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Avon Gorge falls

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 barry donovan 13 Sep 2020

Hey All - so far in Avon gorge in the last few weeks I’ve seen three leader ground falls ripping all the gear - and second swing into the ground from no gear to stop it - a full roped rescue of injured climber by the fire brigade last week - and a whipper Yesterday on the first pitch of Gronk with the classic Avon Special Move above the peg on the first pitch.  Yesterday’s was lucky - injured but not disaster.

Thats six and it s just what I’ve seen  

It’s a lot

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 PaulW 13 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

A reminder that the sport does have a serious side. It wouldn't be the same without it though

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 knighty 13 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

Are you saying they snapped the peg on Gronk and decked or were level with it and hadn't clipped it yet?

Eitherway, that's a fairly serious position fairly low down..

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 Rod_Vortex 13 Sep 2020
In reply to knighty:

The peg is below the move so presumably they clipped it. If they didn't and fluffed that move then it wouldn't be a whip, it'd be a splat. From memory the next lowest piece of gear is a hex behind the block farrrrr below. 

Post edited at 18:37
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 d_b 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Rod_Vortex:

Is the move up above the peg still loose? Been a couple of years since I did gronk.

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 gezebo 13 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

Let us know where you are climbing next week and we can avoid!! 

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 d_b 13 Sep 2020
In reply to gezebo:

There is no evidence that Barry and his air rifle are in any way connected to the falling epidemic. It is all purely coincidental.

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 barry donovan 13 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

Just an observation not a criticism 

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 barry donovan 13 Sep 2020
In reply to d_b:

A falling epidemic... in a pandemic...  That’s a lot of demics.

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In reply to barry donovan:

Or is that just academic?

T.

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 barry donovan 13 Sep 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

Endemic ? 

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 Dom Goodwin 15 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

Sounds like you have a habit for the wrong place at the wrong time (or however you want to look at it...) ;-) Either that or maybe you're down the gorge rather a lot... I climb down there frequently (several times a week usually, on a regular basis) and I've only seen a few incidents - I arrived soon after the one on Piton Route the other day.

People sometimes forget that the section below the peg on Gronk is tricky too (sketchy 4b move on slopey holds). A lead fall from just below the peg didn't look pretty (it's quite a way and bouncy with ledges on the way down...), so probably rather worse than a fall from above the peg... The hex placement quite a bit lower is bomber, and fortunately there was no serious injury.

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 Donotello 16 Sep 2020

Pegs still there, did the route this evening. The move is stiff but you just have to commit, which can be the hardest part of most of the moves on it. 

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 Donotello 16 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

Wonder if there’s an influx in new trad climbers? I see a lot of people on beginner routes like idleburger buttress which are only good for a first outing but I can’t really be sure it’s any more than usual. 

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 steve_gibbs 16 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

In the months since the easing of the lockdown, I’ve seen myriads of climbers in Avon, like never before, but worryingly also some dangerous bad practice on the classic easy routes, I presume by beginners! It’s a great thing that many of those who previously only climbed indoors are venturing outside, but I do worry that Avon is simply not a forgiving place to start.
 

It’s a shame the greater Bristol area lacks any beginner friendly crags, laced with Vdiffs and Severes, comparable with the Peak District. IMO the closest spot for beginners is Three Cliffs Bay, in the Gower, and that’s not exactly close! Perhaps it’s worth someone knocking up a PDF of say the 20 safest trad routes to get started on, from Wye, Somerset, Avon, etc, though that’s no doubt a huge debate in itself!

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 spenser 16 Sep 2020
In reply to steve_gibbs:

It wouldn't even need to be the "safest", a list of good, well protected routes to get started on would do the job.

I hope you've been getting on well since we met out in Chamonix 7 years ago!

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 Fruit 16 Sep 2020
In reply to Donotello:

IMO There has been a ‘normalisation’ of falling, it’s even encouraged by some as a way of improving your grade. 
 

I think I’ll stick to ‘a leader never falls’ a message from an earlier age.

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 Donotello 16 Sep 2020
In reply to steve_gibbs:

I usually tell people to try fairy cave or Portishead for a foray into trad, less worry about gravity pulling on you and more focus on placing gear, I believe there’s decent routes at both but they don’t really prepare you for hanging off a sloper and placing a piece. 
 

