/ Don't miss and Don't bother bouldering walls
Any tips on really good walls and ones to avoid when travelling round.
If you head over to the North East, within a five minute walk of each other in Newcastle are...
Grotty building, housing an excellent bouldering wall. Great staff, nice vibe.
Lovely building housing what could be a really nice little wall, unfortunately spoiled by piss-poor route setting.
Have you tried the boardroom yet? It's just the other side of Chester so is probably in your local patch. Good bouldering area, plus psicoblock if you fancy something a little different.
Sorry yes have tried it, forgot to include it, but yes that's another good one.
What's the BE Widnes called, can't seem to find it on tinternet?
Ton Randall's Climbing Station in Loughborough is my favourite modern bouldering wall.
Yes, that's the one :)
The big problem with the Beacon is that the mats might as well be concrete.
Went to Boulder Central in Brum a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed with the size of the place, the quality of the problems and the range of grades (a lot of walls fall into the trap of having a few easy routes then everything else really hard).
Don't Miss: I'll put in a second vote for Boulder Central, it has a really nice atmosphere and the quantity and quality of routes was good even when they just opened.
Don't Miss: I tried The Project in Poole yesterday and was quite impressed considering its brand new and was set up on a seriously small budget. The problems were excellent and it just needs a bit of a cash injection to make it look a little more 'finished'. The owner even tried to give Mrs Dandan her entry fee back because she didn't end up climbing, I thought that was very nice.
Don't Bother: Creation in Birmingham is the grottiest wall I have ever been to, I've not bouldered much there so can't fairly comment on the quality but the atmosphere was so depressing that I wouldn't return just because of that.
Dont miss - Prestatyn leisure centre, routes changed often, friendly staff, nice atmos, cheap!
Or if a little further south the one in Harlech is ok for climbing, bouldering is a little limited.
The Boardroom is on my "don't other" list.
Short lead walls - nasty sharp holds - condensation on the holds in the lead area and they let Vickers go mad on the vert stuff with his mega rock-over style of setting.
The psicobloc is a gimmick too.
Don't miss: City Bloc in Leeds. It's not the biggest of walls but the problems are really well set and everyone is super friendly. Plus it's really well lit and clean so you never get the problem of not being able to see which holds are on your problem.
Don't bother: Kendal Wall. I don't know if I just went on a bad day but I found the setting poor, the starts/finishes to problems unclear and the whole place was a bit grimy and dark. It's a shame as they've got loads of room and the potential for a great facility but I wouldn't go back for the bouldering again, though I definitely would for the routes.
Each to their own I guess! A few of the holds do have cheese grater properties-but mainly due to them being brand new. Beats trying to climb on some ancient polished lump you can't tell the colour of I guess :-)
Not sure what's gimmicky about the psicoblock, but I've certainly found the staff are willing to take comments on board when it comes to route setting (although not sure they can do much about the roof heights unfortunately!)
Don't miss: Eden rock in Carlisle. Amazing setting with bright, friendly atmosphere. Best bouldering wall I've ever been to.
Not forgetting the innovative use of wood.
roof could be bigger though.
In my humble opinion the climbing hangar in Liverpool is the best bouldering wall in the UK. The works in Sheffield and tca Glasgow are both also good.
Another vote for Eden rock the beastmaker boys masterpiece .
In the east midlands:
Dont miss: depot Nottingham, climbing station Loughborough (these two the best), awesome walls stoke, and hopefully the new bouldering wall in Derby soon??
Dont bother: none - alter rock (Derby) and just about Wirksworth are worth a visit if you're in the area but not as good as the above.
Personally I've found the lead routes at the Boardroom to be very variable in quality and rely a lot on 'smear and grab' but generally the bouldering is excellent. The Psicobloc thing is really useful for training endurance if you are on your own, but I'm not sure it's the best use of the space available for the majority of climbers going there.
It's way down south but if ever anyones nearby I can totally recommend Boulder Brighton.
Don't miss - Climbing Station in Loughborough (fortunately, close to me)
Don't bother - Awesome in Stoke. Last time I went holds were uniformly black and the staff didn't much care when I complained.
Craggy Island 2: Superb bouldering - brilliant setting (stiff grades!)
