/ Where to climb in the UK?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
dagibbs - on 13 Feb 2013
A few friends and I are planning a trip to the UK to do some climbing this summer -- probably late July time frame, probably 1-2 weeks. We are moderate climbers -- probably not leading much harder than HVS-4C trad or 6a+ (French) sport. We're looking for recommendations on places to visit and climb at. We're also ok with top-roping stuff that is fun, accessible, but a bit harder than we might lead.

Currently on the list is some classic grit stone, probably Stanage.

Where else would you recommend us aiming for and climbing?
AlanLittle - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

> Currently on the list is some classic grit stone, probably Stanage.

In summer? Ugh. I suppose if you will only climb in the UK once then you have to do this, but gritstone is not at its best in summer - midges, poor friction - and the moderate stuff Stanage is (so I hear) polished & crowded these days. This would be something like going on a once in a lifetime trip climbing trip to the USA an choosing the Gunks over Yosemite.

(UKC gritstone fiends will howl at me now)

Depending on how experienced & confident you and your friends are at multipitch stuff and dealing with slightly awkward approaches & a bit of commitment, the other UK Climbing Thing besides gritstone that you absolutely must experience is sea cliff climbing. I gather there's a lot a relatively approachable stuff in North Pembroke, although I only went there once a long time ago.

Depending on how far you're pushing the boat out at HVS, the definitive photogenic ultra-classic sea cliff HVS to push the boat out on is A Dream Of White Horses at Gogarth. But really not a route you'd want to get into trouble on (which of course is part of its classicness)

Otherwise, and especially if you're ok on multipitch, in summer I would go for mountain routes in North Wales, the Lake District or Scotland over the Peak District every time. Torridon, on the NW coast of mainland Scotland, is one of the most beautiful places on earth and has fantastic climbing.

Moderate grade sport climbing in the UK tends to be deeply mediocre and, for a visitor, is only worth considering if a sport crag happens to be the only dry rock near where you are at the time. Which can happen: having a limited choice of nearby dry rock is also a prominent feature of British climbing. I assume you already knew that?
Trangia - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

http://www.talktalk.co.uk/travel/uk_breaks/features/uk-best-rock-climbing.html

To that list I would also add Cornwall with it's spectacular sea cliff granite climbing.
AlanLittle - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Trangia:

That's a pretty decent summary of the areas it covers, although mentioning Swanage, Portland & Northumberland and not mentioning Pembroke or the whole of the rest of the South West are odd choices.
Trangia - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

I agree. I've not seen a really comprehensive assessment! So much depends on the author's favourites and actual experience. I've been climbing for over 50 years and there are still areas of the UK I've never experienced.

I agree with the other poster's comments about grit. Whilst it's great if you're in the area it's mostly single pitch and hardly worth making a special trip to sample when there are so many better multi pitch venues to experience, but fine if single pitch is all you are interested in.
Bulls Crack - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:

In summer? Ugh.

Always makes me smile! Is it a modern myth that grit suddenly becomes awful in Summer. The routes are still the same and it's probably when most people go.

Anway

Cornwall and North Wales should be on the list
EeeByGum - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: Definitely go to Stanage, but if you have lots of time on your hands, head up to the likes of Kinder Downfall and Derwent Edge for a bit of solitude. Then up to Yorkshire (Crookrise / Rylstone) and maybe a bit of Limestone, before heading up to the Lakes or Northumberland.

I would love to do a climbing road trip of the UK, but just don't have any spare time for it. Enjoy!
si m - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:
depending on where you are going to be based north lancashire gives good acsess to the lake district north yorkshire and the peak district.All can be reached in 1-2 hours giving a veriety of climing and weather options.
Enty - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to AlanLittle)
>
> In summer? Ugh.
>
> Always makes me smile! Is it a modern myth that grit suddenly becomes awful in Summer. The routes are still the same and it's probably when most people go.
>
>

That's what I thought. Maybe if you have a 7b boulder project give it a swerve but for all the classic VS, HVS and E1's - awesome.

To the OP - 1/2 weeks? Think about The Peak District, Snowdonia, Pembroke and Devon/Cornwall.

E
Motown - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: North Wales seems a really good option. ALthough weather will always be hit or miss, there's so much variety in such smallish area. Llanberis, Tremadog and Gogarth can provide.