From personal experience when I ventured from the gym to the outdoors I went straight into self taught trad purely because there weren’t any Beginner sport crags within my non-driving distance at the time. Plus I couldn’t imagine being a climber in Bristol and never climbing Avon Gorge routes when it’s such a gorgeous spot especially in the evening, although plenty seem to avoid it. 

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 d_b 16 Sep 2020
In reply to Donotello:

Fairy cave is a good shout, but IMHO it's good to take someone there and show them which areas to climb and which to avoid rather than just lending them the book.  It has a mix of good rock and dangerous chop routes that may not be obvious to a beginner.

Box Bay is another one that's amenable.  The only drawback is that the routes often have a hard first move and bad landings, but lots of holds and good gear.

Portishead is an interesting one.  Pharos is very protectable but there's a fair jump to the next easiest route.  I don't count "One Rainy Wish" as it's boring now the brambles have been cut back

I think some of the routes at Sand Point have potential but right now there is still too much loose rock, and some of the top outs & belays are interesting.  I think the area needs a bit of love and traffic before new climbers are let loose on it..

I have a real hatred of Idleburger Buttress.  Leave it to the top ropers and instructional groups.

Post edited at 10:44
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In reply to Fruit:

> IMO There has been a ‘normalisation’ of falling, it’s even encouraged by some as a way of improving your grade. 

I have that impression too.  Of course, I do understand that on hard, steep, well-protected things (and especially sport climbing, obviously) you aren't going to really achieve your potential,  or even find your limits, without being prepared to do a fair amount of falling off.  (As I never was and probably never did!) 

Unfortunately, that 'push it to the limit' mind set can get you into a world of trouble where the gear isn't so great, or you don't have the experience to put it in properly and to judge how good it is.  Avon is certainly not a great place to figure this out, especially since just being strong won't necessarily get you out of tight spot.

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 d_b 16 Sep 2020
In reply to Dave Garnett:

Assuming good protection it's usually safer to fall on hard routes as you are far less likely to hit things as you wait for the rope to come tight.  Ledgy vdiffs and severes are among the worst things to come off.

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 nniff 16 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

It's impossible to know without speaking to the people who fell, but you do see a lot of reference to 'falling practice' - which might be rational in sport climbing, but is significantly less so in trad.  However, in the way of these things, people pick things up and do not necessarily make all of the appropriate connections.  Falling off a gear-protected route is a risky venture in which most aspects are variable and the scope for a 'Swiss cheese' lining-up of adverse outcomes is significant.  Assuming that confidence in your gear is something that can be acquired by falling on it would be a mistake, because of the number of variables.  At best it will enable you to take a better-informed view of some of the variables, and greater experience will give you a better appreciation of them, but they will still remain variable.  There are however some constants - 9.8 m/s/s and Newton's Third Law - you hit the ground hard and it's going to smack you right back.

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In reply to barry donovan:

Been posted before but no harm in reiterating Martin Crocker's sage advice: http://climbbristol.com/climb-ripe-old-age-at-avon-gorge-ten-tips-top/

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 springfall2008 16 Sep 2020
In reply to d_b:

> Fairy cave is a good shout, but IMHO it's good to take someone there and show them which areas to climb and which to avoid rather than just lending them the book.  It has a mix of good rock and dangerous chop routes that may not be obvious to a beginner.

> Box Bay is another one that's amenable.  The only drawback is that the routes often have a hard first move and bad landings, but lots of holds and good gear.

> Portishead is an interesting one.  Pharos is very protectable but there's a fair jump to the next easiest route.  I don't count "One Rainy Wish" as it's boring now the brambles have been cut back

> I think some of the routes at Sand Point have potential but right now there is still too much loose rock, and some of the top outs & belays are interesting.  I think the area needs a bit of love and traffic before new climbers are let loose on it..

> I have a real hatred of Idleburger Buttress.  Leave it to the top ropers and instructional groups.


Lots of good safe Trad routes around for begginers including Wintours Leap, Wyndcliff and Shorn Cliff.

