People come to London for different reasons but, admittedly, to climb indoor walls maybe isn’t one of them. And yet, indoor climbing’s an activity that, in recent years, has only become ever more popular – a combination of physical and mental exertion that’s really quite unlike anything else. So, should you be visiting London for a short stay soon and in need of something to do one rainy afternoon, why not give it a go? The climbing centres in the capital must be, together, some of the best you’ll come across anywhere in the world…
Various locations including:
Marylebone (West 1 Climbing Wall, Seymour Leisure Centre, Seymour Place W1H 5TJ)
Swiss Cottage (Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, Adelaide Road NW3 3NF)
Hackney (Hackney Wick Boulder Project, 117 Wallis Road E9 5LN)
Anybody would think that, with seven locations spread across the capital, Climb London has a monopoly on climbing walls in the city, but so burgeoning an entity is the climbing wall that’s not exactly so. What Climb London’s efforts do boast, though, is accessibility and ease-of-use; they’re all located within sports centres and gyms, for a start. That said, exactly what’s on other does tend to vary from centre to centre, so it’s best to do your research before you set off for the one in Marylebone (great for accommodation Paddington London), or its equivalents in Swiss Cottage or Hackney. Reassuringly, while experienced climbers are allowed to get going immediately, newbies are obliged to complete a safety test first and young would-be-climbers must be accompanied by adult Climb London members.
Westway Climbing Centre
(1 Crowthorne Road W10 6RP/ open: 9.30am-10pm Monday-Wednesday and Friday; 8am-10pm Thursday; 8am-8pm Saturday-Sunday)
To be found in the not wholly salubrious environs underneath the A40 Westway Flyover, this climbing centre is, however, right next to the gigantic Westfield shopping mall, so conveniently located for many an amenity (and, owing to its hugely popular near neighbour, very easy to get to via the Tube from accommodation like, say, Park Grand Paddington Court London). And its climbing potential is impressive, indeed; offering, as it does, 200sqm of wall for bouldering (low-height rope-free climbing), as many as 350 different climbing routes (each one changed every month) and 110 roped lines. It also offers private tuition, women-only sessions, beginners’ courses, the brilliant-sounding Bouldercise (bouldering-meets-exercise-workouts; yes, really) and teenager sessions, single-family sessions and birthday parties. Plus, given that the venue’s housed within a leisure centre, you can also try your hand at other activities while you’re there – everything from swimming to tennis and basketball to cricket.
(Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, Tower House, 10-12 Southampton Street WC2E 7HA/ open: 11.30am- 6.30pm Tuesday-Friday; 10.30am-6.30pm Saturday; 12noon-5pm Sunday)
Finally, here’s a climbing experience for the truly adventurous. Why? Because this wall located at the back of the Ellis Brigham outdoor activity store in Covent Garden quite assiduously recreates the task of trying to climb an icy rock face in torrid, freezing conditions. Its temperature ranges from just -7°C to -5°C, necessitating then the wearing of many an outer layer, a helmet, harnesses, gloves and even eye protection (all of which is provided – along with an axe!). Amazingly, beginners as well as veteran wall climbers are welcome. It’s one to separate the men from the boys, so to speak; for sure!