By James Squire
Bristol and the surrounding areas of Somerset and Gloucester are defiantly not known for their famous or vast bouldering areas. However if you look closely you will find a wide range of excellent problems that are fun and classic lines. There are a great number of quality crags hidden away in coastal coves and on quiet hillsides, making for a perfect day out or for a quick evening session. I’m sure a lot of people will have their own favourites but here are my own recommendations.
Golden Bicep 6B+ – Huntsham
(0:42 for Golden Biceps) A sandstone, slopey and slappy classic which would be at home in Fontainebleau. This classic mid-6 is worthy of fighting through the overgrown path to get to. It’s best to wear trousers and go in winter to avoid a full-jungle experience. The sit down start goes at 6C.
Starboard Traverse 7A+ – Ladye Bay
Ladye Bay is perfect for an evening session in the sun. This traverse is hard for the grade and a great problem to work. There are many other easier problems here with flat landings for beginners or for people with families.
The Bulge 7A – Biblins Cave
Described by many as a world class style boulder problem, ‘The Bulge’ fires straight up the bulge (no surprises there) on the left hand side of Biblins Cave. This crag classic and involves powerful and steep moves on good holds and a jump to a good jug for a dramatic conclusion.
Tombstone 7C – Cheddar
Thought Cheddar was just route climbing and tourists? Think again. A superb and more recent addition from Ben West, positioned spectacularly, high above the road. A series of overhanging, fridge hugging movements is sure to leave a smile on your face at the top!
The Prow 7C – Sand Point
A nice walk through the National Trust meadow and over the hill leads to a hidden cove with a stunning, overhanging prow and nice top out. Great for hot days in the summer as the cove is well shaded for us climbers and the beach is nice and sunny to relax on afterwards. You can also retreat to Weston Super Mare down the road to pick up a post session Fish and Chips!
The Arête Problem 7A – Avon Gorge Sea Walls
If you’re a boulderer in Bristol and you haven’t tried The Arête Problem then you’re not a boulderer in Bristol. This old school boulder problem is only 10 minutes from the city centre and with a 5 second walk in they don’t come much more convenient. The technical and frustrating moves are sure to keep you busy and trying hard, with a good view of the Suspension Bridge behind you.
Bowl Rim 6A+ – HuntshamA classic looking layback arête, which is surprisingly tricky until you work out how to climb it. Make sure to enjoy the view from the top, as well as the bottom, and maybe halfway if you can.
Godzilla 8A/+ – Biblins Cave
One of the most amazing lines I have climbed and the hardest in this area. A true test piece, tried by many but only completed by a few. From a stand start in the centre of the dominating roof, really power through crimps finishing via a large move to a pinch and a crux match! The sit start is still a project and is estimated at font 8B… who will be the first to climb it?
100% pain 7A+ – Toll Road CragsA steep limestone roof tucked away in an impressive cave. First worked out and climbed by Hamish Potokar when he was only 14! Still remains a burly and impressive line.
Hunter’s Roof 8A – Huntsham
A recent addition to Bivi Buttress and one of Huntshams hardest. Possibly one of the best sandstone problems in the South West (although I would say that!). Make sure to bring some undercut strength and a few good power screams!