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Where in the UK is the Best Climbing and Mountaineering Community?

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 vyts 13 Sep 2022

I'm looking to move to the UK sometime in the next year with a preference for Scotland (my partner has family near Inverness)...but quite flexible. Sounds like lots of climbing in north wales. I've learned over the years that what matters most to me is the people I adventure with. So rather than looking for the best place to live simply based on what areas it is close to, I want to ask:

Which city or town in the UK is home to the best climbing and mountaineering community? Where should I live to make sure that I'm surrounded by people up for anything and full of ideas any day of the week? It doesn't have to be the biggest, just active and open.

I've heard Sheffield and some towns in north wales tossed around. I'm in my late 30s with remote work options so I don't need a big city for work. I climb trad and would say "adventure climbing" attracts me more than bagging hard grades. I also like spending time up high and wild camping.

Post edited at 09:50
 dan gibson 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Birmingham has got it all.

54
In reply to dan gibson:

The best thing about Birmingham for climbing is that's it's really easy to get out of Birmingham....

In reply to vyts:

Aviemore, Llanberis and Sheffield...?

OP vyts 13 Sep 2022

Thanks for the initial replies!

Out of curiosity, what are communities centered around in these areas? Is there an association, a gym, pub, messenger group?

 montyjohn 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

In Llanberis it's centered around Pete's Eats. Dammit, hungry now.

Edit: It probably isn't, but this is where I consider it to be.

Post edited at 11:24
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 abr1966 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

I'd say it depends on whether you would prefer to be in the higher hills or prefer regular evenings etc...

If you go somewhere like Sheffield (I live about40 mins away) there is a large climbing community but the area is mostly gritstone climbing. Your local areas to walk would be moorland rather than mountains but you would be 2-3 hours drive to Cumbria or Snowdonia. 

Living up in Scotland is great for non crowded walks, good hills etc but the weather isn't great a lot of the time. Winter climbing can be excellent and it has great variety but I'd suggest that there is 'less' of a climbing scene....although places like Inverness have plenty of climbers...

North Wales is a bit of a mixture....some great limestone for sports climbing, good hills etc but north Wales itself isn't a place I would personally wish to live...

There are plenty of clubs around and indoor walls in a lot of towns to meet other climbers plus things like Facebook groups etc....you won't be likely to struggle to meet people to climb with...

There are other places; the south west has its own culture and likewise places like Kendal are very popular...

Definitely worth having a look at housing costs etc as all the areas vary in prices plus availability which is becoming a real issue...

Good luck....keep asking questions about different areas as there is likely to be someone on here with plenty of local knowledge...

3
 Tom Ripley 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Chamonix 

11
 Andy Hardy 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Glasgow would be worth a look for Munro bagging (I didn't go to the talk, so don't know what the actual optimal location is)

https://johntdata.silvrback.com/glasgow-vs-edinburgh-which-city-is-better-for-munro-bagging

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 morpcat 13 Sep 2022
In reply to Jimp97:

> Aviemore, Llanberis and Sheffield...?

Yes! I'd add Inverness and Fort William

 Forest Dump 13 Sep 2022
In reply to abr1966:

North Wales is fine if your not particularly keen on cities, and offers easy access coastal stuff as well as mountains. I'm led to believe property prices aren't bad either out of the national park

Check out the FB page Scrambling and Mountaineering UK for community links, partners, inspiration etc

 Iamgregp 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

I'd say Llanberis or Sheffield...

However Llanberis is really just a large village, whereas Sheffield is a proper city, so you may be more likely to find like minded people there.

That said, which do you like the look of more Slate or Gritstone?

Aviemore, Fort William and Inverness I don't know so can't comment on.  However Aviemore has a wee bit of skiing in the winter so if winter sports are your thing that's a plus...

1
In reply to Iamgregp:

> That said, which do you like the look of more Slate or Gritstone?

It's hardly like those are the only options! There must be as much limestone in the Peak as there is gritstone, and slate is an interesting and amusing little side dish to the igneous mountain rocks around Llanberis. You're are not even that far from the costal limestone and whatever Gogarth is (quarzite?) from Llanberis either. 

 BRILLBRUM 13 Sep 2022
In reply to dan gibson:

Solihull, to be precise.

OP vyts 13 Sep 2022

Thank you for all the insights, keep it coming!

To fill some more details, I do sail so water is a plus but I think that really limits options so ok to skip that. I'm into some downhill skiing and would like to get into touring so that's also a plus.

I'm not into big cities but would still like to be able to walk to a pub and a grocery store.

I'm not partial to particular rock, but prefer having lots of multipitch trad that keeps things new and interesting.

