/ Planning a trip to the UK, mostly like to climb

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RevTyler 17 Jun 2019

Hey guys,

I'm looking to head to the UK from Canada for probably 4 weeks and I'd like to climb for most of it. I sport lead up to 12a(GB 6aE4?) and trad lead up to 10c(GB 5bE2?). That's on my home rock, though. I'm expecting to drop a few grades with different styles of rock. I'd like to focus on trad if possible, but I'm open to a few days of crushing bolts and pushing my grade.

I'd love to know the golden zone for climbing season somewhere between July-October to plan my trip. Is it safe to assume my gear needs will simply be harness, shoes and chalk bag, or will I need to bring some draws and my rack?

I'm probably going to be AirBNBing and couch surfing. I'm assuming it'll be fairly easy to find rides locally and trains between major areas. This is the beginning of my planning, so I'm super ignorant so far. I want to really dial in a general climbing plan and I'm sure it's going to be fairly easy to wing it as far as transportation and surviving goes.

Stoked to head overseas.

NBR 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

UK weather is very unpredictable IMO there is no golden zone. I'd be tempted to go later in your time period as whilst there maybe more chance of rain there is less chance of being too hot, others might disagree. Bring some walking gear and if its really chucking it down go for a big old soggy hike.

Public transport/trains: Peak is easy to get to by train and the Lakes arn't to bad, also very good bus services in the lakes. North Wales is also fairly easy to get to by public transpot don't know for other areas. Hitching used to be fairly easy years ago but having not done so in over 20 years I can't say about today.

P.S UK grades normally expressed the other way around e.g E2 5b.

RevTyler 17 Jun 2019
In reply to NBR:

Yeah, unpredictable weather is the classic UK stereotype. I'm wondering what is too hot there? We call around 33c too hot here. I do like the idea of climbing in the high teens, low 20s if that's going to be around late August September. 

NBR 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

33c what is this madness!

I was thinking more about Gritstone in the Peak it is friction based climbing best when cold and dry, and much less enjoyable as it gets warmer but high teens is OK.

Late August to September can be great or like the week I spent in the Lakes 2 years ago first week of September ish when it didn't stop raining for more than maybe an hour a day.

Come when you come and just pray to the weather gods.

Post edited at 17:52
Iamgregp 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Yeah you're probably not going to have any problem with it being too hot, yes it can get to the 30's in the uk, but not often, and less so the further north or higher up you go.  It's the rain that'll stop you from climbing, not the sun...

The UK has lots of great Trad, so you might want to check out The Peak District (https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/books/peak_district__climbing-375) after all, you can't come all the way to England and not give some grit a try... North Wales https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/books/north_wales_climbs-1359, The Lake District, Scotland (Skye etc), there's plenty of great trad.  Check out the destination articles here... https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/destinations/ 

Sport in the UK is less widespread but there's a few world class venues if you want to really push your grade but not as much to offer in the mid to low grades (bits dotted around here and there). To be honest if you're based in uk for a while, and really want to crush some sport, you're better off booking a flight to Spain, Italy, Greece etc as the Sport climbing on offer there is a class apart...

Post edited at 18:07
RevTyler 17 Jun 2019
In reply to Iamgregp:

This is perfect. August it is, I'll escape my heat at home. I'm definitely looking to focus on trad since the crack climbing near me is a bit lack luster. 

These spots look great. If I'm around for 4 or 5 weeks, I'm hoping to check out a bit of everything up and down the island.

I'm getting stoked! 

Greasy Prusiks 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

The UKs got loads to choose from but I'd recommend getting on some grit and slate at some point, just because it's unique to the UK more than anything. If you're from inland Canada then some sea cliffs as well, maybe Gogarath or West Penwith?

Anyway enjoy your trip! 

Jon Stewart 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Hi

There's a few threads on this forum asking for advice on the best places to climb in the UK for visitors wanting to see what it's like.

I think one place that would be a real error to miss is Pembroke. It's sea cliff trad climbing, mainly single pitch, but really spectacular and full of character. You need to work around the tides (which is fun!), approaches are generally by abseil, there are plenty of climbers around in summer, and there is a dirt-cheap campsite and pub a short drive from the main climbing area, where the longest walk-in is about 20 minutes. There's a few videos on here (crap search function though, never mind) to get you psyched, here's a start:

https://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/features/neil_mawsons_hand_picked_pembroke_classics-5824

Cornwall has fantastic sea cliff climbing too - arguably better than Pembroke in fact, but it's a bit less accessible and user-friendly. More multi-pitch routes, some very adventurous. It's mega, go there as well!

Scotland has the best climbing in the UK, and incredible scenery, but the whole country suffers problematic conditions. A trip up to the North West Highlands and Islands can be absolutely amazing, but... It rains a lot and when there's no wind the air fills with midges (biting flying things) that ruin everything and make you go insane. It's better late spring and early summer, but late summer I'd have to say, get some accommodation because camping can be utterly miserable if weather and/or midges are bad. There's even a midge forecast!

https://www.smidgeup.com/midge-forecast/

(I'm going up to the Hebrides next week - doesn't look too bad out there just now, but the NW Coast in September last year was unbearable.)

