Dinas Rock is a superb limestone sport crag in close proximity to Swansea, offering a varied selection of over 100 sports routes on a clean, compact and user friendly cliff face. The crag also features almost 50 boulder problems (including links), making a fine destination for both visiting and local climbers alike.
All images by Simon Rawlinson.
This brilliant crag has some of the best climbing in South East Wales, especially now that nearly all the routes have been well equipped with modern bolts. The single-pitch routes range from 10 to 30 metres in length, generally up steep to vertical walls. This mixture of off-vertical faces, mixed with overlaps and powerful starts creates an unusual combination of strenuous yet technical climbing. It’s worth noting that some of the harder routes may need 'dusting off' before an attempt. Furthermore, the Kenelgarth Wall is a brilliant Woodwell-esq bouldering venue and well worth a visit in its own right.
Best Time to Go and Conditions
This is a great all year round crag, although as with many limestone venues finding dry rock in winter can be slightly unpredictable. It dries quickly once seepage has receded (give 5 days of dry weather for this) and some sectors stay dry in the rain. Be warned, it can get pretty hot during the midsummer months, due to a sun trap setting, however in spring and autumn this same feature makes the crag a delightful location to climb. Finally, as with many inland UK destinations, it's worth noting the crag does receive a full quota of midges on still, humid evenings. This webcam from nearby Swansea may be a useful tool if in doubt of the weather.
The routes at Dinas features in the 2004 Gower & S.E. Wales guide. A basic topo covering some of the more popular routes on the main wall can befound here. For the bouldering there is free online topo of the Kenelgarth Wall courtesy of Kevin Hughes here.
To find the cliff, follow the A465 Heads of the Valley road for 15km and then take a left turn for Glyn-Neath. At the traffic lights turn right for Pont Nedd Fechan and then take the first left in 200m (B4242). Follow this road until just before it begins to rise up at a slight incline and turn right by the Craig Dinas Hotel. This narrow road leads through a small village to turn abruptly right over a small bridge into a car park in the initial quarry. Follow the track on the right along the river to the Roadside Crag and Kenelgarth Wall (less than 5 minutes walk). The main crag is a further three minute scramble up the side of the waterfall from here.
Access has been sensitive at times at Dinas Rock due to being on SSSI land, with the vegetation in the gorge area being especially important. Therefore do take care not to clear away any vegetation, damage trees or modify the rock faces, to help prevent the possibility of future access restrictions. Currently there are no restrictions and climbing is allowed all year round.
Also of note is the parking is at the Forestry Commission car park and the gates are locked at 6 pm. Please avoid parking in the residents parking areas on the approach road. As problems have arisen in early 2011, which has led to some potentially long term issues.
Accommodation & Provisions
Glyn-Neath Lakes Campsite (Postcode for directions: SA11 5RA) is the nearest camping. Other than this there are several B&B’s nearby. Glyn-Neath is five minutes down the road and has a few shops, petrol stations and pubs. Swansea is only a 25minute drive away and as you would imagine has plenty of places to eat, drink and sleep.
Grade Spread and Recommended Routes
Due to the vast amount of quality routes right through the grades, Dinas would make an ideal destination for a mixed ability group. That said, the main concentration of routes are in the 6b to 8a range and V2 to V9 for the bouldering, with the hardest lines being 8a+ and V12 respectively.
My recommendations would be: Berlin 7a+, The Sharp Cereal Professor 7b, Harlem 7b+, Smashed Rat 7c, H1N1 8a, Poodle Traverse V2, Starke Attack V3, Gentle Jess V6, The life of Fyfe V9, Fat Cat Roof V9.
The usual sport climbing equipment is required, 12 quickdraws and a standard 60m is sufficient for most. It is rare for the routes to require a traditional rack and most of the better routes are adequately bolted. Although not a necessity, I would recommend packing a clip stick (available here). Also make sure to pack a nice stiff pair of rock boots and a good dose of finger strength, as these will be sure to come in handy when utilizing the many small edges the routes offer.
Some nice videos demonstrating some of the harder lines from the area:
If you’re in the area for a few days then I would fully recommend a visit down to the Gower, home to many scenic seaside venues. *Fox Hole Cove is very accessible, first-class and a great place to start. Routes range from 5c to 8b and are steep. Its non-tidal, a 10minute walk in and well bolted. Although fairly small, this is one of my favourite sport crags in Britain!
*A free topo for Fox Hole Cove can be found here
If you do end up at Fox Hole Cove, I would recommend: Goose in Lucy 6c, Joy de Viva 7a, Foxy Chicken Link 7a+, Pioneers in a Hypnotic Groove 7b and Palace of Swords Reversed 8a+.