Gap, The

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Contents

South East Wales Sandstone

Partial Topo of the Lower Quarry, The Gap

GR: ST 080 963

PREAMBLE

A large and easily accessible east facing crag.

The climbs are generally on vertical faces with long reaches between small sharp flat holds.

Slightly midgy (but not all that bad until dusk).

The routes on the left hand wall of the Lower Quarry stay dry nearly all year round, which is handy, if you can handle the sub-zero winter temperatures that is.If top roping wear out your own quick draws not the belays.

Lower Quarry, The Gap

ACCESS

Take the A470 to the large roundabout after Abercynon and take the Ystrad Mynach exit. Turn left at the next roundabout (signposted to Treharris) and follow this for 1 mile to a narrow left turning over a bridge immediately before a pelican crossing. Follow this road steeply uphill, and over a railway bridge, then take the first right. Follow this road until the crag becomes visible up on the left. Turn left underneath the larger lower quarry. Park here for the lower crag.

Be warned that there have been car break ins and thefts from here. The upper quarry and natural edge to its left are best reached by turning up the track leading out from the gravelled car park of the lower quarry. The best way to reach the quarries from each other is to walk along the top of hill on which the crags are situated.

If on the train, stop at Abercynon. If stopping at Abercynon South walk 100m up the track to Abercynon North. Turn left on exiting the station, and left again under a bridge where there is a T-junction. Turn left, and walk up to the first proper right hand turning into an estate. Walk up this road until it is possible to take a left hand turn up a bumpy track past a farm/garage. Walk up this road for ½ mile to a left hand fork just before a bridge over a dual carriageway. Take the left-hand fork, and walk down this to the crag (½ mile). The approach time is about 30 minutes.


THE ROUTES

Lower Quarry

There is an excellent video guide available of the Lower Quarry [HERE].

Left Wall

The left wall is a popular spot, being plumb vertical on good rock and almost permanently dry.

Climber on Bluster.


  1. As it Was VS 4b
    Old school as it was complete with gate hinges,scrap iron and scaffold pipe Lower off, climb the first short wall on the left. 8m.

  2. Kabuto Mushi - Fr. 6a+
    The small wall to the right. 9m.

  3. Yikes - Fr. 6b+
    Short and fingery. 9m.

  4. So Uncool - Fr. 6c *
    Right of a sharp little arete is a wall bisected by a diagonal ramp. Fingery and cruxy with poorly positioned bolts. 12m.

  5. Just Hanging Around - E1, 5b *
    The excellent trad crack in the centre of the wall. Use the BB of So Uncool. 12m.

  6. Bluster - Fr. 6b *
    The first of two fingery and ever-dry climbs with a shared lower off. 14m.

  7. Fluster - Fr. 6b *
    Bluster's sister route. Shared lower off. 14m.

  8. Marlin On The Wall - Fr. 6a+ *
    A much better than first appearances suggest. From the banking follow the BRs past an industrial strength poker. 14m.

  9. Don't Blame Me Fr. 6b
    To the right of Marlin. Climb direct on edges and incuts to a mallion lower off. 14m.

  10. Sumo No Shiro - Fr. 6b+
    The dirty looking wall is not without interest. . Climb up to the green cave at 9m and pass the lip with some trepidation, before bombing up the wall to a BB. 15m.

    Climber on Shackles of Love.

Main Wall

The left hand side of the main wall has received a highly productive Roy Thomas face lift. The first three routes are centred around the big cave.

  1. Canine League - Fr. 6a+
    Climb the wall just right of the large corner to a big ledge. Continue directly to an exciting flake and finish directly over the roof, using a handy borehole. 17m.

  2. Sleeping Dogs Lie - Fr. 6b+ *
    Follow the huge handrail out to the lip of the first roof. Amble up the dirty wall to the right hand end of the roof. Swing round the roof to a shelf. 18m.

  3. Don't Bark Yet - Fr. 7a
    The new line right of Sleeping Dogs Lie. Hard move pulling out of the cave onto the head wall. 18m.

  4. Smack My Bitch Up - Fr. 6b+
    Start at the 3 bolts in the right wall of the cave finish on shared belay. 17m.

  5. Generation Bitch Fr. 6b
    Start as for Generation Gap at the 2nd bolt pass the bulge and headwall as for the top part of Smack My Bitch Up to the shared lower off. 17m.

    Crispin on Land of Dinosaurs.
  6. Generation Gap - Fr. 5+
    Mostly supersceeded by retro bolted variants. 17m.