Other popular areas include:

- North Wales, which is superb and very varied - loads of great stuff to do;

- Peak District, I was local there for most my life, but it's not somewhere I'd recommend to a visitor - fantastic after work cragging and bouldering but nothing spectacular and not in good condition late summer;

- Lake District (my current location and I love the place - worth checking out if the weather's good and you're on your way North, but the best crags are usually wet and the quick-drying stuff is a bit naff)

Be flexible and follow the good weather, you'll have a great time. This website is great for finding partners, lifts, any info you need.

Jon

2
Cake 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

North Wales is definitely worth going to. The best thing about it is there is usually a good option without a perfect forecast. The best slate is there, great sea cliffs at Gogarth and the hill crags are excellent if the weather is good. Decent bus and train service.

No one has yet mentioned kit. Trad is what Britain specialises at. As such, you should probably bring your trad rack. A single set of cams and nuts will probably be fine, assuming you will be pairing up with people who will have a complementary rack. I would recommend trying to pair up with some people before you come on this site. You may get more offers if you bring your rack too. I'm sure people will be generous with lifts too.

bensilvestre 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Jon Stewart's answer is very sensible, I'd listen to him. The gritstone is famous, but coming from a country like Canada you'd probably spend your whole trip wandering around the Peak District wondering where the actual climbing was. Go climbing on the sea cliffs. The west coast of the British Isles is where the best climbing in Britain is found. Pembroke should be top of your list for all the reasons Jon listed, plus it has some of the best weather around. North Wales is great in a mixed forecast, as you can climb in the mountains on better days, the sea cliffs on worse days, and if nothing else plays ball the slate dries in minutes (literally). 

2
FactorXXX 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

I'll echo what Jon Stewart says in his excellent post.
 

1
pasbury 17 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Well the U.K. is pretty tiny compared to Canada but our roads have bloody cars all over them. Four weeks is a long time though. You can get anywhere from anywhere in a day.

Our best south to north;

The south west peninsula; Cornish granite in Cornwall, mixed with some stuff called Killas (a kind of hard slate) makes it a varied and wonderful destination. Further up the north coast you can find lots of adventurous routes.

Pembokeshire; miles of perfect limestone crags, thousands of classics, the north coast nearby is a contrast and absolutely beautiful.

North Wales; my favourite place in the world, huge variety, history - Cloggy, Gogarth, Dinas Cromlech, Tremadog, Lliwedd, Slate.... I think there’s the odd bit of lime sport too

The Peak District; you have to climb on grit, it’s bloody great.

Yorkshire; not my area of comfort but I think if you want lime sport then yeah. And there’s more gritstone too but a bit less friendly.

The Lake District, See comments on North Wales, not quite such variety but fantastic mountain trad (lot’s of it not so high up). Scafell, Gimmer, Dow.....

Northern Ireland; I’ve never been to it but I think the best crag in the U.K. may be here!

Scotland; my personal record of climbing here is crap, let me recommend a book to thumb through if you’re interested, have the opportunity and get a good forecast; https://www.v-publishing.co.uk/books/categories/climbing/the-great-mountain-crags-of-scotland.html.

It doesn’t even cover the sea cliffs of the Outer Hebrides. They are truly world class.

Another thing about the U.K. crags is the esoteric, locals have often developed amazing venues in unlikely places, see Nesscliff as an example.

The weather will dictate all, our nearest thing to reliable long range forecast comes from the met office and they at least admit when they’re uncertain. Just be flexible.

FactorXXX 17 Jun 2019
In reply to Jon Stewart:

What weirdo could Dislike such a helpful post and one in which the poster has taken obvious time and effort to compile.
UKC is strange at times...

Jon Stewart 17 Jun 2019
In reply to FactorXXX:

Gritstone fanatic? Scot in denial about how horrible it is to go there in midge season? 

1
Ramblin dave 18 Jun 2019
In reply to bensilvestre:

> Jon Stewart's answer is very sensible, I'd listen to him. The gritstone is famous, but coming from a country like Canada you'd probably spend your whole trip wandering around the Peak District wondering where the actual climbing was.

I'd agree that it's not worth planning a whole trip around visiting the Peak and climbing on the grit, but it's arguably worth a day or two - it's not Yosemite or even Bosigran, but it's historic, it's good climbing in its class, it's scenic and it's easy to get to from places that you were probably going to be passing through anyway (eg Manchester). It's also the thing that people are most likely to ask you about when you get back.

springfall2008 18 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

> Hey guys,

> I'm looking to head to the UK from Canada for probably 4 weeks and I'd like to climb for most of it. I >sport lead up to 12a(GB 6aE4?)

Is that 5.12a? - that's F7a+ in sports grades right?

Trad grades are totally different.

2
cragtyke 18 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

It's probably worth noting that August is the peak family holiday season in the uk, with schools closed until the start of September, accomodation prices will be higher, campsites will be fuller and roads and parking spots busier. Honeypots like the Lake District and Cornwall can be hellish , especially during the bank holiday weekend at the end of August. The weather in September can be drier, fresher and slightly less warm than August but still just as good, if not better, for climbing.

ianstevens 18 Jun 2019
In reply to springfall2008:

> Is that 5.12a? - that's F7a+ in sports grades right?

