Maelstrom Chimney

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 51.59760°N / 4.94228°W
Additional Information Route Type: Trad Climbing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Less than two hours
Additional Information Difficulty: Severe 4a (5.6 - 5.7 YDS)
Additional Information Number of Pitches: 2
Sign the Climber's Log


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.

Getting There

Pitch 1 of Maelstrom Chimney

Pitch 2

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.

Route Description

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.

Essential Gear

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.

Newton HeadNewton Head from the traverse
(Photo by Nanuls)
Starting the routeStart of Pitch 2
(Photo by Nigel Lewis)
On the routeIn the Chimney
(Photo by Nigel Lewis)


Open Space Web-Map builder Code
Navigation Maps

Ordnance Survey 1:25k Explorer Series OL 36 South Pembrokeshire/De Sir Benfro

Ordnance Survey 1:50k Landranger Series 158 Tenby & Pembroke / Dinbych-y-pysgod & Penfro

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 4 Range East - Saddle Head to St. Govans Climbers' Club Guides to Wales: Pembroke Volume 4: Range East - Saddle Head to St. Govans by Gary Gibson

A superb and extremely comprehensive guidebook to the climbing along this stretch of coastline; includes descriptions of most of the routes at Stennis Head.
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

Maelstrom ChimneyMaelstrom Chimney (Photo by Nigel Lewis)
Bridging the chimneyMaelstrom Chimney (Photo by Nigel Lewis)

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



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