Climbing. No longer a sport for gnarly, adventurous explorers but the go-to for any fitness enthusiast looking to hone their strength, endurance and problem solving skills.
Workouts like RiseNation in the US and SweatByBXR in Marylebone, have taken the popularity of climbing into a group class setting. Now it’s even set to become an Olympic sport in 2020. But why is it proving so popular?
This low-impact sport really does work every muscle in the body from head to toe. Beyond the physical benefits, climbing is a test of agility, balance and mental control.
When you’re on a climb, you’re in the moment – focused on the task at hand. The mind is clear of all other thoughts – it’s a great escape. Try it for yourself at some of our favourite climbing spots around London…
Under the arches of the railway line is Vauxwall. It’s just bouldering here, but with three arches and regular route setting there is lots to explore whatever your abilities – plus they are soon to open a fourth arch. Everyone is super friendly and happy to help when you are stuck halfway up (or under) a wall.
The evenings get pretty packed – hopefully to be alleviated by the fourth arch! But the weekends are nice and quiet so you can find some peace of mind up the wall.
Address: Vauxwall, Vauxhall, 46 – 47a S Lambeth Rd, London SW8 1SR
Price: Drop In – Adult £11 peak. £8.50 off-peak. £70 p/m Anytime Membership.
The Castle Climbing Centre
North London’s climbing gem, The Castle, is a giant, sprawling centre inside an old Victorian pumping station.
If it wasn’t for fatigue, you could spend the whole day here in the bouldering rooms and testing out the 450+ roped and lead routes – there are five floors.
If you get hungry (you will) then take a break in the café. There is a garden in the grounds where the team grow all their veg – eco to the max.
The Castle also holds a session called Women with Altitude. A women only bouldering session held three times a month on Monday evenings from 7 to 9pm.
Address: The Castle Climbing Centre. Finsbury Park. 210 Green Lanes. London. N4 2HA.
Tube: Manor House is 5 min walk or Finsbury Park tube is a 15 min walk.
Price: £12.50 Drop in. £67 Monthly Membership.
West I Climbing Wall at Seymour Leisure Centre
Centrally located climbing is scarce, until we discovered the Seymour Centre. The council run fitness centre as a whole could do with some TLC, but the climbing area is great, with some of the highest indoor roped routes in London. There is a bouldering room here too.
We had a brilliant one-to-one session with Mike. However experienced you are, having someone guide and critique you is so valuable and will improve your climbing. Mike’s enthusiasm is contagious and his passion and knowledge, fascinating. His favourite place to climb? The Roaches in Staffordshire. “It is a picturesque and iconic crag that can look anything from brooding and menacing, to open and beautiful depending on the weather that paints it.” (See what we mean about passion!)
With their off-peak pricing, this is a great spot for a quick lunch-time climb as a very different break from your desk.
Address: Seymour Leisure Centre. Marylebone Seymour Place London W1H 5TJ.
Tube: Edgware Road or Baker Street
Prices: View membership options
Westway, like Seymour, is located within a larger sporting complex. There is a huge range of climbing here; 350 roped routes on 110 lines, as well as bouldering walls, training rooms and auto-belay machines if you are climbing solo.
And with 13.5m high walls, you don’t need to get on an outdoor rock face to get the fear.
Address: Westway Sports Centre, 1 Crowthorne Rd London W10 6RP
Tube: Latimer Road, White City, Ladbroke Grove
Prices: £10.50 Peak. £8 off peak.
For more bouldering-centric spaces, you won’t find a bigger and more diverse range of routes than at Strong Hold in Tottenham Hale. One of the largest in the UK, Strong Hold wants to create a community space as well as a climbing wall. With a yoga studio (flexibility is key in climbing of course), a gym, event spaces and a cafe, you can definitely hang out here with a bunch of friendly people who love to climb.
And if you want to get your kids in to climbing? The Rockers Club is a great group session aimed at children aged 6 – 12, and teenagers too.
Address: Strong Hold – Ashley Road, Tottenham Hale, London N17 9LJ
Tube: Tottenham Hale (Victoria)
Price: Adult Peak £10. Off-Peak £7.50. Under 18s £6.50. Monthly Membership £50.