The new central wales GUIDEBOOK

Information ~ Inspiration ~ Innovation

Stephanie Palmer powering up the crux of Pen Bilis' ''Chwarae 'fo Tan''  (HVS 4c), one of the many superb climbs on Ceredigion's hard sandstone sea cliffs. 

[ ©Don Sargeant]  



Between Pembrokeshire to the south and Cadair Idris to the north, the upland area of Elenydd extends across parts of the counties of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Powys in Central Wales. The innovative, new Central Wales- Elenydd climbing guidebook publishes, for the very first time, definitive coverage of Trad Climbing, Sport Climbing, Bouldering, Sea Level Traversing and Winter Climbing in Central Wales' Elenydd. 

Written by Doug Kerr and Dave Williams, two highly motivated local activists, supplemented by superb ground-breaking design and artwork by Don Sargeant, the renowned climbing photographer and guidebook designer, the myriad delights of the mountain crags, rocky outcrops, sea cliffs, and quarries of ‘Unknown Mid Wales’ are finally revealed. 

Of particular note are:

  • Ynys Lochtyn and Pen Bilis Trad: A major seacliff area composed of excellent hard sandstone. The tally of two dozen or so routes detailed in the 2013 Pembroke North  Climbers' Club guidebook has now increased to 160 trad climbs from D - E4.
  • Elan Valley Sport: Recent equipping of Craig Cnwch quarry has produced some worthwhile sport climbing at the original ‘forgotten Mid Wales’ trad venue; grades range from f5 - f7B.
  • Pumlumon Bouldering: The Hengwmannedd Boulders, to the north of Pumlumon, offer top quality bouldering up to f7A in a remote wilderness setting.
  • Borth Bouldering: Excellent problems up to f7B located right on the Cambrian Bay coast.

With a commitment to high standards of quality and accuracy, 620 routes and 240 boulder problems are detailed in the guide. Finding and following a route is now easy since every crag can be referenced on an area map, crags and climbing areas are colour coded, detailed photo-diagrams cover the crags and many small photo-topos identify the bouldering.

The guide is superbly laid out in an unusual, innovative landscape format. From a guidebook design perspective, this gives huge advantages for  the presentation of visual and written information, which works very well indeed, even for multi-pitch mountain crags.  

The high quality of Steep Stone’s research and writing, the striking design style and inspirational, full colour action photos make this a truly breathtaking, extremely innovative and highly informative climbing guidebook.




The innovative landscape orientation is a particularly effective way of presenting information. A landscape page has the advantage that its 3-column grid can efficiently allow for the many small topos that some climbing and bouldering venues require. At the same time photos of 1, 2, or 3 column width are large enough to provide inspiring action. Conventional landscape guides (spine along the short edge) have proven unpopular for their weaker construction and awkwardness on a bookshelf … hence Central Wales - Elenydd's rather unusual and slightly more robust layout.

Almost all modern climbing guidebooks are finished with either a ‘Perfect Binding’ (pages glued together) or ‘Thread Sewn’ binding (sewn & glued). Both these methods result in a much tighter gutter along the spine of the book than does the more expensive case-bound binding method, as used in traditional hard back books. Consequently artwork too close to the gutter is lost within this binding (a problem affecting many modern climbing guidebooks). Turning the page sideways allows more quality landscape photographs to bleed off the full page, while only ‘non essential’ parts of an image need extend to the gutter. This avoids the need for images to extend across a double page spread, often with less than satisfactory results.   


Don Sargeant 2018


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