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 springfall2008 16 Sep 2020
In reply to Donotello:

> From personal experience when I ventured from the gym to the outdoors I went straight into self taught trad purely because there weren’t any Beginner sport crags within my non-driving distance at the time. Plus I couldn’t imagine being a climber in Bristol and never climbing Avon Gorge routes when it’s such a gorgeous spot especially in the evening, although plenty seem to avoid it. 

I've never climbed the gorge, why:

- It's close to roads

- Not sure if it's easy parking, but at least the traffic isn't great getting there

- Lots of horror stories about getting lost and bad gear

- The lower wye valley is a nice place to be

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 d_b 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

Acoustic is the only sub HS at Shorn Cliff that's any good though.  I thought of including it but I have seen a few people get stuck in the alcove under the block, and in one memorable case come off and deck onto the ledge below (on rope stretch but still hard enough to hurt).

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 springfall2008 16 Sep 2020
In reply to d_b:

> Acoustic is the only sub HS at Shorn Cliff that's any good though.  I thought of including it but I have seen a few people get stuck in the alcove under the block, and in one memorable case come off and deck onto the ledge below (on rope stretch but still hard enough to hurt).

Your right in that Shorn Cliff mainly starts at HS.

Wyndcliff again is HS and above

Wintours leap has some great multi-pitch M/D/VD type routes.

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 d_b 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

The Gorge gets nicer the further away from the Sea Walls you go. 

When I moved to Bristol I went to the Sea Walls twice, hated it and didn't go back to the gorge for a few years.  Now I know my way around the main area and amphitheatre a bit more I actually quite like it.

One bit of advice: Don't do any of the routes around Giants Cave area unless you are sure you can make them look cool.

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 springfall2008 16 Sep 2020
In reply to d_b:

> The Gorge gets nicer the further away from the Sea Walls you go. 

> When I moved to Bristol I went to the Sea Walls twice, hated it and didn't go back to the gorge for a few years.  Now I know my way around the main area and amphitheatre a bit more I actually quite like it.

Thanks for the tip.

Where can you park around there?

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 Jim blackford 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

The M-S routes at Wintours are good, and its a more peaceful setting than the gorge.

But they are as bold as lower grade routes in Avon gorge. Imo Wintours has no better or maybe worse protection on average than Avon on the range of grades ive climbed there (M-HVS). It's also just as polished on many routes, if you ignore a handful of polished horrors at Avon (Idleburger, Jasper, Piton Route etc). 

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In reply to d_b:

> The Gorge gets nicer the further away from the Sea Walls you go. 

The left end of Sea Walls, especially the Upper Wall from the ramp, is one of the best bits!  Steep and well-protected by Avon standards.

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 d_b 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

There's a layby that'll take 4 or 5 cars outside the main area.  It's usually OK, but it fills up fast and a tiny one car spot near the amphitheatre.

I usually advise people not to try for the amphitheatre parking as you are committed to a bit of a drive around if you miss it or it has been taken.  You'll generally get into the main area layby unless it's very busy.

If in doubt park at Sea Walls - you can walk to any of the crags in about 15 minutes anyway.  I live within walking distance so rarely drive unless I'm going straight from the office - not a 2020 problem.

A good starting option would be to do one of the Lunchtime Ledge enchainments.  To get to the ledge Sinister & Clarion are good value at HS and VS respectively. 

Various options to get to the top.  Petros is a good one at VS, but a bit polished.

There's an ab station at the ledge but you will need two ropes as it is more than 30m from the ground.

Post edited at 14:09
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 springfall2008 16 Sep 2020
In reply to d_b:

I must do that one day soon, I'm looking for new routes at around VS with decent gear.

Which parking is the one with the toilet block, is that sea wall?

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 d_b 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

That's the main area.  Sea walls is the big off road car park.

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 Donotello 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

Avon gorge has the best parking of any crag in the country how on earth has that put you off? You put your rack on out of your boot and then take 10 steps to the bottom of the route of your choice. Can’t think of any other trad climbing where you can park so close to the climbs. 
 

And as for the noise; it’s noisy yes but it make you really really appreciate a quiet crag that much more. You don’t really think about it when you’re climbing it’s only an issue for communication but again it’s good to practice non verbal communication for times when you may be in a wind or other noisy scenario. 
 

Edit: Cheddar is worse for engine noise,  and last time I climbed in the Wye valley the non stop boat engines were way more irritating than Low traffic drone of the Portway.