Craggy Island 1: Very good too
White Spider: Good ropes, lots of bouldering but mediocre setting
Surrey University: Don't bother
Surrey Sports Park: Meh, didn't really rate the setting
Agree about AW stoke being dirty. It was also woefully understaffed last time we went, my mates had to wait an hour for a toastie each. Woeful. However, it has lots of good climbing.
Down soutg, calshot is great for routes but dont bother for bouldering. Ditto craggy island guildford. Also wouldnt bother with amersham or peterborough, although its almost 10 years since I visited.
The Lock, Harlow - not really worth it just for bouldering, more of a leading venue. The bouldering's rather short and a bit limited.
Big Rock, Milton Keynes - good bouldering, plus a couple of auto-belay thingies too. Nice cafe.
Kelsey Kerridge, Cambridge - small and busy, but otherwise pretty good quality and relatively cheap. Worth it if you're in the area.
Castle and Biscuit Factory very good, although the Castle's pretty pricey. Mile End and Westway probably also worth a punt although it's been a while since I went to either.
Oswestry Wall deserves a mention on the list and a visit if you are in the area.
Routes are regularly changed and well set. Steve Sustad uses it, the
climbers are all friendly and the owner is knowledgeable and friendly.
Worth a visit if you are in the area.
just been working in glasgow and have to say the climbing academy wall is super - well set problems, even at the easier grades, staff very friendly, place warm enough not to freeze to death, and a nice mix of climbers. ratho, by contrast, was wet and freezing inside and has no atmosphere - such a wasted opportunity. agree with earlier poster about city bloc in leeds - very clever route setting, some of the best problems around.
Alien 2 in Edinburgh is really good. It's warm, friendly and small enough for a good atmosphere and it has a good selection of wall angles with lots of routes set on them. The surface is good for smearing and has moulded features and there's a nice cave area which usually has some interesting long traverses over the roof and up onto a vertical wall with free space under your feet.
Bouldering at Ratho is quite good. It does suffer from the sheer size of the arena in terms of atmosphere and the arena boulders are cold in winter. They've been working on the roof and the arena boulder area has sometimes been wet recently as a result but I think they are nearly done. There is a separate bouldering room which is warm but relatively small. Outside of winter the arena is really pleasant. The problems are refreshed as a result of competitions and coaching events as well as normal route setting. I definitely wouldn't put Ratho on a 'don't bother with' list for bouldering even though the main focus is clearly routes.
yep, add climbnewcastle and craggy2 to your list of must visits, both excellent.
Even tho its my regular haunt I'd agree white spider setting has been hit and miss but they have gaz parry setting this week which should improve things and we've left them enough feedback so I think they are looking to improve.
craggyIsland was ok, craggy2 is better for pure bouldering.
used to be clubs only, but is now apparently open to the public:
Bog Wall at Avon. Man made bouldering, and Free, and classic.
Just for info, if you check that link out the pics are well out of date. They had a major refit late last year & the walls are now very different in a good way.
Thanks, saves me a trip when I'm in town later this month. That single word moves it to "don't bother" for me.
Can't believe no-one has mentioned the Climbing Works (Sheffield). Absolutely brilliant wall with excellent setting and the best comp wall I've been on
Boulder UK (blackburn) is good too. Consistently excellent route setting and re-set regularly. The only thing missing is a campus board. Packs in a lot in a small space.
Rockover (central manchester) is indeed very good, every facility you could need (very good comp wall and decent circuit board incl campus and finger boards etc.)
Avoid: Rochdale wall. Terrible setting, no concern about kids running around the place underneath climbers, limited wall space.
Absolutely agree, the woodies are superb.
The roof feels plenty long enough for me, I think they used the space well and it's only helped by the fact the setting really makes the most of it. My puny arms barely get me to the end!
I honestly can't rave about this wall enough. Amazing
I second the Boulder Central recommendation.
I would also recommend the Birmingham Bouldering Centre in the centre of Birmingham (http://www.birminghamboulderingcentre.com/#home). It has great setting, excellent coffee and a good selection of training equipment.
I would skip the Vertical Limit wall in Worcester unless anything has changed in the last couple of years?
Really? Since when?
