The ultimate urban crag, steeped in history and adventure: few other cities can boast such a climbing asset! It really is in the heart of Bristol, a short walk from the centre, cliffs dropping from the open parkland of the Downs to the river Avon below. The city is invisible from the climbs, but unfortunately the A4 is not.
Love it or hate it, this is the reality of urban climbing: you pay for the convenience with traffic noise and communication difficulties (except for the few days every year that they close the road).
Delicate, technical and bold characterises the climbing at Avon gorge. It's a common complaint that "all the holds face the wrong way", and talk of "typical Avon weirdness" is not uncommon. True, it does take a bit of getting used to, but once you do it flows. There is a paucity of strong, natural lines on the quarried limestone faces of the gorge, and a lot of the routes follow much more subtle features: difficult to pick out from the ground but making perfect sense once you're up there.
The rock is quarried limestone, mainly sound but care must always be taken. It seems that no amount of time or number of ascents will rid the walls entirely of their loose holds. A strong trad ethic presides, and bolts are few and far between. Old, rusting pitons provide the sole protection (psychological or otherwise) on many of the routes, and the current like-for-like fixed gear policy ensures that they are never going to be replaced by bolts. However, there is a big movement to replace the mankiest pitons with shiny new stainless steel ones.
15 minutes from the city centre, across Clifton and the Downs. There are footpaths/roads running across the top of the cliff and climbers paths descending at various points. Once at the bottom of the cliffs, no area is more than 15 minutes walk from any other
There is a small parking area just off the A4 at the base of the Sea Walls, maybe accommodating 15-20 vehicles. This is a busy road so it is easier to pull in if approaching from the North West. Other, even smaller areas can be found at various points on the A4, all on the same side of the road. Alternative parking can be found at the top of the cliff on Circular Road, though parking restrictions apply at most times. Use any of the climbers paths to descend from here.
There are now three guidebooks covering this area: the Climbers' Club definitive guide Avon and Cheddar, the Rockfax select guide West Country Climbs, and the new Climber's Club select guide South West Climbs (volume 1).
The former is the definitive guide, and covers all the routes up to 1992, while the latter two are select guides, with less coverage. However, they do have better topos and clearer descriptions and contain more than enough routes for the occasional visitor, and will keep the keen local climber busy for a good couple of years.
19 Total Routes
['4 Stars',7],['3 Stars',8],['2 Stars',3],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]
Featured Route For Avon Gorge
Hell Gates 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c Europe
: United Kingdom
: ... : Suspension Bridge Buttress
The route begins a few metres left of a prominent, left-leaning crack. Head towards an obvious cave about 65 feet up, best visible from the ground a little way back from the cliff. Pitches one and two are often run together - maybe a good idea to prevent a high-factor fall on the difficult moves out of the cave.P1: From the start, climb up the face to meet the crack, below a steeper bulge. Pull through the bulge, past a thread to gain the cave, and belay here. Remember to take a pen to sign the...[more] Browse More Classics in International
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