 Iamgregp 13 Sep 2022
In reply to TobyA:

I know, it was a bit of a joke based on the rock types the areas are known for.

I love peak lime, and am not much in to grit tbh

In reply to vyts:

Fort William is right on the coast and at the foot of the UK's highest mountain so has skiin, sailing and climbing too. Only thing is that it gets a lot of rain and as it's pretty far north you're going to have very short days in the winter (but long days in the summer when you'll also have lots of midges) But you can ski nearby and it is full of climbers and mountains. There are always aspirant guides around there so if you can get into the right groups there will be lots of very good mountaineers wanting to get out and do lots of stuff in the mountains. 

In reply to Iamgregp:

Hearsay! Wash your mouth out with soap and have a good long think about what you've said immediately.

2
In reply to ebdon:

In all seriousness though Sheffield is amazing for cragging, bouldering and generally getting out on rock all year round but not great for mountaineering if that's your thing 

 Iamgregp 13 Sep 2022
In reply to ebdon:

Pure and Simple?

In reply to Iamgregp:

Why does my dyslexia make a special appearance when I'm trying to be clever or funny? Probably all that filthy peak lime rotting my brain...

 Iamgregp 13 Sep 2022
In reply to ebdon:

Ha!  Lime affected dyslexia really does sound like a thing....  Would certainly explain some of my deficiencies! 

 Ciro 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

For adventure climbing, you have to be looking at the West Coast... South West England, Wales, or somewhere North of Glasgow. 

As noted, the West Coast tends to get the worst weather (South West of England is the exception).

To be fair, North East Scotland will have plenty of what you're looking for too, but North West Scotland is stunningly beautiful when you get the weather.

In reply to vyts:

They've just started building a new wall in Inverness which will likely become the main hub. Great access for mountains and a plethora of lower level crags within a 2hr drive. Much drier than the west coast.  Been up here over 30 years. A great place to live and climb. 

 Nic Barber 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Sheffield is a city, but it feels like a lot of different villages stuck together. Lots of greenery as well.

In reply to Iamgregp:

Your love of lime over grit maybe because grit doesn’t sport bolts. Manchester is good within easy reach of Peak, Yorks, Lakes and Wales. Also has one of best training facilities in UK, Depot. However back in the day I moved from Stockport to Sheffield to be at the centre of Peak development.

In reply to vyts:

I lived in Sheffield for 26 years and it was truly brilliant. Big community in S7,8,10 and 11. Brilliant climbing walls, and limestone or gritstone climbing after work. It looks like we’ll be moving next year. I was hoping to go to N Wales, maybe the llanberis side so it’s got easy access to the Beacon wall. However, it looks like we’ll be moving to the Lakes, somewhere near Kendal, which seems to have the lot

 kevin stephens 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

If you’re looking for people to adventure with the Sheffield may not be the best choice, unless gritstone outcrops and scrappy polished Peak limestone (much better limestone in Wales) meet your definition of adventure. Many Sheffield climbers enjoy their local climbing and rarely venture further afield. Also as a sea kayaker i’m painfully aware that Sheffield is a long way from the sea. Inverness would seem to meet many of your needs.

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 TechnoJim 13 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

I live in Sheffield and love it, but if I were in your shoes I'd be looking at Inverness or maybe Fort William.

In reply to vyts:

Where are you coming from? The distances between the different venues may not seem an issue if you are used to travelling hours each weekend when at home. 
 If you are working full time I’d say access to some decent climbing walls is as important as access to crags as for 6 months a year that’s where most of your climbing takes place and they probably form the basis of most scenes these days. 
If you are adamant that adventure climbing is your thing then I’d say North Wales is your best bet. There are lots of active climbers living in close proximity (though how you break in to the scene is something I’m still working on) the trad climbing is second to none when you factor in accessibility and the scenery is beautiful. Llanberis is where most climbers hang out and is well positioned but I live on the eastern border of the national park and don’t regret it (better weather) thought the lack of a wall nearby is a pain.

Edit: I’ve just seen your later reply and am now 100% convinced you should move to N Wales due to the proximity of the coast.

Post edited at 22:52
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In reply to abr1966:

> North Wales is a bit of a mixture....some great limestone for sports climbing, good hills etc but north Wales itself isn't a place I would personally wish to live...

I’m curious why you say this, obviously there are lots of reasons why someone might not want to live somewhere but you’ve worded it as to suggest others shouldn’t consider it either. 

Post edited at 22:57
 henwardian 14 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Everyone I know who has been to Sheffield has said that general area is the best for number of climbers, easily accessible climbing and psyche. But I'm not sure how well the climbing there gels with the type of climbing you said you are looking for.