Cornish sea cliffs would give you a great other visit - Sennen would give amenable coastal granite and Bosigran for that multi-pitch experience.

I think everyone should do the Magical Mystery Tour at Berry Head too - an amazing DWS experience at that grade.
tlm - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

I'd put another vote in for Pembroke, especially if it is a nice summer.

Cornwall too, and North Wales.

The peak is very... tiny. I think the only reason it is quite so popular is because so many people live near there and therefore start to climb there. Where are you coming from?

If you only have 2 weeks, then I think I would pick a couple of areas, rather than spending all your time on driving around. What sort of accommodation are you staying in? It might be best to have a flexible plan, so that you can pick the places where it isn't raining when it comes to it...
The Ex-Engineer - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: I'd say it would also depends a fair bit on logistics and cost as there is no shortage of amazing destinations.

Are you flying into the UK? if so, which airport?
Will you have a car?
Have you enough money to drive long distances? [We have the most expensive fuel in the world!]
Will you be camping or looking for some sort of accommodation?

There is stunning climbing all across the UK, but it makes no sense to drive 300 miles to an amazing crag when there is another equally amazing crag only 50 miles away.

FWIW, the British Mountaineering Council hold their International Climbing Meets in two locations - Cornwall and North Wales. I would put one or other very high up your list.
Ramblin dave - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to tlm:
> (In reply to dagibbs)
>
> I'd put another vote in for Pembroke, especially if it is a nice summer.
>
> Cornwall too, and North Wales.

All of those are good shouts. Although one downside of Cornwall is that it'll add quite a lot of driving time if you're going to take in anywhere much else. North Wales is a really good option because there's such a variety there - from slate to Gogarth to Lliwedd to Cromlech, and a lot of it is, in different ways, very characteristically British climbing with a lot of history.

> The peak is very... tiny. I think the only reason it is quite so popular is because so many people live near there and therefore start to climb there.

It's enjoyable climbing. Size isn't the only measure of quality - a lot of people will drive a long way to get to Font, for instance! I'd say it's worth spending a day or two on grit - Stanage and the Roaches being the obvious options - if only because of the history and the importance to the British climbing mythology. Also it's important to have an answer when people ask what you've done on grit.

> It might be best to have a flexible plan, so that you can pick the places where it isn't raining when it comes to it...

This is very true.

Also, I'm surprised noone's turned up yet to say that you should spend the whole trip in the Highlands, which is sort of a valid point. Although I guess it'll be midge season.
Monk - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

People have mentioned lots of good areas to visit, and I'd agree with many of them. However, the biggest thing to be aware of when visiting the UK is the weather. It's best to stay flexible if you only have a couple of weeks. There's no point sitting in the rain in North Wales if the sun is shining in Pembroke or the Peak District (and vice versa).
Tom V - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to AlanLittle:


Ha ha ha!

You warn dagibbs that the midges can be a problem on gritstone in summer then go on to suggest that he should visit Torridon.

Ha ha ha ha ha!
tom_in_edinburgh - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

Have a look at a map of the UK and notice where the mountains are: Glencoe, Glen Nevis, Skye. That's where to go climbing. They won't get as many mentions as places further south because they are an awful long drive from the big cities in England but they are on a whole different scale.
Mark Collins - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Tom V:
> (In reply to AlanLittle)
>
>
> Ha ha ha!
>
> You warn dagibbs that the midges can be a problem on gritstone in summer then go on to suggest that he should visit Torridon.
>
> Ha ha ha ha ha!

I'm with Alan on this one. Once you get off the deck, a bit of a breeze and the drop in temperature soon gets rid of the midges, so mountain routes in Torridon are totally appropriate. However, if you're also going to be camping there then things can be difficult. I can also confirm that midges are a problem on gritstone such as Stanage in summer. That said, some joy maybe had on Kinder and the other higher remoter gritstone crags.
AlanLittle - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Mark Collins:

Quite. I've been midged *whilst actually climbing* a lot worse on grit than I ever have in Scotland. I concede that whilst camping can be a quite different story.

I can also see that grit is culturally central to the British climbing experience and should should be on the to-do list for a one time visit. But Stanage in summer still wouldn't be at the top of my list. If the weather's good, Kinder North or Shining Clough or somewhere like that. But even then, not really because if the weather's good enough for them, it's probably good enough for Cloggy or Scafell.

