/ Outdoor Climbing access from London

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MarcoStephens on 03 Oct 2016
I want to regularly climb outdoors but logistically it is a bit of a drag. I've been climbing indoors for a while and visited Harrison's recently. Looking for any advice on places to access from South East London (Lewisham) and how to go about it.

1. I and others I climb with don't have a car
2. Can camp
3. Looking for preferably 1 day trip but could do weekends
4. Where's best if there's been rain during the week? Sandstone takes a while to dry out.
5. Are there any groups for day trips?
6. Do I just need a car?
7. Is it pointless trying to get out during autumn and winter?

Any guidance on getting started outdoors is appreciated.
The Jazz Butcher on 03 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:
> 1. I and others I climb with don't have a car

There are trains to stations near the Southern Sandstone. Bit of a walk or taxi at the other end, but easily doable for a days climbing. Dorset and the Peak District are within easy reach by train, even for a day.

> 2. Can camp

Great. That open up all sorts of weekend possibilities, even without a car.

> 3. Looking for preferably 1 day trip but could do weekends

See 1 above.

> 4. Where's best if there's been rain during the week? Sandstone takes a while to dry out.

There's the $64,000 question. It all depends..... However, most of the Swanage and Portland crags dry out quickly after rain.

> 5. Are there any groups for day trips?

Join a club perhaps?

> 6. Do I just need a car?

Possibly, but not necessarily. The Tax Man did it by train for many years.

OK, yes. Having a car makes it easier. That is probably not in dispute. But, if you or your friends don't have a car, then climbing and travelling is still possible. It just takes a bit more planning and organisation. look for cheap coach companies if the train is too expensive. Be prepared to hitch a bit as well. Also, be prepared to have the odd wasted day if your chosen venue turns out wet, or you get stuck whilst travelling.


> 7. Is it pointless trying to get out during autumn and winter?

NO!!! Autumn and winter are the best seasons for grit and it dries quickly after rain. Portland and Swanage are also great in Autumn and Winter

> Any guidance on getting started outdoors is appreciated.

Choose a venue, buy a guidebook, make sure you have all gear for chosen venue, pack bags and go.

Have fun.

TJB.
Post edited at 16:23
MarcoStephens on 03 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

Cheers TJB. Reckon I'll try and get down to Portland and Swanage some time soon.
Toerag - on 03 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

Just jump on a plane from any London airport and come to Guernsey - you can walk to the nearest crag to the airport in 20 minutes (downhill) or get a bus/taxi to all the others. We climb all year round but obviously in winter it can be wet and almost as cold as mainland UK.
MarcoStephens on 03 Oct 2016
In reply to Toerag:

Actually go to Guernsey a few times a year but have no one to climb with when I'm over. How's best to climb whilst there? Are there groups which head to the cliffs which I can join?
Howard J - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

Find a club. You'll be able to share lifts, and will also benefit from being with more experienced climbers. You'll probably also be able to share their gear.

Day trips are possible from London, but you'll spend a lot of time travelling so you'll get more benefit from weekend trips. When I worked in London I joined a club, and we would frequently go to the Lakes or North Wales for a weekend, usually by minibus.
GrahamD - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to Howard J:

Bristol or Swanage are easy day trips from London with a lift share. Bristol we can do as a day trip from Cambridge !
silhouette - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

Here are some one-liners; someone else can flesh them out:-

> I want to regularly climb outdoors but logistically it is a bit of a drag. I've been climbing indoors for a while and visited Harrison's recently. Looking for any advice on places to access from South East London (Lewisham) and how to go about it.

> 1. I and others I climb with don't have a car


> 2. Can camp

Good.

> 3. Looking for preferably 1 day trip but could do weekends

One-day trips feasible. Tiring for drivers so train could be an advantage in that case.

> 4. Where's best if there's been rain during the week? Sandstone takes a while to dry out.