I'd give a vote for somewhere in Northern Scotland. You said you liked mountaineering and adventurous climbing and NW Scotland really has it all in those terms. NW Scotland has the biggest and most varied supply of mountains, by far the biggest and most varied supply of winter climbing/mountaineering, the biggest supply and variety of seacliff climbing and you can literally go find a new crag by the coast or on a mountain and just spend your time putting up completely new routes if you want to lean further into the adventurous theme. I would think that somewhere in Inverness/Aviemore area would offer you the best pool of climbing partners... Or possibly Fort William, though I don't know the local scene there. The problem with all the really remote areas, surrounded by incredible mountains and crags is that there is no ready pool of partners (i.e. anywhere between about Kyle of Lochalsh and Durness).

North Wales would be my second place for adventure, mountains and crags. Other people have written plenty already about the scene there.

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 birdie num num 14 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

The Wirral.

it's within two hours from Snowdownia, The Peak and the Lake District. You can look at the forecast, and go where the weather suits your clothes.

It's a quick drive out to Clwyd limestone on nice evenings, there's bouldering/climbing centres in Liverpool and Chester and a choice of sailing clubs around the peninsula. Competitive dinghy sailing at West Kirby marine lake, if you're into that.

Scotland is a bit of a hike though

7
 charliesdad 14 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Kendal.

Climb, walk, bike, sail, kayak and only a few miles from main line rail station and motorway

OP vyts 14 Sep 2022

THANK YOU for all the insights. This is planting a lot of good seeds. I'll be up north by Inverness for the winter holidays and will try and go visit some of the areas around there. Then I'll try and setup some other scouting trips to other areas further south.

In reply to Tyler:

I'm no stranger to long drives for weekend adventure. I spent a decade in Chicago where nothing was nearby, 5 years in Nairobi where everything was close but either traffic or difficult terrain made getting there slow, and now I'm in Lithuania which is in the middle of a flat basin with about a 10 hour drive radius, lol.

So I'm able to adapt, but having a weeknight crag and lots of options for 3-day weekends would be best.

 Tom Last 14 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Unfortunately the weather in south west England is often actually pretty poor, especially in Cornwall throughout the winter where it's not unsual to have precipitation every day for weeks on end. That said, when it's good, it's really good.

We don't have any mountaineering but we do have a lot of very adventurous climbing from massive choss sea cliffs, to deep water soloing, to everything in between. 

The local scene is scattered but pretty good. Tends to be based around The Barn climbing wall for West Devon and Cornwall, and Exeter walls from Devon, with lots of active climbers all over. 

Many lifetimes worth of adventure and coastal leisure here. I would struggle to move away, but don't know if I'd move here again if I had the time over 

Good luck with your move.

Post edited at 13:23
In reply to vyts:

> and now I'm in Lithuania which is in the middle of a flat basin with about a 10 hour drive radius, lol.

Isn't there one climbing spot on the Latvian - Lithuanian border? I remember reading about it when I lived in Finland and met Latvian and Estonian climbers from time to time. It looked like a little limestone river gorge and it was something funny like it was actually all in Lithuania, but much easier to access from the Latvian side, or much closer to Riga than it was to any Lithuanian city. Something like that anyway...  The Estonians seem to have found lots of boulders in recent years, although I imagine that still a schlep from Lithuania!

 plyometrics 14 Sep 2022
In reply to charliesdad:

> Kendal.

> Climb, walk, bike, sail, kayak and only a few miles from main line rail station and motorway

Seconded.

 Exile 14 Sep 2022
In reply to plyometrics:

Thirded

 Pedro50 14 Sep 2022
In reply to Exile:

Four Kendals

 plyometrics 14 Sep 2022
In reply to Pedro50:

This is no time for a Two Ronnies reference…

OP vyts 16 Sep 2022
In reply to TobyA:

I've seen the boulders up north in Estonia but this gorge I've not heard of... I saw pictures of something but was told it is all unclimbable choss....now I must do some digging

 ScraggyGoat 16 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

The ‘people’ scene is commonly dependant on how hard you work at engaging with it yourself.

Given that your partner has family in Inverness you may want to consider going there. Later life’s choices/dice rolls may push you there, and it’s easier to set up a group of climbing partners now, than later when looking after kids / aged parents. So you can make the most of free days when possibly time poor in a decade or twos time.


Firstly it’s a lot drier than North Wales, the Lake District and Fort William. Which is important when living there day in day out. Secondly it has great access to coast and mountain crags. Thirdly its very well placed to follow the weather for winter climbing; you can do the Ben, go to the Cairngorms, or Climb in the remote NW. Fourthly it’s the best positioned place in the UK for getting away in great mountains with high camps and solitude.

