Where to Go Outdoor Bouldering in the UK

Whether you’re an avid climber or a bouldering beginner, these are the seven ultimate outdoor playgrounds you’ll want to know about.

It wasn't until sport climbing made its debut in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that we became totally obsessed with the niche discipline that is bouldering - rock climbing minus the rope and harness. And while it's true that we're more likely to be found clambering up a tree than vying for a gold medal, we can't help but be fascinated by the sport - one that requires a special kind of grit and determination, and that demands excellent balance, technique and strength.

After having spent weeks trudging it out on the treadmill, we fancied getting stuck in to something a little more adventurous, and so took it upon ourselves to hunt down the coolest outdoor locations for bouldering in the UK - all skill levels welcome. And the best bit? All you'll need to get started is some chalk, to absorb the moisture on your hands and help you get a better grip, and a decent pair of climbing shoes, to help you get a good foothold in even the tiniest of crevices.

Seven brilliant bouldering spots in the UK

BoneHill Rocks


Located within Dartmoor National Park, Bonehill Rocks beckon climbers from their enviable position amid the wild moorland. To reach them, head towards Widecombe-in-the-Moor, from where it's just a short stroll from the car park to the rocks. Though these formations might have earned themselves the nickname of "Stonehenge's little sister", they offer some hefty scale ranges, spanning beginner right through to 8a. If you fancy the challenge of one of the tougher ascents, you'll want to plonk a mat down first - in case the views become a little too breathtaking to handle and you take a tumble.

St Bees Head


Cumbria's St Bees Head, a ruggedly beautiful red sandstone bluff, forms one of England's most dramatic natural features and is home to some of the finest looking boulders you'll find anywhere. Famed for their coral hues, the rocks are blessed with spectacular views out over the choppy ripples of the Irish Sea. Visiting on a winter's day can come with its own particular set of challenges, as you'll have to bear in mind sea spray and tide timings. To make the most of your visit, be sure to check the forecast first. In spring, a scramble around these monsters makes for a great way to both cram in your daily exercise and soak up a good dose of vitamin D.

Thorn Crag


Getting to the remote outcrop of Thorn Crag is no easy task. The silver lining? After trekking for 40 minutes through the surrounding moorland to reach it, your muscles will be well and truly warmed up. There are four different bouldering sections to choose from: Crag, Trackside, Paradise and Seaview. This is a great one for those who are looking to advance their skills. Newbies should start with the lower crag boulders, before working their way up to the 12m-high rocks. Either way, you'll be rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding landscape and, on a clear day, far out to sea.

RAC Boulders


Scaling Snowdonia has become as trendy as tuning into Joe Wick's live morning stream was back in the first lockdown. We recommend avoiding the busier tourist trails and making a beeline for the RAC Boulders. Unlike many other bouldering destinations, these are relatively easy to get to - you'll find them tucked between the Pen-y-Gwryd and Capel Curig. Sure, you're going to miss out on snapping that sweaty selfie at the summit, but these lower-grade structures are the perfect base for beginners (or those who prefer a quieter climb) and offer panoramic views across the valley - once you've done the hard bit, obviously.

Stone Farm Rocks

West Sussex

Stone Farm Rocks are under the care of the British Mountaineering Council, so you know they're the real deal. Located just south of East Grinstead, the sandstone crags sit on the hillside overlooking the Weir Wood Reservoir. While the majority are between 6-8m in height, routes mostly cater for low-to-mid grades. Sound like you? Grab a thrill-seeking pal and head here on a good-weather day. This beautiful spot is just a 40-minute drive from Brighton's seafront, so, after safely returning to terra firma, it would make sense to reward yourself with an extra-large portion of salty chips.

Dumbarton Rock


Dumbarton Rock, or "Dumby", in Dumbarton - a 25-minute drive from Glasgow - is the home of lowland climbing in Scotland. Some of the UK's toughest climbing routes are to be found here, so mats and helmets are essential. Seven jagged slabs await intrepid adventurers, each offering the tightest of crevices and sharpest of corners. We're always down for channelling our inner Bear Grylls, but we'd strongly suggest tagging along with an experienced climber here if you're a novice yourself. Insider tip: during the winter months the sun disappears pretty quickly. Arrive mid-morning to avoid recreating that (dreaded) scene from Danny Boyle's survival film 127 Hours.

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