London ? The Best Place to Climb in the UK?

Nov 6: London ? The Best Place to Climb in the UK? by Jack Geldard – Editor – UKC The New Bouldering Centre in London Think of a ´climbers city´ ? do youcome up with Sheffield?Edinburgh?Leeds?Glasgow? What about London?! Perhaps in part due to the dearth of available rock, Londonis amazingly well served by indoor climbing facilities.A quick search on the UKC Classifiedscomes up with 39 walls within a 20 mile radius of central London. With established centres such as TheCastle, MileEnd and The Westway now competing with young businesses like the brand new boulderingwall from Craggy Island,it seems that London has more routes per square metre than the PeakDistrict.It can be no co-incidence that the UK´s2008 double champion (bouldering and leading) is Audrey Seguy,London based Managing Director of The Castle Climbing Wall.IfAudrey keeps the motivation, fitness and strength to win thesenational competitions ? then London must have something going forit.As of this month, London has a huge new bouldering facility to add to its quiver of training venues.Rob Mitchell is the director ofCraggy Island and here he describes his new London facility:?The wall has over 500 squaremeters of climbing surface up to 5 meters high. The centre has beenbuilt in an old squash courts facility in the grounds of the OaksPark golf club, Mark Burridge general manager of the club and aregular climber at Craggy in Guildford, approached the directors ofthe wall with a view to developing the site 18 months ago. The centreis large enough to cater for all abilities with plentiful routes inall grade ranges, so that anyone visiting should have a great daysclimbing. The wall will host its first major competition BoulderBash on Saturday 8th November, and will be a great opportunity to see thecountries best climbers performing on its newest wall.Climbing wall manufacturer Entre-Prises were behind the new wall, and Director Jim Nichols (See UKCInterview) has a better idea than most on the future developmentof climbing walls in the UK.I asked him if we have reached burstingpoint, or if there are even more walls to come??I´m sure a lot of the wallbuilding industry have been waiting for a down-turn, but we´re asbusy as ever, amazingly we just haven´t seen production slow down atall.We´re still building huge commercial centres such as the newOaks Park bouldering wall you mentioned, plus we´ve been working upat Ratho, and we always have lots of school walls to build.Some ofthese school walls are amazing ? really big.They could becommercial climbing centres in their own right.It makes me want tobe back at school myself!??I think the big shift has beenthat indoor climbing is seen as a sport in its own right.There arelots of people who use walls for exercise, to keep fit. They live inthe city and can´t get to a real crag after work.Climbing wallshave got better, the buildings are nice places to hang out, the wallsthemselves are amazing, and it´s a really fun thing to do.?It seems as though there are moreclimbing walls than crags in the UK. Sheffield has got to be a closesecond to London in the climbing wall stakes, with the trio oftraining facilities; The Edge, The Foundry and the hugely successfulClimbing Works.Bristol is coming up behind with Bristol climbingwall and a new bouldering wall opening soon ? watch this space.Newcastle has its own ´Climbing Works´style wall now (See UKCNews) and Leeds is apparently not far behind with TheClimbing Depot. Surely there has to be a point where the demand for climbing walls has been met?Judging by the current rate of development, we could reach that point very soon.