/ Beginners Trad climbing.
The southern sandstone isn't suitable for leading on and all has bolted anchors for toprope - so you won't need a rack, just a few slings and maybe a short length of static rope for rigging. It's not really trad climbing.
If you're still interested, pick up a copy of the guidebook and have a look at what's on offer.
If you're more interested in getting on some actual trad, the SW isn't too far away and is easily accessible by public transport.
Might come in handy: http://www.thebmc.co.uk/escape-from-london-with-our-new-miniguide
I don't know where you mean but Cornwall is about the longest run from London, N Wales or the Lakes are quicker. The nearest would be the Avon Gorge or Swanage but not too good for starting out! Cornwall is good from a climbing point of view but a long way. The Peak District is about the nearest to London but gritstone is an acquired taste :-)
Personally I think Llanberis Pass is the best place to learn leading, a long run but worth it. Not very helpful really, maybe the Wye Valley could be an idea but I don't know the area well enough to say what it's like for starting out, it would be a shame to put you off first time out.
As a climber in gatwick you're going to have to get used to putting the miles in for climbing but it can be done.
I was going to elaborate in my original post but decided against it. I was referring more to Avon and surrounding area - although rightly as you point out, Avon is not a place that you want to be leading your first routes. There's plenty of other more suitable climbing in the general area though if you have a car - Fairy Cave has a decent amount of friendly trad in the low grades for example.
I figured that the Peak might be a bit trickier to get to from out the 'wrong' side of London.
I'm climbing about the same sort of grade and have been trad climbing occasionally for ~6 months now. I've lived in Brighton and South London over
this time so fairly similar areas. Some of the best places I have been have been the Peaks and the Wye Valley. I've done some awesome, fairly low grade but still impressive climbs in these areas.
My climbing club normally goes to North Wales for trad trips, which gives a lot of choice but is obviously a bit further away.
> I'm climbing about the same sort of grade and have been trad climbing occasionally for ~6 months now. I've lived in Brighton and South London over
> this time so fairly similar areas. Some of the best places I have been have been the Peaks...
When I went to the Peaks I wasn't yet logging all my climbs so don't remember all of them but I remember doing Pedestal Route and Kelly's Shelf in the Roaches Upper Tier. Though I think I might have seconded Kelly's Shelf.
Mostly I remember standing around at the bottom of the crag learning how to place gear! :)
There are several ways of getting into trad. Being with someone who knows what they are doing is probably the best way. Being a second for a while will help you understand what and how to do things, give you familiarity with types of rock and be able to gauge your level. Being a second will also open up more venues, closer to home than say N wales.
Also going with others shares the cost & effort, while increasing the fun and experience.
Find people to go with, if they know what they are doing, they'll be able to guide on the best places to go.
There are proffessionals who for a fee will offer proffesional and qualified instruction. Which if your stuck in a world of inexperience might be a good idea.
Other than that, be very careful to start with! And continue to be careful after.
Venue wise, go for a bit of effort and pick friendly venues and rock types.
Limestone (eg dorset, bristol/wye valley) tends to be a more serious proposition with less reliable gear than say, gritstone (Peak moorland - stanage, burbage, froggat etc). Wales has a multitude of rock and cliff types to pick from.
Be sensible, be safe.
This guide contains the oxymoron "Hill walking: The New Forest". Have the authors ever been?
I used to live in E Sussex so I know what being on the wrong side of London entails! Once went to N Wales on a old BSA with a side-car, it took me 14 hours breakdowns included! When I go off the bike I was walking bow-legged like John Wayne for a while. It's true that the S East is not the best place for climbing, although once you start heading abroad to the Alps and so on, you save half a day compared to people from the North of England.
Some brave people climb on the chalk cliffs, I checked out the sandstone cliffs between Hastings and Pett Level but they are pretty scary - not for a beginner to start leading on anyway.
I agree with Bruce, N Wales is probably your nearest venue to get into Trad. Swanage is closer, but a bit intimidating for someone new to Trad leading, apart from Dancing Ledges where there are a few short single pitch climbs, Wye Valley is also closer but as has been said not very friendly for a newbie Trad leader.
N Wales has loads of good easy grade multi pitch and so long as the weather is kind you will enjoy it.
I can hardly remember a day when I've never been able to climb at Tremadoc when the weather is bad in the mountains of Snowdonia.
Cattle Troughs is also quite amenable; easy scramble in, no ab, and a handful of decently-protected low grade routes. Subluminal too, albeit with abseiling.
looks like i'll be taking a trip to N Wales then :-), my next question would then be, could i have some suggestions as to where about's? i know there's loads of climbing all round, but its a big place and so anywhere specifically beginner friendly?
A cottage in North Wales is the base for many a trad weekend and this weekend gone there were members staying there and out and about bouldering, winter climbing and some doing QMDs for their ML awards.
There's a New Members Meet in April - might be worth you getting in touch before then and coming along for the weekend. Trad is always on the menu, the first time I turned up, I'd led a VDiff and seconded a Severe before but I finished the day seconding an E1 at Holyhead Mountain.
I really didn't think I was a club sort of person but NLMC is slightly anarchic in their planning, so it sort of suits me. The home page picture of the ice was taken in Wales this weekend.
> The Peak District is about the nearest to London but gritstone is an acquired taste :-)
There's loads of lovely easy stuff on gritstone, you just have to pick the right venue and watch out for route descriptions like "Green Chimney, VDiff 12m, fist symbol, no stars, a traditional stuggle up the awkward corner, FA JW Puttrell and party, 1896".
To be fair I have often gone hill walking in the New Forest. This mostly consists of standing in a wood looking at a map trying to work out if you are indeed at the dizzy point where the contours start to get within shouting distance of each other.
I don't think you can do better than Llanberis. There are plenty of crags, the first I went on Dinas Mot IIRC, but there are cliffs all along the valley. If it rains there, as it often does, you can either go up Snowdon or something similar or drive round to Tremadoc, as said above, where it is often fin weather being at sea level.
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