Consigned to a few months in Cornwall, we decided to quit bitchin' about the lack of bouldering (another climbing centre has recently closed down with the sad disease of Cornishclimbingwallitis) and get ourselves out and about in the south west. And... we have been happily surprised. The sites may be a little sparse, and the walk-ins occasionally pants-wettingly scary, but some of the climbing has been really fun, and even, dare I say... some of the best bouldering we've had...?
Hartland Quay is a bit Mordor-ish, all jagged shadowy rocks and drama. You approach it via a rather time warped toll road, parking at a hotel which has a nice bar for when the tide eats all your problems. Approaches are okay, but give a decent quad workout, lots of pads are helpful with landings that are 'uneven'.
We went to Hartland to meet Jonny and Duma, and check out one of the south west's most excellent 8a's, Supercede. Jonny upgraded it to 8b-ish, and no-one sent it. However, Sam and Duma climbed Carnage (7b), helpfully described by Sam as "nice", and then "good, I thought." Jonny managed to repeat Carnage without destroying it. I made "the hard move", only to find another after it.
Jonny on Supercede, moments before the hand-hold snapped.
Pentire is a very exciting trad climbing site on the North coast of Cornwall. It also has some boulders at the base of the Grand Face (which is very, very grand), one of which is quite famous for having a 7c+, Pycho Cowboy, running along it's steep lip. Leigh had reliably informed us some time previously, and a few beers post, that this route was soft, and that we should all go get it. So we did (try)...
Turns out, the approach is a bit hairy, and quite well hidden, and even when you find it you may have your doubts as to whether it is indeed the approach. It is more hairy in strong wind when you have portable wind catching devices, i.e. boulder pads, strapped to your back. Luckily for us, the wind was blowing onshore and just squashed us into the hill after a gentle tease. When we got to the bottom, the boulder was perched beneath the very Grand Face, on an excitingly wave lashed platform, and Pycho Cowboy was not at all soft, at least not to us. The other problems on the bloc felt quite hard too, although it might have been the sucking and gurgling of waves under the boulder that was off-putting. The scenery was gorgeous, and wild and beautiful, but Pentire did not give us a fulfilling bouldering session.
Godrevy is my (Amber) new favorite place to boulder, climbing wise. It is glorious. The bouldering is at the end of one the nicest beaches in Cornwall, sheltered, beautiful wave washed slate with rough juggy top-outs, route grades from Font 1 to 7c+ and maybe more. On the flipside it is horrendously condition dependant, demanding mid-tides and reasonably dry weather (rare, in Cornwall) with sun or a breeze, but we'll ignore that for now. Pick the right day then, and it is glorious.
We've managed a couple of sessions here, and had so much fun, in part because we could climb enough that it felt like a real work out - so many spots just don't have so much variety. We have both had some success with harder routes too, Sam sending multiple 7's over two sessions, and for me - three 7's and some lovely 6's in one trip. Virginia and Wolff, named for the author whose lighthouse sits just out to sea, are two neat routes that sit aside each other in the Main Bay area, as are Les Temps Passe left and right, strong crimpy lines up the overhang of the Bowling Alley. A guide can be found here.