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Mill on the first ascent of Yvain the Bastard (7B) screen grab from FA footage


A superb sandstone boulder has been developed west of Wrecsam. The Dids Boulder sits in the pine woods of Nant-y-Ffrith, just outside the village of Bwlchgwyn. It had been noticed by a few folk over the years but Ricky Walker and Chris Thomas gave it a clean in December 2016. Chris returned in May 2018 and climbed Green Sausages (5C), the obvious stand up line just left of the right arête.

In March 2021 Ben Lancelotte pointed the boulder out to Matthew ‘Mill’ Harland. Matty Lamb got involved too and the lads started working their way through the remaining obvious lines.

The boulder initially yielded a series of excellent problems between 5C and 6B+, but the challenge of moving out onto the hanging slab from the groove proved to be a tough nut to crack.

After many attempts it finally fell to Mill on April 3rd. Needless to say Yvain the Bastard (7B) requires good footwork and premium conditions.

1. Dagonet 6A
Start sitting at the right-hand end of the boulder and traverse along the lip until you reach Grail Trail. [Mill Harland]

2. Bors the Younger 5C
Start sitting with a large left-hand side pull and right-hand undercut. Work your way up through the bulge to mantel the top (reach for a good hold set back over the lip). [Matty Lamb]

3. Green Sausage sds 6B
The obvious stand up line scaling the flakes just left of the right arête. Start sitting using a high left-hand crimp on the arête and left heel/toe cam with the aid of a pebble under the roof for the right foot gain the jug and better holds on the stand. [Stand: Chris Thomas, sds: Mill Harland]

4. Grail Trail 6B+
Start sitting in the groove with a large left-hand hold and right-hand undercut. Work your way up the slab off a left back-hand hold and reach for a right-hand gaston to gain good holds up and left to reach for the top. [Matty Lamb]

5. Yvain the Bastard 7B
Start sitting as per Grail Trail, but immediately break out left for a good high side pull on the overhanging wall. Gain the crimped shelf on the lip and move on to small sloping crimps on the slab. Now with very tenuous foot holds and higher hand holds rock over on to the high slab with the aid of a left-hand mono to reach a ‘Thank God’ pebble, and finish with a satisfying top-out. [Mill Harland]

6. Percival 5C
From a stand start, with the left arête and features for the right-hand, use poor foot holds to gain the sloping lip and large crimped side pull. An airy finish using the arête leads to the top. [Mill Harland]

“There are also two obvious projects. The sit start to Percival (fridge hugging nastiness). And the arête left of Bors the Younger – the stand and especially the sds look NAILS!”

Said Mill, before adding:

”It’s an extremely fickle boulder when it comes to conditions as it is sheltered from both the sun and the wind. It can be damp or condensed for long periods, so please give it chance to dry as it is sand stone, and thus extra vulnerable to breakage.”

Approach: park by the ‘Aircrew Memorial’ at the top of the village of Bwlchgwyn. Head down Glascoed Road for about 200m until you reach a foot path on the left that leads on down through the woods, crossing forest roads to a bridge. Go over the bridge and head up the right track through a 5-bar gate (which may be missing due to forestry work)/stile. Now follow the left-hand forest road zig zagging under the same electric lines until you come to the block in the well-established wood.

Alternatively, from the 5 bar gate/stile: in front of you is a circle of Yew trees and along the front of this runs a footpath which leads steeply up into the forest and is also used as a bike track. This is strong going with pads, but the run leads straight up to the forest road where the block can be seen.

The boulder stands alone next to a wide forest track adjacent to a well-used local mountain bike track high in the forest but well before the summit of the hill. NB. Locally it is known as the ‘Elephant Boulder’ as it looks like head of an elephant pushing against a large stone.

Relevant links:
      Yvain the Bastard FA footage