There’s a boom of bouldering gyms popping up across the country, I’m a regular at ours, but we wanted to test our skills out on, you know, boulders.
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If you’re reading this wondering whether or not you should take your bouldering skills outside, my advice would be to stop reading and get planning. When we set off for this trip we had only been bouldering for about 3 months, so by no stretch of the imagination skilled climbers yet nonetheless had an incredible time.
Being absolute beginners, and having zero knowledge of outdoor bouldering, we took to Google (obviously) and soon found that the relatively close Peak District was a hotspot for bouldering. The second part to this was slightly more tricky, because rocks don’t have postcodes, and without wanting to sound rock-ist, they do all look the same. So to help us out a bit, we stopped off for a warm up climb in Derbyshire at The Climbing Unit, which by the way was awesome and I highly recommend.
After having a lot of fun on the walls, and picking the brains of the guys working at centre, we had our rock. Robin Hoods Stride.
The Sunday morning sun woke us, and the other 7 or whatever guys in the dorm at the YHA up dead early, so early in fact that I couldn’t get a coffee yet. I mean. Please don’t judge me. But I may have snuck like a caffeine deprived ninja, down into the communal kitchen. Where. Yes. I know. I’m an awful person. I stole a teaspoon of coffee. Actually two because I need it strong. And it wasn’t even the cheap stuff, it was the ultra fine dust-like coffee.
Anyway, with that off my chest, back to the climbing. We set off in the general direction of Robin Hoods Stride, and found where we were supposed to be. However like I said at the top, there’s no exact post-code, and we found ourselves questioning if it was that rock, or this rock. We eventually came to a stretch of road, with some cars and a campervan parked up, we must be here. We parked up, and after a short few minutes walk we were there, face-to-face with big rocks. Big rocks, with no coloured holds, no comfy floor, just rock.
At first, this was actually terrifying. We took a walk about, and just couldn’t see how we could make sense of it, let alone actually get climbing. But don’t be overwhelmed, after some time and studying the rocks, we did find some very straight forward routes. Trust me, you want the straight forward ones. “There’s nothing quite like the very real possibility of snapping your ankle on the floor to incentivise you to fully commit to sending your route”
It wasn’t busy at all, and it was Easter bank holiday, I don’t know why, maybe because I had only ever seen outdoor bouldering on YouTube videos, but I expected it to be crammed with climby-types, you know the ones, but apart from us, I think we saw a guy with his family, and maybe a group of 4 other climbers on the other side.
It was a lot of fun, the climbing is way different, for a start you find yourself extremely close to the wall, sounds stupid but the ‘holds’ are in the rock, not bolted on the wall, so your entire body is pretty much in contact.
I really liked the scope for creativity, as in, no set holds, feeling out the rock, how the surface differs etc.
So yeah, I can’t wait to get out again, we’re planning to venture down to Portland so I’ll be sure to write up how it goes. But in the meantime if you’re considering taking your climbing outdoors for the first time and want to ask some questions, fire away. We’re by no means experts, actually the opposite, but what we do know, we’re happy to share!