22 February 2012

Fresh holds in Bingley

Given that the city of Leeds is home to 4 indoor climbing venues- City Bloc and Leeds Wall in the centre, Rokt to the south, and the Depot to the west- you would be forgiven that I would get excited about a new venue in the outlying north east enclave of Bingley. Even more so given that I live 10 minutes drive from Harrogate Climbing Centre! However, I was intrigued when I heard climbing wall manufacturer Hang Fast were setting up their own centre- The Climbing Barn- as to what they would come up with.
My suspicion that it would stand as a showpiece to their talents seem to be well founded. Arriving through the winding lanes of Crossflats, it certainly looks different to most climbing walls, utilising a traditional stone barn rather than a post industrial structure. As such, I was concerned as to how much climbing it would have on offer. However, the space has been well used, and the rustic feel carried on by leaving exposed beams. Indeed, it has that lovely feeling of a restored cottage with it's mix of new and old features. Being brand new does lead to a certain sterility in atmosphere, but I reckon that will fade over time and it's really nice to climb somewhere clean and freshly painted (climbing centres do seem to run out of steam when it gets to the top of the walls).
So what of the climbing? Well, the first thing to note is that it is a bouldering centre with some routes added on- my experience so far has normally been that it's the other way round. We didn't get round to trying the routes- top ropes on some lovely textured walls that Hang Fast manufacture- but wouldn't have had the energy after working some of the low grade circuits. There was certainly plenty to keep us busy, and the setting nicely graded to keep you on your toes. They also seemed to have put a lot of time and thought into a proper kid's circuit, which went up to v5!
The Barn obviously has a bit of way to go until it is being fully utilised, but its a damn fine start and shows lots of promise. I just hope it gets the punters in suitable numbers. I'll certainly be planning another trip, and imagine it'll be an ideal spot if we ever get rained off Earls Crag or Shipley Glen.
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