Post edited at 16:26
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 Jim blackford 16 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

There's quite a few HVS in the gorge with great gear (Jasper, Suspense etc) but not for any routes really under HVS. However many have decent gear in that you can always get a good piece in when you need one , but not necessarily every body length .

So for HS-VS with decent gear: 

Sea walls: 

Gronk   - slightly bold on the 1st ptich and bold for the 2nd on the traverse right to Morpheus belay . 

Floating voater  - polished as anything but can be well enough protected 

Main area: 

Sinister 

Petros 

Clarion - slight runout at/after the crux 

Central Rib  - better the Piton route imo . Good gear for VS4b 

Amphitheatre etc : 

Hodges Pin  - follows a crack line. 

Rockers Revenge - slightly bold on the easy start then we'll protected the rest of the way 

Giants cave buttress 

The drain  - more like Cheddar than the gorge 

Jose Dansck VS / HVS - basically a clip up on threads til 2/3 height 

Post edited at 17:04
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 Dom Goodwin 16 Sep 2020
In reply to Jim blackford:

I agree with much of that. Certainly all the routes you suggest are excellent. I think the necessary mindset in Avon is to hope for adequate rather than decent gear.

Floating Voter has a short 4a wall at the top with no gear (but it’s very well protected before, especially the crux). The unprotected start of Rocker’s Revenge is perhaps 4b and with some looseness, so I wouldn’t personally consider that bit easy.

Gronk and Petros are both bold in places - I would describe them as having adequate gear at a push, rather than decent!

Aftermath is a another good route with adequate gear.

Hodge’s Pin must be the best protected VS in the gorge by some margin. Runners anywhere you want them...

Yes, Jose Dansack is soft for HVS.

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 Tim Stainforth 17 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

Hi all I am new to UKC website, but have family members who regularly post. I am a fairly experienced trad climber who is looking to do some of the hard vs type grades and I'm new to the Bristol area and was looking to go climbing on Friday if possible. Is anyone keen to take a chance I assure you I have my climbing harness five ten shoes and chalk bag, unfortunately  my climbing gear including full rack is in Jersey channel islands where I last lived. Meaning I would have to climb on someone's ropes and and happy to lead if someone is willing to to take someone on their word and use their CAM or nuts. It would be most sensible though to meet at the crag first be shown the route and have the other person who knows the route to do the leading. This is also because it is your gear and I would not want to to get anything jammed  drop/lose and then have to replace, not that this has happened before. I was very fortunate to start climbing with my father at an early age of 4 and have had the privilege of climbing in many places in the USA hey where I lived for 14 years such as Joshua tree multiple times Yosemite Meadows which is the top part of the national Park, where I have done some multi pitch climbing such as cathedral peak and others.

I have been going to the gym and can climb harder lead hvs competently in my opinion. I have led a lot harder climbs in America such as some of the famous 5.11s, but as I may potentially be going out with a new climber I would like to to just experienced a nice easy 3-star or 2 Star route and get a feel for Avon gorge. 

If anyone is interested I can meet you at the gorge or pick you up as I drive. Please feel free to email me tstain88@gmail.com, I will be in the Bristol area for some time so I will be rejoining the the cathedral climbing gym and I'm going to redpoint in the morning to do some of the auto-belays and bouldering. I have my BMC membership for insurance. I am no means a a expert climber but I have had a lot of experience trad and sport climbing in many different places from an early age and was fortunate enough to be shown by people who always put safety first.

Kind regards Tim Stainforth

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 barry donovan 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Tim Stainforth:

Tim - thank you for your application to climb in Avon Gorge and the resume (this keyboard has no accent on the e) which was very thorough. 

There are a few choices - Avon MC and Red Rope and other clubs have some members with a load of experience in the gorge. There are also quite a few AMI people who know the place.  

As for a total stranger from the WWW world - even you ?  Would I meet a total stranger who drives up then let them fix the brakes on my car and then drive it at a brick wall to find out if they know what they’re doing ? - which is Climbing - no.  

Cheers.  BD

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In reply to Tim Stainforth:

Related to Gordon and John?

Or is that an incorrect assumption.