Climb Newcastle is my local haunt and has the best setting of any bouldering wall I've been to imo
I've driven 70 miles from N Wales when I was living there to spend a day at The ClimbingWorks. Glad to be moving back to The Peak next week, and second place in the don't miss, with first place going to The Wave at the The Foundry, totally classic, old skool and brilliant route setting.
Big up to The Boardroom at Queensferry which gets better and better.
So many wet Snowdonia days spent at the old Beacon, sorry to hear the new centre isn't as good. The old bouldering wall was excellent.
"Warm" in the context of an Edinburgh wall means "warmer than outside" (unlike one venue...) Alien 2 definitely isn't too hot, and has really good route setting.
Ratho has sometimes been wet recently, but that is because the roof is being replaced. That the roof is being replaced for millions of pounds at tax payers' expense is hardly something we should be moaning about. I also find it extraordinary that boulderers who seem to love icy conditions outside moan abouta little cold at Ratho - just wrap up and warm up FFS. As for the atmosphere, well, if what you mean is that it isn't full of arsy topless boulderers in beanies talking shit, then that's absolutely fine by me.
Bouldering might not be what Ratho's all about and the heated room might have it's faults, but the free standing boulders are actually pretty good.
Another vote for The Boardroom in Queensferry. Great atmosphere, excellent (unpolished) routes and genuine nice staff.
Forgot to mention Broughton crimping at its best not a plastic blob insight err like climbing outside!!!
City Bloc in Leeds has the best routes of any place I've ever been. Inspiring, different, and with a good range of holds that are kept clean. It's the only wall I've ever been to where I can be bothered to repeatedly try at one problem over the course of a month because the climbing is that satisfying. The Bloc's often pretty quiet and everyone is super-friendly.
The Depot, on the other hand, is massive but extremely busy, the holds are dirty or worn out and the routes are dull. Might just be me but I've never got on with it.
Judging by how busy it is I think it's just you!
I slightly prefer the setting at City Bloc, but The Depot is a great wall too.
I think the climbers of Leeds are spoiled for choice!
Dont Miss http://www.redgoatclimbing.co.uk/
Great little bouldering wall with a great vibe and great route setters.
Concil run Wall in the middle of the centre next door to the pool so very hot. Poor routes that stay up for months. No vibe what so ever.
Is the old Glossop wall still open? That was great. Broughton with the added chance to break your back before plummeting twenty feet onto the badminton court.
Gosh the old Glossop wall - had to be careful going for the top with that balcony...which came into its own during aerobics
Yeah, you're right. If it was crap then it wouldn't be busy! With the Wall as well Leeds is indeed spoilt.
Loughborough is the best bouldering wall I've been to. It's all in the route setting & the quality of the wall & holds.
> City Bloc in Leeds has the best routes of any place I've ever been. Inspiring, different, and with a good range of holds that are kept clean. It's the only wall I've ever been to where I can be bothered to repeatedly try at one problem over the course of a month because the climbing is that satisfying. The Bloc's often pretty quiet and everyone is super-friendly.
> The Depot, on the other hand, is massive but extremely busy, the holds are dirty or worn out and the routes are dull. Might just be me but I've never got on with it.
I've been there twice (City Bloc, work took me to Leeeds). Found the regulars very friendly. Good problems. And you can walk there from the city centre (or get a bus) though ti was hard to find at first (my google map was shit).
My regular walls are the TCA Glasgow and the GCC. Both are great: the TCA for the sheer number & quality of problems and the circuits, the GCC for the ingenuity & quality (I think, given the relatively small space, the route setters do a great job on setting up tasking problems that require a lot of thinking around, especially in the higher grades, and as you said above, you can come back to them repeatedly over them weeks. Plus the cafe is better the best I've seen yet at a climbing centre. Top quality food & serious coffee.
I like AW Stoke. I go quite regularly and don't recognise this at all. I have been to many walls with worse route colour confusion. OK, sometimes holds do look black from above but that happens everywhere and I think it is better than average here as the lighting is quite good.
Confused now. I went to Ratho last time but it's a bit of a mission by bus. OTOH it's definitely not overhot or humid which I absolutely loath ( a climbing wall that doesn't have climbable conditions seems like a swimming pool without water to me but that's the way the industry seems to be going)
How would you compare it to the Depot in Nottingham?