  7. Mr. Farady - Fr. 6a
    The original line now fully bolted takes the jammimng crack then the groove above.The easiest warm up is to combine the first part of Generation Gap then step right into the groove at Fr 5.17m

  8. Poker In The Eye - Fr. 6a+ **
    There is a series of stepped roofs, with someone’s GCSE metalwork project (they failed!) hammered into it just to the right of the start of Mr. Farady. Climb directly through the overlaps and follow more BRs up to a BB. 17m.

  9. Grout Expectations - Fr. 6a
    The roof and groove right again. 17m.

  10. Shackles Of Love - Fr. 6a
    A similar line to the right.Stick clip may be required by the faint hearted. 17m.

  11. The Frightening Looking Flake - E2, 5c
    Obvious, according to the first ascensionist ‘It’s more of a bag than a route’.Cleaned and reascended recently 18m.

  12. Ring Of Confidence Fr. 6b *
    Formerly a poorly protected frightener, now a good route which is tough for the grade. The ‘stuck on flake’ down to the right of The Frightening Looking Flake is followed to a ledge. Interest is maintained on the upper slab. 18m.

  13. Get Flossed - Fr. 7a+
    Desperate start leads to easier climbing, finish up 'Ring of Confidence'. 17m.

    Many of the harder routes from Loctite to Pleasant Valley Sunday have lost holds in the past few years creating slightly harder propositions than in the past. The grades are being reassessed and hopefully a consensus will be reached after a few more ascents.

  14. Loctite - Fr. 7b / 7b+ *
    Right of Get Flossed wall is a blank-looking wall with a pillar above. Make a very difficult pull up on micro edges to eventually gain the ledge and follow the tower above, BB. The hardest technical move at the Gap. 17m.

  15. Land Of The Dinosaurs - Fr. 6b
    Up the cracks to the right to a chain at 15m, or better, continue slightly left from the BB to finish up 'Loctite' at Fr.6c. 17m.

  16. A Momentary Lapse Of Reason - Fr. 7b+ / 7c *
    A controversial route, currently without a finish. Climb the slim wall right of Land Of The Dinosaurs, sustained and fingery, to a (missing spike) ledge and rest. Move up to the roof, and make an awkward move on big slopers to a staple above the roof. Used to avoid the roof by going round to the left and really needs a proper finish, which is thought to be more like Fr.8a. 17m.

  17. Rattle Those Tusks - Fr. 6b **
    The second big crack and roof. Probably the best Fr.6's at 'The Gap'. The tusk sadly met its demise in late 1994. 18m.

    Olivier climbing Rattle those Tusks. Lower Quarry, The Gap. Photo, Mark Salter
  18. Mad At The Sun - Fr. 7c / 7c+ **
    Climb the corner right of Rattle Those Tusks to a small roof. From here, make a very intricate sequence of moves out left to a good two finger hold (crux). Move up and left to a slot, then follow the much easier upper wall to a rest below the roof. More hard moves through the roof lead to the BB. 20m.

  19. Leave It To Me Fr. 6c
    A new route in between Mad at the Sun & Salmon Running, Bear Cunning. Once a `Big gun show start' (until a lower bolt added), there is fine climbing above to be had using the corner, crack and adjacent left wall. Don't stray onto the right face until the head wall is reached. 14m.

  20. Salmon Running, Bear Cunning - Fr. 7a *
    Right side of the arete, to a staple lower off. 18m.

  21. John West - Fr. 7b
    Follow Salmon Running, Bear Cunning past its new BB to the top (rusty looking) chain via a very fingery move. 20m.

  22. Anything You Can Do - Fr. 7b *
    To the right of the arete a line of BRs goes up past some shot holes, with some seepage generally present in the first 6m. The move through the thin roof at 11m is hard as is the headwall. Land up on a ledge and either walk over to the BR on Salmon Running or do the direct finish. 15m.

  23. I Can Do Better - Fr. 7b *
    A more logical, but quite nasty direct finish to 'Anything You Can Do'. Feels insecure although is reasonable for the grade (6a). Touch the top of the crag. 20m.

  24. Encore! Magnifique! - Fr. 7b / 7b+ ***
    An excellent route with reasonable holds throughout, in fact, contrary to the majority of the routes hereabouts, it may have become a little easier with the recent increase of traffic. Climb straight up to the left-hand side of a strip roof at 5m, hand traverse to its right-hand end and make a strenuous lock to gain better holds and a shot hole. From good jugs at the 3rd staple, make tricky moves left or right, then tackle the undercut flake to pockets, edges and the top. Drop back down onto the belay from the top. 21m.