As others have said, a lot depends on the weather, and availability of a hire car / petrol money.
alooker - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: North Wales and Grit! North Wales will give you a big variety in rock types and styles of climbing and Grit is, well, classic UK single pitch!

Go to stanage for a day in summer to get it out of your system, if you want a few more days there then fine but also check out the other edges around there.

Best advice is probably to keep it flexible and follow the weather, you'll make the most of your time that way.
benallan on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: You've got to do grit, so yeah Stanage, but go to Froggatt as well, some really good routes around your grade, also Millstone is awesome, and a days toproping on the hard-grit classics at Burbage or Curbar.

You've also got to do North Wales, base yourself in Llanberis, and have a week on the mountain crags, and have a go on the slate.

For more multi-pitch head to the Lake District, a few days camping and climbing on Scafell, Esk buttress, Great Gable, and Pillar rock.

As already mentioned, the sea cliffs are a must do aswell, either North Wales or/and Cornwall and Devon.

Scotland!! Do something on Buachaille Etive Mor, a route or two on Ben Nevis, a few days on Skye, and how about the Old Man of Hoy?

And the hidden gem of the UK - Northumberland sandstone...


this may take more than 1-2 weeks though!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Jon Stewart - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Bulls Crack:
> (In reply to AlanLittle)
>
> In summer? Ugh.
>
> Always makes me smile! Is it a modern myth that grit suddenly becomes awful in Summer. The routes are still the same and it's probably when most people go.

If the midges are out I would rather be in Horseshoe quarry than on grit. But on a nice day with a cool breeze of course, it's great.

Tbh, I think gritstone is wildly overrated as a "must visit" destination, and with midges it's a definite "don't bother". Personally I wouldn't go to Scotland either in July, as a perfect day (the one on the trip when it doesn't rain) can be rendered appalling torture by the flying, biting pestilence.

I'd go to sea-cliffs at that time. Gogarth is challenging and not a lot of choice below the E-grades, but is brilliant. Pembroke and Cornwall are both more amenable and are both excellent.

I think if it were me, I'd go to the South West as there's lots of different crags, many without access issues, some amazing challenging/serious routes (that traverse on Carn Gowler looks like a bit of a trip at HVS) and plenty of accessible stuff. I would say that Saxon, Kenidjack is unmissable, that HVS in the Great Zawn (with the dreadful exit pitch) is a real experience, lovely single pitch routes at Carn Barra, The Smile (soft for E1, HVS would be fine) at Sharpnose. So many big, brilliant, memorable routes in amazing settings, midge free, good weather...great summer holiday. About a million times better than midgey gritstone.
Nick Russell on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> Also it's important to have an answer when people ask what you've done on grit.

This point is not to be underestimated if you want to be taken seriously by British climbers...
a lakeland climber on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

On the (very big) assumption that you get fine weather for the whole of your stay then I'd look at getting a feel of what's different/special about climbing in the UK. I wouldn't bother with sport climbing at the grade you mention - there aren't a huge number of quality sports routes in the UK below 6c/7a, there are a few but generally the routes are pretty poor and you'd be better spending your time elsewhere.

It's worth getting hold of Ken Wilson's books - Classic Rock and Hard Rock for inspiration. They are quite old now but have a good selection of routes from around the country. Hard Rock does include a routes above the level you indicate but there are enough to keep you going.

Sea cliff climbing isn't that common around the world so I'd look at getting some of that done, Cornwall would be your best bet for this, there is also Pembroke and Gogarth which while excellent are quite committing if you aren't used to the sea.

I'd only spend a couple of days on grit. Stanage is the obvious choice, Froggatt is getting a bit polished these days so second day might be Brimham which is a neat place to go to anyway.

Visiting crags like Cloggy, Scafell and the Buachaille should be on your list though these are very weather dependent. Despite being mountain crags they aren't too far from the road, about an hour or so.

HTH

ALC

David Rose - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: I would not make any decisions until just before you arrive, because so much will depend on the weather. The truth is, if it's a dry summer (and by heavens we are surely due for one) then I would seriously consider spending all your time in Scotland. If you can climb VS or HVS trad amazing experiences will be available in the Cuillin, on Ben Nevis, in Glencoe, the Cairngorms and the NW highlands. With the best will the in the world, a route such as Centurion or a complete ascentn of the Cioch face of Sron na Ciche, perhaps linking Cioch Grooves, something on the middle tier and then Integrity, followed by topping out on the summit of a great mountain with a view of a deep blue sea and the islands, is going to be a more rewarding and memorable experience than struggling up Mississippi Buttress at Stanage. And if it really is dry (!) then the midges will not be so bad.

