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Optimum place to live and climb between Newcastle and Dunbar?

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 JegK 18 May 2022

Hi all,

As a starting point, could you recommend where would be the best places to live in the region between Newcastle and south side of Edinburgh and have the best / max number of available crags within a short drive?

We live in Norway but planing to move over there in about a years time, and i m totally blank on what is available where in that area, though a quick look at the UK crag map would suggest north of Newcastle is promising.

I climb in 7a 7c range if that would make a difference.

No need to suggest other better spots in the UK unfortunately... the region is set by other governing factors let say! (family and work stuff)

Thanks 🙏

Post edited at 15:22
 65 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

A major decision may be whether you want to live in Scotland or England. Purely from a cragging perspective, it has to be somewhere in Northumberland.

 spenser 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

There is a lot of bouldering and trad between the two, no sport that I am aware of. If you want a small town Alnwick is lovely. 

 tlouth7 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

That is quite a big part of the country! Or rather countries. Is your decision not likely to be driven by other aspects of your life such as where you need to be for a job? Or for travel to other parts of the country?

It's a surprisingly hard area to escape from, not being on the motorway network.

 alan moore 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

Belford.

Or Wooler.

 JLS 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

You might want to consider the towns with/near train stations, if getting to Edinburgh and Newcastle city centres is important.

Nearer the Newcastle end would be better for bouldering and trad.

Nearer the Edinburgh end gets you closer the Ratho/Eden indoor climbing and a few bits and pieces of sport climbing.

Northumberland sounds great for climbing in the light summer evenings, not sure how it would feel bleak mid winter evenings mind...

 Slackboot 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

Alnwick or thereabouts. Or Morpeth for that matter. Thats where I am from and we spent our teenage years within easy access of all the Northumberland crags.

Post edited at 17:00
In reply to JegK:

Can't help with the climbing beyond saying the Northumberland cragging I've done was lovely, but if you are tossing up whether to live in Scotland or England there might be a few other things to consider. I moved from Finland to the UK with my family soon to be 8 years ago. We considered Scotland, but ended up in England for various reasons.

If you have kids it might seem ridiculous if they are youngish, but if you choose the Scottish side of the border and they go through the Scottish education system for a set period of time (3 or 5 years I seem to remember?) they will qualify for free university education in Scotland. My oldest starts uni next autumn and we have definitely thought that if we had stayed in Finland or moved to Glasgow, not Sheffield, our financial situation would be rather different than it is now, and the kids would start their working lives without student debt, or without nearly as much. Things like that are worth a thought if it simply a matter of picking a village one side of the border of t'other.

 Ian W 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

Where would you be based for work?

Ideally, as others have said, alnwick would be my choice. Less than 30 mins from several brilliant crags. But if you don't mind more rural, there are any number of small villages / towns either side of the border (duns, Berwick, Dunbar, belford, etc etc). Newcastle to Edinburgh takes about 2.5 hrs to drive, and my fave crags are about equidistant from them.

 DaveHK 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

> recommend where would be the best places to live in the region between Newcastle and south side of Edinburgh and have the best / max number of available crags within a short drive?

Under the overhang at Back Bowden.  

In reply to JegK:

With no idea of your employment/children situation..

Basically look at 15 minute drive radius from Corbridge/Hexham and you won't go far wrong.

I'm 10mins north of Corbridge. It's 15mins to Curtis Crag, 20+mins to the Wanneys, 25+mins to Peel Crag/Crag Lough, 25mins+ to Shafthoe.

It's 25min drive into Newcastle to the main indoor walls, but 3/4 other indoor spots if you increase the drive to 45mins.

You'd be on a trainline with direct link to Newcastle, and from there to Edinburgh/London, but you have none of the bullshit of living in a city. Even where I am it feels incredibly rural. Heading 15mins further north/north west and you're in the middle of nowhere.

There are rivers and reservoirs within 15mins if you're into watersports, and on the flipside plenty of high quality restaurants/pubs in that range too.

It's 40mins to Tynemouth if you want a busy beach, or 45mins to the Northumberland coast where you can find whole beaches you'll share with 5 other people.

You'd also be an hour and a half drive from the heart of the Lake District and it's crags (an hour to it's periphery).

Others have mentioned the 'political' benefits of being over the border, so weigh up how important that is to you.

There's not a single place I'd rather live in the UK than where I currently am.

All the best with the move, whereever you end up!

 OP JegK 18 May 2022
In reply to matt1984:

Thanks all for the replies, incredibly helpful and wide ranging in considerations!

i didn t expand my personal context to start with as i was mostly interested in getting a feel for the good spots from a purely climbing perspective!

but indeed, need to consider a few minor life aspects beyond climbing (schools for 2 little girls of 4 and 6, proximity to the in laws in the Borders, not too close but not too far..., house prices, work is mostly remote for me so not too much of an issue, but still preferable to have a train station not too far etc. but my wide s potential work will have her commute between Dunbar and Newcastle, hence the area considered!

stating the obvious, I find that having crags really close by is key! so I like the sounds of the northumberland crags and bouldering from the messages posted, but also need to investigate options north of the border.

 65 18 May 2022
In reply to JegK:

> stating the obvious, I find that having crags really close by is key! so I like the sounds of the northumberland crags and bouldering from the messages posted, but also need to investigate options north of the border.

Toby's response hits an aspect of choice of country squarely on the head. 

There are some nice places in East Lothian and into the Scottish Borders on the coast which would get you within an hour of Berryhill, the Kyloes and the Bowdens. 

 henwardian 18 May 2022
In reply to 65:

> A major decision may be whether you want to live in Scotland or England. 

Yeah, don't underestimate this one. The education system is completely different, the tax system is different, the NHS system is different, altogether there are some pretty sizable differences between living in Scotland and living in England if you have a young family.

I'm biased but I would definitely say that it's a shame you have to be so far South. In general geographical terms, I'd say:

Nearer Dunbar:

- The climbing in Southern Scotland is mostly a bit underwhelming. There are a few nice crags but a huge number of those crags you can see on the crag map are only climbed at because of their proximity to the big cities.

- There are excellent places to go climbing for the weekend in the closest parts of the Highlands of Scotland (Southern Cairngorms, Loch Lomond, Glencoe, 2.5 to 3 hours drive). And if you up that to 3.5 to 4 hours there are several more excellent highlands areas you can hit.

Nearer Newcastle:

- Lots of people really rave about the Northumberland sandstone crags. Personally I'm not a big fan but there are a lot of them just North of Newcastle and there are lots of quality (if short) routes. And there's endless bouldering if you are thatway inclined.

- The Lake district isn't too far away from somewhere just North of Newcastle and easily a destination for weekends climbing (2 hours drive away). There are loads and loads of quality crags and routes in the Lake District and it's probably the closest genuinely good area of climbing in the UK to where you want to be.

- Again if you are just North of Newcastle, it's 1.5 to 2 hours to lots of Yorkshire gritstone crags if you want to get some grit action in (I don't know much about these crags though so I'll leave a quality assessment to someone else).

Something completely different:

- Could your living destination go a bit West to somewhere near Carlisle? That way you would have Northumberland Sandstone, and the Lake district both pretty close by and you would be close enough to North Wales to go there on the weekend (and North Wales is an absolutely outstanding climbing destination).

Disclaimer: I'm a trad climber so all these suggestions relate to trad climbing, not sport climbing, I'll leave sport suggestions to someone more suited to them.


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