By Harley Lord
For lovers of outdoor climbing, the thrill of trying new crags never wains. Whether you’re just starting out on your climbing career or you’re a hardy veteran of your local scene, there’s no denying how lucky we are to have such a vast abundance of impressive outdoor routes in the UK. From the scenic streams of rural Northumberland to the sheer-sided limestone of the Pembrokeshire coast, the British Isles is teeming with exciting places to test your climbing abilities.
You don’t have to go far to find exceptional climbing spots around the UK – and, in today’s article, we’ll be taking you through just 5 of our favourite UK climbing spots to inspire your next climb.
1. Castle Inn Quarry, North Wales
Tucked slightly inland from the coast of North Wales, Castle Inn Quarry is a favourite for local climbers. Well-bolted low-to-mid grade climbs make this UK spot accessible for people of all abilities – and with its car park only metres away from the closest walls, you donít have to clamber across fields to get there. The sheer size of Castle Inn Quarry is impressive in itself, with its height providing the perfect vantage point to enjoy the surrounding scenery from its limestone walls.
2. Jack Rock, Northumberland
Jack Rock is a hidden gem nestled in the remote wilderness of rural Northumberland. Standing proudly beside the tranquil River Coquet, this crag is a particularly popular place for local climbing groups who are ready to take off the training equipment and step onto real outdoor routes. This crag is best visited when the sandstone rock is dry, giving you the best opportunity to enjoy the various routes. Though not nearly as tall as Castle Inn Quarry, climbers at Jack Rock can feel the thrill of exposed positions climbing above the water and enjoy the crisp river air – as well as the stunning scenery found in the surrounding area.
Northumberland is a sparsely populated region, home to some of the countryís most breathtaking natural scenery. A long stretch of golden coastline, charming green forests and characterful villages all make this county a favourite for those who love outdoor adventures – and with exciting Tyneside only a short trip away, youíll find plenty of fun things to do in Newcastle if you want to extend your stay, from food festivals to outdoor cinemas.
3. Portland, Dorset
Portlandís lofty white cliffs are a climber’s paradise. Dorset itself is a mecca for UK climbing enthusiasts, with many making a yearly pilgrimage to visit its long stretches of coastline – but the Isle of Portland holds its own rugged charm. Well-bolted routes that cover all grades are not the only appeal for climbers to the area, with bouldering and deep water soloing routes dotted around the area. Climbers arriving in Portland should visit Blacknor North, where you can ascend flowstone formations that are arguably some of the best anywhere in the UK.
For wholly authentic seaside climbing, the Coastguard Cliffs that run south towards the Bill of Portland possess a treasure trove of excellent climbing routes. With slippery boulders, a refreshing sea breeze and remote location, these cliffs are ideal for stepping out of your comfort zone if youíve never attempted climbing on sea cliffs before.
4. Saddle Head, Pembrokeshire
If youíre looking to test your abilities with a coastal climb, Saddle Head offers a high concentration of low-to-mid grade routes combined with refreshing sea air. Found in the Castlemartin peninsula in Pembrokeshire, Saddle Head provides an easier introduction to the notoriously difficult limestone cliffs running along the Castlemartin Range. The climbs here are far more accessible than at the daunting cliffs found only a stoneís throw away at Huntsmanís Leap, and are some of the friendliest for beginners anywhere in the area. Jutting out into the sea, Saddle Head has plenty of single-pitch, low-grade climbs, making it ideal if youíre in the region to try out sea cliff climbing for the first time.
The setting here is lovely, encompassing what makes Pembrokeshire so appealing for climbers. With exceptional rock, fantastic views and a plethora of routes ranging from easy to very severe, this region is a haven for climbers looking to practice their skills.
5. Malham Cove, Yorkshire
Perhaps the most popular spot on our list, Malham Cove is well-known to climbers across the UK. Located in the Yorkshire Dales, Malham Cove offers challenging climbs across its daunting central walls. The fierce reputation these steep walls of compact limestone hold are almost legendary, with climbers venturing to this hotspot from all corners of Britain and beyond.
There are over 200 climbs here, both sport and trad, with grades ranging from F6a+ to F9a+ and Severe to E7. A good mix of sport climbs and traditional routes means that newcomers to Malham can experiencing everything from short and technical to lengthy strength tests during their visit.
No matter your climbing ability, thereís a UK climbing hotspot perfect for allowing you to test your technique this summer. Whether you relish the thrill of waves crashing below or you prefer a quiet riverside spot to enjoy in peace, make sure you get outdoors while the weather permits and soak up the splendour of local British climbing.
Author Bio: Harley Lord is a blogger for City Breaks in Newcastle and loves long-distance walking and exploring the great outdoors.