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Indoor climbing walls in the UK - picking the hive mind

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A lot of our family UK travelling is now partly dictated by whether there is a good indoor climbing wall nearby, but reliable info on the quality of less 'famous' walls seems hard to come by.

My usual go to of trip advisor doesn't work as well for climbing walls as it does for hotels as reviews tend to be full of parents saying 'great birthday party venue' or ' the instructor was really good with the kids' rather than 'Max wall height was 20m so our 30m rope was not enough and there were only 5 top rope lines, and most of the routes were reachey 6bs' (fictional example)

I haven't found any websites that collate useful information, and the quality of walls own websites is very variable.

Unless someone can point me in the direct of this info, or a thread where its been done before, could the hive mind help by providing info on their local walls? My wish list of info would be

1- Height of wall

2- Number of lines/routes

3 - Number of autobelays

4 - Split of lead/top rope lines

5 - Rough grade distribution

6 - Whether there is also bouldering

7 - Can you get there by public transport/what is the car parking situation

8 - Is there a cafe and if so is it just snacks or could you also have a light lunch?

9 - What locker storage there is (ie are there plentify average sized lockers, or just a few phone sized ones)

10 - Any random bits of info you should know before going (eg only belay devices being allowed being gri gri or pilot types, or no loose chalk, that type of stuff)

If I win the lottery, I will do a UK tour (followed by a tour of France, and then of Italy, and the of America...) collecting all this info first hand and feed back.... but since I keep forgetting to even buy a ticket I'd be grateful for your info!

8
 Jackspratt 07 Jul 2024
In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

Sounds like you should just call them, you'd get answers to all of your questions and a good sense of the culture based on your interaction with the staff member.

1
 mik82 07 Jul 2024
In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

There's a reasonable amount of information on the UKC directory.

In reply to Jackspratt:

This is an entirely sensible suggestion, it’s more often we have no particular plan on where we want to go these days so could work backwards from climbing wall to determine destination if that makes sense?

Although I guess I could embrace my student call centre job days and sit down with a long list and work my way through the uk 

2
 smbnji 07 Jul 2024
In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

It always blows my mind that walls don't seem to put their max wall height/min req rope length in their FAQs

1
In reply to mik82:

Maybe I’ve just been unlucky but when looking at the directory for walls I know it doesn’t have the info I’d want (autobelays vs top rope vs lead, how long) and in fact seems out of date eg prices from years ago.  I think it could be a starting point only 

 Iamgregp 07 Jul 2024
In reply to smbnji:

Really? Most people just have a 40m rope. That’ll be fine for just about any wall in the U.K.  and nobody is going to be kicking themselves as they brought their 40, but could have got away with a 35

27
 smbnji 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Really? Most people just have a 40m rope. That’ll be fine for just about any wall in the U.K. and nobody is going to be kicking themselves as they brought their 40, but could have got away with a 35

Yup really. There are more than a few walls in the UK where 40m isn't enough, and then you will be kicking yourself.

For the sake of a simple bit of key information, yes it's a strange thing to omit...

In reply to Iamgregp:

> Really? Most people just have a 40m rope. That’ll be fine for just about any wall in the U.K.  and nobody is going to be kicking themselves as they brought their 40, but could have got away with a 35

Kendal climbing wall is 25m and Awesome Stockport is 20+m.

 Cake 07 Jul 2024
In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

If you were to put your criteria and a few of the centres you were considering on this forum some time, I'm sure you'd get loads of useful answers very quickly

 planetmarshall 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Really? Most people just have a 40m rope. That’ll be fine for just about any wall in the U.K.  and nobody is going to be kicking themselves as they brought their 40, but could have got away with a 35

AW Stockport, Sheffield, Kendal and Ratho are just four walls off the top of my head where a 40m rope would be of insufficient length for all of the routes available.

 deepsoup 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Cake:

> If you were to put your criteria and a few of the centres you were considering on this forum some time, I'm sure you'd get loads of useful answers very quickly

But, as mentioned above, maybe have a quick look at the 'Directory' above and there's a fair chance the answers are already there.

 Iamgregp 07 Jul 2024
In reply to planetmarshall:

Fair enough, I stand corrected! Figured there was only Ratho that had 20m walls, but good to hear there’s others.

 planetmarshall 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Fair enough, I stand corrected! Figured there was only Ratho that had 20m walls, but good to hear there’s others.

I've never actually done a route all the way to the top on the main wall at AW Sheffield, but I think that even though it's 17m high it's about 23m in length due to the overhanging sections. There are also often routes that take long diagonals so could also easily be over 20m.

 deepsoup 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Iamgregp:

> Fair enough, I stand corrected! Figured there was only Ratho that had 20m walls, but good to hear there’s others.

They have 20m+ routes, but in the case of AW Stockport and Sheffield those routes are only a relatively small subsection of their leading walls on the whole. (I've never been to Kendal or Ratho.) 

I don't think you'd feel particularly cheated if you weren't able to climb those routes on a one-off or a first visit, and AW did used to have longer ropes available for hire.  (No idea if that's still the case, it's been a while.)

In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

Id encourage people to add details to the ukc directory not this thread.

1-4&6 could be reasonably estimated by photos online. 7- Google maps. 8-10 yeah if not on the website/ukc you may have to phone. Grade spread- can't think of a centre which doesn't cater for most people on this?

Sounds like you're in quite an uncommon & enviable situation of planning travel on indoor climbing walls, don't be surprised if the perfect planning tool isn't forthcoming!

In reply to malcolm.harris:

Enzo Ferrari put it well when he said perfection does not exist, only the evolution towards it.

How can details be added to the directory? More than happy to contribute. Apologies if it’s obvious but am looking on my phone and can’t see an add button. 
 

ps the ability to plan travel based on indoor climbing walls is a compensation for no foreign holidays

1
 John Gresty 08:47 Wed
In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

One visit to Kendal Wall, quite a few years ago. Midweek, nice and quiet. Glad I had a 50 metre rope. My wife, who was belaying got worried that she would run out of rope when she lowered me down from the top of the leading wall. 

John

 dunc56 09:56 Wed
In reply to CrumpetsAndClimbing:

Sheffield 

YES


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