Sirhowy - Quarry Mawr

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Joe Williams on Providence. Fr.6b+.


South East Wales Sandstone


Quarried sandstone.


The Rust Curtain is one of the best sandstone walls in the area. It comprises a flat, slightly overhanging face, which contains mainly crimpy and technical routes with much individual character. Several walls have also been developed recently with some slightly easier grades.

The crag faces west so gets the shade in the morning and the very last rays of sun in the evening, which lights the crag up with a warm amber glow.

Seepage is present during the winter, but from Easter to October it is generally one of the drier crags, a few of the routes can even be climbed in the rain.

Midges are annoying in the still summer evenings (not as bad as Llanbradach tho) so bring suitable clothing or mosquito repellent for comfort.

Climbing here is tolerated by the rangers of the picturesque Sirhowy Valley Country Park but the following should be noted to keep it this way:

  • The gates at the main entrance close at 4:30 to 5:30pm. Please don't antagonise the rangers by leaving here at the last minute as they try to clear the car park 15 mins before closing.
  • Try to be quiet during park open hours - no swearing, shouting etc.. as families use the footpaths that pass very close to the quarry.


From the south, take J28 of the M4 and follow signs for Ebbw Vale on the A467. When the roundabout is reached where the A4048 to Blackwood (Wattsville) branches, take the first exit which leads to the country park. If coming from the north, A4042 from Blackwood, either park as for Wattsville or continue to the roundabout junction with the A467.

There are 4 possible parking spots:

1) At the 'pay or be fined' car park at the base of the quarry. This must be vacated in the late afternoon.

2) At the Sirhowy Valley Country Park entrance, just off the Full Moon Roundabout. Walk down the asphalt road to the quarry.

3) At the public car park in Wattsville. Walk northwards and down towards the base of the valley, cross a stream which leads onto the rugby pitch. Cross the rugby pitch to a large gravel car parking area. (follow directions below).

4) The best spot. Take a right (coming from south) in Wattsville just before you pass over a not-so-obvious bridge that crosses a steep and narrow wooded valley. Take an immediate and sharp turn left, to pass under the bridge. Follow a single lane road to reach a large gravel covered parking spot overlooking the rugby pitch. Follow the road on foot, until you see a large farm house and take a footpath to the left. This footpath passes over a magnificent sandstone masonry river bridge and leads you directly to the quarry.

The Rust Curtain is found by walking up a few steps in the corner of the car park and following the well worn path off to the right.

Access the Western Walls by walking up the cycleway past the picnic benches and taking a well used path into the quarry just before a series of grey steel boxes in the verge. Take a right out of the log circle clearing and then a left before the Danger Quarry sign, follow this straight to the walls.


All routes have bolted lower offs.


Described Left to Right

The Rust Curtain

The first rock encountered from the car park is a clean leaning wall, The Rust Curtain .

  1. King Krab - Fr. 7a
    The pumpy crag traverse requires some reasonably long Q-draws and is better attempted with two ropes. Climb Butcher Heinrich to the break and follow it rightwards to the end of the wall. Finish up Aedan's Arete. 35 m

  2. The Waco Kid - Fr. 6b
    The ramp at the far left of the crag. 10 m.

  3. Gott in Himmel - Fr. 7a
    A tough start snakes anti-clockwise around the blank initial bulge to an obvious projecting hold, from here, crank up to an easier finish. 12m

  4. Butcher Heinrich - Fr. 7b *
    The original start is becoming popular. Crank straight up into the broad orange scoop, to a good rest at the break. A big move finds a creaky flake (now inches lower than the original) and an easy finish. Lower off of Gott In Himmel. A Fr. 7a+ alternative starts up Gott in Himmel and breaks right at a flat undercut. 13 m

  5. Strange Little Boy - Fr. 6c **
    An alternative finish to the routes hereabouts. The head wall, breaking out left from the crack of 'Strange Little Girl'.

