If you're lucky enough to live near a sizeable lump of rock then you have bouldering on your doorstep, but the city dwellers out there need another solution and bouldering walls are it. These handy indoor climbing spaces combine a variety of challenging climbs with a nicely padded floor and the creature comforts of a shiny new coffee machine or wi-fi router.
"Bouldering walls are usually cheaper than a gym membership, they offer more creative exercise and give you an adrenaline kick too"
Way more stimulating and social than a gym, bouldering walls give you the solid workout of a good bouldering session, free from the hassle of rain or even lugging your own crash pads around. On top of this, bouldering is usually cheaper than a gym membership, offers a more creative way exercise and gives you an adrenaline kick too - which is why nearly every empty warehouse and railway arch in London seems to be sprouting climbing holds right now.
If you live you want to give bouldering a go for the first time or just fancy checking out a new wall in the city, then take a gander at this little list of some of London's top bouldering spots. It's worth noting as well that the best bouldering walls in London are not necessarily the same as the best climbing walls in London.
Best Bouldering Walls in London: The Arch – Building one
Nearest Tube: Bermondsey
The Arch runs a trio of bouldering sites across London, from Arch North in Burnt Oak, to the Biscuit Factory and Building One just a couple of minutes walk from Bermondsey tube. Building one is the flagship centre of the group and it's easy to see why.
Building One is packed with more than 300 routes including a 50m traverse wall and an articulated board which can literally ramp up the difficulty level of your climb. The stand out feature of this wall is the 20m long roof section that let's you climb upside through a tunnel like space above inclined mats to protect your backside when your arms eventually give up.
Next door to the roof you'll also find a training area complete with peg wall, campus boards and a bar set up that adds a big fun element to all those workouts.
Best Bouldering Walls in London: The Climbing Hangar
Nearest Tube: Parsons Green
Previously known as Urban Ascent, the Climbing Hangar can be found in the old Parson's Green TFL depot. Billing itself as 'London's friendliest indoor rock climbing gym' there's a big focus on community here with climbing available for all levels including children's and family sessions.
The wall isn't just focused on younger climbers though, as it also runs a winter bouldering league. This series of competitions runs from November through to March and is open to everyone, so you can always be sure of some good banter and competitive spirit on winter trips to the Hangar.
Best Bouldering Walls in London: Vauxwall Climbing Centre
Nearest Tube: Vauxhall
Built into the railway arches a chalk ball's throw from Vauxhall station, Vauxwall has got everything you could ask for from a Great British bouldering wall.
There's plenty of bouldering here with loads of circuits, a traverse area and comp wall. While these routes are often reset Vauxwall have a perma set of wooden hold routes that will never change, giving you a real benchmark to check how your boulder skills are progressing. You'll also find a sizeable training area complete with all the conditioning toys you could hope for including, free weights, swiss balls, cattle bells and ab wheels.
By reception there's the Vauxshop selling all the latest climbing gear and Vaux cafe, a decent sized chill out space where you can lounge in comfort with a fresh cuppa after a long climb. Vauxwall even offer a towel service for those vital post boulder showers and chalk bag hire too adding some nice extra touches to this well furnished bouldering wall.
Best Bouldering Walls in London: Craggy Island, Sutton
Nearest Tube: Belmont Rail Station
Not to be confused with it's mixed climbing sister site in Guildford, Craggy Island Sutton is a dedicated bouldering centre south west of Croydon.
Spread across three rooms, Craggy offers a good range of climbing. The comp room has 100 regular bouldering problems set across angled walls, slabs and steep overhangs while the rock room provides another 100 challenges alongside sculpted grit, slate and limestone features.
The real surprise here is the cave room which has an 'extensive caving system' complete with chambers and passages for anyone that fancies a truly unusual addition to their bouldering wall trip.
Best Bouldering Walls in London: Mile End
Nearest Tube: Mile End
Mile End is a mainstay of the London bouldering and climbing scene. This charity run climbing complex caters for sport and lead climbing too but bouldering makes up the bulk of the routes here.
At 16,000 sq ft Mile End has a tonne of different bouldering including warm up, crack, slab and big overhang areas. When it gets too hot indoors you can pop outside to the bouldering garden with it's sheltered free standing boulder problems. On top of a killer training area, the jewel in Mile End's crown is the Monkey House, where you can climb across the walls and ceiling in never ending circuits that will test any level of boulderer.