However, it may not be a dry summer at all. In this case, venues such as Pembroke and west Cornwall (both of which dry very quickly) will be the places to head for, and if after you've done a bit there the wether is improving, then you could head to Snowdonia or the Lake District.

So be flexible. Then you should have a great time - unless 2013 is as bad as 2012!
Ramblin dave - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
> [...]

> Tbh, I think gritstone is wildly overrated as a "must visit" destination, and with midges it's a definite "don't bother".

I think you kind of need to have spent a day on it, if only so you can go home and shrug your shoulders and say that you didn't see what all the fuss was about and the English must be crazy to be so obsessed with a bunch of rounded, polished highballs. (Or you might love it.)

It's also more-or-less on the way to almost everywhere else. Particularly somewhere like the Roaches.
HB1 - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Bulls Crack)
> [...]
>
I would rather be in Horseshoe quarry than on grit. . .


. . . hahaha. Never thought I'd hear you say (and, of course, you didn't) that :-)
tlm - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I think if it were me, I'd go to the South West as there's lots of different crags, many without access issues, some amazing challenging/serious routes (that traverse on Carn Gowler looks like a bit of a trip at HVS) and plenty of accessible stuff. I would say that Saxon, Kenidjack is unmissable, that HVS in the Great Zawn (with the dreadful exit pitch) is a real experience, lovely single pitch routes at Carn Barra, The Smile (soft for E1, HVS would be fine) at Sharpnose. So many big, brilliant, memorable routes in amazing settings, midge free, good weather...great summer holiday. About a million times better than midgey gritstone.

..and all that without even mentioning the cream teas, the swimming in the sea, the seals, the clotted cream ice-cream....

stevieb - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to tlm:
I'll add another vote for Cornwall. I've always climbed those sort of grades, and Chair Ladder (tidal), Bosigran and Sennen are some of the best places I've ever climbed. There are loads of fabulous routes from diff to VS and above. I think the HVS in Great Zawn is probably variety show.
If you do want to do easy sport climbs in England then Portland is about as good as it gets. I like sport climbing , but even this will be nowhere near as memorable as the best trad.
North Wales is also great, big low grade routes on Tryfan, or lots of options in Llanberis Pass.
Gritstone is good, Roaches or Stanage probably best, but a lot of the appeal of grit is the friction, and it can take a bit of time to realise how much you can trust it.
Jon Stewart - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to HB1:
> (In reply to Jon Stewart)
> [...]
> I would rather be in Horseshoe quarry than on grit. . .
>
>
> . . . hahaha. Never thought I'd hear you say (and, of course, you didn't) that :-)

Horseshoe sprang to mind because I'd just posted on another thread how I'd rather be down a well than in that depressing hole in the ground!
dagibbs - on 13 Feb 2013
Thank you, all, for lots of useful advice. Especially the point of watching the weather, and being flexible based on where is/isn't dry.

We are, generally, comfortable on multi-pitch climbs, and happy finding and doing them. I've done multi-pitch routes in the Alps, in Red Rocks Nevada, and a variety of places in eastern Canada and the US. Others are not as experienced, but all of us are fine with multi-pitch climbing.

Scotland is on the list, too. One of our group has climbing family in Scotland, though I'm not sure exactly where. Ben Nevis does sound familiar from chatter from her in the past.

I think the general intention is to fly into London, then wander northwards towards Scotland, spending a day or two on various places along the way, and a slightly more extended climb in Scotland. We're thinking to hire a car -- yes fuel (petrol or diesel) is expensive, but split 4-ways, the hire & fuel shouldn't be TOO bad.

We haven't decided on exactly what we'll be doing for accomodations -- camping/hostels/hotels, or even try to stay with friends/relatives if/where we can.
The Ex-Engineer - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs: If you're flying into London and hiring a car, then going straight to the Peak District, followed by North Wales then onto Scotland makes excellent sense as a basic plan.

You can add flexibility by extending or cutting short your stay in North Wales depending on the weather and you also have the option of short visit to the Lake District either on the way to or from Scotland.

