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UK's Best Rock Climbing Spots

Where to go rock climbing in the UK
Get the low-down on the peaks of the UK and plan your rock climbing trip.

The Peak District

In a nutshell
With more crags than Keith Richards' face, and more than 10,000 recorded climbs, the Peak District is one of England's most popular climbing areas. Most of the national park is in north Derbyshire, but it strays into the surrounding counties of Cheshire, Staffordshire and Yorkshire.

What's the climbing like?
The northern part of the park, known as Dark Peak, is composed mainly of gritstone, while the southern area, White Peak, is mainly limestone. You get a unique friction from the gritstone, which makes it great for climbing. The limestone crags of the White Peak are steeper with fewer handy cracks. Between the two areas there's something for everyone. Autumn, winter and spring are the best times for good friction on the 'grits'.

Where to go?
Popular gritstone areas include Stanage, Burbage, Curbar and Froggat, where there's everything from easy to very, very hard. For great limestone climbs, head for High Tor, Beeston Tor and the towers of Dovedale.

More information
www.peakdistrictonline.co.uk
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Snowdonia, Wales

In a nutshell
There's some of the best, and most varied rock climbing in the British Isles in this beautiful range of mountains in the northwest of Wales.

What's the climbing like?
It has everything in a relatively small area: mountains, crags and sea cliffs. And when it's wet in the mountains, it may still be warm and dry on the coast. As well as hundreds of traditional climbing routes, there's sport climbing (where the rock-face is pre-bolted for climbers) at the slate quarries at Llanberis, as well as at Llandudno, on the Orme's limestone cliffs.

Where to go?
The Ogwen Valley is a good base for lower-grade climbers. For middle-graders, the Llanberis Pass has a great choice of routes, including the famous Cenotaph Corner. For those who enjoy seclusion, the south of the national park is the place, with lots of buttresses at Craig Cowach.

More information
The National Mountain Centre www.pyb.co.uk
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The Lake District

In a nutshell
This is where rock climbing was invented, so they say, 160 years ago (before that, it was called 'escaping from wolves'). The Lakes of Cumbria combine physical beauty with easy access to all manner of climbs, with England's highest concentration of mountains and fells.

What's the climbing like?
It ranges from east stuff to extreme big-crag routes, and from lofty mountain crags to deep-down crags in the valleys. There's a variety of rock types and crag grades, with both traditional and sport climbing.

Where to go?
Borrowdale has easy-access roadside climbs for all grades, and Langdale has multi-pitch climbs (meaning they are longer than one rope's worth) for beginners. Raven Crag, in Ullswater, has challenging routes for experts. Wasdale offers iconic climbs such as Pillar Rock and Scafell Crag. If it won't stop raining, you can always try the indoor wall at the Lakeland Climbing Centre in Kendal. Special winter routes have been developed at New Dollywaggon near Helvellyn.

More information
Fell and Rock Climbing Club www.frcc.co.uk
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Glencoe, Scotland

In a nutshell
Owned and cared for by the National Trust for Scotland, this breathtakingly gorgeous glen (valley) in the western Highlands of Scotland has long been regarded as one of the UK's best rock-climbing areas â and it has some stunning scenery to boot.

What's the climbing like?
There's something for all abilities at Glencoe, with cliffs varying in size from the 15 outcrops near the road that runs through the Glen, to mountaineering-style climbs of up to 300 metres. Beware, though: most climbs are trickier than they look. The rock in the glen is mainly porphyry, which is nicely sticky for climbers.

Where to go?
Buachaille Etive Mor ('the Beuckle') mountain ridge is an icon of the Highlands and has hundreds of routes for all abilities - many of them are solid-gold classics, including two Monroes. The crags are all in the southern part of the glen, in the rhyolite hills of Bidean nam Bian, with the Three Sisters ever-popular.

More information
www.glencoe-nts.org.uk
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Northumberland

In a nutshell
This often overlooked climbing area of northeast England, adjoining the Scottish border and home to some of Hadrian's wall, is classic crag country. There are more than 100 of them, cresting up out of the ancient, rolling moorland.

What's the climbing like?
There are lots of good single-pitch climbs (meaning you can climb the complete route with a single length of your rope). There's sandstone in the north, and granite in the Cheviot Hills. Bouldering (ropeless climbing) is also very big in Northumberland. A few of the crags are on private land, so you might need permission.

Where to go?
Near Rothbury, the hills of Simonside have various grades of climbing and great views, with some excellent sandstone outcrops to the west of here, too. There's good easy stuff at Berryhill, up in the Borders area, where sunny Goat's Crag is good for winter days. For some devilishly tricky climbs, head for Corby's Crag, on Alnwick Moors.

More information
Northumbrian Climbing Guide www.thenmc.org.uk
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Swanage and Portland, Dorset

In a nutshell
Part of the world-famous Jurassic Coast of Dorset, the soaring sea cliffs of Swanage and Portland offer some of England's most exhilarating climbing.

What's the climbing like?
Swanage has steep, overhanging limestone sea cliffs, many of them very challenging but exciting, with a mixture of traditional and sport climbing. The cliffs are accessed by abseiling, and most are well above sea level. Portland is an acknowledged centre of sport climbing, with bolted climbs in all grades. The cliffs here don't have Swanage's overhangs, though they're still pretty steep.

Where to go?
Swanage's most spectacular roofs (projected overhangs) are Stair Hole and Black Hole, with both traditional and sports climbs on offer. There's stuff for the less experienced, too, such as the Cattle Troughs and Subluminal. The sea cliffs of Portland, west of Swanage, have more than 100 routes, on both the east and west of the island, so you can climb in sunshine all day, even in winter.

More information
www.dorset-climbing.com
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More info:

National climbing organisations
The British Mountaineering Council
UK Climbing
The Climbers' Club
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland

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