Rock Climbing

Climbing in the mountains, climbing by the sea 

For those living in the UK, there is truly one of the best environments in the world in which to enjoy rock-climbing! It may not have the best weather at times or mile upon mile of cliffs like other countries have. For me, it is the variety of rock type and location to climb in that makes it special.

The Diabaig slabs, north-west Highlands

Climbing in the mountains, climbing by the sea and multitudes of roadside crags.

Friction and crack climbing on moorland grit and mountain granite. Crimpy, fingery limestone.  Grooves, corners, arêtes and slabs all intermingled on complex mountain buttresses.Cairngorm mountain granite

Climbing immense cliffs that make up Britain’s highest mountains.

There are sea cliffs made of almost every rock type that there is. Some of these cliffs are approachable on foot, others by exciting scrambles, toes just above the sea. Other cliffs are only accessible by abseil.

Great places to be, climbing on splendid rock, with thought provoking moves amongst a vast backdrop of mountains and hills or just the open sea.

Rock-climbing across the UK

For those of you who are already climbers, you probably don’t need to be told about UK climbing!

If, however, you’re an indoor wall climber or you’ve headed straight to the Alps or other parts of the world and have missed out somehow on what is closer to home, give it a go! For alpine preparation its ideal; to enjoy more of the world of climbing will help make you feel more at ease when climbing at an easier standard, on bigger cliffs, at altitude and possibly carrying a rucksack.

Also, it’s the best way to really get to grips with rock-climbing ropework, where there is loads of time to understand the process of staying safe with ropes when on rock. With a mountain guide or climbing instructor you’ll be in good hands to try out something new.An exposed belay on the Cioch Nose, Applecross

Getting started

Making use of the nearest roadside crags is the best way to get started, if you’re completely new to rock-climbing. Simple crags that aren’t too big and you can walk to the base and top of the crag.

A less imposing environment to learn in; just getting on the rock and climbing it, trusting your hands and feet on the holds. Learning to trust the rope that’s above you while you try perplexing moves and then learning about belaying your climbing partner while they have a go as well. Once at the top of a route you can walk back round to the start or try abseiling back down the climb.The classic VS on Cloggy, Great Slab

The next progression

Taking your climbing skills to more adventurous places. Bigger cliffs where the climbs are split into more than one pitch. Climbing routes in stages using belays (anchors) made from rock protection.

Belay stances can be exciting places; some are quite spacious while others are quite exposed. Once all the climbing team have arrived at this belay and everyone is secure, then the next pitch can be tackled.

In this manner, pitch by pitch, the whole route is climbed, stepping higher and higher above the ground with every move. Building your confidence in trusting the rope and the system of safety at belay stances allows you to move on to more exciting challenges, and enjoy some very fine climbing in spectacular places.

The climbing itself does not have to be too difficult. In Britain, there are routes of all grades on such cliffs for those who have done a bit of climbing before. It is one the great things about climbing in Britain, that everyone, with a bit of inclination and preparation, can try it.

Ultimately, adventurous multi-pitch climbing involves further skills and effort.

Whether it be a good walk into the hills to reach the cliff, or to carry kit up a climb for the walk back down, or knowing how to abseil as the only means of reaching the routes on sea cliffs.

The skills and the fitness required to go to these places perhaps takes time to acquire, yet if the climbing bug hooks you, you can spend a happy lifetime trying to work it out!

Trying a new style of climbing on different rock, pushing the grade a little, or taking your consolidated climbing skills to a more adventurous location, the variety is there on British crags to always keep you entertained.

Here is a selection of some of the best places to climb, for their quality climbs, great rock and ease of having a holiday there.

South-west England

Sea cliff climbing in all its forms. Many accessible crags with good rock, particularly on the granite in Cornwall.

North Wales

A variety of great climbing in a relatively small area. Good roadside crags, mountain routes and sea cliffs. Also, so many rock types to choose from, that really develop your climbing style. Good for having reasonable wet weather options.

The Peak District

Great single-pitch cragging on the extensive gritstone edges. Very good for getting yourself started in rock-climbing. Down the valley from the moorland grit are the longer routes of the limestone crags.

The Lake District

Good for accessible multi-pitch mountain climbs, good rock and excellent routes of all lengths.


Great for single-pitch crags, on a variety of rock and location, and big, relatively remote mountain cliffs. Good to be flexible with your plans and have a car to escape bad weather, somewhere there will be dry rock, which you are often likely to share with few others with a remarkable ambience and sense of solitude.
Glencoe mountain rock, the ‘Big Top’