The prominent rhyolitic tors of Great Treffagarne Mountain are both inexorable features of the mid Pembroke landscape, visible to all who pass along the busy A40 road between Haverfordwest and Fishguard. The hill has two points of interest, the delicate Maiden Castle, also known as Lion Rock or Treffgarne Pinncales; and the imposing Poll Carn, which is also known as Wolf Rock. Both outcrops sit at roughly 150 metres above sea level, command panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and just happen to be home to some of the best bouldering in the area.
Maiden Castle is arguably the better of the two, and generally has excellent quality rock with a grit-like texture. Poll Carn is perhaps not so good, although having said that, much of its south-western corner is steeply overhanging and provides some excellent and powerful bouldering problems. Both outcrops have great potential for trad routes, with the only recorded climbs to date being on the western aspect of Poll Carn.
Problems and Routes
As previously mentioned Treffgarne’s climbing is split between the two outcrops of Maiden Castle and Poll Carn. Exploration is still at a relatively early stage and there is still plenty of scope for variation and innovation. Between the two there is enough to keep most boulderers happy for an afternoon or morning, with further problems just a short drive away on Plumstone Mountain. A combined trip is a good way to spend the day.
Attempts have been made to grade the bouldering problems using the Hueco V System, however, most grades are still given using the British Technical Grading System which is usually used for rating the crux of trad climbs. The system is great for easy problems (less than 5a), however, above that they start to become too vague and in the higher grades they are hopeless with 6c covering everything from V6 to V10. A grading comparison table is available of Rockfax’s website.
Trad climbs are rated using the British Adjectival Grading System. A conversion table of international climbing grades by SP member Corax is available HERE!. With the exception of Tenby South Beach Quarry, bolting is strictly prohibited everywhere in Pembrokeshire, so don’t even think about it here.
Maiden Castle’s complex series of boulders, crags and towers give rise to an enormous number of bouldering problems, so many in fact that it would take a lifetime to describe and document them all satisfactorily. The best problems are located on the margins of the outcrop, most of which are also blessed with good landings, and an open, sunny aspect; these areas are described below.
Buttress No. 1
Boulder No. 3
BoulderingButtress No. 1The recess and cave on the burst buttress reached when approaching from Mainden Castle is quite disappointing, with soot making the holds slippery. A line can be picked out on the small wall on the right, but it is of limited interest. Boulder No. 2An obvious boulder located around halfway up the main mass of Poll Carn which gives one short but difficult problem up its front face. Begin with a sitting start. Slab No.3The short, steep, slab to the right of the aforementioned boulder gives some short but interesting problems.
Boulder No. 4The low freestanding boulder located away from the main mass has some surprising potential. For a challenge take the waist high roof from the back without touching the ground. On the backside of the same boulder is a low long roof problem with some good holds on the right. Play around with some eliminates to make things a bit harder.
Buttress No. 5The buttress leaning against the main crag has an extremely overhung back face which provides some excellent problems. The best problem begins with a sitting start and goes leftwards up the line of holds in a shallow groove and involves a lunge for a very sharp sloper (painful!). Easier problems are located on the left.Boulder No. 6Immediately opposite the aforementioned buttress is a large boulder with a steep wall which can be tackled by a number of means up its centre, all of which are good and come in at at least 5b in difficulty. The arête can be taken direct at around 4c. Directly around the corner on its far side are some easy slab problems.
This section displays the weather forecast for the village of Scolton Manor, which is located around 4km to the east. Each location share a similar altitude, however, the tors are more exposed to the area’s climate, and exposure and wind speed can also significantly lower temperatures.
When to Climb and Essential Gear
Pembrokeshire's climate is generally pretty good whatever the season, so climbing is possible throughout the year. One advantage of Treffgarne’s inland location is that if the weather’s a bit rough it may be a good alternative to climbing on the area's sea cliffs, where you will inevitably receive a good soaking... or possibly something worse.
Although not essential, a bouldering mat is recommended to soften those landings, and of course, you'll also need a chalk bag and a pair of rock shoes.
For the trad routes, a pair of 50 metre half ropes and a set of nuts, cams and quickdraws, plus a few slings and screwgates should be enough to protect most routes.
When approaching from Haverfordwest (SM 954 160) take a sharp left up a steep, narrow road from Nant-y-Coy Mill (SM 956 253), which is situated just after a bend 1 mile north of Treffgarne (SM 956 237). Cars may be parked on the right at the end of the public section of the narrow road, a few hundred metres up the hill from the A40.
Follow a footpath opposite the parking place (south) for 30m then take a smaller path leading up the hillside to the right. Maiden Castle (SM 954 248) is reached in five minutes or so, and the route to Poll Carn (SM 952 245), 500m further on is obvious. Alternatively, a slightly longer but much flatter alternative is to leave the A40 at Treffgarne Bridge (SM 959 230) and park in Treffgarne itself. From the village’s church, take the bridlepath north towards Mount Pleasant Farm (SM 956 242). Poll Carn will quickly come into view and will be reached after about a kilometre of walking.
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.
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:
For everything else and more see Visit Pembrokeshire’s website.
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