Climbing's back! Indoor walls have reopened! All of which is great news for those vertically-inclined among us. But with the weather tentatively becoming more beautiful each day, why not try one of the many outdoor locations the UK is gifted with? Areas of scenic beauty, notorious climber favourites where you must rethink your approach at each step and grip. So, squeeze into some obscenely tight shoes, dust off the chalk bag, and discover six great outdoor climbing spots to try this summer. We've tried to capture all abilities but let us know if you have any other suggestions!
Stanage Edge, Peak District
With views across the Hope Valley and Dark Peak moors, this Lake District location is very popular, and caters largely to those who have only just started outdoor rock climbing or bouldering, to the mid-level. Over four miles long, 20 metres high — if you end up (as so many of us do) in the Lake District this summer, don’t forget to give one of Stanage Edge’s 2000 gritstone routes a try.
Portland Bill, Dorset
Amongst the beautiful rock formations on the English Channel, climbing Portland Bill with the sea on the horizon (or on some routes, right beneath you) is unforgettable. The Red Crane area in particular includes wide limestone sea ledges that cater to all skill-levels, and some come with harness bolts for more extreme climbs.
Huntsman’s Leap, Pembrokeshire
Wales is full of top climbing locations, but this narrow, steep sided inlet is an unusual and thrilling climb. As the base is tidal, below you small waves thrash and conceal the start – making the experience all the more dramatic. This is a serious route, made for serious climbers only, requiring good gear placing skills and preparation.
One of the best winter climbing destinations on earth. Scotland’s magnificent Cairngorms cater to all levels, with fresh cracks and corners to enjoy composed of granite. Depending on the route you take, the strong wind can be a challenge. But for the majesty – and surprising accessibility of this park – it remains a favourite.
Almscliff Crag, Yorkshire
A haven for traditional climbing (where climbers bring the protective gear) and bouldering, sat atop a hill overlooking the Yorkshire countryside. Almscliff Crag is more of an intermediate climber’s choice, made with gritstone and composed of a number of fun technical challenges. The villages surrounding the area are charming, and include great post-climb pub lunches.
Harrison’s Rocks, East Sussex
Live in London, but want in on the fun? In nearby East Sussex, this sandstone outcrop has around 380 routes to try. Most have fixed rings for top roping, and bringing your own gear is prohibited. A taster for the more extreme locations in the U.K., Harrison’s Rocks is also a great place to meet new and intermediate climbers.
So there you have it. Another adventure list to tick-off. Six places up and down the country that offer outdoor climbing experiences that rival your favourite indoor gym. If we’ve missed any or you’ve enjoyed a few, please let us know. And as always, remember to protect your skin.