Ellis Brigham Climbing Walls, Xscape, Colorado Way, Glasshoughton, Castleford, Castleford, WEST YORKSHIRE WF10 4TA
01977 555 124
£2 to register. £5 for open climb.
Located by the escalator in the xscape entertainment complex I'd seen the wall before and been intrigued, however they didn't advertise any open climbs, just climbs with instructors at £8 for 30minutes.
After moving to the area I got in touch with the wall and they let me know that experienced climbers with their own kit can pay £2 to register and then just £5 to climb. Sessions last all day so you can go away, catch a film, play some lazertag or go ski-ing and then come back again. Staff are very friendly, after my first open climb the assistant manager came over to me just to chat for a bit and see how I'd found the routes and how long I'd been in the area.
One thing to note is they don't allow lead climbing. Due to the confined nature of the wall if you were to fall you could end up falling on to the upper landing! There are however a selection of top ropes and 8 auto-belays.
The auto belays were quite pleasant, unlike some I've used they didn't yank you up the wall and they don't allow for any lazy sitting back and resting! Speaking of which, don't be fooled, just because the wall is aimed at non-climbers doesn't mean the routes are all a doddle. There are some fantastic features/cracks and grades go up to 7c. New climbers tend to just rainbow everything which allows them to set some quite demanding routes, as well as some feature only climbs. Ask one of the (very friendly) staff nicely and they should be able to give you a grade list for the routes.
Finally chalk (loose or ball form) isn't allowed, just eco balls and liquid chalk. You can pick up some from the store downstairs and believe me, you'll need it.
Being it's set in the main thoroughfare of a busy entertainment complex expect lots of onlookers, people making monkey sounds as you climb and lots of shocked gasps as you slip off. It all adds to what's definitely a unique climbing experience.
Driving directions to Xscape - Ellis Brigham Climbing Walls with Google
See xscape website: http://www.xscape.co.uk/castleford
There's one just next to the wall in the Xscape complex.
Plenty of pubs within Xscape. I'd recommend visiting sno!bar, it looks out on to the ski slope, serves food and is very reasonably priced.
YES, a dedicated climbing centre