OUR FAVOURITE UK CLIMBS
The UK may not be blessed with some of the best weather on the planet but it’s certainly blessed with some of the world’s best climbs. From epic multi pitch trad climbs to short but complex boulder problems, Britain has it all and our staff have climbed them.
These are our favourite climbs from across the UK as suggested by the people who have conquered them…
EMPIRE OF THE SUN, 7b, ANSTEY’S COVE, DEVON
Mark Bullock, Learning & Development Advisor
“I loved climbing ‘Empire’, but mostly in retrospect. Situated in beautiful Anstey’s Cove on the South Devon coast, it takes a fairly direct line up the steep Empire Wall. Most of my climbing friends had climbed it and it seemed like an obvious thing to try, the local climb everyone always asks: ‘have you done?’ So I tried, and it felt desperate.
I tried again, not much better. On my third go I did a tiny bit better. Then I spent half an hour giving two visiting climbers beta, and realised I actually knew the route quite well, and knew where the better holds were, where to rest, where to go fast. Next go I managed to do it bolt to bolt quite comfortably (which still felt scary as bolts 4 and 5 look far apart). Then I did it 2 bolts at a time. Then in 2 overlapping sections, and then finally, from bottom to top.
That redpoint process isn’t uncommon of course, most sport climbers know that feeling well. But on the final redpoint attempt, when I did it, it felt so easy, I was more nervous of messing it up than I was about getting pumped or falling. It’s a cliché to say it, but the moves just flowed into each other like a dance. I’d got the timing just right, so it was still a thrill to do it, I didn’t have it SO wired that it was boring, and honestly it was a joy that I’ll always treasure. I remember standing at the chains and just smiling, relishing it, for quite a long time before I clipped them and said “Okay. Safe. Bring me down.” ”
MÉNAGE ET TOI, AT CRAIG BRAICH TY DU, NORTH WALES
Hannah Smith, Aberdeen/Royal Oak Store
“My favourite boulder problem in the UK is Ménage et toi, at Craig Braich Ty Du near Llyn Ogwen in North Wales. I was shown the crag by one of my climbing partners and quickly began to climb the interesting line from the foot block under the roof. It is given the grade V6 (Font 7A), which is probably about right for someone who is my height.
I found that I could quickly work through the starting moves but gaining the confidence to just go for the last move proved difficult due to the height and exposure.
This is my favourite climb because it has such a wonderful set of moves that are sustained throughout the problem, with the burly but crimpy beginning and the sketchy rock over to top it out.”
TROUTDALE PINNACLE, BORRODALE, CUMBRIA
Hazel Johnson, Keswick Store
“My Favourite UK climb has to be Troutdale Pinnacle, Borrodale, Cumbria. The guide book gives it a grade of Severe, with 3 stars. In my mind it definitely deserves those stars! It is a classic lakeland route that is popular with many climbers. Living locally gives me the luxury of heading up on a week day, so mostly avoiding the crowds. It can be very busy on a sunny weekend.
I have probably climbed this route 8 or 10 times. Why so many? Because it has everything! The route is described as 6 pitches. Mostly I would stick to the guide as the route wanders around the crag, generating massive rope drag when you link pitches together. It has steep sections (but not too steep), slabby sections, juggy sections and delicate sections. The gear is good (mostly). The views up the Borrodale valley are great. The position of some of the belays are quite exposed, but wonderful. Can’t wait to head up the valley and climb this route again!”
SATAN’S SLIP (E1 5a ***), LUNDY ISLAND
Emma Smith, Exeter Store
“Bold, serious, delicate – evocative words which can all be found in the route description of this classic Lundy test piece. Located on a small granite outcrop in the Bristol Channel, Satan’s Slip drives a direct line up one of the UK’s most unique sea cliffs, a bucket list destination for any wannabe slab master.
