Rock ClimbingThe 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Weather Conditions and Tides
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 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:
When to Climb and Essential GearThe 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.
Getting ThereWhen 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
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 AccommodationThere’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.
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
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
Weather from the Met Office
Weather Channel UK
BBC Tide Tables
UK Hydrographic Office
South West Wales Tourism Partnership
Local Information from Pembrokeshire Pages
Local Information from Pembrokeshire Online
Welsh Public Transport Information
Uk Train Timetable
Youth Hostel Association in Wales
Independent Hostel Guide
Campsites in Pembrokeshire
Maps and Guidebooks
Climbers Club 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
Pembrokeshire Bird Group
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