Also, climbing in Scotland extends from amazing routes in Arran in the South West through to stunning sea stacks in the far North so you still have masses of options to maximize your climbing and avoid any bad weather by travelling around.

The good news is that as far as guidebooks are concerned the selected guidebooks for Eastern Gritstone, North Wales Rock and Scottish Rock are all superb and will give you massive amounts of inspiration:
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Books-Maps-DVDs/British-Guidebooks/Peak-District-Guidebooks/Pe...
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Books-Maps-DVDs/British-Guidebooks/Welsh-Guidebooks/Welsh-Clim...
http://www.needlesports.com/Catalogue/Books-Maps-DVDs/British-Guidebooks/Scottish-Guidebooks/Scottis...
snoop6060 - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

Just go to fairhead for the whole lot, thats the best crag we've got!
agray - on 13 Feb 2013
If your in the Glencoe area it is worth heading to the Etive Slabs in Glen Etive. Lovely climbing to be had there.
tlm - on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

I think that also, you need to be quite modest in how many areas you plan to visit. I don't know where you are coming from, but travelling in the UK can take longer than you think at times and isn't always the best of experiences. If you pick the wrong time, you can end up just sat in traffic jams on the motorway. If you are only coming for one week, then I would try to visit a maximum of 2 locations. If you are coming for 2 weeks, then you can fit in more. There is so much to do at each location....
Bob_the_Builder - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:

> Also, I'm surprised noone's turned up yet to say that you should spend the whole trip in the Highlands, which is sort of a valid point. Although I guess it'll be midge season.

I would say that the Highlands are worth a visit for scenery alone, and Glen Coe has some brilliant and fun easy multi-pitch stuff. Midges will do their best to eat you alive at that time of year though. May is the best time to visit Scotland (in my opinion) if you aren't a winter climber.
pasbury on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:
>
> I think the general intention is to fly into London, then wander northwards towards Scotland, spending a day or two on various places along the way, and a slightly more extended climb in Scotland.

I would definately consider a stop over in the Lake District then. If the weather is brilliant head for Scafell, Esk Buttress & Pillar, if not quite so good then Gimmer Crag, Borrowdale Crags will keep you busy at your grade - beautiful place too.
agray - on 14 Feb 2013
The Lake District in late July! Good luck.
Martin Bennett - on 14 Feb 2013
In reply to dagibbs:

Hi. You've had plenty of venue recommendations already; most of them sound, some clearly expressing nothing more than personal preferences, some just plain silly. I didn't reply to add anything to the discussion from that point of view but would just suggest treating whatever grade comparison chart your using with some suspicion.

In my experience most of them get it wrong just at the point you seem to be aiming for. To explain, I currently enjoy climbing best in Britain at grades VS (4b&4c), HVS (5a) and E1 (5b)(on a good day!). This would imply I'd be comfortable on YDS 5.10a. But I'm not! Sure I've done a few, but to me they've felt more like E1 than HVS as many grade comparison charts would have it.

My US climbing has been at places as disparate as Tuolomne Meadows, Tahquitz, Red Rocks Nevada, Colorado, Wind Rivers, The Gunks.
I'm just guessing but is it a fact that you've based your intended UK grades of VS/HVS on the fact of climbing 5.9/5.10a at home? If that's the case you might be in for a nice surprise and have many more quality routes to go at than you thought! But maybe not on The Grit!

For what it's worth I've just had a look at a few comparison charts and the one I agree with most (at the grades I understand) can be found on a link on this webpage: http://www.oocities.org/climbct/climb.html

In the end I can't resist pitching in with yet more comments on "where?". First, I agree with the guy who said "Hard Rock" and Classic Rock" provide much inspiration, as do some of the more modern "selected climbs" type, area specific guide books. If we have a summer like the last 3 or 4 you could do a lot worse than base yourself somewhere near Manchester. There you'll have North Wales and The Lake District less than 2 hours away. If mountain areas are out due to weather Pembroke is about 4 hours away. You could get to some major Scottish crags in 5 or 6 hours; South West Peninsula in a similar time; and if all else fails you've got The Peak District grit on your doorstep!


Have a great trip. I'm already crossing my fingers for decent weather for you. And us!
dagibbs - on 15 Feb 2013
Once again, thank you everyone for your opinions and suggestions.

This definitely gives us some ideas as to where to start, and what to consider.

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.