  25. Pleasant Valley Sunday - Fr. 7b **
    Climb the wall left of the obvious arete at the right-hand side of the main wall. If lanky, make a big stretch from the square pockets to big jugs. If normal make a tricky cross through out left to a short groove, this is entered and exited with extreme difficulty. Continue directly to the lower off chain. 18m.

  26. One Track Mind - Fr. 7a *
    The impressive right-hand arete of the main wall climbed on its right. 18m.

  27. Traverse - E3,6a
    For people who have done everything. Start up Ring Of Confidence, then hand traverse the ledge clipping various bits of in situ gear. Continue in the same line into Land Of the Dinosaurs, then move right onto an incut edge on A Momentary Lapse of Reason, which is followed to the iron spike and big sloper. Step right and down to the TR on Rattle Those Tusks, then move across and up the easy section of Mad At The Sun. Pull worryingly up onto the ledge at the top of the Salmon Running, Bear Cunning arete, clip the BR above, then walk across (with serious rope drag) to the finish of I Can Do Better, BB. 35m

    Laura Jones on Salmon Running, Bear Cunning. Lower Quarry, The Gap. Photo, Mark Salter

Right Hand Walls

The centre of the wall just to the right of the arete contains a single route.


  1. Greased Balls - Fr. 6c *
    The stapled wall is excellent. Avoid the temptation of following Rain and Tears above half height, it could get messy. Used to be a sandbag. 18m.

  2. Rain And Tears - E1, 5b
    The rarely done corner groove and crack, PR. 18m.

  3. Full Bag - E2, 5b
    A much better route than it looks (apparently!). Start up the groove right of the corner and head for the crack. PR, BB. 18m.

  4. Controlled Emission - Fr. 6b+ **
    A popular route and scene of an impressive rockfall over the 2010/2011 winter. Start right of the last groove at a faint upside down scoop taken by a line of staples. Follow this (crux) up and right to a ledge and finish up the fingery wall above to a BB out right. 18m.

  5. Sperm Wail - Fr. 7a+ *
    Recently reto-bolted but still a bit run out. 18m.

  6. Scrotum Oil - Fr. 6c *
    Good. Follow the right hand arete of the rectangular wall to a rest at the ledge, then follow the faint scoop to a BB at the top. 18m.

  7. Naked Truth - HVS, 5a
    The traditional crack to the right feels wobbly. 18m.

    Climber on Pick Up the Pieces.
  8. Has the Fat Lady Sung? - Fr. 6b
    The short wall leads to a ledge and shallow cave,pull out of this and proceed carefully up the wall.19m.

  9. Pick Up The Pieces - Fr. 6a+
    The wall and diagonal flake to the right. 18m.

Scoundrels Cave Area

The last area to be developed at The Gap. Perfect Scoundrels is good but the other filler routes are unlikely to become classics.

  1. Retro Butt In - HVS, 5a
    Start left of the obvious cave, and climb the corner, 2BRs until it is possible to step out right to a crack. PR, wires. Finish up this to the BB on the next route. 17m.

  2. Perfect Scoundrels - Fr. 6b+
    Start in the back of the cave and follow greasy jugs out to the lip. Pull up onto a flat ledge via an arete, TR, and follow the left-hand side of the arete to a BB. 15m.

  3. Butt Out - Fr. 5+ / 6a
    Start on the right side of the cave, climb past some dubious rock onto grassy ledge then up the head wall. 15m.

  4. Per Rectum - Fr. 4+
    Slab on right hand side of cave.Share bolts with next route. 7m.

  5. Stool Sample - Fr. 5
    Just left of the arete bounding the right-hand side of the lower quarry. 7m.

  6. As It Is - Fr. 5+
    A short route up the right side of arete. 6m.

  7. Turd Strangler - Fr. 6c
    Last but one route in the lower quarry. 8m.

  8. Dai Horrea - Fr. 6b
    The last route,some good moves. 7m.

The Edge

200m up to the right of the Lower Quarry is a series of natural sandstone buttresses, which become more continuous as the Upper Quarry is reached on the right. The first notable feature is a gully. The first route is situated on the stacked green blocks well to the left of the gully.


  1. Chapeau Verte VS 4c
    The centre of the stacked green(feminine hatted) blocks.8m.

  2. Blockbuster HVS,5a
    The centre of the blocks on the left side of the gully, taken more or less centrally.8m.

  3. Always A Molehill HVS,5b
    The left arete of the right side wall of the gully, climbed on the right throughout. PR near the top.6m.