I haven't been to the Depot in Nottingham so can't answer your question directly. I can, however, describe what it is about the setting in Loughborough that makes it my favourite of all the modern bouldering walls I've been to(*). It is generally oriented towards training for rock, with a lot of terrain at lower angles and with smaller holds than is common these days. Lateral thinking, cunning and tenacity are rewarded more than the ability to dyno from one big blob to the next.
(*) the others being Arch, Rockover and half a dozen in Germany & Austria
Purely on the bouldering...
Reading Wall (I'm less enthused by the routes)
Not as good:
Calshot (Shame as the routes are generally pretty good)
I've been to both several times. In terms of angles there is actually little between them, both have a good selection from slabs to big roofs. Lboro is a bit bigger overall but doesnt have such a big roof as the Comp wall at the depot - but still more than enough for me.
They both have similar training areas with good circuit boards - Lboro a bit better than the Depot for me as it has two big circuit boards which are what I use most, but a bit less other stuff.
There is no discernible difference in quality of setting. If anything I'd say Depot was slightly more interesting, but I'm being picky, both are good.
Overall I prefer Lboro but only marginally. However I go there more often because getting to the Depot is a nightmare through Nottingham city centre (I live in Derby).
Aber rocks in Abergavenny is a great bouldering centre, definitely worth a journey!
Another vote for Boulder UK in Blackburn. Problems are excellent technical and challenging. May seem compact on first visit but there is a heck of a lot to go at and you'll be tired out before you run out. Best bouldering in the area.
Another vote for the climbing station in loughborough.
As well as the reasons already given it also has a separate training room with 10 and 35 degree circuit walls, a 45 degree woody, fingerboards and campus boards.
It strikes me that someone has really thought about what should go in to make a really good bouldering wall and they've gone off and done it
you know about Chaddesden?
If your over in Dublin/Ireland Gravity Climbing Centre is the best wall - good problems, friendly staff, good coffee!
Top of the list for awful walls is Granite Planet in Penryn. I turned around and walked straight out again without even bothering to climb it looked that bad.
Paid a visit to Under Cover Rock in Bristol this week and was a bit under-whelmed with the bouldering(although the lead walls looked good). Not sure what the other Bristol walls are like.
The Life Centre in Plymouth isn't brilliant, but OK for the odd visit. I've not bouldered at Dart Rock, but didn't think it looked great.
Personally I thought Ratho was mediocre for bouldering (but looked like it would have been amazing if I had a partner for routes).
Rock Over in Manchester is excellent. Best of the Manc walls for bouldering. This will of course prompt howls of protest from Broughton devotees, which is also brilliant though very different (is it still open?). MCC and Awesome Walls Stockport are both OK too.
The Works is obviously great. Not been to any of the other Sheffield walls.
Climb Rochdale does not deserve the negative review above. I visited that wall last week for the first time and found a range of decent problems, particularly in the main area. Some really interesting ones too. Perhaps the best problems were in the v4 to v7 range.
For the last 5 years I have taken a small group of students around the north west and therefore know the competition pretty well. They all have their strengths. There were certainly no kids running around at Rochdale last week, and if there were then at any wall, then SIMPLY tell the staff.
Boulder UK makes the best of its building. Problem setting is obviously excellent. The main room is good, but the other rooms have disappoitingly short walls. Personally I would choose Rochdale over BoulderUK. It has a decent system board too.
Preston is worth a visit for bouldering.
Awesome Walls Stockport is a great wall for climbing and bouldering.
RockOver is decent, with massive potential, but has dropped in my estimation in recent visits. The central area has good problems, but other areas seemed a bit lacking in inspiration.
Personally I don't like the move some walls have made to using colour tag on start hold rather than grading for hold colours. I know why they do it, but it results in a less satisfying session for me. Makes finding decent problem at a certain grade range more time consuming.
