From top roping to bouldering, Stanage is undoubtedly one of England’s most famous natural climbing venues. This gritstone escarpment boasts excellent scrambling and bouldering opportunities for all abilities; there are the Grand Hotel Boulders near Plantation Path, the Central and Pebble Boulders, and a number of diverse problems along the Edge itself.
Top tip: Don’t expect to transfer your indoor climbing skills to exactly the same difficulty level outside. Getting used to different rock types and building up confidence in the outdoors takes practise. You’re also at the mercy of the weather: there are a lot of factors that affect the friction between rock and skin/shoe rubber, but colder and drier conditions are best for climbers.
Check out our blog on How to Transform from Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing
The best bouldering in North Wales can be found in the majestic, mountainous folds of Llanberis Pass. You can choose from the crenulated Wavelength boulders on the slope behind the Ynys Ettws climbing hut, or the Cromlech Boulders which can be easily reached from the Pont y Gromlech car park.
Top tip: Naturally, outdoor bouldering carries added risks; it’s important to use bouldering mats and to learn how to fall safely, as well as effectively spot other climbers by protecting their head and guiding them towards the mat when they land. Practice spotting indoors and on low-level bouldering problems first, ideally with an experienced climbing partner.
Bonehill Rocks (SX731774) has 100+ bouldering problems, ranging from simple scrambles to some considerably more challenging climbs. These granite tors sit in open moorland and just north of a car park for easy access.
Top tip: When you complete a bouldering problem indoors, you match the top hold before dropping or climbing down. Outside, you complete a problem by standing on its highest point, known as ‘topping out’. Boulder tops can be smooth without anything to hold, so topping out takes practise – start on low-level problems first.
4. Southern Sandstone, East Sussex
It may not be the best bouldering in Britain, but the area’s softer sandstone presents problems which can expose weaknesses in technique, footwork and core strength. This is why some of the UK’s top climbers cut their teeth here, not to mention its easy access for Londoners (there is easy access limestone bouldering at the Cuttings on the Isle of Portland too).
Top tip: Finishing a bouldering problem outside isn’t as simple as down-climbing or letting go of the top hold for a safe landing. Outside, it’s important to always calculate your safest exit route before you begin climbing.
5. Dumbarton, Scotland
Only a stone’s throw away from Glasgow, ‘Dumby’ is considered the home of Scottish bouldering. Its 7 basalt slabs offer excellent friction and some of the toughest bouldering problems in Scotland. In the heart of Edinburgh, climbing routes can also be found in Salisbury Crags’ South Quarry.
Top tip: Clean your shoes before climbing to reduce wear on the rock. Never chip the rock or use a wire brush to clean holds (instead, use a stiff-bristled brush). Take your litter with you to leave without a trace!