Stronghold Climbing Centre review

The Stonghold Climbing Centre has a cool name and describes itself as London’s largest indoor bouldering space. But is it any good?

Me climbing at the Stronghold Climbing Centre.

London’s newest climbing wall is hidden away down a quiet street a few minutes walk from Tottenham Hale station. The Stronghold Climbing Centre is housed in an old warehouse that had previously been home to a charity recycling and reusing domestic furniture and appliances. These workshops have been replaced with a big, open and light climbing space and a range of good facilities. Read more

Bouldering in Fontainebleau with a Toddler

The woods around Fontainebleau have a reputation as one of the best places in the world to boulder. Thousands of sandstone boulders, with tens of thousands of boulder problems, scattered about a pretty forest that covers some 300 square kilometres. Fontainebleau also has a reputation as being a great place to take kids. That’s a reputation that my wife and I have found to be deserved on our trips over the last few years. It’s been a bit daunting and challenging at times taking a teething baby and then an energetic toddler on climbing trips in a foreign country, but it’s also been fun and taught us things about being parents.

Me bouldering at Canche aux Merciers with my son.

Here are a few of the things we’ve learned about going bouldering in Fontainebleau with a toddler. Read more

In his Stride

Valerie climbing JT (V0- 4b) at Robin Hood's Stride.
Valerie climbing JT (V0- 4b) at Robin Hood’s Stride.

I didn’t know how Leo was going to feel about his first camping trip last weekend. He’s not yet two years old and being taken away from his home and routine to spend a long weekend camped in a field at night and bouldering in the day might have been a bit too much for him. My main concern was that he would be nervous of the tent. I wondered how Valerie and I could coax Leo into what might seem to him to be a giant orange monster. Read more

Fontainetoddler

Leo climbing a boulder at Rocher des Potets, Fontainebleau.
Leo climbing a boulder at Rocher des Potets, Fontainebleau.

As first-time parents, Valerie and I have had to work out as we go along how to continue to rock climb while also being Mum and Dad to Leo. Last year we had a fun and successful trip to the legendary bouldering venue of Fontainebleau with a teething baby. This year we went back with an energetic (and teething) toddler. Here’s what we learned the hard way so you don’t have to. Read more

Pod, Tor and Bude

Me climbing Groove on the Perched Block at Hound Tor.
Me climbing Groove on the Perched Block at Hound Tor.

In the year and a bit since Valerie and I became parents we’ve been slowly and carefully been working out how our young family can spend time climbing and walking. We started with visits to the climbing wall before moving on to bouldering and walking trips in which we stayed in hotels and hostels. Last weekend we took the big step of taking Leo camping for the first time. Although, to be honest, it might be more accurate to say that we took the baby step of taking him glamping for the first time. Read more

Fontainebaby

Behind you

An Easter break to the woods of Fontainebleau to climb on its famous sandstone boulders was our first real test as rock climbing parents. We had been taking our baby son, Leo, to the climbing wall on a regular basis and to some artificial boulders not far from where we live in London. He’d enjoyed the trips and we had managed to get a good amount of climbing done. But several days of outdoors climbing in a foreign country, with a teething seven-month old baby, felt like more of a challenge. By the end of the trip we had enjoyed some great climbing, been tested as parents and learnt a lot about taking a baby climbing at Fontainebleau. Read more

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.

Read more

Baby Hits The Wall

Leo and Valerie at the climbing wall.
Leo and Valerie at the climbing wall.

Like all new parents, my wife and I are trying to work out how to manage our lives now that we have a baby.  Even seemingly simple tasks, like going to the shops or visiting relatives, now feel like a major logistical undertaking.  Resuming our regular trips to our local climbing wall felt like a particular challenge.  Such a trip would involve ensuring baby Leo is happy and safe in an environment not designed for babies while, at the same time, ensuring both Valerie and I enough of a chance to climb.  In the end, we managed the trip and Leo really enjoyed himself, but the little guy eventually hit a wall and crashed out on a bouldering mat. Read more

Review of the new Beacon Climbing Centre

Earlier this week, with waves of rain sweeping over North Wales ruling outdoors rock climbing out, my fiancée and I decided to try the new Beacon Climbing Centre near Caernarfon.  We were impressed.

Tommy the bouldering elephant in the dedicated kids area at the new Beacon Climbing Centre.

The old Beacon Climbing Centre had been in the Marconi Building in Ceunant for some 18 years.  This was a reasonable climbing wall, but it was very out of the way, a bit rundown and in need of an update.  This old centre has now shut and the operation moved to a former TV studio on the Cibyn Industrial Estate near Caernarfon.  As the new location is just off the main A4086 road from Llanberis, the Beacon Climbing Centre is now brilliantly placed for climbers rained off the mountains and crags of Snowdonia National Park. Read more