Stanage Edge

5 Best Places To Rock Climb in England


Rock Climbing England
Photo Credit: Nicole Booth

Did you know that over 1 million people take part in rock climbing every year in England, and this figure rises each year? I was first introduced to rock climbing when I was 18 years old, working in the lake district as an outdoor instructor. My main activities at the time were canoeing and kayaking. I just loved to be outdoors and had my dream job leading activities in a beautiful area. We had a small crag, a small indoor wall, and an artificial outdoor climbing tower with an abseil on site.

Being in the heart of the lake district national park and the only mountainous area in England, I knew I wanted to try everything I had the opportunity to do. Over that summer I became addicted to climbing and never looked back. It was my happy place even when my skill levels were beginner’s. 15 years later, I still love rock climbing, researching climbing techniques, and developing my rock climbing skills whenever or where ever it’s possible.

In England, we have a surprising range of options for climbing outdoors, especially given the small size of our country. Forget about an indoor climbing wall or a rock climbing gym. Each crag has its unique charm and approach. I’ve selected my favorite places to climb in England along with some key tips. Don’t worry if you have no experience. Rock climbers all have to start somewhere to develop their climbing ability. Grab your climbing equipment and let’s go!

1. Stanage Edge and Burbage North

Stanage Edge
Photo Credit: Nicole Booth

Type of Rock: Gritstone

Type of Climbing: Trad (single pitch), Bouldering

Stanage Edge is located in the peak district national park and is approx. 5km of the crag that covers all grades for experienced climbers. I have been here so many times over the past 14 years where I perfected my climbing technique, sometimes for multiple days at a time whilst camping nearby and I still end up finding routes I’ve not attempted. There are odd boulders around Stanage and the nearby Burbage but it is mostly suited for single-pitch trad climbing.

There are two car parks here that you do need to pay for. This is a busy crag so get there early (< 8 am). The Plantation car park is located here but head a bit further along the road for another smaller car park if this is full). I would also recommend having a couple of options for routes you want to tackle over the day. The shoulder seasons of early spring and mid-autumn are the best times to visit here and have more choices of routes. It’s a good place to start your climbing adventures.

2. The Roaches

The Roaches
Photo Credit: Nicole Booth

Type of Rock: Granite

Type of Climbing: Trad climbing (mostly multi-pitch)

The roaches are also located in the peak district but have a unique feel and look to them. As you drive up to the roaches area you will notice what look like sharp ridges with an unusual Jurassic-like aesthetic, especially when the morning due is rising. This stunning area is fantastic for walkers and hikers as the bottom of the crags are shrouded in ancient forest and fauna which looks wild and untamed as it’s been protected.

The approach is relatively easy and well-marked along the path but has a constant uphill gradient so expect to be a bit warm. Besides the gorgeous location, the best thing for me here is the large range of routes here with plenty of good anchor points for those leading. We did a women’s climb meet-up here and had a group of beginners joining on the top rope before a couple attempted some of the routes as seconds. It was a great climbing adventure and everyone learned a lot.

The parking for the roaches is a little less established than other crags and is more along. The roadside starting here is a good meeting point. If you struggle to find a spot here just follow the road down.

3. Langdale Pikes

Langdale Pikes
Photo Credit: Nicole Booth

Type of Rock: Gritstone

Type of Climbing: Trad (single pitch), Bouldering

Langdale Pikes is in the lake district and I’ve not singled out a particular crag because there are a few to choose from. The first ones you will see on your approach are long scars and black crags. However, if you are good at navigating and don’t mind walking further then you will find Gaitkins. The views from here are just stunning and the thing I love the most about the lake district. Just miles of peaks and valleys and lush green farms between.

This crag is very popular for climbing training however the great thing about it is, the car park is limited. If you get there early and grab a spot you are going to reap the rewards of possibly having a crag to yourself or maybe encountering just the odd couple over the day. It is a popular hikers route being close to Pike of Blisco and in the south of the national park, but you will find a lot of hikers may be passing through this on the route to other peaks.

Like most of England, the weather is changeable and it is quite exposed whatever the weather is. Some of the rock here is quite rough and may catch on thinner fabrics and will likely feel tough on the hands.

The approach to each of the crags starts here and is stunning (and parking is right next to it here).

4. Bosigran Sea Cliffs

Type of Rock: Granite Sea Cliff

Type of Climbing: Trad Climbing (Single and Multi-pitch)

Down on the northern coast of West Penwith of Cornwall, Bosigran sea cliffs offer a wonderful outdoor rock climbing experience that has its charm. These sea cliffs offer a great range of climbing grades, but it should be noted most are severe or above (also don’t forget the exposure to the elements here). As you complete each route and reflect you see why it’s a favorite spot in the south offering challenge and plenty to do to recover following climbing. With many climbers heading for a surf, swim, or beer afterward.

Don’t be surprised if other climbers are friendly and suggest heading for a beer afterward. This should come as no surprise in the outdoor community is very friendly, however, this is added to by the environment. Cornwall is a Mecca for the great outdoors and has a lot on offer, you will find the atmosphere very enticing.

You can find plenty of car parking here. The approach is easy compared to other northern crags which generally require an ascent, however, your anchors and setups will be the key here. Some of these may require you to edge out along a ridge area to start or an abseil. When previewing you may want to secure into a few lower anchors before setting off to lead the route.

My top tip, bring a double rope, extra slings, and a few extra cams if you have them on hand (I tend to amalgamate my rack with friends when at places like this, where you may need more options for securing yourself).

5. Brimham Rocks

Type of Rock: Gritstone

Type of Climbing: Bouldering

Located in Yorkshire this area is owned by the national trust and a site of special interest. This area is used for research, conservation, and geological study. It can get busy and sometimes may have some restrictions to protect the nesting of birds, so always check ahead of your visit. I loved my visit to these boulders, they are very distinctive and kind of look like they’ve been plucked from somewhere else and then dropped here.

The approach to the first boulders is short which is great news when compared to most approaches in the U.K. climbs and boulders. There are so many to choose from you could easily spend a full day or more and still not get through all of the challenges on these boulders.

The car parking can be found here. There is a charge of about £5.00 but free for national trust members. Just be aware of the earlier closing times for the car park. This can sometimes be at 6 pm which has had people noting on the climbing forum when they have had their cars locked in.

The Best Websites or Apps For Planning Your Rock Climb

• The British Mountaineering Council (BMC) – This national body represents and helps protect and promote the interests of mountain climbers, hill goers, and those that participate in this field of competition.

• RAD by BMC (for land access checks)

• Rock Fax (their app is also great) – Here you can purchase Ebooks from different rock climbing locations throughout the world. You will receive detailed maps of the area, the history of where you will be, and tips & tricks to make your experience easy and unforgettable.

• UK Climbing (UKC) – here you will find forums for most climbing spots in the country and beta about particular routes (if you want to know this beforehand).

• Watt Three Words – helpful for your location should you have an emergency and struggle. Or to save the crag location for future use.

Recommended Climbing Guide Books

• Lake District Rock

• Western Grit

• West Country Climb RockFax

• Yorkshire Gritstone

• Stanage the definitive guide

This article originally appeared on The World Overload. Featured Photo Credit: Nicole Booth

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