  4. Once A Molehill HVS,5a
    The wall round to the right between two wide cracks.8m

  5. Personal Stash E3,6a *
    Left arete of the front face of the wall up a crack, then climb the arete direct(large Friend at top).9m

  6. Luddites E3,5c *
    The left-hand set of drilled PRs on the front face of the rectangular buttress.9m

  7. Livin' On A Prayer E6 6c*
    Up the middle,runners at 4m,serious slopy top out,no mats on first ascent.9m.

  8. Trouble At Mill E3,6a *
    The right-hand set of naughty drilled PRs defines this fingery route.9m.

  9. Then There Is A Mountain E3,6a
    Climb the wall left of the right arete of buttress to a finger jug at 6m. Make a hard move out to the right arete and finish up it. Unprotected, but with a reasonable landing.Mats weren't invented on first ascent.9m.

  10. Juggery Pokery 5m E1,6a
    A poor route over the centre of the roof on the short natural buttress round to the right Any deviation from the centremakes things considerably easier than 6a. A large sling is needed for protection.5m.

Round to the right is a more continuous wall, which runs into the Upper Quarry. Towards the left side of the wall is a wide crack (Old Dog).

  1. Thompson Bank Watch 6m E1,6a
    Scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Climb the narrow wall left of the wide crack without any deviation to either side.Very contrived. 2PRs.6m.

  2. Old Dog VS,4c
    The apparent offwidth is taken by a series of satisfying jug pulls.6m.

  3. New Tricks E1,5b
    Gain the arete to the right of Old Dog and follow it to a PR. Move slightly left to finish on good holds (poor Friend).8m.

  4. Tall Story E2,5b
    Start at the left end of the roof to the right, then undercut right the way round it. Poor gear.12m.

  5. In Over My Head E3,6b *
    Spectacular and committing. Start below the centre of the big roof on an uncomfortably tall boulder, PR. Climb past a PR (hard), to a rest on undercuts under the roof. Lean off a flake in the roof and hope that the PR is in good shape. This can be backed up with a Friend ½ and 1. Pull spectacularly up to finish. Throw a rope down the back of the roof to belay from the floor!11m.

  6. Mister Natural E2,5c
    To the right is a pod-like groove. Take this all the way up (harder than it looks) to an easier finish up the slab.12m.

  7. Surprise, Surprise E1,5c
    Immediately right is a blocky crack. Up this, PR, moving slightly left and up to a hidden flake. Move up and step back right to finish up a groove. 11.69m

  8. Audio Pornography E3,5c
    Start up the quarried wall to the right, PR. Finish directly up on natural holds (good Friends) to a sloping top out. Belay well back on a large boulder. 9m.

Steve Delaney trying to get gear in on Audio Pornography - E3,5c. Photo by Mark Davies

The Upper Quarry

Although it can be cold when windy there are some good routes that are shorter in height than their bigger cousins in the Lower Gap. Unless described otherwise the routes belay on the boulders set well back.


Upper Gap


  1. Gladwyn Tidings HS,4a
    The offwidth at the extreme left-hand side of the quarry. 8m.

  2. Newton’s Apple- Fr5 *
    A very popular route up the slab to the right. Sling around boulder at the top. 11m.

  3. Dirty Gerty VS,4c *
    The obvious rounded crack to the right. 12m.

  4. Acceleration Due To Gravity HVS,4c
    The thinner crack to the right. 12m.

  5. It’s A Sine Fr6a+
    The bolted slab right again, with a long rockover. Chain belay. 12m.

  6. Tangent E3,5c
    The slime infested and vegetated corner to the right. A PR may or may not be in situ. 12m.

  7. Scared Seal Banter Fr7a+
    The wall right of the corner is awkward to on-sight. BB. 14m.

  8. The Mastic Mick Fr6c
    Climb directly up onto the jug above an overlap and left of the central offwidth of the quarry. Make a stiff pull up to a big pocket, then finish quite easily up the headwall. BB. 14m.

  9. Cled’s Crack HVS,5a

    Rubbish climbing on big loose jugs up the central off-width of the quarry. Much easier than it looks. Belay on boulders set well back. 14m.

  10. The Grout Of San Romano Fr6c **
    Sandstone’s first polished route! The wall right of the offwidth has a hard start, with interest well maintained above. 12m.

