Weather Woes – Where to Climb?

The current weather situation is causing devastation and heartbreak across Britain, but not just for those who’ve lost their homes. I am not wanting to in any way diminish the effect this bad weather has had on people’s lives and livelihoods, but the influx of rain has also caused problems for those hoping for a summer of Great British Climbing. So, what do we climbers have to keep ourselves occupied in the mean time?

Well, if you’re lucky enough to have the cash, travelling to the Alps or other European climbing hot-spots (for them, literally) is an incredibly attractive offer. A couple of weeks ago many members of the University of Surrey Mountaineering Club leapt off to Ailefroide and enjoyed two weeks of glorious sunshine and happy-clippy sport climbing. In August I will be, hopefully, going with other members to Fontainebleau for some sociable bouldering (shock, horror) and more blissful French Sun. Ah, c’est la vie.

If you can’t find the right number of coins to jet off to a far-flung mountain, England boasts a huge array of indoor climbing facilities. In fact, in London alone you will find more than a dozen walls hidden in warehouses, old train tunnels, and even a castle. The Arch climbing centre in Southwark now boasts a second wall, The Biscuit Factory near Bermondsey tube station, and if it’s anything like its parent wall, it’ll be a place of phenomenal routes and friendly faces.

Further out of London the variety continues to grow. West Way centre near Hammersmith, Reading Climbing Centre (which I’ve only recently experienced but can now say I love), a new centre in Kingston, plus both Craggy Island and Surrey Sports Park slightly further afield in Guildford, are all brilliant ways to keep getting that climbing fix whilst remaining dry.

You may have ventured out into the British countryside in the hopes of some dry rock somewhere, and have more than likely found yourself stuck with no crag access and very soggy shoes. Never fear!! All the best outdoor spots have indoor centres not too far, complete with knowledgeable locals and a tea shop (a must for every avid climber). The Climbing Works in Sheffield plays host to many of the competitions that run throughout the year but is also probably the only place I will willingly boulder. Similarly, The Climbing Academy Bristol seems to fit in more problems than you would think possible in such a small but well-equipped facility.

So, although the current state of the climate means that we are unable to enjoy some of the most exciting mountains, frustrating trad routes, and convenient boulder bunkers this country has to offer, there are still havens for us chalk-junkies. Until the sun shines again.

Looking for more places to climb? Check out www.ukclimbing.com for lists of local walls and facilities. Read here for the Guardian’s article on the rise of bouldering-only walls.

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