Craig Caerfai

Craig Caerfai

Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 51.87014°N / 5.25269°W
Additional Information County: Pembokeshire
Activities Activities: Trad Climbing, Toprope, Bouldering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 131 ft / 40 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Pembroke is well known to British climbers as one of the country’s premiere rock destinations, being home to an enormous quantity of excellent single and multi-pitch routes. However, most it seems are drawn to the limestone crags and buttresses of the area’s southern coastline and never get a taste of what the north has to offer. This is a shame, since the wilder coast of north Pembroke, and in particular the hard sandstone cliffs of the confusingly named Southern Bays, offer something quite special. For those who choose to explore the area, the rocks of Craig Caerfai do not disappoint. The Bays take their name from their position to the south of the city of Saint David’s (its city status is somewhat deceiving; fewer that 2,000 people call it home), which is a great place to base yourself if you’re in the area for a few days, especially if the routes on the aforementioned rock are on your hit list.

Craig Caerfai is perhaps the most accessible of the area’s crags, being only a short walk from the city centre and consequently an even shorter drive. Its setting is nothing short of spectacular; the crag sits upon a narrow promontory reaching out into St. Bride’s Bay, to its east is Caerbwdi Bay and a vista that sweeps in a broad, elegant arc all the way around to Skomer Island in the south, while immediately to its west are the inviting golden sands of Caerfai Bay, and further west again, the high sea cliffs and craggy slopes of Ramsey Island, which peer around the mainland’s terminal outcrops. The crag’s name hints at this promontory’s past use and those with a keen eye will have no problem identifying the decaying remnants of an Iron Age fort, now long abandoned.

Without a doubt, Craig Caerfai’s main attraction is its Main Slab, which offers some superb slabby routes on sound rock. Routes range from Diff to E4 in difficulty, with a great selection of lines around the HS/VS mark. The classic of the crag is undoubtedly Armorican (VS 4c), which takes a system of hand cracks up the slab’s steep right-hand wall, passing over an overlap to a final unprotected push to the top. For the high end climber, Uncertain Smile (E2 5b) and Age Concern (E3 5c) offer two long pitches of interesting moves over clean, frictiony rock, while the lower end climber will find two very amenable lines in White Corner and Scorch Groove (both Diff). Other easier routes can be found, but they aren’t quite as enjoyable or as sustained as these two.

For me, Craig Caerfai is the epitome of a holistic destination. If you visit it - go climb, go walk and go play on the beach, and therein lies the makings of a very, very good day.

Armorican Armorican - VS 4c
(Photo by Dan Bailey)
Caerfai BayCaerfai Bay
(Photo by Nanuls)
Craig CaerfaiAccessing Main Slab
(Photo by Nanuls)

Rock Climbing

The climbing at Craig Caerfai can be split into a number of distinct areas, the best of which is the Main Slab, home to Amorican and Caerfai Crack. All routes are in some way affected by the tide, the degree to which is very much dependant on the time of year and weather.

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 1: Pembroke North, which adds a significant number of new crags and routes to the area, though the changes to this pages' crags are few. Neverthless 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.

Craig CaerfaiAnchor stakes
(Photo by Nanuls)
Scorch GrooveScorch Groove - Diff
(Photo by Nanuls)
Caerfai BayCaerfai Bay
(Photo by Nanuls)

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.

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


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.

Left Wall

To the left of the Main Wall is a small area where some short routes have been recorded. Access the base of the crag by descending an easy line to a large wave cut platform to the left of some corners.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
1. The Leper's Harpsichord 9m 1 VD NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
4. Spank the Leper 9m 1 VD NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Main Slab

To put it simply, Main Slab is heaven for mid-grade climbers. Armorican (VS 4c) is of course the jewel in the crown, but other routes are good value too. Check out Caerfai Crack (VS 4b) for some fun and remarkably straightforward climbing. There are a number of metal stakes in place along the top of the cliff; these can be used as anchors for both abseiling and belaying. The quickest descent is definitely by abseil, but check if anyone’s below before throwing your rope over – you don’t want to be knocking any climbers off in the process. If you lack an abseil rope, access can be gained by down-climbing White Corner (Diff), again, make sure no one’s on route before you do so, because passing people on your way down is dangerous and rude.

Main Slab – Left-hand end (Photo by Nanuls)

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
5. Mildred Mindtrap 15m 1 HS 4b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
6. White Wall 16m 1 HS 4b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
7. Nameless 18m 1 VS 4c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
8. Unknown Sentry 18m 1 HVS 4c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
9. The Byrn 20m 1 VS 4c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
10. Caerfai Crack 20m 1 VS 4b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
11. White Corner 25m 1 D 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
12. Submarine Slab 25m 1 VS 4b NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
14. Scorch Groove 25m 1 D 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
15. Orogeny 25m 1 E2 5b 2 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
16. Armorican 25m 1 VS 4c 3 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
17. Age Gap 28m 1 E2 5b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
18. Age Concern 28m 1 E3 5c 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
19. Uncertain Smile 32m 1 E2 5b 2 STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
20. Life's Just a Ballgame 32m 1 E4 5c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
21. Curse of the Cragmonster 40m 1 E4 6a 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS
22. Crawl of the Wild 41m 1 E1 5b 1 STAR NO RESTRICTIONS

Main Slab – Right-hand end. The slab is steeper than it looks here (Photo by Nanuls)

A deep water solo has been recorded up the overhanging prow in the cave left of the Main Wall. Access it by swimming.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions

Undercut Red Wall

To the right of the Main Wall is an undercut red wall bounded on its right by a a jutting nose of rock. You'll find it at the junction between Caerfai Bay and the square-cut subsidiarity bay.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
25. Old Cross Corner 33m 1 VS 4c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
26. City Slab 37m 1 VS 4c NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
28. Farmer's Groove 25m 1 S 4a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Craig CaerfaiAccessing Main Slab
(Photo by Nanuls)
Craig CaerfaiThe end of a good day
(Photo by Nanuls)
Caerfai BayCaefai Bay from the east
(Photo by Nanuls)

Right of Farmer's Groove is another slab with twin corners on its right and another slab right of these.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
29. Crunchie 27m 1 HVS 4a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

The following routes can be found on the cliff directly opposite the Main Wall. Approach at low tide by climbing across boulders.