I can’t comment on the scene. Sadly it’s not the best for evening climbing.

Otherwise I’d go Kendal / North Lakes. Good evening cragging, w/e multi pitch. 4-6 hours drive to Inverness, or the Southern half of Scotland ie Venues south of the Great Glen.

1
 gimmergimmer 17 Sep 2022
In reply to Iamgregp:

Wales isn't just slate. Most of Welsh climbing is  volcanic rock- Idwal, Cloggy, Tremadoc, llanberis pass, Moelwyns etc etc.

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In reply to vyts:

Originally from the west of Scotland I've climbed all over the UK,  East Africa,  the Caucasus, Himalaya, Arctic etc. I'm currently based in Tallinn and share your pain on Baltic climbing.

Having just spent a fairly depressing (everything was shut or run-down / though the climbing was undeniably good) week in Snowdonia , my vote would also be strongly with Fort William.  I don't think the Llanberis Pass plus Snowden, Gogarth and Tremadog compare with The Ben, Glen Coe, Glen Nevis, Ardgour/Ardnamurchan and Arrochar.  Particularly when you add easy access to Skye and (for winter) the Cairngorms/Craig Meagaigdh etc. Both can have pretty dreich climates but - when the sun shines, nowhere compares to the NW Highlands and the Outer Hebrides. For paddling, having the islands and sea Lochs of the west coast of Scotland on your doorstep is pretty special too.

Inverness is a nice town with much to recommend it but (outside of the access to good winter climbing and top quality Caithness sea cliffs), doesn't really stack up to Fort William.  

1
In reply to oscaig:

> I'm currently based in Tallinn and share your pain on Baltic climbing.

Have you been across to Finland to climb there?  It's not world beating by any means but there is now a large amount of developed climbing, sport and trad, and huge amounts of bouldering just within a short distance of Helsinki - as well as climbing in Helsinki, some surprisingly close to the centre. You could easily visit one or two crags just using public transport in a day trip from Tallinn.

In reply to charliesdad:

> Kendal.

> Climb, walk, bike, sail, kayak and only a few miles from main line rail station and motorway

Also the best caving in Britain nearby.

In reply to vyts:

I think the best climbing community and the best UK location for the outdoors are two different things. I've lived Inverness, Fort William and now the Lakes.

Fort William would be bottom, in my experience, for community but top for multi sport adventures on your doorstep. Fort William is a hard place to live in terms of the climate, which seems to seep deeply into the local population and it real does suffer from a depressing lack of culture (decent food). I never found the climbing community that easy to break into (probably a me problem!).

Inverness is a great base for heading in whatever direction the weather necessitates. It's a vibrant and more diverse world of outdoorsy folk I reckon. For the winter climber, I think Inverness provides the perfect base. 

I'm in Ambleside but will probably end up in Kendal. I think in terms of 'active and open', it trumps Fort William and Inverness. Lots going on and lots of super psyched folk. Good climbing walks, great cragging and superior pubs (Highland pubs, in general, really are crap). That being said, it's still not Scotland...

Post edited at 23:45
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 Smelly Fox 19 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

I’ve lived and or climbed in all the places you mention in your post, and if I were in your shoes, I’d go to Inverness without a doubt.

Perfectly situated to make the most of the rain shadow (it’s always dry on the Moray coast 😉) yet it’s also within a day trip access to some of the best of the west coast venues with plenty of new routes and crags to be developed, as well as stellar established playgrounds, without the crowds you get down south.

The Hebrides (the only truly world class climbing in the uk) is close enough for a “spur of the moment” trip too.

 cardingmill 19 Sep 2022
In reply to ebdon:

Amazing response! ha

In reply to TobyA:

Hi Toby, no unfortunately have never managed across on the ferry with ropes and gear. A combination of 2 years of rubbish COVID restrictions and just no time this year have messed up plans. If we get a settled period this autumn I might manage it, but with departure in Feb, it's not looking likely.  

Ian

 Stoney Boy 21 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts:

Surprised no one has said Wirksworth…

In reply to oscaig:

> If we get a settled period this autumn I might manage it, but with departure in Feb, it's not looking likely.  

October can be the best time of the whole year I reckon! 

https://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2010/11/october-climbing.html

https://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2007/09/autumn-climbing.html

https://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.com/2009/10/olhava-great.html

Go on... You know you want to... 😉

 The Grist 22 Sep 2022
In reply to vyts: 

My vote would go to Kendal or Llanberis. Have not lived in either but know people who do. They are also the most psyched, most active and most adventurous people I know and have no shortage of active partners. Those I know who live in Sheffield incidentally tend to always be on the road driving to adventurous places…….they do get there eventually. 


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