> Trad grades are totally different.

But if you're a skilled up trad climber and can climb 7a+, you can probably climb E4 6a. 

springfall2008 18 Jun 2019
In reply to ianstevens:

> But if you're a skilled up trad climber and can climb 7a+, you can probably climb E4 6a. 


RevTyler said:

>Sport lead up to 12a(GB 6aE4?)

>Trad lead up to 10c(GB 5bE2?).

But sports grades in the UK are expressed as French grades.

And most people climb less hard on Trad, as it's hard work placing gear and more risky.

Alex Riley 18 Jun 2019
In reply to springfall2008:

To be fair e4 6a is generally a few grades easier than 7a+... Quite a few e5s get 6c/+.

Rev Tyler, if you end up with some days around Tremadog in North Wales drop me a message, I'd be happy to show you some routes and potentially put you up for a few nights.

1
RevTyler 19 Jun 2019

This is all some amazing information! I'll keep the family holiday time in mind and maybe bump back to September.

I did some scanning around through the destinations page on here since I checked in on the comments and it looks like most of the places I'm interested in I just got directly recommended to :D

I still have to ask work if they'll let me go for a month and some friends suggested I check out east coast Canada as it's similar to Ireland landscape wise. So many travel choices, but you guys are making England look real nice.

Thanks again for the info, I'll be posting up in the ride share area in September if I'm there. And Alex, I'll be more than happy to take you up on that offer! I'll cook some meals while I'm there.

In response to the grade comments, my 12a and 10c do refer to the YDS 5'12a and 5'10c, I'm used to not bothering saying the 5. We use the same grading for trad and sport here.
I've just been using this chart for conversion: https://www.guidedolomiti.com/en/rock-climbing-grades/

I'm definitely expecting to get shut down on some E1 5a (I think I've got that right now?) trad leading just because of different rock style, but it'll be exciting to see how long it takes to adjust.

wbo 19 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler: there is a lot of good info.  In contrast to Jon Stewarts excellent post I'd absolutely recommend, as someone who doesn't love in the UK, gritstone and sea cliffs, especially Pembroke.  If you're coming from Canada you'll find the mountain crags rather similar to home , though still with excellent routs and a full history and tradition.  You arent likely to be very familiar with anything like the grit, or Pembroke, they can be made a bit less weather dependent and have comparatively straightforward travel. 

I'm coming to the UK with some Norwegians this autumn - that will be to visit grit.

Jon Stewart 19 Jun 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

One thing to watch with Pembroke is that the main climbing area is on an army shooting range and access is restricted outside the holiday season. If you're going there (and you really should) it's much better when the range is open.  Huntsman's Leap is a must - totally unique, and is on the range. 

Post edited at 12:56
Ann S 06 Jul 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Good idea to bump back to September, (as if you do get to Scotland there's less chance of being midged to death) but I would recommend you arrive in UK in time to start with a trip to Pembroke over the end of August bank holiday, when the military leave plenty of cliffs for the climbers to enjoy and you'll have no shortage of people to pair up with-just get someone who knows the area. From there head to north Wales, for more sea cliffs at Gogarth, roadside cragging in Llanberis and more slate than you can shake a stick at and Tremadoc if the weather craps out. From there you could head north into the Lakes or push on up to Scotland. If you do want to hit the grit save it for the end of the trip when the weather could be cooler. Bon voyage and take plenty of piccies.

brianjcooper 06 Jul 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Jon Stewart's post is excellent advice.

Also Google ZOOMTOPO.com as the APP has some helpful info on two crags in the UK.

The Peak District and North Wales

  

Ann S 06 Jul 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cD6TGUUaoI

here's a nice film about Pembroke to whet your appetite.

TheGeneralist 06 Jul 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

> but you guys are making England look real nice.

Don't take this the wrong way, but this is a bit like referring to Canada as one of the nicest bits of the US. 

Not so many of the areas/crags people have raved about in the answers above are actually in England.  Many of them are in Wales or Scotland....

You'll make many more friends if you bear that in mind

1
Mark Kemball 07 Jul 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

> I'm definitely expecting to get shut down on some E1 5a (I think I've got that right now?) trad leading just because of different rock style, but it'll be exciting to see how long it takes to adjust.

E1 5a is a grade to avoid - the 5a implies it's relatively technically easy for the grade, so it's likely to be poorly protected and or loose...

Neil Williams 07 Jul 2019
In reply to RevTyler:

Portland is great for sport and easy to get to by train and bus, though is a fair way from most trad.

RevTyler 09 Jul 2019
In reply to TheGeneralist:

> > but you guys are making England look real nice.

> Don't take this the wrong way, but this is a bit like referring to Canada as one of the nicest bits of the US. 

> Not so many of the areas/crags people have raved about in the answers above are actually in England.  Many of them are in Wales or Scotland....

> You'll make many more friends if you bear that in mind

Haha, right. I'll get in the habit of referring to it as the UK :D


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