Climbing in the UK
Although none of our mountains are very high, Britain is a superb place to be a climber. Britain has the most varied geology of any country in the world and we are able to climb on a vast number of different rock types, offering very distinct experiences.
Most British climbing is traditional, although there is also a significant amount of sport climbing in parts of the country. As an island, there is a lot of sea cliff climbing. England alone has more sea cliff climbing than the entirety of the east and west coasts of the United States.
The most popular location for weekend trips. The club cottage provides a comfortable place to stay. There is a wide variety of climbing, much of it adventurous multi-pitch – including the world-class quartzite sea cliffs at Gogarth, the mountain crags of Snowdonia, the surreal slate quarries, and roadside climbing at Tremadog. The area’s complex weather system means that there is often somewhere dry to climb, even if it’s raining in the mountains.
South Wales – Pembroke and the Gower
Pembrokeshire also offers varied climbing, from slabs to steep walls and overhangs. Perhaps most famous for its steep limestone, there is also red sandstone, gabbro and and volcanic rhyolite. Some of the climbing here is in a military range, and it’s necessary to go to a briefing to be permitted to climb on some parts.
There is also a lot of excellent climbing on the beautiful and largely unspoilt Gower Peninsula.
Peak District, Yorkshire and Lancashire
The Peak District is a popular destination for day trips. This area of the country is famous for its gritstone – rough, compacted sandstone with excellent frictional properties that is referred to by some as “God’s own rock”. Although gritstone outcrops are not high they require good technique – particularly jamming, lay-backing and smearing. There are also larger limestone cliffs in this region, mostly traditional, though some are bolted, with routes all the way up to 9a+.
Another popular day trip venue, this is one of the nearer climbing destinations to London. The climbing here is mostly on limestone, much of it with fine views over the Wye Valley.
Every summer solstice weekend we head out to camp near Land’s End in Cornwall. On the Saturday evening we hold a picnic on Porthcurno Beach. Cornwall is also often the destination for bank holiday weekends. The climbing here is mostly on imposing granite sea cliffs, though is also some other esoteric rock including schist, greenstone and pillow lava.
Harsh granite climbing on Dartmoor, and a variety of climbing on the north and south coasts. A particular club favourite is the adventurous culm climbing on the North coast, and club members were instrumental in putting up many of the routes at Baggy Point.
Another frequent destination for day trips. There is good sport climbing on the isle of Portland, which can be a winter sun trap. There is also trad and sport climbing at nearby Swanage. There is also deep water soloing here.
An occasional destination for summer trips, this beautiful region of lakes and rolling hills has lots of fantastic, long rhyolite mountain routes, although there is also limestone, slate quarries and sandstone sea cliffs.
The soft southern sandstone in Kent and Sussex, which has to be top-roped, is not to everybody’s taste, but does offer some demanding climbing. Some of the club’s early members were instrumental in putting up routes here. Trevor Panther, the club’s first Vice-President, who wrote a guidebook to the area, was famous for climbing in his bare feet.
Northumberland, Cheshire, Shropshire and others
Occasionally we venture to one of these places.
Scotland offers a vast amount of climbing. Club members often go up here in winter, for snow, ice and mixed climbing. In the last few years, many members have also been on trips sea cliff to the isles of Pabbay, Mingulay and Lewis. More information on Scottish climbing can be found here