Where to Go Outdoor Bouldering in the UK

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.

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
, 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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