1. Climbing Works, Sheffield
Where: Unit B, Centenary Works, Little London Road, Sheffield S8 0UJ
Standard entry: £7.50
All four experts rated the Climbing Works as one of the best. Spread across two buildings, this was the first bouldering facility to be awarded National Performance Centre status by the BMC. “The Climbing Works is a world-class facility. The route setters are some of the best in the business, providing a great range of boulder problems for all grades,” says Shauna Coxsey.
“It's also home to one of the best competition walls in the country,” adds Louis Parkinson. “It hosts the Climbing Works International Festival every year, which draws the biggest names in climbing from around the globe.”
2. The Climbing Unit, Derby
Where: Unit 5 Mason’s Place Business Park, Nottingham Road, Chaddesden, Derby DE21 6YZ
Standard entry: £7.50
“I really like the Unit," says Jack Ramsden, who competed on the GB Bouldering Team for four years. "There’s such a good vibe there, with funky music, a lovely log burner, a great shop and friendly staff. It's a place you can enjoy spending time at. The climbing is high quality on a range of angled walls, but my favourite is the 45 degree and the cave on the competition wall. They also host a bouldering league every month, which gets all abilities together. This is a great way to meet a load of new people to go climbing with. There's also a kids' club and circuit especially for them.”
3. The Castle Climbing Centre, London
Where: Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, London, N4 2HA
Standard entry: £12.50
Managing Director of Catalyst Climbing, Louis Parkinson is a former GB Bouldering World Cup competitor turned coach. He says The Climbing Castle Centre is one of the UK’s most iconic walls. “Housed inside a former water pumping station, which looks much more like a large medieval castle, this wall has been open for more than 20 years and is home to some of the best bouldering in the UK. It also has a huge amount of roped climbing, and a cosy cafe with tasty treats!” says Louis.
4. Climbing Hangar, Liverpool
Where: 6 Birchall St, Liverpool L20 8PD
Standard entry: £10.00 (£6 for all first visits)
Liverpool’s Climbing Hangar hosts everyone from complete beginners to world champions. “This wall really feels like home,” says Shauna. “The people are so friendly, the climbs are really fun and it's a great place to train. The coffee is good too!” Shauna also rates The Hangar’s London venue: “I love visiting the Climbing Hangar in London. There's always a good vibe and fun problems to try.” Shauna and her teammate Leah Crane are both looking forward to the new Hangar facility in Plymouth, which opens in February 2018. “It’ll have a World Cup boulder style circuit with problems set across a range of grades,” says Leah. “The plans for the wall look incredible,” adds Shauna.
5. The Climbing Depot, Manchester
Where: Unit N1/N2 Mosley Road, Central Park Estate, Trafford Park, Manchester M17 1PG
Standard entry: £10
Jack Ramsden added The Climbing Depot in Manchester to his list of favourites. Opened in 2016, The Depot’s Manchester branch boats Europe’s largest bouldering wall, with hundreds of routes for all abilities. There’s a dedicated learning zone, regular competitions, and the onsite cafe serves post-climb pizza. Jack also rates The Climbing Depot in Birmingham.
6. VauxWall Climbing Centre, London
Where: 46-47a S Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall, London SW8 1SR
Standard entry: £11.50
“VauxWall isn't the largest bouldering wall in London but it has a reputation as the friendliest. And, only 30 seconds walk from Vauxhall Tube Station, it can't be beaten for convenience,” says Louis Parkinson. The centre boasts a huge variety of angles and shapes for all levels of climber, plus a training area and cafe. “I might be a little biased, as I pretty much live in this centre,” he admits, “but I think it's the best in London. Luckily for us, they recently built an extension to their Vauxhall location, and will be opening three venues in London by the end of 2018.”
7. Bloc Climbing Centre, Bristol
Where: Unit 2, New Gatton Rd, Bristol BS2 9SH
Standard entry: £8.50
When it opened in 2014, Bloc overtook The Climbing Academy as Bristol’s biggest bouldering site. “I really enjoyed climbing here, and want to go back more,” says Jack Ramsden, who listed Bloc in his UK favourites. With a 4.5m competition wall, Bloc hosts regular coaching and competitions, such as the annual Bristol Bouldering Championships. You’ll rarely climb the same routes for long here, as the team aim to set around 40 new climbs each week.
8. Edinburgh International Climbing Arena (Ratho)
Where: South Platt Hill, Ratho, Newbridge EH28 8AA
Standard entry: £10.50
Known as ‘Ratho,’ this is the world’s largest indoor climbing centre. It’s an exceptional site with a huge bouldering room, plus three individual boulders in the main room. “Ratho Climbing Wall is a really impressive facility,” says Leah Crane. “It is built into a disused quarry and has lead, speed and bouldering walls which are the three disciplines that make up the Olympics Climbing format.”