No. Name Length Pitches Adjectival
Quality Restrictions
30. Coconut Crack 12m 1 S NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS
31. Miss Coconut 12m 1 HVS 5a NO STARS NO RESTRICTIONS

Caerfai Bay with Craig Caerfai on the far right (Photo by Nanuls)


If you lack a rope or a partner, there can be few prettier places to boulder than Caerfai Bay, which providing the tide is low, can be accessed from the beach. When it’s not low it would do you to find somewhere else to climb as the problems will be underwater. Unfortunately, the quality of the rock isn’t always the best, varying from a firm sandstone that is more like Peak grit to something else altogether more soft and variable, probably still sandstone. Because of this care is needed, not against breaking the holds but against ruining the more delicate rock formations – this is a very special place, don’t spoil it. The most interesting rock can be found by following the cliffs rightwards from the bottom of the path to a very pretty little cave. The bouldering here is of variable quality, the better rock being rather limited; on its own, a worthy bouldering destination this does not make. However, on the overhanging back face of the obvious buttress at the bottom of the path, there is some good bouldering, including a desperate low-level traverse. Heading in the opposite direction, a lot of rock is friable, and whilst there are a few problems on good rock, including a roof, it would be sad to damage the more friable surfaces.

Caerfai BayCaerfai Bouldering
(Photo by Nanuls)
Craig Caerfai Caerfai Bay
(Photo by Nanuls)
Caerfai BayCaerfai Bouldering
(Photo by Nanuls)

Weather Conditions and Tides

Weather Forecast

This section displays the weather forecast for Caerfai Bay, which as the name suggests, is located right next to Craig Caerfai. Thus, you aren't going to get a much closer weather forecast than this.

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 Craig Caerfai:

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.

White CornerWhite Corner
- Diff
(Photo by Nanuls)
Craig CaerfaiView towards
Ramsey Island
(Photo by Nanuls)
Craig CaerfaiThis fixed gear's
seen better days
(Photo by Nanuls)
Craig CaerfaiDescending
Main Slab
(Photo by Nanuls)

Getting There

Although there are a variety of ways to get to Craig Caerfai, which is located just the south of St. David’s, most will probably be coming from the west. If so, when approaching from Carmarthen (SN 405 196) take the A40 Truck Road signposted for Saint Clears (SN 274 160). At the Saint Clears roundabout, continue along the A40 towards Haverfordwest (SM 962 158). Here you will need to leave the A40, take a short detour through the town, and take the smaller A487 which will signpost St. David’s (SM 753 253).

As you enter the city there will be a left hand turn with a signpost directing you to a car park, park and ride and visitors centre (SM 757 252). Take this turn and follow the road to its terminus, here you will find a small parking area overlooking Caerfai Bay (SM 759 243). You will be able to see Craig Caerfai from this vantage point, it’s the crag at the end of the promontory on the eastern side of the bay. From the parking area, take the coastal path eastwards and follow it around the top of Caerfai Bay and out towards the promontory. Here the path gets very close to the top of the Main Slab, which is marked by a number of metal stakes used as anchors (SM 761 240). Abseil from these stakes or down climb White Corner (Diff).

Camping and Accommodation

Conveniently, there are two great campsites at Caerfai Bay, either of which would make the perfect place to stay if climbing in the area:

Caerfai Organic Farm
Caerfai Bay Caravan and Tent Park

For the wider area, there’s an almost unlimited supply of accommodation within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park so it would be inappropriate to list it all here. The city of St. David’s and its hinterland is particularly well provided for. 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.

Red Tape and Access

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:

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.

The view towards Ramsey Island (Photo by Nanuls)


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

Ordnance Survey 1:25k Explorer Series OL 35 North Pembrokeshire/Gogledd Sir Benfro

Ordnance Survey 1:50k Landranger Series 157 St David’s & Haverfordwest/Tyddewi a Hwlffordd

Road Maps

Ordnance Survey Tour Series 11 South & Mid Wales


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 1 Pembroke North Climbers' Club Guides to Wales: Pembroke Volume 1: Pembroke North by Steve Quinton

A superb and extremely comprehensive guidebook to the climbing in North Pembroke; includes descriptions of most of the routes at Craig Caerfai.
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

Caerfai BayCaerfai Bay (Photo by Nanuls)
PenpleidiauPenpleidiau (Photo by Nanuls)

Government Bodies and Other Organisations

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority

Council for National Parks

Association of National Park Authorities

Natural Resources 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


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


Youth Hostel Association in Wales

Independent Hostel Guide

Campsites in Pembrokeshire

Maps and Guidebooks

Ordnance Survey

The Climbers’ Club

Cicerone 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



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

Pembroke/PenfroMountains & Rocks