Bouldering in the UK has come a long way from rugged and windswept boulders – these ten indoor centres are among the most innovative and well-designed in the world.
Built within a dramatic, grade II listed Victorian water pumping station, The Castle is one of the largest climbing centres in the South East, with a bouldering wall as equally impressive as its turreted towers. From sweeping overhangs to a catacomb pockmarked with technical holds, this wall in Stoke Newington has more than enough to keep beginners and advanced climbers alike occupied. There’s even a series of outdoor walls to keep things interesting throughout the summer.
With its iconic freestanding buttress, the Indy Climbing Wall is a haven for boulderers looking to test their skills across bulging, arching walls more akin to outdoor boulders than regular indoor problems. This Welsh collective of crack route setters are constantly updating the Indy’s walls with fresh problems for all abilities, though their climbing shop is just as attractive a draw.
This brand new climbing centre from the guys behind VauxWall boasts a huge array of bouldering walls and problems, but it’s not their only focus. With belay lines, a huge caving facility and dedicated strength and conditioning area, HarroWall is far more than a bouldering gym. The UK’s largest new bouldering centre, the facility in North London measures in at 40,000sqft and will run a series of workshops and coaching sessions for all abilities, too.
A huge facility in Swindon, Rockstar Climbing features bouldering walls of up to 4.5m and runs a huge variety of classes and workshops, from yoga for climbers to strength and conditioning sessions. With a friendly and inclusive environment, the gym is well suited to beginner climbers looking for some friendly and supportive guidance.
This cathedral of climbing in Sheffield was once the largest bouldering centre in the UK, and it remains an important facility in the British bouldering community – it was the first centre to be recognised as a National Performance Centre by the BMC. Encompassing two buildings, the walls themselves are world class with technical routes set by a collective of expert climbers and route setters. Basically, what you’d expect from Shauna Coxsey’s local wall.
Based out of a heritage warehouse complex, the Weedon Project is a climbing centre run by boulderers for boulderers – perfect. Bouldering has a complete monopoly on the entire facility, which means that there’s a huge range of problem types and grades on offer, and a whole host of likeminded people milling around in the cafe to chat to.
The Arch has grown from its original home in Bermondsey to encompass three separate bouldering gyms across London, this is one of the most innovative climbing collectives in the country. Not only are the walls themselves technically challenging, their range of classes and workshops covers bouldering, handstands, yoga, Ninja Warrior skills, competitions and more.
In the centre of Bristol, Bloc has made a name for itself as one of the best bouldering gyms in the area thanks to its 4.5m competition wall and over 1200 sq metres of climbing walls. With a large cafe area – complete with pizza oven – that opens straight onto the matted floors, this is an inclusive and relaxed centre with some suitably technical problems to provide a challenge.
With two dedicated bouldering areas and a traverse room, the Manchester Climbing Centre is a haven for boulderers in the North West. It’s a huge facility set in a converted cathedral, and the route setters here have made full use of the high ceilings – there are top ropes and auto-belays set across a series of epic walls. The fact that the centre partners with brands like Patagonia and Scarpa should give you an idea of its quality, too.
With hundreds of climbing routes available, this Scottish climbing centre is a haven for boulderers from across the UK. Its gigantic central chamber, with roped climbing routes stretching up each wall, has rocks for bouldering in the centre, with a separate bouldering room available too. The centre also boasts strength and conditioning facilities, a judo studio, cafe and expansive shop, too.