pressure group
Cymuned Welsh language pressure group
Yr Urdd (Welsh Youth Association)
Welsh-English / English-Welsh online translator
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Dictionary
Welsh-English / English-Welsh Online Lexicon

Images