Indoor climbing around London

, March 3, 2012

For those of us craving rock-faces and feeling fenced in by the tarmac belt of the M25, there are other ways to get that climbing fix. There are an array of indoor climbing centres around the capital that offer everything from early morning bouldering to late night cliff-hangers.  Here are three of the best.

The Arch

Leo surging up a wall in the Arch

Situated under the railway lines at London Bridge station, the Arch hosts London’s premier bouldering experience.  It offers four rooms of unadulterated free climbing, with overhangs, traverse walls and routes for every standard of climber.  Most distinctively, the Arch has an upward sloping tunnel with some routes requiring the climber to be upside down for the duration.  This is a great place to try out the sport, given that no equipment is necessary.  However, due its prime location and ease of use, The Arch can get extremely busy in the evenings.  We would recommend the early morning “hangover cure climb” (often accompanied by a cup of tea/coffee), with doors opening at 6.30am on weekday mornings.

Location: 6 Bermondsey Street, SE1 2ER

Opening times: Weekdays 6.30am-10.30pm, weekends 11am-10pm

Price: £7/£10 single adult entry off/on peak timing

The Westway Centre 

An overhang at the Westway Centre

Found inside a huge sports complex under the Westway flyover, the Westway climbing wall is one of the largest in London.  It offers 120 rope lines, 350 routes and walls up to 14.5 metres high.  There are also two bouldering walls and a couple of small hidden rooms for those who want to climb in secret.  Routes range from grade 3 (easy) to grade 8 (tough), with boulder problems up to V10 (seriously tough).  While it lacks a bit of character, the centre does what it says on the tin and offers a wide variety of routes to suit all standards of climber.

Location: 1 Crowthorne Rd, London W10 6RP

Opening times: Weekdays 9.30am-10pm (Thurs opens at 8am), weekends 10am-8pm

Price: £8/£10 single adult entry off/on peak timing

The Castle

The Castle... quite literally

The Castle is London’s most iconic indoor climbing centre, situated inside what was formerly a water pumping station near Manor House.  There are an assortment of walls across two floors, and the nooks, crannies and general architecture of the building has made it the most visited indoor climbing wall in the UK.  There are 450 routes over 90 roped climbs, and around 250 bouldering ‘problems’.  On the second floor there is also a small, organic themed cafe that encapsulates the friendly and quirky nature of the place.

Location: Green Lanes, London, N4 2HA

Opening times: Weekdays 12pm-10pm, weekends 10am-7pm

Price: £8/£10 single adult entry off/on peak timing