Climbing at Baggy Point Croyde
Baggy Point offers amazing views and has for many decades been the traditional venue for high quality slab climbing in the West Country.
Baggy has a lot of different areas on it. There are three main collections of slabs all of which face South. The walls between them are generally steeper and less pleasant.
The rock has layers of a type of hard sandstone and shale, so climbing the slabs of hard sandstone is fine, but climbing the shale layers, or climbing end on to the bedding planes of the rock could give you a more interesting excursion!
Starting from the north end of the point and working southwards:
Scrattling Zawn is the most northern part of Baggy. There are a pair of overlapping slabs, with a few routes on them. There is a very scary-looking HVS and VS, Chouinard’s Yard 1 & 2, which has almost no gear between them. There is also the “seacliff classic” of Scrattling Crack, one of the first seacliff routes in the country, which is a boot-jamming crack up the corner between the two slabs, and a few other routes. The steep walls overlooking this set of slabs contain a couple of unpleasant and loose-looking routes, including Egg, a “serious” route graded E1. Its a 3 pitch chimney.
Cheesegrater Cliff, whilst previously home only to routes likeDark Angel, an E5 “adventure” offwidth, and a route called Death on a Stick (E5 6a – “poor rock, poor protection, and a high crux make this a serious lead”), has recently seen some hard routes put up on it – apparently the lower half is sea-washed solid, and so 3 E7s now climb the wall, billed as modern wall climbs on continuously overhanging shale.
Access to Long Rock Slab means a scramble from the cliff top down an eroded dirt path. Given the big drops on either side, a fixed rope down this from the stake at the top is recommended. From there, you reach the top of the slab, and a big spike at the top of the obvious corner line (Urizen) provides an abseil point for accessing the climbing. The slab is tidal, more so towards the seaward end, but when there is no water around there is a ledge running along the base of the wall.
The abseil drops you right off by a couple of very nice routes.Shangri-La is a Hard Severe which crosses rightwards around the arête of the corner and then climbs up the crack in the face on big holds. Its a very nice introduction, and useful as the easiest escape route (its Severe after the first few moves).Urizen is the main cornerline and gets VS and a few stars. The crack to its left is the very nice Lost Horizons. Pat Littlejohn thinks it is HVS 5a, but for once he has overgraded.
Hard routes now start to appear. Soft Touch at E4 and Terrapinat E3, plus Slipstream and Last Testament at E5 and E6 respectively, are probably well worth a look if you can climb that kind of grade. They certainly look impressive from below, taking lines up seemingly blank sections of slab. Further left again areTwinkletoes and Undercracker, at VS and HVS, although Undercracker is improved by taking the crack at the top not the ramp (as described in South West Climbs and given E1). Further down, Pickpocket (HVS 5b) is supposed to be good. Doors of Perception at E1 is less popular because the gear is fiddly to place and then there’s Sting at VS which can be enjoyable.
Moving a little further South, there is Slab Cove, which has the Extreme Rock tick of Heart of the Sun on it. However, this once classic E2 is becoming more unstable, with a couple of rockfalls on this slab in recent times making it less frequented than previously. Pink Void at VS used to be a classic as well, but has apparently also deteriorated, which is a shame as it’s a very big slab with some big long routes on it. Somewhere around here, if you are so inclined, are some XS horror shows, one of which features the “Green Spider”, “Traverse of the Sods” and the “Exit creaks”.
The last main area of Baggy is Promontary Slab. You can walk along the top of this, and there are stakes in place to get you to the start of Kinkyboots and the Ben, Marion routes. For the others, you have to descend the gully and/or ridge in front of the slab at a very low tide. The slab is divided in two by a narrow zawn. The seaward section of slab has some starred Severe and HS routes such as Ben and Marion. The narrow zawn is the home of a most amusing move. The start of the route Kinkyboots involves falling across this zawn from one side to the other. It then traverses out onto the main slab, and finishes upwards – the guidebook makes this last pitch sound horrible, but apart from the last ten feet or so it is in fact a very pleasant bit of climbing.
Another route which can be done here is Kinky Cowboy. This route involves using the start pitch of Kinkyboots to get onto the slab at high tide, and then following the overlap traverse ofMidnight Cowboy to finish. The last pitch of Midnight Cowboy calls for a bit of care with some quite vegetated rock, but fortunately the climbing is very easy by that point. The belay at the top is amusing – there is no stake in place, but there is a convenient hollow on the far side of the promontary, which you can sit down in – with a body belay, and the friction of the rope running over the grass, you won’t be going anywhere. Gladiator,Sexilegs and Long Rock Eliminate are also routes supposedly worth doing on this slab, although since they start from the bottom you’ll need low tide for them.
As befits a fairly tidal crag, there are some traverses to keep you occupied once the sea is washing over the bottom. On the Promontary Slab there is Peeping Tom, a 2* E1 taking a lower level traverse (the top pitches of this slab are more vegetated, and hence the high level traverse is more appealing to the “adventurous botanist”). On Long Rock Slab there are 4 girdles at differing levels, with Fools Rush In at E1 getting the most stars and following the strongest natural line.
(N.B. reading this with a copy of South West Climbs may cause confusion – climbers messed up the names of the slabs for years, and only the current guidebook has corrected the naming so that climbers call the cliffs the same things as the coastguard does, which might be handy if you ever need them for anything)!