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Rock Climbing In Devon - 6 experiences

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Climbing in Devon

Devon is a fantastic location for the outdoor enthusiast, comprising two contrasting coastlines and not one but two National Parks! For climbers there’s a huge variety on offer, from the Culm Coast in the north, to the epic deep water soloing at Berry Head on the south coast, via the Valley of Rocks in Exmoor and the much more varied options across the granite tors of Dartmoor.
The two main areas would be the South Coast and Dartmoor. On the south coast there’s a huge range of sea cliff locations and bouldering problems stretching most of the way along the coastline, with a focus around Torbay (Antsey’s Cove) and Brixham (Berry Head), which has arguably one or two of the finest routes in the country.
Dartmoor is three hundred and seventy square miles of stunning moorland containing its famous granite tors. They provide climbers of all levels with some of the UK's most rugged routes in all aspects of the word, although Dartmoor is limited to bouldering and trad climbing. Dartmoor is home to hundreds of quality routes ranging in difficulty from Diff through to E7 and including classic multi-pitch cracks and grooves. In addition it has thousands more bouldering routes, many in spectacular settings with views to match.
Devon Climbing

Best places for climbing in Devon

  • Brixham: home to one of the best Deep Water Solo spots in the country, Berry Head. Best climbed after 1st August when the bird ban comes to an end, though other areas nearby are possible earlier than this. Many routes offer fantastic traverses for those uncertain about higher drops. Of note are the classic ‘Moonraker’, which has everything you could possibly want in an epic climb: a solo down-climb into a cave, a tricky overhanging traverse to a hanging belay above the water, then 60m of vertical climbing. Add to this the vast sea traverse that is ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ and the deep water solo route of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (arguably the finest route in the UK!), plus well over 100 other routes, and you’ve a location worth coming back again and again for.
  • The South Hams/Bantham: the various beaches dotted along the South Hams coastline offer a great array of crumbling red sandstone sea stacks and bouldering opportunities, but perhaps few as tempting as the 10m Bantham Hand, on Bantham beach near Bigbury-on-Sea. Add in a stunning blue flag beach and the presence of Burgh Island and it makes for a great family day out!
  • Torbay: with over 25,000ft of sea level traverses it’s no wonder climbers make repeat visits to Torbay. Anstey’s Cove is the pick of the crop, with great climbing from F6b+ upwards and such great routes as ‘Omelette Wall’, ‘Empire of the Sun’ and ‘Brian’. Meadfoot Quarry, Coastguard Cliffs and the Old Redoubt - with over 300ft of multi-pitch climbing on offer - are also popular areas with plenty to keep all levels occupied.
  • Dartmoor: home to a great range of bouldering problems as well as trad and lead climbing, it has a great range of options to suit all levels. See the separate section below for more details.

Best places for climbing for beginners in Devon

  • Exmoor, Valley of Rocks: a striking landmark in its own right (as featured in Lorna Doone), the cliffs here offer routes of up to just over 100ft, ‘Icarus’ being one of the most notable on offer.
  • The Culm Coast: stretching along the cliffs of North Cornwall and into Devon as far as Baggy Point at Croyde, the Culm Coast comprises lots of folded and buckled cliffs, heavily eroded by the sea which has left narrow headlands and free standing fins for climbers to play on! Many of these are not vertical, allowing weight to be placed more on the legs, making for some ideal beginner routes. Baggy Point is a slab paradise, with many more friendly routes - such as ‘Kinky Boots’ - in the S to E2 range. That’s not to say there’s not still options available for the more experienced climbers, such as ‘Cheesegrater Cliff’ at Baggy Point.
  • The Dewerstone: just a short drive from Plymouth you’ll find this magical woodland area, which contains a number of different crags. Routes are varied and include multi-pitch classics. There are well over 100 different routes, for all levels of climber, though some may need cleaning before being viable again. Nesting birds (including birds of prey) are also possible, and should be avoided during this period.

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What are the best places for bouldering in Devon?

  • The South Hams: In the beautiful South Hams try Beesands and Torcross, whilst Torbay hosts some great options such as Hopes Nose Beach. Routes of note include ‘Slappy Arete’ at Shoalstone Beach, ‘Basking Shark’ at Beesands and ‘One Winter in Paradise’ at Torcross.
  • Anstey’s Cove, Torbay: Already mentioned above, Anstey’s Cove has been a popular bouldering destination for decades, with some great problems to be found on its Mitre Wall.
As well as stunning scenery, there's a vast choice of bouldering to be done around Dartmoor. Here's a few great places to try it out…
  • Bovey Valley Woods: Bovey Valley is a magical wonderland for boulderers. Here there are huge granite boulders hiding in shady woodland glades just waiting to be discovered, and over 1000 problems now hide amongst the trees. Routes of note include ‘Bamboozled’, E4; ‘The Hog's Back’, E5; ‘Lev’, E6 and ‘Javu’, the first E7 in the National Park. This really is the place to get back to nature whilst you boulder.
  • Bonehill Rocks: The Bonehill Rocks are outstanding and not just because they're granite tors. They are the prime bouldering spot in Dartmoor. Start on the Baby Slabs which are graded from V0 to V3 then progress through the other one hundred and seventy routes to a mega V12 on The Wave.
  • Down Tor: There's more than one boulder to climb at Down Tor. In fact there's a whole series of boulders which offer boulderers around one hundred and twenty climbs. More than enough to keep any boulderer busy for an entire weekend. Though if you've reached advanced level, these boulders might be a bit on the easy side for you as they're mostly low to middle grade
  • Combshead Tor: this is a little gem, tucked away in the depths of the south moor, with over 150 top quality boulder problems. Given it’s more remote location and a bit of a walk to get there it’s usually pretty quiet too, so a great one for a more peaceful climbing experience.