  11. Brush Up - HVS,5a
    The corner to the right. 12m

  12. Step Up - E1,5a
    The slab right of the corner, via a thin crack. Large Friend low down and PR. 12m

  13. The Godfather - Fr. 6a *
    The right arete of the quarry. Gain the shelf on its right and teeter up. Swing left and finish up the arete. 12m

  14. Up Yours - Fr. 5+ **
    The arete 3m right again is a superb jug trip, 2PRs. 11m

  15. Smoothie - HVS,5c
    A trivial problem up the front of the wall to the right. PR. 6

  16. Windy Edge - E1,5b *
    Good. The last arete just round to the right from the quarry, PR. Check out the scenic views down and right. 8m

  17. Mortar Life - Fr.4+
    The short wall immediately right. 8m

  18. Shorter Life - Fr.4+
    The short wall passing the twig.

  19. O Solo Mio - HVS,5b
    Directly facing Windy Edge on the other side of the gap that gives the crag its name, is a short, square buttress. On the left-hand side of its main face is a thin crack, defining this route. 8m

  20. Chips With Everything - E1,5c
    A double helping up the wall right of O Solo Mio, PR. 8m

Upper Gap - Right Outcrop

FIRST ASCENTS

Lower Quarry


Left Wall


1. R.Thomas 00.00.1994

2. R.Thomas, E.Travers-Jones, A.Japanese 00.00.1993

3. M.Crocker, R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 25.03.1990

4. G.Gibson, R.Thomas 06.02.1993

5. R.Thomas, G.Royle 00.00.1990

6. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

7. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

8. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

9. Matt Hirst 0000

10. R.Thomas, E.Travers-Jones, A.Japanese 00.00.1993


Main Wall


1. R.Thomas, S.Coles 22.09.1994

2. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

3. Matt Hirst

4. R. Thomas

5. Roy Thomas 0000

6. G.Royle, R.Thomas 00.00.1993

7. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

8. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

9. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

10. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

11. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

12. R.Thomas 00.00.1993

13. G.Gibson 18.06.1994

14. A.Sharp, P.Lewis 15.07.1989

15. R.Thomas, G.Davies, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

16. T.Foster, P.Harding 00.06.1989

17. R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

18. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 08.04.1990

19. Matt Hirst 0000

20. P.Lewis, A.Sharp 17.06.1990

20A. E.Travers-Jones 00.00.1992

21. A.Sharp, P.Lewis 17.04.1990

21A. G.Gibson, R.Thomas 28.06.1992

22. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 25.03.1990

23. A.Sharp, P.Lewis 18.07.1989

24. A.Sharp, P.Lewis 11.07.1989

Traverse - C.Evans 04.08.1994


Right Hand Walls


1. R.Thomas 00.00.1994

2. R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

3. R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

4. P.Donnithorne, E.Alsford 00.00.1993

5. M.Crocker, R.Thomas 11.04.1990

6. R.Thomas 00.00.1994

7. R.Thomas, G.Gibson 12.08.1990

8. R.Thomas 00.00.2009

9. R.Thomas 00.00.1991

Scoundrels Cave Area


1. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

2. T.Penning, P.Lewis, A.Sharp 00.00.1990

G.Gibson - Direct 18.06.1994

3.R.Thomas

4. R.Thomas 00.00.1994

5.Nick O'Neill

6.R.Thomas

7.Matt Hirst

8.R.Thomas


The Edge


1. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

2. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

3. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

4. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

5. D.Meek 00.00.1985

6. M.Learoyd 00.05.1992

7. Morgan Preecey

8. M.Learoyd 00.05.1992

9. M.Crocker 04.03.1990

10. D.Viggars, P.Donnithorne 06.06.1991

11. Gwent MC 00.00.1995

12. R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

13. R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

12. P.Thomas, T.Hall 00.00.1987

14. M.Learoyd, R.Thomas 00.00.1990

15. R.Thomas, M.Crocker, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

16. M.Learoyd, R.Thomas 00.00.1990

17. M.Crocker, M.Learoyd 04.03.1990


The Upper Quarry


1. Gwent MC 00.00.1995

2. R.Thomas, G.Royle 00.00.1990

3. G.Royle, J.Bullock, R.Thomas, Mick Learoyd 00.00.1990

4. G.Royle, J.Bullock, R.Thomas,Mick Learoyd 00.00.1990

5. R.Thomas 05.05.1995

6. P.Thomas 00.00.1988

7. M.Crocker, R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 04.03.1990

8. M.Crocker, M.Learoyd 04.03.1990

9. P.Thomas, T.Hall 00.00.1987

10. M.Crocker 04.03.1990

11. R.Thomas, G.Royle, 00.00.1990

12. M.Learoyd, R.Thomas 00.00.1990

13. G.Lewis, H.Griffiths 00.00.1990

14. R.Thomas, M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

15. M.Learoyd, J.Bright, G.Royle,R.Thomas 00.00.1990

16. M.Learoyd, R.Thomas 00.00.1990

17. R.Thomas 00.00.1992

18. R Thomas (solo) 00.00.2004

19. M.Learoyd 00.00.1990

20. M.Learoyd 00.00.1994