/ Moving to Oxford

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BethanWhite on 08 Sep 2012
I've just accepted a 2-year job in Oxford, to start around the beginning of November, and I'd like to ask the collective wisdom of UKC for some help! Other threads on this topic seem to be quite old.

I'm moving from Leeds, where I've been for the last few years while doing my PhD. I realise that Oxford climbing (indoor and out) won't be as good or as accessible as it is up here (hope I've not stepped on any toes by assuming that!). Does anyone have any tips on:
- how to find partners at the Brookes wall
- any other walls in the area that are worth a visit
- closest outdoor crags
- realistic driving times to the Peak / Snowdonia / Lake Disctrict
- any other valuable climbing information for a newcomer to the area!

Secondly, I need to decide where to live and find out if I can avoid paying through the nose! Current Leeds rentals are about £300 pcm in a decent houseshare. I know I have no chance of this in Oxford, and I'd like to find a reasonably nice house (unfurnished, ideally) not a grotty student rental! I'd be looking to share with another person - maybe find the house first, then a housemate (a climber would be nice!).
- are there any useful local forums for this kind of thing?
- are there any particular estate agents you would recommend / warn against?

Area-wise: Considering (a) prices and (b) proximity to the climbing wall / swimming pool, my initial thoughts are to look in the Iffley/Cowley area. I've lived in a "dodgy" bit of Leeds (Harehills) for 5 years and spent 3 years in St Pauls in Bristol before that. I would guess that the dodgy bits of Oxford are nothing like the dodgy bits of Leeds, but I could be wrong...

Any other useful tips and information anyone has to offer will all be gratefully accepted!

The Ivanator - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite: It's about 2 and a 1/2 hours to Southern Peak crags like the Roaches. Wye Valley crags are about 1 hr 45 mins, Avon a little quicker, Mendips (Cheddar, Goblin Combe, Fairy Cave) all around 2 hours.
Jamie Wakeham - on 09 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite: everything said on here is still valid: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=518554&v=1#x7006516

I generally reckon on three hours door-to-racking up for Stanage, 4 1/2 for North Wales, 5 for the Southern Lakes.

As for where to live: nothing in the Cowley or Iffley Roads * is particularly dodgy, though the Cowley Road can be a bit scruffy in parts; areas you may want to avoid are the big council estates on the outskirts of town: Blackbird Leys, Wood Farm, Barton. Headington might be worth a look, especially if you're working near the JR Hospital, but it can feel a bit suburban and detached from Oxford proper.

*Presumably you're looking at Iffley Road and Cowley Road - Iffley itself is a very expensive village and Cowley itself is a very long way out, straddling the ring road, and dominated by the BMW works.

rig - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite:
Hi Bethan,

Jamie's timings above look pretty sound to me, I would also add Swanage (~3 hours) for Sea cliffs.

The thread Jamie linked has good info about the three local clubs that I am aware of. There is also a "open session" on thurdays where the wall provide gear and the instructors are around to help (for a slightly higher price). Although it is mainly aimed at novices it could be another way of meeting people.

Other walls nearby are:
Reading (large ropes area and some good bouldering)
Milton Keynes - Big Rock (Not as much roped stuff but a nice bouldering area with circuits)
Warwick Uni - Bear Rock (Very big bendcrete overhang)

The local gear shops are Go Outdoors (near the Redbridge park and ride), Cotswold at Bicester and Outdoor traders in Abingdon.
Neil Williams - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to rig:

Big Rock has loads of roped climbing, though it's in 2 areas, the pit which has higher walls and the training area which are a lot shorter (but often more interesting routes a bit more like higher bouldering problems but with a rope).

One advantage of the setup is that all routes except a couple on the ends (where a big lead fall might be really quite dangerous) are leadable and top ropable. The training area has top ropes on everything while the pit has them only on a few routes, but you can always put your own up if you want, either by leading that or the adjacent route.

Neil Williams - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to Neil Williams:

There are also a couple of auto belays in the pit, should you be there on your own and not fancy bouldering (which as others have said is pretty good, rather bigger than a lot of centres).

krikoman - on 10 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite: move to Banbury, it's only 25 mins up the road and much nicer (he he). no it's probably a lot cheaper.
BethanWhite on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to Jamie Wakeham:
Thanks to everyone for all the advice so far. At least the driving times to crags don't look too bad and even the mountains seem reasonable for a long weekend.

Jamie, yes I do mean the Cowley and Iffley Roads. Sorry for the newbie mistake! I'll be working in the physics department on South Parks Rd, and the Cowley Rd/ Iffley Rd area looked good at first glance as the Iffley Rd sports centre would be on the way to/from work, and it's the right side of town for the Brookes wall.
Dave Garnett - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite:

It's probably going to be a bit of shock after the easy access to climbing (indoors and out) in Leeds but, as everyone has said, the Brookes wall is pretty good.

I thought Headington was expensive and a bit soulless (at least in our post-doc price range) so if you don't need to be near the JR2 I wouldn't go there (unless you plan on going to the wall more often than the lab!)

It's not a bad drive to the Roaches area (I do it the other way occasionally M40/M42/M6 toll/A38 Barton-under-Needwood / A50 /Uttoxeter /JCB factory / follow your nose) but we tended to head to Pembroke more often when we lived there.

Folks at the wall used to be pretty friendly and I'm sure the OUMC will make you welcome!
bigbobbyking - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite:

Yeah you should come along to OUMC as well. Quite a lot of 'oldies' (not quite as old as the city club :-p) who do stuff all year round.
obi-wan nick b - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite: I don't generally bother with Brookes wall although I guess it's convenient if you're actually in Oxford (I'm just to the south) I think it's over priced for what it is. It's much smaller than Reading Craggy and Westfield so I generally make the effort and drive to one of those
Jamie Wakeham - on 12 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite: if you can afford it, somewhere between the Cowley and Iffley roads would be perfect - near both Iffley and Brookes walls, and an easy commute in to the physics dept. Generally gets cheaper and a bit more spacious the further out you look; Florence Park is nice.

I guess that you're taking up a post-doc position? What area?

BethanWhite on 13 Sep 2012
In reply to BethanWhite:
Coming to OUMC would be a great idea. I'll look you guys up as soon as I move down.

Jamie, I've accepted a post-doc in atmospheric physics and I'll be based in the physics department.
El Greyo - on 13 Sep 2012
In reply to bigbobbyking:

In defence of the city club: we have quite a lot of 'youngies' (not quite as young as the OUMC though) who do stuff all year round (and don't bugger off after a few years). [smiley thing]

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