  6. Strange Little Girl - Fr. 6b+ **
    The classic warm-up of the quarry, follow the crack. 14 m

  7. King Ada - Fr. 7b **
    Swing rightwards on a line of finger jugs or bust a gut in the jam crack down to the right, either way hit the obvious flake. A series of good but spaced holds lead to a blank section and a triangular pocket to the right of a peg. Use the pocket creatively to hit a rounded break, or a jug above. Finish at the lower off of Strange Little Girl. 15 m

    Mawr Mawr Mawr - Fr.7a.
  8. King Ada / Strange little Girl combination - Fr. 6c **
    A popular and worthwhile combination which avoids the top crux moves on King Ada. Start up King Ada and shuffle leftwards at the break to finish up Strange Little Girl. 16 m

  9. Skanderbeg - Fr. 7b+ **
    Now direct and the hardest route at the crag. Bridge up to the double roofs (!!!), breach them and reach left to a spike. A further gruelling sequence on sidepulls thankfully leads to the break. From a pocket, squeeze the biscuit out left and reach up to a second break. Lower off to the right, shared with King Zog. An equally good Fr. 7b version shares a start with King Ada. 16 m

  10. King Zog - Fr. 7a+ *
    Sometimes wet but usually climbable. Make a hard move to pass the roof and gain a rest. The face above isn't as blank as it appears from below so crimp up to reach a poor pocket and easier breaks. 16 m

  11. Face - Fr. 7b+
    Could do with more ascents and holds. A very testing start leads to a ledge over the roof. From the ledge, try to find tiny holds that lead to the lower off. 16 m

  12. Mawr, Mawr, Mawr - Fr. 7a **
    Classic and very pumpy climbing that saves the crux until last. Best to clip stick the first staple and traverse in from the right. 17 m

  13. The Crimson King - Fr. 6c+ *
    A stiff and technical start leads to a rest at half height. The upper wall is currently missing the crux hold. Lower off to the left on Mawr Mawr Mawr. 16m

  14. Sunstone (A.K.A The Mark of Zorro) - Fr. 7a *
    Make an implausible crux move to get off the deck and tricky moves thereafter. Reach the diagonal crack for a rest and finish on increasingly good holds. The chain is just to the right, which attempts to force you to finish on the final cleaned ledge above it. 14 m

  15. VIP Lunge - Fr. 6c *
    Make a long reach from the hole, then move leftwards to a minature tower. Move back rightwards and make another long reach to the lower off. 13 m

  16. Hostility Suite - Fr. 6c *
    Nice and not so steep. Pass the strip overhang to a delicate slab. The final break contains a not-so delicate fist jam which helps with the big stretch to the lower off. 13 m

  17. Aedan's Arete - Fr. 6a+
    The other warm up route. Not as easy as first appearances suggest and definitely different to the rest of the wall. Arm bars and leg hooks can be employed to ease the strain. Lower off shared with Hostility Suite. 13 m

Right Hand Wall

Route: Olli Burrows on Deaf as a Post - Fr. 7a+

Just up and right of The Rust Curtain is a shorter wall with a large roof in its centre.

  1. Brucifer - Fr. 6b *
    Swing up to reach a blank looking face. A perfect undercut to the right should not be missed and neither should the sandy pocket above. Remember that there are really good holds in the break above the chain. 12 m

  2. Take Your Pants to Heaven - Fr. 6c
    Tricky crack and burly overhang. 11 m

  3. Gouge the Unknown - Fr. 6c+
    The wall beneath the right hand end of the roof harder since flake crimps broken 10 m

  4. Knickerless in Hell - Fr. 6b
    Not the prettiest lower off but a classic Chorro railway import that should stand the test of time. 10 m

  5. Holey Moses - Fr. 6a
    Overcome the overhang. 9 m

  6. Where the Arc is It? - Fr. 6a
    A good start but crumbly finish. Shares a lower off with previous the route. 9 m

  7. Temples of Cwmaman - Fr. 5
    Short. 5m

  8. Arch of the Last Craven Ant - Fr. 5+
    Hmmmm... Creaky. The last bolt line using the large horizontal flake to reach the arete of an overhanging block. 5 m

The Dust Curtain

Through the woods, approximately 50 m right of the last route is The Dust Curtain. The face is split by a shale band at mid height and the routes can only improve with use. A useful training venue for those preparing to visit Llyn Brianne.

  1. O.C. / D.C. - Fr. 6a
    Good pocket pulling through the overhang. 10 m

  2. Shale I Compare Thee? - Fr. 5
    A pocketed sandstone jug fest, which is briefly interrupted by a thought provoking shale band. Finishes at the tree. L.O. 18 m

  3. Play Dusty For Me - Fr. 5+
    Start just left of the alarming looking rectangular block at head height, up to the mid height steps then pull over the capping roofs to a shared belay near the tree. 20 m

  4. Dustin Cough Man - Fr. 5+
    The obvious line of the crag to the right of the block, follow the crack to the top. 20 m

  5. Dustin Crime - Fr. 6a+
    Clip stick start or buy a bolt and put it in the hole. A few metres of good steep climbing above the rubble band. A classic of the "anti classic" genre, character building. 20m

Western Walls

Queen Wall

To the right of The Dust Curtain, separated by a narrow nose of rock is a curved bay of fine rock, Queen Wall. The first route described starts at the corner groove L of a stepped ramp at the left side of the wall.

