Anybody who regularly reads this blog will know of my love/hate relationship with climbing walls. Thing is in the winter when its cold, dark and raining, unless you are made of sterner stuff than me, going outdoors mid-week for 6 months of the year on an evening, is really a non-starter. Here are reviews and details of my favourite Climbing Walls in and around the Leeds, Harrogate and Bradford area. What they offer and what I and some of my mates think about them as places to pull on
Quick Links to reviewsThe Depot
The Climbing Barn
Harrogate Climbing CentreMy Local climbing wall and a favourite. Mainly because the staff are really friendly and welcoming and not full of themselves, which seems to be the case quite often. They offer a 15m leading wall, with a mix of top roping and leading and there is an autobleay too if you like that sort of thing. Personally they always scare me sensless at the point at which you have to let go to descend. The main leading wall manages to overhang over its whole width and still fit in some lower and middle grade routes by using some big holds. There is plenty of potential beyond 7a too if you can pull on small, overhanging holds. Add to this a good range of top-roped and quick draw equipped lines down two corridors, and you have more than enough to keep you busy for an evening. Here is their promotional video:
The bouldering room can get pretty busy on an evening and when it does it can be fairly sweaty too. At is point I usually head for the new circuit board. This is your standard overhanging plywood Moon board with a mix of "up" problems and a fewer longer circuits, if you want to lap things for stamina. This usually finishes me off and I head for the cafe, the very acceptable Indulge Cafe which is a cut above the usual climbing wall offerings. It isn't tied to the climbing wall and it serves the dance studio and gym which share the same building, it does some pretty decent meals and snacks as well as a good coffee too. HCC have their own shop with a good range of gear, shoes and clothing and finally you can have children's parties there too. My 6 year old had a whale of a time last summer and he's been back with me on a top rope a couple of times since. All in all it feels like a nice little community rather than a cycnical attack on your wallet, reccomended
Contact info/pricesAdmission Prices
Opening timesMon-Fri: 10am-10pm
Sat: 10am – 8pm, Sun: 10am – 6pm
Now I haven't been to the Climbing Barn as it is a relatively new kid on the block. I keep promising to go next time I get rained off Shipley Glen which happened loads last year, but this years the Gods have been kind and I have got away with it. Time Ticks blogger Bryn has been though. Here is what he had to say about it or read his full post here.
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 Earl Crag or Shipley Glen.
Time was the Leeds wall was your only Climbing wall choice round these parts so you went and you were very happy it existed at all. These days its still a big player and if you live in the city you will definately be going. There is a big leading and top roping area which seems pretty tall compared to the competition. For boulderers there is one side split up into bays with bouldering problems on it. In the middle there is an easy angle slabby, bridge feature if your just learning the ropes. For me Leeds Wall's strength is leading and top roping, there is a big range of routes and a good choice of styles with a really good main leading wall with some big roofs on it. The bouldering doesn't seem to be of such high quality and last time I went the holds were really shiny and looked like they needed changing round.
As its been there a fair few years everthing enevitably gets a bit dirty through the passage of lots of pairs of feet and you notice this when you compare it to the other centres which are all much newer. Upstairs is a well stocked in-house shop and a cafe which does some basic food but nothing too special. It can get pretty busy on an evening as it serving a whole major city and I have queued for routes before now. Having said that there are lots of routes so you can usually get on something even when it is pretty busy. They also have a dry tooling tower so if your preferences stretch to the dark arts of winter climbing you can go and scratch your ice tools in the summertime.
Contact info/pricesAdmission Prices