Blaenau’s premier bouldering venue has an interesting collection of problems found by the side of the dam road below Craig yr Wrysgan and Clogwyn yr Oen. There is a good spread of grades here, plus plenty of different styles of problem on offer, from highball arêtes to powerful roofs. The landings are generally quite good, even the ones in amongst the upper boulders are not too bad; nonetheless pads and spotters will be appreciated by most visitors.
Craig Peniel on the other side of town and up left of Chwarel Manod is also well worth a look. Here you will find a big impressive boulder with many steep test pieces and the classic 5C, This Way Inclined. There are also several excellent satellite problems within easy striking distance, including a good block in Chwarel Manod. This is a beautiful spot with a really peaceful ambience; the view of the surrounding landscape even includes a clear sight of the sea in the distant Cardigan Bay.
The rock is rough rhyolite, a touch flakey in places but generally sound. The landings are friendly and free of any significant bogginess.
A further minor area, known as The Sidings can be found close to the town centre at Grid ref 705 465. Here there are some good vertical faces and further on a boulder field.
These are both open, sunny venues with no significant seepage issues (apart from on one steep block). The exposed position ensures that they catch any wind that might pick up. This does make for quick drying rock and less midge-blighted evenings in the summer than might be expected, however it can be surprisingly cold up here in the winter.
From the small parking area for Cwm Orthin follow a path breaking off left from the Cwm Orthin track, cross the footbridge over the stream and continue over to join the private service road for Llyn Stwlan which runs across the hillside beneath Craig yr Wrysgan and Clogwyn yr Oen. The bouldering is located mostly on the boulders by the roadside but one of the best walls can be found by dropping down the first prominent incline for 30m. The Craig Peniel boulder is reached by walking up the old quarry incline left of Chwarel Manod.