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I do like a good girdle….Gallop Step, Snowdonia

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

How many routes do you know that start and finish on the ground below the crag?


There’s something quite nice about rocking up to a crag and not wondering how you get off the thing, although when I did this route for the 1st time the bed of nettles at the end provided a fierce battle to regain terra firma! Gallop Step on Clogwyn Bustach in Snowdonia is an adventure, a fairly short one, but with plenty to keep you amused. This line is striking and stands out clearly when you drive down the Gywnant valley, if you can take your eyes off the road and avoid the Arriva buses….

A traverse draws me in, it’s hard to explain, but I’d rather head left and right then go straight up, I’m sure the signals that get sent to my brains ‘Stress’ dept are less urgent and not so dramatic. I’ve done a fair few and Gallop Step had been on my radar for a while and so a few years ago and after a little jungle bashing to get there we stood below this fine chunk of rock with a pretty significant overhang across 3/4 of it, the line follows directly below this. Just because we could, we decided to do the route in reverse, on refection one of those choices that make you laugh about it later. Both pitches are of a similar grade, although the ‘step’ does require a ‘gallop’! The funny part was that I taken the first pitch and then by seconding the 2nd pitch that goes downhill I found myself leading down, even though I was following! Dave had thoughtfully only put in a couple of cams for himself and the idea of a very exciting swing at mach 10 into the ground was a tad worrying! Thankfully huge holds allowed me to not travel along this pathway of destiny! Then we found the nettles…but hell, the route is ace, good rock, holds where you need them, good gear, a little excitement going round the corner, a brilliant journey and I bet you won’t see another climber when you’re there….well apart from those Lockwood Chimney nutters!

Gallop Step, Snowdonia

A traverse draws me in, it’s hard to explain, but I’d rather head left and right then go straight up,


Climbed in 1956, you can see the attraction, with the main lines being cleaned up at Tremadog and the Pass, those folk starting to branch out looking for new bits of rock, it was only a matter to time before it got found.

Another little beauty that I first climbed over 16 years ago in a torrential storm is exactly that, a gem of a route. We were sat at Eric’s I think watching the rain lash the windows and we were desperate to climb - well I wasn’t …climbing in the rain is a rubbish idea! The guidebook mentions that the Hyll Drem Girdle is ‘especially suitable for a wet day because it is sheltered by big overhangs”…perfect! We were soaked just getting to the ‘large oak tree” but then bizarrely beyond it the rock was completely dry. It was going so well, we had a superb dry outing on the 1st 3 pitches, it was strange sat there watching a shower of vertical rain an arm’s length away, you could almost reach out and touch it. The rock was immaculate, the climbing positive in a pretty impressive position, everything above your head is overhanging, there are acres of old tat everywhere up there, so much history through extremely steep terrain. It translates as Forbidding Crag and it’s easy to see why!

Gallop Step, Snowdonia

Then we saw the last pitch, the book said ‘move up the slab on the left’ technically easy apart from the waterfall cascading down it. We abandoned that idea and decided on the more straight forward route to the abseil point - literally straight up. Having now done the slab numerous times now, that ‘straight up’ pitch wasn’t even type 2 fun! A proper good Joe Brown route, best done in the finest traditions of a really wet day!

Now don't get me started on the best traverse in North Wales, perhaps the UK, Dream…..

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