Encore Magnifique (7b+), Encore Sector.
In many ways this is the premier crag of South East Wales sandstone. Sat high on a hill overlooking the A470 Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil road, it provides easy access, no more than five minutes from the car, open views and plenty (60) routes of all grades.
The cliff was initially developed by Andy Sharp, Pete Lewis and Tony Forster who tackled sections of the main wall in the first, and most major, quarry. Inevitably Martin Crocker and Roy Thomas got wind of the developments and took matters to the next stage with Crocker picking the major plums and Thomas snapping up the obvious easier lines with glee. Subsequent to this the cliff has had a few other lines added by a variety of people as well as the reappraisal of the in-situ equipment.
At the large roundabout on the A470 when travelling from Cardiff, turn right, signposted Ystrad Mynach (A4059) and at the next, smaller, roundabout turn left (A4054) into Quakers Yard. Upon entering the village, and just before a pelican crossing, take the first left via a narrow bridge over the river. From here the road ascends steeply through a built-up area until the A470 is recrossed. Take the first right immediately after this and after 1km the cliff will be seen on the left.
The majority of the routes take wall lines, the hardest a series of sustained moves on thin edges. There are plenty of routes in the lower 6’s of a similarly pleasant nature. There are also a number of excellent natural routes with a few cracklines and even a natural edge, somewhat gritstonesque, with a few bold offerings on rounded edges and aretes.
As the cliff is very open it dries relatively quickly, though does take seepage in the winter. Due to its open nature it is best avoided in windy or cold conditions which makes it the ideal spring and summer venue. The crag gets very little sunshine except first thing in the morning.
All of the routes that are to be rebolted have been. This has left a large number of quality routes although a few in the Anything You Can Do area still have an atmospheric air to them.
There are 61 routes: 5+ (1), 6a (1), 6a+ (2), 6b (8), 6b+ (5), 6c (4), 6c+ (1), 7a (1), 7a+ (3), 7b (2), 7b+ (2), 7c (1) and end with a few E2s, E3s and E5s on the traditional edge.
Which are the best routes?
There are many routes to choose from but here are a few for starters: So Uncool 6c* * a very pleasant wall: Sleeping Dogs 6b+ *** a superb wall and roof: Mad at the Sun 7c *** once thought to be the hardest on sandstone: Bear Running, Salmon Cunning 7a ** a vague arete and technical finish: Encore Magnifique 7b+ *** a brilliant sustained wall: Controlled Emission 6b+ ** a fine sustained wall: Scrotum Oil 6c ** similar to last route: Scared Seal Banter 7a+ *** a fine leaning wall: Up Yours E1 5b ** a photogenic arete.