  1. Queen Bee - Fr. 5+
    The retaining groove left of the ramp, better than it used to look.

  2. A Poxy Queen - Fr. 6a+
    Classic, hard move to the rail (no sneaking in from the right) then a mantle leads to glory.

  3. Slip Into The Queen - Fr 6b+
    A harder start to the previous, use of the rail instead of the crimp and pocket forbidden.

  4. Little Queen – Fr. 5+
    A short disjointed crack at the top of the stepped ramp. L.O. shared with the next route. 8 m

  5. Sheer Heart Attack – Fr. 7a+
    A bouldery rising traverse culminating in a rockup to good crimps. Finish left. 9 m

  6. Deaf as a Post – Fr. 7a+
    Start at the ramps second step. Pass the overlap via a huge reach (morpho) to gain a spike at the base of a short finger crack. From the top of the crack swing left to good holds and a L.O. shared with the previous route. Alternatively, follow a new direct finish to a L.O. shared with the next route. 12 m

  7. Killer Queen – Fr. 7a *
    Behind the obvious monolith are good ledges and a fine layaway crack, power past this to the top. L.O. on the left. Stays dry in the rain. 14 m

  8. Queens of the Stone Age – Fr. 6b+ *
    Halfway up the rightwards trending sloping ramp are a series of good edges, these lead to a narrow overlap. Style through the overlap and escape leftwards up a short crack. Chain L.O. 12 m

  9. Drag Queen – Fr. 6a+
    Follow the rightwards trending, sloping ramp to its end. A micro groove leads to a short crack on the left. L.O. 14 m

  10. Raving Queen – Fr. 6b+
    Boulder up a sharp layaway crack to meet the top of the sloping ramp. Finish as for Drag Queen. 12 m

  11. The Queen is Dead – Fr. 6b *
    Make a blind move to a shot hole in the sloping ledge. Neat edging and undercutting soon leads to a shared L.O. on the left. 10 m

  12. Drama Queen – Fr. 5+
    The awesome crack and corner, just left of the right hand end of the wall. Chain L.O. 9 m

  13. Olivine - V1
    The obvious sit start boulder problem on the flat green wall beneath the stepped ramp.

Sirhowy Upper Tier


To the right of Queen Wall and up a steep bank lies the most accessible part of Sirhowys upper tier. This area comprises a barrel shaped wall with a square cut arête on its right, this arête bounds the left side of a bay at a higher level. The bay contains several amenable slabs routes on its left and some short punchy routes on its right.

The start of the routes on the barrel shape wall are at a slightly lower level.

  1. Project
    Flat wall to the left.

  2. Buddha's Watching - Fr. 5
    The steep and 'ledgy' wall between two cracks. 15m

  3. Providence - Fr. 6b+
    The arête (on it's right). Merges slightly with the adjacent route after the last bolt. 15m

  4. Psilocybic - Fr. 6c *
    The bolted jamming crack and pocketed headwall. 15m

  5. Zeitgeist - E2, 5c **
    By far and away the best trad route in the quarry. At the very bottom of both the technical and adjective grade. It will eat as many cams as you can throw at it, so take a full set. 15m

    The Slab

  6. Forgotten Ground - Fr. 6a
    The right side of the arete, joining the next route at the high arete. L.O. 11m

  7. Approaching the Nadir - Fr. 6a *
    A diagonal jamming crack to the right of the arete. Finishes at the high arete. L.O. 10m

  8. Hooker With A Penis – Fr. 6a+ *
    Start up a comforting finger crack and continue up on face holds where this peters out (sling on bolt). L.O. shared with the previous route. 10m

  9. Lateralus – Fr. 6b *
    The centre of the slab with a committing finishing move (to the right of the L.O.) to gain the clean top. 12m

  10. Rosetta Stoned – Fr. 6a *
    The right hand side of the slab, skirting the overlap on its right. L.O. 12 m

  11. Stinkfist – Fr. 6a
    The wide corner crack converges with the previous route at the top to share its L.O. Still a little fresh in places. 12 m

