Shauna Coxsey's top 7 bouldering spots in Britain

Following the release of the new film 'The Wall: Climb for Gold', Olympic athlete Shauna Coxsey reveals her top locations for bouldering around England and Wales' most scenic national parks and coastlines

4 mins

The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics was groundbreaking for rock climbing, as it was the first year the sport was entered into the games. Cue Shauna Coxsey MBE, Britain’s most successful competitive climber and one of only 20 to make the cut for Tokyo. In the newly released The Wall: Climb For Gold, we follow Shauna and three other athletes over a gruelling two years of qualifying, training and mental and physical challenges as they build up to the world's biggest sporting event.

Following her hugely successful career, winning back-to-back world titles, and having the opportunity to compete in the first Olympics with climbing, Shauna decided to retire from the competitive sport. Instead, she has now diverted her attention to rock climbing and bouldering outdoors. From stunning coastal locations to friendly climbs in national parks, here, the pro-athlete picks some of her favourite bouldering venues around the Peak District, Lake District and Wales, exclusively for Wanderlust.

Best places to go bouldering in the Peak District

1. Stanage Edge, Derbyshire

Stanage Edge is one of the UK’s most historic bouldering and traditional climbing venues, well-known for having the longest single stretch of gritstone. Often referred to as the 'Queen of Grit', the 3.5 mile edge is a picturesque Peak District location, so be aware, you will likely encounter many other climbers as it’s incredibly popular for both beginners and those looking for more of a challenge. You can travel here via public transport from Sheffield, or if driving, there are several car parks to choose from in the southern region.

2. Burbage Valley, Derbyshire

Only 10 minutes from Sheffield, Burbage Valley is split into North, East, South and West venues showcasing a variety of grit climbing. The rocks are located within a beautiful valley and the venue is incredibly accessible, so it's not too far from the car. Burbage North has many short climbs, which is why it can be busy with local climbers and outdoor centres, especially during the summer evenings. Meanwhile, Burbage South Valley Boulders offer great landing and climbs which are not too high - a top spot for beginners getting to grips with bouldering.

3. Cratcliffe Edge and Robin Hood's Stride, Derbyshire

Located just 5km from Bakewell, Cratcliffe Torr and Robin Hood's Stride are considered hidden gems for bouldering. The rocks are perched on a little hill, and it really does look like a magical setting from Robin Hood. The quirky, friendly venue has good grit and comfortable landing. Due to vandalism in 2013, there is currently some exposed, soft rock which can be damaged easily, so care is needed when climbing. Of course, the bonus of this bouldering venue is treating yourself to a post-climb Bakewell pudding!

Best places to go bouldering in Wales

4. Llanberis Pass, Gwynedd

A fantastic, historic location in scenic Snowdonia. Llanberis Pass has dramatic views inside a v-shaped valley, where there are literally hundreds of rocks sitting on either side and on the flat. One of the most popular places at Llanberis is the roadside Cromlech Boulders, which are guaranteed to be very social and accessible. But head deeper into the iconic climbing valley and you’ll find some of the best climbs. The rhyolite rock here is very different to the Peak District’s gritstone, and do note, parking is problematic, so the best way to access the venue is to park and ride.

5. Porth Ysgo, Gwynedd

A cool climbing setting with bouldering on the beach, Porth Ygso is situated on the rugged Welsh coastline of Llyn Peninsula, just beyond Hell’s Mouth. The secluded venue by the sea caters for many different climbing levels. Using a mat for landing is strongly advised, as there are many highball problems (meaning the climb can be long and high) and the landing is not easy. Most of the boulders are non-tidal, so you can explore this area at any time when the conditions are right, making for a memorable climbing experience. It is a tricky place to reach as the approach isn’t the most accessible, so ensure to plan before you travel.

Best places to go bouldering in the Lake District

6. The Bowderstone, Cumbria

This singular epic block of basalt is one of the Lake’s most popular attractions, not only for climbers but for tourists, who can reach the top of the 2,000 ton stone by walking up a set of wooden stairs fixed against the rock. Those who come for bouldering however are faced with more of a challenge. Bowderstone is considered an elite venue as the climb is so intense, with a steep overhanging face. You can’t get away with trickery here, which is why the venue appeals to the strongest climbers, rather than beginners. The rock is a 10-minute walk from the National Trust car park.

7. Saint Bees, Cumbria

Saint Bees is famous for being the start of the Coast-to-Coast walk, where keen hikers cross the country from Cumbria all the way to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. But the beautiful beach setting with its bright red sandstone rock also attracts different levels of climbers. The venue isn't the easiest to access and around 15 minutes to walk from the local car park, but it’s worth it for the sunny, versatile coastal climbs where you can cool down afterwards with a swim in the sea or by grabbing an ice cream. Be aware – there are some bouldering restrictions in this area during the nesting season.

Shauna's top tips for outdoor bouldering

Shauna Coxsey

Shauna Coxsey

Respect the location

Climbing is for everyone, so we need to remember it is all of our responsibilities to take care of these amazing places. Make sure not to climb when it’s wet, as it can erode, break or snap the rock. Brush the chalk off the holds after you climb with a soft brush, ensuring you leave no trace. It’s important to be conscious of your environment, respect the climbers around you, and realise it’s a privilege to climb in these stunning natural locations, so let's leave them the way we found them.

Check the approach 

Always know what you’re getting yourself in for. Some approaches are more difficult than others. The best way to prepare is by using a guidebook to help plan your trip. Check out Vertebrate Publishing (for Lakes and Peak District) or Ground Up for Wales

Get kitted out

You don’t need much to go bouldering outdoors, but it's important to have the right equipment. Use bouldering pads, not only to protect the ground but also look after your ankles when dropping off the rock. Take time to position your pad, be aware of the gaps between your pads, and make sure your landing zone is as flat as possible. It’s best to practice landing at an indoor wall centre before you head outdoors.

Watch The Wall: Climb for Gold

'The Wall: Climb for Gold' will be available to watch globally via Apple and Amazon Prime on 18 January 2022.

Find out more about the film here

Watch now

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