Like I say, someone else can flesh this out but Southern Sandstone can be damaged if climbed on when wet so that is frowned upon.

> 5. Are there any groups for day trips?

Try "Meetup" groups?

> 6. Do I just need a car?

No you do not. Does narrow options but still plenty of scope; Portland; train to Weymouth, #1 bus every 10 minutes, Peak (Burbage, Lawrencefield, Frogatt, Millstone, Stanage at a pinch); train to Sheffield, #272 bus every hour to Fox House or a bit further then, or train to Grindleford then 40 minutes walk to Frogatt.


> 7. Is it pointless trying to get out during autumn and winter?

Somebody else can answer that.

> Any guidance on getting started outdoors is appreciated.

Somebody else can flesh that out but search previous posts on here.
1
Toerag - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

> Actually go to Guernsey a few times a year but have no one to climb with when I'm over. How's best to climb whilst there? Are there groups which head to the cliffs which I can join?

www.gmc.org.gg is the website for the local club, even better join the facebook group and post there a few days before you come over asking for a partner. Or message me and I'll try to find one for you (I'm not climbing at present due to injury). Now it's winter the club meet on Tuesday and Thursday evenings to climb indoors.
teh_mark on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

I've done Avon and Swanage by public transport from London before. Avon is self-explanatory - hop on a train to Bristol and walk to the crags. Swanage is a bit more involved; you can get a train to Wareham, followed by a bus to the centre of Swanage and walk up the hill towards Subluminal and further cliffs.

If you have a weekend you could also hop on a train to Sheffield followed by a train along the Hope Valley Line, which will take you towards the Eastern grit (the station you want depends on the crag you want). Some walking involved and would be tedious for sure.
scott titt - on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to teh_mark:

Swanage is a bit more involved; you can get a train to Wareham, followed by a bus to the centre of Swanage and walk up the hill towards Subluminal and further cliffs.

The bus from Wareham goes through Kingston and then runs basically parallel to the coast on the way to Swanage. There is a bus stop at the end of Durnford Drove in Langton Matravers, which means the walk to Dancing Ledge and the nearby crags is only about 5 mins longer than from the car park. Similarly the walk to the cliff from the Worth Matravers turn by Acton is not that much longer than that from the car parking. Winspit requires a bit more of a walk from the same bus stop, but still easily doable, there is a bus but the times don't suit climbers.
Scott Titt
teh_mark on 04 Oct 2016
In reply to scott titt:

Why didn't you tell me this five years ago!?
two_tapirs - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

Is it an option to hire a car for a weekend and split the cost between all of you? Might be cheaper than taking the train
routrax - on 05 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

+1 for Portland (if you can get there!).

I've been a couple of times, both of them in crap weather and have always been able to climb.


MrWayne on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:
Avoid Southern Sandstone, it's really just terrible compared to Dorset.

If you're able to get to Portland you'll enjoy it a lot more. I often go to Dorset just for the day or stay overnight the day before.
Post edited at 15:55
David Rose - on 10 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

Just a word of warning. If you are new to outdoor climbing, it follows that you haven't done any trad. Swanage is almost entirely a trad venue, and with the exception of Subluminal and Cattle troughs, it is quite serious. The main cliffs involve abseils of at least 100 feet and there are few ways out easier than VS. The rock at the top can be loose (in fact, all of it can be loose) so you need to know what you are doing when it comes to placing protection. It is very much NOT the place to try trad for the first time, or even the first 20 times.

That said, there are some great routes. A few areas are bolted, but Portland has much more (and better) sport climbing.
Trangia - on 11 Oct 2016
In reply to MrWayne:

> Avoid Southern Sandstone, it's really just terrible compared to Dorset.

> If you're able to get to Portland you'll enjoy it a lot more. I often go to Dorset just for the day or stay overnight the day before.

In the winter I would agree with you, in fact once the really wet weather sets in, it becomes a no no for months. If it's at all wet you must not climb on it, or you will damage it.

