Test your mountaineering skills or just challenge yourself and keep fit on these excellent climbing walls
Once perceived as an esoteric, daredevil sport, climbing in recent years has experienced a burst in popularity the world over. Scotland has been no exception: climbing's physical and mental health benefits, as well as its genuinely friendly, enthusiastic community, has led to a surge of new indoor climbing facilities - perfect for our changeable and often inclement weather. With plenty of features for both rock gods and the wee ones, we've put together a list of climbing walls that have something for climbers of all skills and abilities.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena: Ratho
Set in a disused quarry, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, or just Ratho (not to be confused with the nearby town - be sure to clarify that with your taxi driver!) is the largest indoor climbing facility in the world. With 28 metre top roping walls, grades running from 2 to 8b, speed climbing walls and demanding overhangs, Ratho is perfect for the climber looking for a challenge. There are also bouldering facilities with routes from V0 to V15, and a colourful Clip'n'Climb adventure playground for the kids. Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, South Platt Hill, Ratho, Newbridge, £10.90.
The largest bouldering centre in Edinburgh, Eden Rock has a varied range of routes to suit both beginners and seasoned climbers. They host several children's climbing clubs, and offer introductory and bespoke courses for climbers who wish to brush up on the basics or push through to the next level. There's also a specialist climbing shop and an eco-friendly cafe on site. Eden Rock, Edgefield Road, Loanhead, Edinburgh, £10 (£7.50, members £8.50).
Split into two facilities, Alien One is Alien Rock's dedicated top roping site. Built into a former church building, the vaulted ceiling makes for challenging routes and some rather gnarly overhangs, featuring over 40 top roping lines as well as 12 lead lines for more advanced climbers. Their new bouldering site, Alien Bloc, has over 500 square metres of angled walls and a seven metre long roof for a truly thought-provoking bouldering experience Alien One, 8 Pier Place, Edinburgh; Alien Bloc, 23 Dunedin Street, Edinburgh, £9.20 (off peak £8.40)
Pleasance Sport Complex and Gym
The climbing facilities at the University of Edinburgh's Pleasance Sport Centre may be smaller than most, but it's run by a uniquely friendly team that hosts regular climbing competitions, classes for all levels and a Facebook group for people looking for a top roping partner. The eight-metre tall Tower includes 25 top roping lines with grades from 3 to 7B, lead climbing and an abseil platform, whilst the Rock features 4.2 metre angled walls with 60 to 100 boulder problems, and grades from V0 to V9. Pleasance Sport Complex and Gym, 46 Pleasance, Edinburgh, £8 (includes entry to the gym).
A fantastic indoor bouldering facility, with over 1,100 square metres of wall set in a disused printworks. Dedicated to making climbing as inclusive as possible, the Climbing Academy hosts a regular women's climbing club; offers special packages for people with disabilities and their carers; autism and Asperger's-friendly sessions; as well as classes designed for amputees and those with hearing loss or visual impairment. They also hold weekly yoga classes designed to help you improve your climbing ability. The Climbing Academy Glasgow, 124 Portman Street, £7 (£9 weekends)
The Glasgow Climbing Centre
credit: Tim Morozzo Located in yet another former church building, the vaulted wood ceiling and stained glass features make for a truly stunning climbing experience. Sixteen metre tall top roping walls boast 40 lines that run from grades 3 to 8b, 20 lead climbing lines and two auto-belay units for those without a partner. Three boldly-coloured bouldering rooms feature around 100 problems and span VB to V11. Their website regularly updates the age and grades of routes, and the delicious Scottish fare at the Balcony Cafe has become famous in its own right. The Glasgow Climbing Centre, 534 Paisley Road West, rope climbing £9.50 (£7.50 off peak) / bouldering £7
The Glasgow Climbing Centre
Ibrox Church, 534 Paisley Road West,
The award-winning Glasgow Climbing Centre offers a unique rock climbing experience for people looking for a new sport to enjoy, or for existing climbers just arrived in Glasgow. We make full use of the converted church we are in, with climbing routes…
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena
South Platt Hill Newbridge, Ratho,
The world's largest climbing arena, complete with three climbing walls, over 200 routes, bouldering, aerial assault course, spa, gym, kid's play area, café and conferencing facilities.