I’m often asked about the climbing centres I’m most familiar with that are not too far away. The Warehouse in Gloucester, Undercover Rock, TCA Bloc and Redpoint in Bristol, Redpoint in Worcester, Boulders in Cardiff and finally Redpoint and Creation in Birmingham are the bigger centres, but there are a few smaller ones that still provide a bit of fun e.g. The University of West England (UWE) near Bristol and The Riverside at Evesham (pictured).
I work and play at numerous climbing centres and they each have their good points – depending on what you want or what you are doing. Some centres offer Top Rope climbing, Lead Climbing and Bouldering whilst some are dedicated bouldering centres so it depends on what you want. One of the most important factor regardless of the quality of the routes is the staff. They can make or break a visit. It seems to me that climbing centre staff these days need to be so many things. They welcome you, they floor walk, anticipate problems, instruct climbing in all its forms and if you’re lucky they are climbers too.
The Warehouse Gloucester
The Warehouse in Gloucester has been remodelled in recent years; a new wall in the main arena, dedicated areas for youngsters with party rooms, bouldering walls and a self belay area that take the pressure off the main climbing are, a cave system and a welcoming reception. The featured climbing walls give an added attraction for outdoor climbers as the features are great to use for the feet and give an extra dimension to the climbing. They also have a café bar and an extended bouldering room that now covers the whole of the top floor. This is a centre that’s hard to beat for birthday parties and kids groups and the climbing area has well set routes that are regularly changed. This goes
for the bouldering area too and there are often friendly bouldering competitions. It’s worth mentioning they also have an abseil platform and meeting rooms. Parking can be a problem during the day, but after 6pm there is free parking just a few minutes away. This is a good centre to run courses.
Not the easiest place to find in the back streets of Worcester, but a dedicated climbing centre with a massive area – 1000 square metres – of top rope and lead routes, a large bouldering area – 500 square metres, a training room and open cafe serving a variety of foods in a relaxing setting overlooking the main climbing arena. Built in the original Railway Warehouse it maintains some original features making this a historical as well as interesting setting – anoraks at the ready!!
Plenty of parking and suitable for individuals, groups, parties and for educational groups. An excellent facility for running NICAS and NGB courses. It is quite expensive though so be warned – stay all day and get your moneys worth.
Undercover Rock, Bristol
Undercover Rock in Bristol was one of the first major climbing centres in the UK and enjoys a unique setting in a church. Over the years UCR has become what I would term ‘a climbing centre of excellence’. It has some very professional Senior staff who not only act as technical advisors for smaller walls and schools but offer a wide variety of courses. Ali Taylor runs all CWA and CWLA courses here throughout the year. The climbs are set by trained route setters, which are interesting and fun. The bouldering allows all ages and abilities to participate fully and improve and has been greatly improved in recent years. The reception area doubles as a cafe including sandwiches, snacks and drinks and it does makes this an easy place to while away a wet Sunday afternoon. Parking nearby on the street has never been a problem but not on the street outside the main entrance. It is now owned by the shareholders of TCA.
The Climbing Academy, Bristol
Bright, fresh and fun are just a few of the words that come to mind. It doesn’t matter if you are on your own or with friends, it works. The problems vary not only through the grades but within the grades which means interest is maintained. It’s often used by schools and there are also fun competitions. Throw in modern toilets, proper coffee, Wi-Fi, parking and friendly atmosphere along with UCR, Redpoint and Bloc it makes Bristol a major indoor climbing destination.
Based in Bristol the Bloc climbing centre is the largest bouldering wall in the southwest with many full height climbing walls ( 4.5m ). Bloc has an array of climbing walls from the steep to slabs to hanging aretes. Every wall has climbs suitable for everyone to enjoy bringing the fun of bouldering to the newest of climbers through to the 8b climbers.
Lots of parking available and close to the M32 for easy access.
A modern, clean indoor climbing wall in South Bristol, with over 300 routes, lead & top rope, as well as 2 bouldering areas, a fully licensed cafe bar, free WiFi, and parking(which is actually quite limited). It caters for individuals, groups and schools and offers climbing lessons and coaching.
Boulders in Cardiff is housed in the end section of a large industrial unit and it’s big. Its vast space has enabled a centre that caters for climbers of all abilities, whilst a variety of courses take place. It offers Bottom Roping, Lead Climbing and there is a huge area dedicated to bouldering. They offer many indoor and outdor courses, including Instructor coursers. Boulders also has a small shop, a lecture room and an excellent café with exceptional food and more importantly plenty of parking.
I’ve climbed here several times and am always pleasantly surprised by the variety and quality of the routes. Set in an industrial area of Birmingham there are lots of places to park, but you have to pay. There is a pleasant cafe with good food and snacks and very friendly staff who offer indoor and outdoor climbing. There is a variety of Top Rope and Lead Climbs as well as a seperate bouldering area with an unusually downward sloping overhanging area. Some of the routes are amazing fun and go across several walls and through overhangs and arches with bridging and swinging dynamic moves that really keep you on your toes trying to work out where to go, although these routes are only possible when it’s quiet. Volumes are a huge feature here and again help to make the centre unique and interesting. Well worth a visit.
Built inside an old bus station, or something similar, this place is huge. It also has an indoor skateboard park so a great climbing destination if you bring children along who aren’t into climbing. There are plenty of routes to choose from but the grades are a little off – either too easy or too hard so you’re not sure really what you’re going to be climbing, and the routes often awkward just for the sake of it. There is a cafe and a very large dedicated bouldering area. I found the steep long routes on the featured wall the most enjoyable and wished I’d discovered them earlier rather than later. They also have a shop that sells both climbing and skateboard stuff AND they teach silks – a type of aerial ballet on long silk sheets suspended from the ceiling! Parking is on the street outside and is hard to come by.
I’d definitely recommend UCR and if I found myself in Birmingham I’d go for Redpoint rather than Creation as although smaller the routes are of better quality and the grades spot on.