The Foundry is a must visit to experience the wonders of the wave.
you are probably right. I am not a boulderer and being pretty old find the cold quite tricky these days, hence going indoors. i had driven across to ratho to use the auto belays but found the route setting pretty poor, so had a look at the boulders. very few people around to talk to, but those that were climbing were enjoying themselves and doing some hard stuff. the glasgow wall, much warmer, more friendly grades for an old fart like me, and just a nice bunch of people to talk to. the arsy topless boulderers must have gone somewhere else that day. it was just a comment to say that i found tca a much friendlier place all round.
Loughborough is far more varied than the depot which I found very uninspiring for bouldering up to v3/4. The depot seemed to be all about how hard you could pull rather than how well you climb.
For lower grade boulderers the Nottingham wall still beats the depot with its excellent textured area although I can see if you climb harder the depot would be better
I've been 3 times, the kids issue was on a weekend morning session so, granted, it probably doesn't happen every time. I was just really surprised that the many instructors around did nothing about it.
However, having climbed at many indoor walls and having climbed at rochdale on 3 separate times, I found their setting worse than other walls. I also think their use of space is poor, especially upstairs where the main resin wall feels outdated and they have a pointless vertical wall with no matting beneath it and two other small resin walls which seem pointless and under used.
I think indoor bouldering has moved on but rochdale wall hasn't kept up. I feel like you'll get a much better and more relevant work out at BoulderUK in Blackburn which has less than half the space.
Bit harsh about Newcastle climbing centre, climbed there for a while now, routes are enjoyable and staff friendly. The routes may not be changed as often as other venues but for an old timer they are ok.
In climbing terms I am more George Dawes than Johnny but I found 'The Warehouse' in Gloucester was nice when passing through recently. Good cafe, friendly staff, nice airy location in an old brick warehouse.
Bouldering was varied and made good use of small attic space, routes the same.
Personally I found Kendal limiting if you only top rope (though not been in a few years). Awesome Walls Stockport have issues with colouring routes, (too many red/orange/pink lines together). Very good otherwise as is MCC.
What's the problem with the new Beacon? Good problems, interesting walls and clean and spacious. I think it's really good. The new training room is a good addition and the cave is pretty inspiring. The routes are great too.
True, can't fault the staff. Apart from whoever sets the routes, who may be lovely for all I know but really isn't very good.
I have a feeling that the main determining factor as to what makes a wall "good" or not is how much of an enjoyable session somebody had, which is probably as much to do with how well rested you are, pre-conceptions of how hard you should be able to climb etc.
I should say that's definitely the case. You're unlikely to have an enjoyable session at a wall that doesn't suit you.
Yup I'd agree, there's a lot of variation in opininion, but there's also walls which keep coming up time and again as good ones, so there's a few new ones for my 'to visit' list.
Likewise I'd agree that perception of a 'good' wall can be about how good a session you had, but I also think quality of route setting has a lot to do with it. I find the walls that regularly use experienced professional route setters (e.g Ian Vickers)generally seem to have better problems than those that just use their own staff.
broughton has no route setters as such just a topo of 1000+ probs set over the years by those that have climbed there.
Boulder uk, in Blackburn
Its small but lots of good problems
I agree that setting is crucial for a good boulder wall. However the comment re professional setters is, in my experience, well wide of the mark. Three walls I use, Eden Rock, Climbnewcastle and The Works have excellent in house setters that regularly set stunning circuits. My observation is obviously limited by the small number of walls I use but I am sure there are many others which use in house teams that are also excellent.
I heard that your board is pretty good as well ;-)
Set by Mickey and Micky!! Good sounds if you like trad folk...therefore never too busy... most visitors spend most time sat at the bottom trying to find out how to pull on ... keeps the holds clean...
I'm not convinced about that, is anyone posting an opinion based on a single session here? (Not me, certainly.)
I think anyone in NW would struggle to beat climbing hangar. Yes it does get busy but there's a reason for it. constantly evolving, challenging and there's always something new going on. plus their WBL final within its UV paint was awesome! :-)
I use pretty much exclusively, The Reach in Woolwich, SE London. Every setting is becoming better and more thought provoking on both routes and boulder. It is laid out in a way that allows you to train, rather than just tick problems. So organising Power Endurance sessions etc requires little work or planning. The grades are closer to outdoor grades than the other London walls but require thought, not just cranking power, so force you to question your technique. Thank you setters
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