In the drier months it's great, and requires a technique of it's own. No leading though.

I agree Dorset is probably your best bet, but the Peak isn't difficult to access by train and bus and probably takes a similar amount of time.
MrWayne on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to Trangia:
Also worth mentioning - because you eluded to it - that Southern Sandstone is generally top rope only. Setting up a top rope on a busy day in Kent is a nightmare imo and sort of antithesis of what outdoor climbing is about to me.

So the OP should know that it can, depending upon the crag, take a while o setup a top rope (climbing up or walking around the crag to the chosen route then setting up the anchor) for only perhaps a 10-15m route on poor quality rock.
Post edited at 10:59
nutme - on 14 Oct 2016
Portland and Peaks are great from London for a weekend on a public transport.

For Portland train leaves from Waterloo to Weymouth. It's an hourly service and takes about 3h30min. Advance return ticket is £28. From Weymouth station you need to take bus 1 to Portland. It stops near all major climbing spots (5 - 15 minutes walk in). You can buy a ticket for bus when booking train. It will cost £5 for both days unlimited.

My usual journey looks like:
* On Sat I take 07:35 train and arrive to Weymouth at 10:35.
* It takes about 45min to get on the bus and arrive to Weston. Few minutes in local Coop and walk down to Blacknor takes another 20min.
* At the 12:00 most of the time I tie in.
* Climb until dark or tired.
* Spend a night somewhere. Most of time wild camp. Bunkhouse and YHA are creepy to my taste, where's a nice lady on AirBnB offering her garden flat for £80 for 4 people however. Has a kitchen and shop is close.
* Best pub in my opinion is Cove Inn, but it's expensive and food is so-so. The rest of places on island are even worst.
If it's just me +1 we normally happy with a bottle of wine from the store and Jetboiled food.
* Climb whole Sunday.
* Get back to Weymouth by 18:00.
* Take a train from Weymoth at 18:48 to arrive to Waterloo at 22:33.


For Peak District it's similar, but train is more expensive. I always buy return ticket to Edale. It is same price as any other place in Peaks, but allows you to be flexible. Fare is a bit of unpredictable with this Northern trains. Usually it's between £32 - £50 per advanced return ticket. Good thing is that you don't need a bus.

* Train leaves from St.Pancras at 06:37 and arrives to Sheffield at 08:58.
* Change to local shitty train at Sheffield. It's an hourly service. If lucky and train from London was not delayed (usually it is) you can get on 09:14. It arrives to Hathersage in 30min.
* Coop at Hathersage by the gas station.
* From Hathersage you can hike to Stanage Edge in 45min.
* Tie in at 11:00.
* Climb until dark or tired.
* Wild camp. Local YHA is even worse than in Portland. Hotels are super expensive, It's a national park after all..
* The Scotsmans Pack Inn has very good food, but it's expensive and a long hike.
* Climb all Sunday.
* Train from Hathersage at 18:40. Arrive to Sheffield at 19:00.
* Train from Sheffield to Doncaster at 19:10. Arrives at 19:35.
* Train from Doncaster at 19:47 to London King X arriving at 21:34.
** Where is a direct train from Sheffield to London St.Pancras, but it takes one hour longer. Same price.
** Instead of Stanage you can go to Bamford and climb on Bamford grit.
** Or go to Edale and hike to Kinder Waterfall. It has interesting setting and few good routes on limestone. But it's about 2h30min walk in / walk out.
nutme - on 14 Oct 2016
P.S.: As you can see from train prices if you have a group of 4 people it becomes cheaper to hire a car for a weekend. Less carrying stuff as well.
ads.ukclimbing.com
john arran - on 14 Oct 2016
In reply to MarcoStephens:

There are 3 easyJet flights every day from Gatwick to Toulouse, from which almost all of the Ariège crags are 60-90 minutes away by hire car.

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