Climbing Concrete

A brightly shining sun and unseasonably warm weather last weekend meant that Valerie, baby Leo and I could swap our weekend climbing wall trip for Fairlop Waters Boulder Park.  These are nine boulders of sprayed and carved concrete almost hidden in the trees by a lake in East London.

Valerie climbing on The Arches boulder at Fairlop Waters Boulder Park in London.
Valerie climbing on The Arches boulder at Fairlop Waters Boulder Park in London.

Valerie and I first visited the boulder park not long after it had opened in the summer of 2010.  Some of the boulders had already been a bit damaged and I wondered how long they would survive heavy use and vandalism.  So it was a nice surprise to find the boulders still in good condition and the polish limited to the easy routes used by kids and by climbers for getting down after topping out.

Seasoned climbers with their bouldering mats, chalk and focus on pushing themselves up overhangs mixed with kids running around and scrambling up anything they could.  The sometimes weirdly shaped boulders made for a fascinating playground where bouldering problems from the very easy through to the determinedly tough meant anyone could find some way up a lump of concrete.  For me it was great to have my first climb of the year on something that wasn’t plastic and, with its roughly finished slopers, cracks and (very positive) crimps, made me feel like I was climbing rock again.

We bouldered and picnicked and had a fun time on what was our first outdoor climbing trip as a family and a practice run for our trip upcoming trip to the bouldering heaven of Fontainebleau.

Further Information

The boulder park is in Fairlop Waters Country Park in the London Borough of Redbridge.  To get to there you can either get the Central Line to Fairlop Station and then walk for about ten minutes walk or drive (the post code is IG6 3HN for those with a sat nav).

A guide to the Fairlop Waters Boulder Park, including photos and descriptions of a selection of problems, is available for free online.

UKClimbing describes a wider collection of problems than are in the guide, but doesn’t include any photos or diagrams.

In addition to the boulders, the Country Park provides opportunities for walking, sailing and golf.  It even has a clubhouse with a bar and toilets (including baby change) which is about ten minutes walk around the lake from the boulder park.

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