For me it is the location and sense of adventure that make this route and Lundy Island stand out amongst British Trad. Satan’s Slip is certainly not the most famous route on Lundy, nor is its line the most striking but no matter whether you’re leading or the second the route’s bold nature forces you into a zone of concentration that any climber craves. Lundy Island is an unspoilt haven and must visit location for anyone with an enthusiasm for the outdoors.”
FLY ON THE WALL (HS 4b, 4a *) & ARMADA (HS 4a, 4a *), PLYMOUTH
Alex Dunhill, Plymouth Store Manager
“I only heard about what was going to become my favourite climb(s) by chance; a colleague suggested in passing, that as I’m in Plymouth, I should try a route called “Armada”at the Dewerstone, my local crag. As climbs with a nasty reputation usually turn out to be the best, on my next visit I thought it would be good to give it a go. On my next day off, I got to the bottom of what looked like an intimidating climb and set off up some great holds with a lot of bridging. After setting up the belay, my second couldn’t get past the 1st crux, so I made the reluctant decision to abseil off, clean the gear and try another day.
Back in the shop chatting to a regular he mentioned that Armada is a great way to finish another Dewerstone classic, Fly on the Wall (FTW.) Hence, still wanting to complete Armada and having heard that FTW was a great way to start it, I suggested it to a different climbing partner and off we went. After a warm up on Central Groove (HS 4b ***), another great route, we climbed the four pitches in 2 hours and had a great day out. Climbing the two as one big climb, is certainly an adventure and very recommended as all four pitches require a different style of climbing.”
OLD MAN OF HOY, SCOTLAND
Pete Holtmeyer-Cole, Buying Director
“My favourite UK climb is The Old Man of Hoy. A 450 feet high, isolated sea stack on the Island of Hoy, made of Orcadian sandstone and perched on a plinth of basalt.
In the summer of 2010, I somehow found myself on a tiny plane on the way to Kirkwall with my friends Paul and Rob to climb it.
It was going to be a full day, setting out first thing for the 3-4 miles walk in and would involve 5 full rope lengths of climbing in order to reach the top.
Summiting The Old Man of Hoy was a team effort, each one of us taking it in turns to lead to the next pitch. I went on the 3rd, a testing climb struggling into a chimney, bridging & thrutching. I led the next pitch then Rob was soon leading the last pitch up a corner where you can see through the sea stack.
The top was very windy & cold so we abseiled off quickly, inevitably getting our ropes stuck. The wind was gusting 40 mph and as I abseiled the last 200 foot, the wind blew me 30 feet horizontally out to sea!
By the time we got down the sun had set. Stumbling into the bothy in the dark we were greeted by a Scottish team who had climbed it just before us. A wee dram of single malt sent me off to my sleeping-bag tired & happy.
The Orkney Islands are a fascinating area and I’d recommend anyone go and explore with loads of great climbs and some of the best Neolithic ruins anywhere in Europe.”
AVENGING THE HALSEWELL 7b, SWANAGE, DORSET
“Avenging the Halsewell is located in Winspit Quarry, Swanage Dorset. The line is located on the main quarry and dominates this section of wall, it takes a direct steep line up the most overhanging area of the quarry.
The route is comprised of three blocky overhangs with a very different approach to tackling each. the first is the most simple requiring some upper body strength but mostly a well positioned rock over. The second roof is perhaps the most challenging requiring precise moves from some small crimps but again good footwork and this time a cheeky knee bar made it all possible. After resting under the final roof you can pull over the top on good holds but the angle still made this part of the route physically demanding and some very good climbers have fallen at this stage.
Avenging the Halswell is one of my favourite UK climbs because it stands as a physically challenging, ferocious test piece of the grade. At the time this took me weeks to complete and this is the same story for many climbers who choose this route as their first at the grade and all that I have spoken to remember it fondly, a fantastic and challenging line well deserving of 3 stars.”
Just getting started with rock climbing, or stuck in a rut and wanting to take your climbing to the next level? Check out our Top Rock Climbing Tips for Beginners and Improvers to get some handy pointers.