Family-Friendly Activities In The Peak District

Climbing Courses In The Peak District

Climbing Courses In The Peak District
By Rosie Bellwood

The Peak District’s exposed geology and ease of access have made it one of the most popular climbing spots in the country.

The gritstone edges of the ‘Dark Peak’ are ideally suited to bouldering and trad climbing, while the limestone crags and quarries in the ‘White Peak’ are renowned for both trad and sport climbing.

Not sure what any of this means? Have no fear, for there are numerous climbing courses available across the Peak District with instruction for families, absolute beginners, and intermediaries looking to level up their climbing skills.

Classes vary from single taster days to week-long residential courses, but they typically include all technical equipment, professional instruction, and refreshments throughout the day. Depending on the length and level of the course you may be learning techniques such as belaying, abseiling, clipping and fall management – and learning what all this climbing terminology means in the first place!

Here’s a handful of the best climbing locations and courses in the Peak District.

Stanage Edge

Stanage Edge

Climbing courses & locations in the Peak District

The eastern edges

The ‘eastern edges’ run for almost 40 miles from Dunford Bridge in the north to Ambergate, just outside of the national park to the south. In particular, the escarpments around Baslow and Hathersage offer a wide range of routes of various grades, suitable for both beginners and advanced climbers. Baslow, Birchen, Curbar, Froggatt, Millstone, Burbage, Stanage and Derwent edges all offer superb climbing routes as well as bouldering – with the added bonus of far-reaching views across the Peak.

On Birchen Edge, climbing routes echo the nautical themes of Nelson’s Monument and the inscribed rocky outcrops of Victory, Defiance and Royal ‘Soverin’: Crow’s Nest, Sail Buttress and Trafalgar Crack – all great climbs. But there are countless thrilling routes across the eastern edges, especially on Stanage Edge where challenging routes are reflected in names like the Flying Buttress, Black Hawk Traverse and Insanity. Froggatt Edge, close to the historical village of Eyam and Grindleford, is one of the more challenging climbing locations in the Peak District. The steep technical slabs offer some of the best gritstone climbing in the country.

All these popular climbing spots attract day-trippers from nearby Sheffield as well as experienced climbers from across the country, attracted to the world-class routes. They are all popular venues for climbing courses operating in the national park.

Hathersage is an excellent base for the edges. Beginners can pick up gear from its outdoor shops and choose from a range of trad climbing and bouldering courses.

The edges are accessible from the road and can get busy on sunny days and weekends.

The gritstone outcrops

Beyond the escarpments, gritstone outcrops and crags are scattered across the Dark Peak moorlands. They offer great climbing while catering for all ability levels. Higger Tor near Hathersage is good for weaselling, rock hopping and scrambling as well as climbing. The Kinder and Bleaklow crags, found in the highest reaches of the Dark Peak, offer some of the best moorland climbs.

For those who want a serious challenge, Suicide Wall on Cratcliff Tor near Birchover is up for grabs, while neighbouring Robin Hood’s Stride offers easy scrambles and bouldering (as well as more difficult climbing routes).

All you need is a landing mat, chalk for your fingers and climbing shoes. Further south, Black Rock near Cromford is also a favourite with climbers.

Around Matlock Bath

Matlock and neighbouring Matlock Bath, just outside the national park’s eastern boundary, are popular with holidaymakers and day-trippers. It also happens to be HQ for a number of climbing outfitters who run courses in the surrounding quarries and crags.

Quarries

Nearby Masson Lees Quarry, an old limestone quarry, has a number of walls and is a good place to practice sport climbing. Upper Matlock Quarries are a good venue for trad climbing and bouldering. Close to Carsington Water, you’ll find limestone bouldering at Harborough Rocks near Brassington.

Inside the park boundary at Stoney Middleton (near Eyam), there are developing climbing opportunities in its quarries as well as on its natural crags. Other quarries that are excellent for gritstone climbing are found around Froggatt, Curbar and Millstone edges as well as Lawrencefield.

Peak District The Roaches

Climbing at The Roaches

The limestone dales

Surrounded by the bleak beauty of the Dark Peak to the north, west and east, the softer White Peak offers excellent climbing in its deep-sided dales, covered in wildflowers and rare orchids in spring and summer.

The limestone cliffs of the River Wye in Chee Dale, Millers Dale and Cressbrook dales combine great routes with stunning surroundings in the Wye Valley. Further south, much loved Dovedale with its soaring rock pinnacles, caves and limestone walls is understandably popular with climbers, but as one of the Peak District’s honey pots it’s not a place to seek peace and solitude.

The Roaches

The gritstone crags at the Roaches in the national park’s far south are a popular climbing and hiking spot for families with weaselling, bouldering, scrambling as well as more technical climbing. Because it is so popular, parking can be a problem on nice days, with queues forming for some climbing routes.

Windgather

Windgather is one of the most popular crags in the Peak District and is suitable for beginners still learning the ropes. There is a small amount of dedicated parking nearby with access along a track.

Need to know

On sunny days, especially over the weekend, parking can become a problem across the Peak District so get there early to claim a spot. Avoid blocking roads as this can hinder mountain rescue.

It’s important to come well prepared, as weather can change quickly so waterproof clothing is always recommended. Areas are also susceptible to low cloud and fog, drastically reducing visibility.

Safety is paramount when climbing in the Peak District where it is difficult for emergency services to reach you. Be sure to stay within your abilities to avoid getting into trouble or take one of the many climbing courses offered by local operators.

Please be aware that some rock faces are out of bounds during the bird-nesting period so check beforehand.

Climbing Courses In The Peak District

Rosie Bellwood

Rosie is a writer from Sheffield who has spent the last couple of years pottering about Europe, Southeast Asia and New Zealand, writing screenplays and blogging about her favourite films.

Climbing Courses In The Peak District

Helen Moat

Helen Moat is author of Bradt Guides' Slow Travel The Peak District. She is also a regular contributor for Wanderlust, Derbyshire Life, BBC Countryfile, among others. Now settled in the Peak District, she is constantly inspired by the landscape and the people and places shaped by the Peak.

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.