The hillside between the Fachwen road and Clwt y Bont is dotted with obscure bouldering possibilities which have been variously exploited by different generations of climbers. The forthcoming NWB 2nd edition guidebook will detail this in greater detail but for now here are some snippets to tempt the curious.
First stop should be the Willow boulder Ė to reach this follow these instructions: Walk round to the back road in Clwt y Bont crossing the bridge over the river as you go (this is at the bottom end). Walk up the road for 100m then turn right between two isolated houses and follow the track/signposted footpath past a gate. The track snakes about before bending rightwards past the front of a farm. Continue round for a few hundred metres to a derelict house close to the densely wooded hillside. Walk along in front of the house and follow the wall into the open area on the left. A distinctive undercut block stands at the back edge of the open area.
The left arÍte is Matís ArÍte, 5C from standing and 6B from sitting. Willow is the obvious line to the right; 5C from standing and 6B+ from sitting with hands matched on the positive flake. Both sit down starts can be extended with traverses adding a half grade. The first known ascents of the sit down starts were done by Mat Smith in 2008, but the stand ups were undoubtedly done many moons ago.
Next point of interest hereabouts is Witchís Crag (grid ref: 56946 62393) which sits hidden in the wooded hillside over to the right. To reach it follow the wall up and to the right for about 100m until the wall can carefully crossed at a low point by an old broken fence post. From here a vague path leads 50m back up left to the crag which is just visible from the wall crossing.
This crag was first climbed on in the early 70s, with a few of the more obvious highball lines being climbed by Henry Barber and Rab Carrington. Despite this early flurry of activity it never really caught on and was soon forgotten. In 2010 Calum Muskett took Johnny Dawes there and showed him a highball/micro route that he had desires upon. After tiring himself out cleaning and working the route Calum felt too flaky for the solo ascent. Despite not having any pads with them Johnny went for it and completed the line. Fired up by Johnnyís effort, Calum then summoned the energy for a successful ascent. The rather aptly, Schoolboy Error climbs up at the right side of the overlap on the upper wall, and follows the leftward slanting line. It rates E5 6c in old money, or 7A+! for a padded ascent.
The lads also tried a direct start and the obvious line past the pocket to the right. The latter was subsequently top roped by Gav Foster and Si Panton, but they didnít bother with an unroped ascent as it proved to be very eliminate in nature. (Calum did nip back and do this at a 'blinkers-on 7A+!). Si did get close to doing the right-to-left traverse of the wall but slipped off at the bottom of the left hand groove.
More recently Si gave Glyn Hudson the Fachwen NWB guidebook script and suggested he go and take a look around (Glyn lives in Brynrefail so this is sort of his back garden). Glyn promptly flashed Schoolboy Traverse 7A+, opting for the dirty finish up the groove. Others may sensibly prefer the low leftwards finish to jugs at the left side of the wall. Luke Brooks was straight in for a repeat of the traverse.
Hereís a rather dark film of Si on the traverse.
Schoolboy Error Traverse from Simon Panton on Vimeo.