Climbing Walls | 5 of the Best in the UK
A guide to some of the best indoor climbing walls in Britain
Climbing walls are a great place to get started with climbing. With a roof over your head you can climb whatever the weather and they provide a safe, supervised environment to learn in.
Climbing walls are also an awesome place to make climbing mates, people that really share your passion and will head out with you to tackle outdoor climbing spots or be on hand with that killer piece of advice to help you finish a route.
On the subject of routes, the holds on most climbing walls get reset regularly. This means that you'll get new challenges every month or so without having to travelling to a new rockface, though that can be tonnes of fun too.
Indoor climbing walls usually cater to a range of different styles of climbing from sport climbing and bouldering at most walls to dry tooling and even caving if you're lucky! On top of this, most good walls also have a training area that'll give you a real workout. Packed with campus boards, rings, chin up bars and more weird climbing holds than you can shake a carabiner at, these climbing gyms will helping you develop the strength and technique to truly conquer routes - whether you're wanting to do a casual bit of bouldering in the UK or full-blown mountaineering somewhere far-flung like the Himalayas.
Climbing walls can also save you some cash too, giving you the chance to rent or borrow gear instead of having to invest in it right away. Not ready to shell out for a new rope? Forgotten your climbing shoes or harness? Then your local wall has probably got you covered.
Finally, if you're lucky, your local climbing wall probably comes with a few creature comforts. This can range from a cafe serving up killer hot choc and climbing snacks to climbing gear shops, free wi-fi and even sofas to lounge around and laugh at your new mates falling off the wall.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, Edinburgh
Phone: 0131 333 6333
Built in an old quarry, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena is one of the biggest climbing walls in the world. With walls up to 28m high this place is packed with more than 11,000 bolt on holds and around 300 different routes for you to try.
You can also check out the speed climbing wall, free standing boulders and The Hanger an articulated climbing wall which raised or lowered to change the angle of its overhang. And if you fancy a quick break there's even an aerial assault course where you can live out your Ninja Warrior fantasies 30m above the ground.
Ice Factor – The National Ice Climbing Centre, Kinlochleven
Phone: 01855 831100
Located in the Scottish Highlands less than an hour from the iconic Ben Nevis, i's not a surprise to find one of the UK's biggest centres for mountain sports. Ice Factor boasts one of the largest indoor ice climbing walls in the world alongside a bouldering area, high ropes course and rock climbing walls with their own articulated overhang. When you're done climbing you can relax those aching muscles in the steam room or sauna before heading to the bar or cafe to refuel.
Craggy Island, Guildford
Phone: 0844 8808866
Not to be confused with the setting for legendary sitcom Father Ted, Craggy Island in Guildford is an easy day trip from London or most of the south coast. Featuring 100 rope lines and 300 regularly changed routes there's always a new challenge at Craggy Island and the Surrey based wall has just finished a year of upgrade works that have seen new traverses, extra bouldering areas and a training area installed, making it one of the best bouldering walls in the UK.
Despite all these new additions, Craggy prides itself on its inclusive and friendly climbing community, so who knows maybe you will run into a hilarious Irish priest next time you're climbing in Guildford.
Summit Centre, Merthyr Tydfil
Phone: 0844 8000 222
Formerly the Welsh International Climbing Centre, Summit can be found just outside Cardiff, on the edge of the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park. If you can tear your eyes away from the beautiful Welsh countryside you'll find more than 180 indoor climbing routes, ranging from a 3 all the way up to an 8a and topping out around 18m. Anyone looking for an extra challenge can also check out Summit's man made caving system, which has its own waterfall built in!
Redpoint Climbing Centre, Birmingham
Phone: 0121 359 1777
You're always in for a surprise at Redpoint. With a route setting approach that deliberately encourages 'wandering from panel to panel, swinging underneath arches and sneaking round corners' you'll never be quite sure where you're going to end up, but that's half the fun!
Along with its intriguing routes Redpoint has a tonne of strangely angled walls and cool features including a Yorkshire VS crack and even stalactites. The centre also has a solid training room and two bouldering areas including more than 200 problems and overhanging roof sections to keep you coming back for more.
Undercover Rock – The Bristol Climbing Centre, Bristol
Phone: 0117 908 3491
Built within the fifteenth century Church of St.Werburghs, Undercover is certainly one of the most unusual climbing walls on this list. Packed inside the grade II listed building are 12m tall climbing walls filled with more than 150 roped routes and a 250m² bouldering area. The Bristol Climbing Centre is also a major hub for competition climbing in the southwest featuring comps in top roping, lead climbing, speed climbing and bouldering if you're really looking to push yourself.
The Overhang, Tenby
Phone: 01834 842302
The Overhang can be found right on the Welsh coast, looking out across the Bristol channel. Housed inside a 19th century lifeboat house, this family run wall packs a tonne of climbing into a relatively small space. With plenty of roped routes, overhangs and a boulder room to boot you'll find more than enough to keep you busy and the Overhang will also help you to progress onto real rock with half day outdoor courses.
Fresh for the new year, the Overhang is having a new training area fitted and some challenging new bouldering routes too. The wall also offers the ultimate chill out spot, with a long sandy beach just meters from the front door, where you can kick back and check out the waves after a hard day's climb.