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Rock Climbing In Dorset

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Dorset is well known for its Jurassic Coast, a coastline that contains millions of years of fossils and animal remains. In fact the Jurassic Coast was the first ever site to make the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, based on its well preserved and rich abundance of fossils. It’s no wonder that locals can expect to live 2 years longer here than the rest of the UK, with its pristine countryside, waters and air.
Best Places for Rock Climbing In Dorset

Climbing in Dorset

Dorset’s climbing is focused on 3 main areas: Portland, Swanage and Lulworth. But what it lacks in number of locations it more than makes up for in the quality of those locations. Portland has a massive number of sport routes and bouldering problems, whilst Swanage has similarly great sport climbing in addition to a huge number of trad climbing routes. Lulworth meanwhile offers some fantastic deep water soloing as well as sport climbing.

Climbing at Portland

Attached to the mainland by a sand causeway and no bigger than four miles by two, Portland has a centuries-old fame for the quality of its stone. Portland stone has been quarried and used for everything from reconstructing London after the Great Fire to making headstones for fallen soldiers during both world wars. The island is also popular with visitors for its connections to the D-Day sailings, its hundred-year-old lighthouses and sixteenth-century castle.
Rock Climbing In Dorset
What sets Portland apart for climbers are its limestone escarpments and stunning white cliffs. They're the reason Portland holds first place in the UK rankings for sport and lead climbing. Jutting out spectacularly from the south coast - with Weymouth on one side and Chesil Beach on the other - are approximately 6km of limestone cliffs circling the isle. Scattered across this expanse are almost 1300 bolted routes, most of which are single pitch up to 30m high, and covering a wide range of grades from F2 to F8b. Most routes are vertical or just either side, and featuring jugs, pockets, crimps and rare sections of flowstone. It’s bouldering problems are also deservedly well known, featuring both short and high problems that include roofs and slabs.
Top Rope Climbing In Dorset

Top spots for Sport & Lead Climbing in Portland

  • The Cuttings: The Cuttings are aptly named as they're the direct result of old quarry work. Various rock faces offer a total of almost five hundred different climbing routes with difficulties ranging from V0 to V12. The pre-prepared routes mean beginners can get straight on with their climbing without having to worry about positioning climbing nuts. It's all there ready and waiting.
Closest parking – Use the Church Ope car park in the village of Easton, it's free. The Cuttings are a ten minute walk from there along a dirt trail which starts by the bridge.
  • Blacknor Beach: Blacknor Beach provides sports climbers and boulderers with some slab-based coastal climbing. There's around two hundred different routes most of which are graded at a moderate level. The bonus? Fresh sea air and amazing sea scapes whilst you're climbing.
Closest parking: Grangecroft Road car park or as its also known, the Blacknor Cliffs Climbers car park.
  • Dungecroft Quarry: the Dungecroft Quarry is in the Cheyne Wears region of Portland. The quarry walls, which closely resemble natural cliffs, are fully primed for sport and lead climbing. The gritstone slabs offer over forty routes and great climbing for intermediates.
Closest parking: Use the Cheyne Wears car park then follow the trail from there down into the quarry.
  • Nicodemus Knob: the Nicodemus Knob is a ten-metre high stone needle and has four sport climbing routes as well as a multitude of trads. The flat-topped pinnacle is a favourite with climbers visiting Portland because each ascent is rewarded with incredible views.
Closest Parking: The Heights Hotel or the observation points car park nearby.
Bouldering In Portland

Top spots for Bouldering in Portland

There's a multitude of bouldering venues on the island of Portland where you'll find everything from smooth limestone and flowstone faces to rocks with wave-eroded hand holds on the coastal routes. Portland has some distinct bouldering challenges which are both exciting and testing.
  • Portland Bill: the unusual stack of rocks near the famous Portland Bill lighthouse has some great routes of all levels which can be climbed accompanied by the crash of the waves below.
Nearest parking – The car park for the Portland Bill Lighthouse and Visitor Centre.
  • Cheyne Wears; the flowstone face of the Neddyfields Bouldering Wall in the Cheyne Wears area offers boulderers some unique and tough challenges which are practically vertical but still doable by most levels of climber.
Closest parking – The Cheyne Wears car park. The Neddyfields is a five minute walk from there along the coastal path.
  • Southwell Landslip: venture into the unknown and try something new by bouldering the Southwell Landslip. Not as frequented as some of the other bouldering routes on Portland but every bit as good.
Closet parking - The Cheyne Wears car park. Head north out of the car park toward Church Ope Cove and you'll find the Southwell Landslip.

Climbing at Swanage

Much like at Portland, climbing at Swanage consists of 5km of limestone cliffs, in this case with over 750 routes including both adventurous and friendly trad climbing, sport climbing and also deep water soloing. It’s well known in particular for its adventurous trad climbing, whereby it’s necessary to abseil down to ledges. Notable sections include Subliminal and Guillemot Ledge. If sport climbing is your thing, then the bolted quarries at Dancing Ledge and Winspot are very popular, whilst in the summer Conor Cove has some fantastic deep water soloing routes.
Top Rope Climbing In Swanage

Climbing at Lulworth

Lying in the heart of the Jurassic Coast and popular with all visitors for its spectacular scenery, the attraction for climbers is its superb overhanging faces that make it a world clas deep water soloing venue. If sport or trad climbing is more up your street then Lulworth East is great, and features some incredible roof climbing. The main areas to check out include Dungy Head/Church Rock, Stair Hole and Durdle Door with its famous and spectacular arch.

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. Dorset

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