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What are the best spots for trad & lead climbing in Dartmoor?

Dartmoor is a stunning place to climb, and these spots help you get up into the skies to see it at it's finest:
  • Hounds Tor: Hounds Tor is a configuration of granite tors popular with both trad climbers and boulderers, and most famous for the short but epic Suspension Flake. There's no shortage of other routes or problems on the tor either as there are over one hundred and eighty to pick from. They all live up to their names too, including the ‘Skin Graft’ so be prepared for sore hands.
  • Bench Tor: Bench Tor is unbeatable both for its trad climbing routes and its scenic setting. Surrounded by forest, this granite tor rises above the River Dart Valley and offers climbers over twenty intermediate routes to pit their wits against while enjoying the scenery below.
  • The Dewerstone: located on the southern end of the moor, this extensive crag is ideal for beginners and intermediates, with it’s long pitches up top quality granite. Classics such as Central Groove, Scimitar Direct and E1 are always worth a go, and with several recent harder additions up to E6 it’s now spreading its appeal to all grades of climber.
  • Low Man, Haytor: a must for any climber coming to the area, the high quality granite wall here has some classic routes in Raven’s Gully and Interrogation, the latter featuring in UKC’s ‘Top 5 E3’s in the UK’ article.

Why go Rock Climbing?

Rock Climbing is a great way to see some of the most stunning places, get fit and healthy in the process and have a great time. There’s a wealth of spots to climb, with over 1000 destinations, 150 climbing walls and hundreds of climbing clubs in the UK. See below for some of the best climbing courses in the UK. For some, climbing is the challenge of getting to the top, for others it's the puzzle of working out the route and how to approach the different hands and footholds. There's also the fitness side of course, being a fantastic total body workout, and particularly effective for those doing indoor bouldering on midweek evenings! Then there's the locations. Outdoor climbing locations are often in some of the most stunning locations in the country, and with the climbing itself you are able to get up close and personal with the landscape, and often able to access locations and views unavailable to anyone else! It’s also an incredibly social sport. When at an indoor climbing wall, it’s natural to talk to others about how to climb routes.
Rock Climbing Near Me

Who is Rock Climbing Suitable for?

There's a climb for everyone, and part of the beauty of climbing is that the challenge is relative for each individual. There are plenty of climbing clubs if you'd like to join others and do it more socially and learn from peers, and it can be a great family activity too for those with a bit more experience. For those less confident there are plenty of guides and instructors always happy to share their passion with new people to the sport. There are also plenty of great UK climbing forums for further advice and information.

Climbing Overview for Beginners

Climbing is a great activity for everyone, from individuals, groups, families, friends and corporates. Conquering a climbing route or your fear for heights in a group is a great bonding experience. Climbing doesn’t have to be a huge challenge. There are many ways to get involved with the sport that are more accessible than the crazy films like El Capitan where Alex Honnold climbs over 2km without ropes. Try a guided climbing session to take it easy and pick up the basics, or try bouldering at an indoor climbing wall.
There's different techniques and methods to climbing that make the sport that little bit more interesting and challenging.There’s also a wealth of kit and equipment needed for the different types of climbing. And there’s different ways to get involved with the sport. Don’t worry - it’s easy to pick up. We’ve put together a bunch of resources so that after reading them you’ll be clued up on your next rock climbing experience. Below are some useful rock climbing resources to learn more.
Rock Climbing In UK

Useful Rock Climbing Resources

  • A Beginners Guide to Rock Climbing We’ve created a resource for beginners to rock climbing to outline the different types of rock climbing from bouldering, sport climbing and trad climbing and more. What equipment you need and the various ways to get involved with the sport, whether that be joining a local club, going to an indoor climbing wall or booking an instructor.

  • A Beginners Guide to Rock Climbing. We’ve created a resource for beginners to rock climbing to outline the different types of rock climbing from bouldering, sport climbing and trad climbing and more. What equipment you need and the various ways to get involved with the sport, whether that be joining a local club, going to an indoor climbing wall or booking an instructor.

  • A Guide to Outdoor Rock Climbing in UK. We’ve pulled together a resource to outline what to expect when climbing outdoors in the UK, including the differences from indoor rock climbing and what kit to take.


Bouldering in the UK

Bouldering is the act of climbing, typically up to 20ft without ropes but with big soft matts beneath. As the height of the climb is not high enough to cause injuries (assuming you fall correctly of course), it’s a great way to get into the sport without having to get used to the technicalities of using ropes, belay devices and the other equipment associated with other types of climbing. To get involved with bouldering, look up your local climbing wall and ensure they mention they have bouldering on offer. Most climbing walls do offer bouldering nowadays. Also, you can find outdoor places to go bouldering. If you’re doing this as a beginner, make sure to organise an instructor who can ensure you’ve got the right equipment (including a bouldering mat to fall on), and show you the best routes and techniques.

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