    The right side of the bay

    Right Side of Bay
  12. Intension – Fr. 6b+
    Tackles the shallow corner in the centre of the buttress direct. Reach the L.O. by pulling on the ergonomic tree. 11m

  13. Third Eye – Fr. 6b *
    The arete formed by the left side of the deep chimney (no bridging!). A very gritstone exit. shared L.O. 11m

  14. The Grudge – Fr. 6c *
    The cracks right of the chimney. L.O. shared with the next route. 10m

  15. Jambi – Fr. 6c
    An awkward, snaking crack, in the right side of the buttress. L.O. 10m

  16. Prison Sex - Fr. 5
    A bolted squeeze chimney. Nice! L.O. shared with The Grudge. 10m

  17. The Outsider - Fr. 5
    Climb the hand-crack in the slim tower, teetering over the abyss. finish as for Prison Sex. 10m

First Ascents

Liv Pearson on Rosetta Stoned. Fr.6a.

The Rust Curtain

  1. A.Rosier, W.Gregory 28.06.2008
  2. A.Rosier, R.McAllister 29.08.2016
  3. R.Thomas, S.Coles 09.05.1996
  4. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 00.00.1989
  5. A.Rosier 29.08.2016
  6. R.Thomas, M.Crocker 00.00.1989
  7. G.Gibson 07.04.1996
  8. A.Rosier, R.Giles 04.04.2007
  9. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 11.06.1989, Direct - O.Burrows 15.10.2016
  10. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 11.06.1989
  11. G.Gibson 06.04.1996
  12. G.Gibson 06.04.1996
  13. G.Gibson 06.04.1996
  14. A.Rosier, R.Giles 27.07.2007
  15. R.Thomas, G.Gibson 06.04.1996
  16. R.Thomas, G.Gibson 06.04.1996
  17. A.Rosier, R.Giles 24.07.2007

Right Hand Wall

  1. A.Rosier, B. Danby 14.05.2005
  2. A.Rosier, D. Wiltshire 21.05.2005
  3. R.Thomas 2007
  4. R.Thomas 2007
  5. P.Wardman, A.Rosier, R.Giles 15.05.2005
  6. P.Wardman, A.Rosier, R.Giles 15.05.2005
  7. A.Rosier, B. Danby 15.05.2005
  8. R.Thomas 2007

The Dust Curtain

  1. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt Ld) 17.06.2014
  2. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt Ld) 05.09.2013
  3. R.Thomas, G. Ashmore 2013
  4. R.Thomas, G.Ashmore 2013
  5. R.Thomas 2014

Queen Wall

  1. R.Thomas, G.Ashmore 27.09.2013
  2. R.Thomas, G.Ashmore 27.09.2013
  3. R.Thomas, Eugene Jones 29.09.2013
  4. A.Rosier. R.McAllister (Alt Leads) 30.06.2013
  5. A.Rosier, R.McAllister 10.07.2013
  6. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 00.00.1989
  7. A.Rosier, R. Thomas 02.07.2013
  8. A.Rosier. R.McAllister (Alt Leads) 25.06.2013
  9. A.Rosier. R.McAllister (Alt Leads) 30.06.2013
  10. A.Rosier. R.McAllister (Alt Leads) 30.06.2013
  11. A.Rosier. R.McAllister (Alt Leads) 30.06.2013
  12. R. Thomas, A.Rosier. R.McAllister (Alt Leads) 10.07.2013
  13. A.Rosier 04.07.2013

Upper Tier

  1. Project
  2. A.Rosier. R.Heirene (Alt. Leads) 16.03.2016
  3. A.Rosier, O.Burrows, J.Williams (Alt. Leads) 26.05.2016
  4. A.Rosier, O.Burrows (Alt. Leads) 10.09.2015
  5. A.Rosier, R.McAllister 03.09.2015
  6. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 09.07.2015
  7. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 25.06.2015
  8. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 25.06.2015
  9. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 11.06.2015
  10. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 17.06.2015
  11. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 30.06.2015
  12. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 25.06.2015
  13. A.Rosier, R.McAllister, N. Goile (Alt. Leads) 28.06.2015
  14. A.Rosier 17.06.2015
  15. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 17.06.2015
  16. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 30.06.2015
  17. A.Rosier, R.McAllister (Alt. Leads) 30.06.2015

The Map

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