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 springfall2008 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Donotello:

> Avon gorge has the best parking of any crag in the country how on earth has that put you off? You put your rack on out of your boot and then take 10 steps to the bottom of the route of your choice. Can’t think of any other trad climbing where you can park so close to the climbs. 

To be fair I did say it's the traffic getting there that can be can issue for me (I live North Bristol).

I must give it a try sometime

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 derryclimbs 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Tim Stainforth:

Put up a post in the 'partners' section looking to climb in the gorge. You'll get a better response there.

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 Donotello 17 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

It’s funny thinking about it, how much more i enjoy trad climbing elsewhere. Went to Sheepstor and Shorn Cliff this summer and every climb had gear that just sank in so well It might as well have been a bolt. 
 

In my head at the time I’m thinking ‘wow these places are amazing I could commit to a crux here without fear of death’ but in reality perhaps that’s just normal and I’m used to Avon.. 😃

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 Dom Goodwin 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Tim Stainforth:

You’ll likely have better luck on the various Bristol climbing Facebook groups. They are a much better source of climbing partners than on here. I’ve found loads of partners using them. Try Bristol Climbing Friends, for instance.

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In reply to Donotello:

Another option for the Amphitheatre/ SSB is to leave the car at the top i.e. in Clifton and then walk down the zig zags or the other path by Bridge Valley road.  The advantage being that there is loads of parking up there and you can finish your route and then go directly to the pub. 

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 Tim Stainforth 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Michael Hood:

Yes that assumption would be correct.

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 Tim Stainforth 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Dom Goodwin:

Thank you for your reply and I will look that up now. Cheers

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 Tim Stainforth 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Dom Goodwin:

Thank you for the advice I am still new to this forum and I have posted in the partners section. 

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 MischaHY 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Fruit:

> I think I’ll stick to ‘a leader never falls’ a message from an earlier age.

I actually think this is part of what leads to people taking grounders in the first place. 

People never fall on purpose (ideally done with a back-up rope on a non-classic) which means they have no idea if their gear placements are actually any good or not because they never get tested.

One day they slip off or a hold breaks and they're on the deck. When I was trad climbing regularly in the UK I did indeed try to avoid falling off because I mostly climbed safe things onsight or bold things headpoint, both of which being scenarios where ideally you do the route. 

Regardless of that, I've fallen on trad gear a good few times in practice and in anger - yes, occasionally a marginal piece has ripped, but mostly the gear has been solid. This is because I learnt what would hold and what wouldn't when I started trad climbing, by actually falling on the gear with a backup in place. 

Imagine applying that same logic to belaying that you've applied to falling.

'The leader never falls, so the belayer should never practice holding a fall because this will encourage falling'. 

Obviously whipping on a slabby severe is a poor choice, but it does happen sometimes and the climber should have an awareness that if they do fall, the gear will hold. 

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 Tim Stainforth 17 Sep 2020
In reply to barry donovan:

I understand where you're coming from I am new to this forum I have posted in in in the partners section. And I will try elsewhere such as some of the other suggestions. And some of the local climbers already  know.

Thank you for reading my resume I didn't mean to include so much information and I understand your analogy about brakes on a car. 

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 Tim Stainforth 17 Sep 2020
In reply to Dom Goodwin:

Cheers for the info.

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In reply to springfall2008, d_b and Donotello on the subject of parking...

Don't forget the option of parking up top and doing the walk down first! 

I climbed the suspension bridge area on Sunday, we left the car up a side street near Engineering House (free on Sundays), a nice 15 minute walk down Bridge Valley road followed by a little traffic dodging and you're under the observatory platform. 

Similarly, for Main Area, leave the car in the bays by that first tight bend on the Downs ring road, do the horrible long hike down Goat Gully and south along the Portway first. 

It's a real nice mood booster when climbing to know that your comfortable vehicle with a boot full of chilled vimto and a whole bag of mini baby bells is waiting for you at the top. ☺️ 

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 d_b 21 Sep 2020
In reply to Martin Southville:

horrible long hike?  Surely you mean entertaining short run?

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 Webster 21 Sep 2020
In reply to springfall2008:

just park at sea walls and walk, its only a few hundred meters! or even park at the top and abb/walk down then top out to your car! lots of free parking near the cliff edge in the downs

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