Rock Climbing London – A Review of Indoor Walls

Indoor Climbing Walls London

Castle Climbing Centre
Castle Climbing Centre

Rock Climbing in London

So you live and work in London and outdoor climbing is saved for weekends. With the severe lack of local rock crags in the capital, where is there to rock climb in London. There is nothing better than touching rock and spending time up that stunning arête in Portland or the super sticky peak stone grit. But in the cold winter evenings when you are training for those summer crags where is best?

We will review the available indoor walls and help you decide which is best for your needs, are you a boulder, Trad or sport specialist, are you looking to climb the nose on El Cap in the summer. Whatever your goals you must concentrate on your winter training. So without further ado lets take a look at some of those indoor Walls.

Tour of The Arch Climbing Centre

Arch Climbing Wall

This place is a bouldering heaven. Where the staff are very friendly and helpful, some of the staff set the routes so there is plenty of knowledge when you are feeling particularly stuck on that nasty V7. It is only a few minutes walk from London bridge and is like a little Rabbit Warren when you walk in, the changing room is tiny and the lockers smaller, just enough to fit your wallet and phone, so don't expect to bring that 40L rucksack and fit it in. But despite these little quirks this place has some great routes and a huge diversity of grades. If you like roofs then there is a great roof section and some superb overhangs.

Variety of routes 4/5 – As bouldering venues go the variety is great and they are changed regularly

Value for money 4/5 – slightly cheaper than some of the central

Variety of climbing types 2/5 – purely bouldering but has a campus and training boards.

Staff 3/5 – Most were lovely

Tour of The Castle Climbing Centre

Castle Climbing Centre

This is in my opinion the largest and best of the London Climbing Centres. So there you go I have already told you how this review will go. It is not too busy even at peak times where you rarely have to queue for routes. It is hard to beat The Castle for variety of climbs and chilled out atmosphere. Even if you are not normally a fan of indoor climbing, this place is still a fantastic place to escape the hectic London lifestyle. As for the building where else would you find a castle surrounded by housing but London, well Finsbury Park to be more specific and it easy to reach from anywhere in London. It has so many routes spread over two floors which include roped, leads and bouldering routes. This place really does have everything, the staff are excellent and some of the most proactive I have ever known at an indoor climbing wall they move around the room checking safe belay technique and answering any questions you may have.

Variety of routes 5/5 – Has the most variety of any of the London indoor climbing walls

Value for money 4/5 – Expensive if you are not a concession but you pay for what you get

Variety of climbing types 5/5 – Has everything and more, you can even abseil the Tower and have self belay routes.

Staff 5/5 – Everyone is knowledgeable and proactive, couldn't ask for more.

Steve McClure - The Westway guest route setter for June 08

Westway Sports Centre Climbing

This is a good centre with regards to variety of routes. The staff here are sadly not very friendly, the receptionists are rude and slow and I’m pretty sure have never had a customer services course in their lives. However the route setters and the actual climbing room supervisors are friendly and all very knowledgeable. It has bouldering, Top roping and lead walls all with a variety of grades, the only disappointing thing is that they got rid of the feature walls in the bouldering area and replaces these with the standard flat wood walls. It is often VERY busy at peak times and unless you climb at the very top grades there are often waits to use routes. The variety of routes is excellent and if you want an 8a+ in London then this is the place to come with top notch guest route setters, check out the video. It is located near Latimer road tube and the walk in can be a little disconcerting the first time as you walk under the main road, although I have never had any issues down there. This place could be great but all the little niggles just make it feel poorly run.

Variety of routes 5/5 – Variety is unrivalled in London and routes are often changed.

Value for money 3/5 – One of the most Expensive and when it's busy, poor Value for money

Variety of climbing types 4/5 – Has everything you could possibly need, if you can get on it.

Staff 2/5 – Need to train their receptionists.

Tour of Mile End Climbing Centre

Mile End Climbing Centre

The wall itself is located a short walk from Mile End Road along Regent's Canal. It's not as large as other indoor climbing walls in London but they really do make the most of the space available to them. The routes are great and suit people of all standards. It has some uniquely traverse style routes which are more in character to Trad which is unusual for an indoor wall. It also has an excellent selection of bouldering walls and really does focus on quality and variety of routes. Prices are a little high unless you opt for the membership. The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and it has a lot of regular users so can feel a little cliquey, but it is a great place.

Variety of routes 4/5 – Variety is extremely good, would like them to set new routes slightly more often.

Value for money 4/5 – Expensive for one off but very reasonable for unlimited packages.

Variety of climbing types 4/5 – Has everything you could need even with the space they have.

Staff 4/5 – No complaints, friendly and knowledgeable.

Hope you found some of these reviews helpful, when I have visited the others I will update it.

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Comments 2 comments

Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Some good advice to help climbers practice all year round, whatever the weather. I've tried out some indoor climbing walls and they are surprisingly challenging, although they look a lot easier. What look like obvious places to grasp or put your feet in are not as easy once you get up there.

Voted up and interesting.

dipless profile image

dipless 4 years ago from Manchester Author

Thanks Brett.Tesol, this is much appreciated, it is very useful to have so many great climbing walls around now, especially since climbing has exploded in popularity. Climbing in general is a lot harder than it looks, and you are quite right what appears to be a great hold can very often turn out to be darn right horrific. Sloppers are a perfect example of that, they look lovely but just using the friction of your skin makes them very tough.

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