10 Top Bouldering Locations in the UK
Nothing gets your heart racing and adrenaline pumping like bouldering. The UK is home to some of the best mountains, making bouldering a brilliant hobby to enjoy in our wonderful outdoors. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there is something for everyone in our list of top outdoor bouldering destinations.
Please note: Like with all outdoor adventure sports, bouldering isn’t without its risks. We highly recommend you do your own research before undertaking any outdoor activities. There are plenty of organised excursions and trainers offering introductions to bouldering that’ll get you started.
What is bouldering?
In short, bouldering involves free climbing on rocks, mountains or cliffs. without ropes or a harness. It carries more risks than rock climbing because it’s undertaken with little safety equipment.
Beginners usually start their bouldering adventure indoors, as climbing centres are ideal for testing the waters. These centres will have a variety of challenges, and they’ll have experts close by to ensure everyone is safe and using the correct techniques.
When you first embark on bouldering outdoors, you’ll notice that different boulders are graded depending on their difficulty. The grading systems used are a great way to gauge whether a location is safe to attempt or not, depending on your experience.
Bouldering sites in the UK
Read on to discover some of the best bouldering locations in the UK. You’ll see under each location that we’ve listed our nearby campsites to help you find the best place to stay. If you’re looking for a campsite in a specific location, you can search for UK campsites.
1. Bosigran, Cornwall
Bosigran in Cornwall is a large granite sea cliff perched high above a boulder-strewn cove in West Penwith. The elevated cliff makes it a reliable spot to climb even if the sea is rough or the tides are not ideal. The stunning location is great for experts and beginners.
There are several areas of the cliff that you can climb, including the Main Cliff, the Seaward Cliff, Bosigran Ridge, and the Great Zawn.
- Sennen Cove Club Site
- Tregurrian Club Site
- Veryan Club Site
2. Saint Bees Head, Cumbria
If you’re looking for breathtaking landscapes and beautiful views, Cumbria is the place to visit. Saint Bees Head has a red sandstone bluff which forms one of the most dramatic natural features along the entire coast of North West England. Here you’ll find some of the finest-looking boulders that beginners and experts can tackle.
If you’re bouldering at Saint Bees Head, be sure to check the weather, as climbing in winter can come with its own set of obstacles.
3. Snowdonia National Park, Wales
Snowdonia consists of the highest peaks in Wales, and it’s accompanied by many rocky valleys that are great for bouldering.
Cromlech Boulders, Wavelength Boulders, Utopia Boulders, RAC Boulders and Sheeps Pen are some of the most popular bouldering destinations in Snowdonia National Park. These hotspots also vary in terms of difficulty for climbers and are great for groups with varying abilities.
4. Stanage Edge, Peak District
Stanage Edge, in the Peak District, is the perfect destination for bouldering in the UK. It has stunning views of the Dark Peak moorlands and the Hope Valley.
The gritstone edge stretches for approximately 4 miles, and whilst walking through it to find the perfect boulder, you’ll take a journey through the geology and natural history of the location.
Also, a fun fact for movie fanatics, Stanage Edge was recently featured in the classic film ‘Pride & Prejudice’. So you’ll be able to spot the exact location on your climbing journey.
5. Southern Sandstone, East Sussex
If you’re new to outdoor bouldering, this brilliant spot near the capital is great for perfecting your technique.
The softer sandstone presents challenges that can expose weaknesses in technique, footwork and core strength. So, before you tackle huge boulders and take on adrenaline-pumping risks, perfect your technique at this hotspot.
6. Lake District, Cumbria
The Lake District is home to some of the UK's best bouldering spots. With 2,362 km² of beautiful land, there is something for every climber.
If you’re new to bouldering, the best outdoor spots include Pudding Stone, Farleton Crag, Carrock Fell Crag, Eskdale Fisherground, Black Crag and Dunnerdale Boulders.
These spots are not only great for beginners, but they’re also prime locations for a large group of climbers with a variety of abilities.
7. Dumbarton, Scotland
Dumbarton is the home of Scottish bouldering. It’s located just outside Glasgow and has challenges for all climbers.
The hard basalt rocks are skin-friendly but can lack friction during the warmer months. With that said, the brilliant thing about Dumbarton is that many of the rocks are overhanging or sheltered, so even when it rains, you’re bound to find dry rock. If the rain stops, you’ll only have to wait a short moment before the rocks begin to dry, and you can start climbing.
Nearest campsites: Milarrochy Bay Club Site.
8. Thorn Crag, Lancaster
Thorn Crag is a great outdoor bouldering location for the spring and autumn. It has gritstone boulders overlooking a magnificent sea view, and each boulder has its own set of challenges which are great for beginners or experts.
Most bouldering is done on three main boulder clumps a few minutes from one another, but once you’ve tackled each boulder, you'll feel confident to tackle more.
Nearest campsites: Clitheroe Club Site.
9. Glen Nevis, Scotland
If you’re after stunning views and a climbing experience like no other, Glen Nevis has some exceptional bouldering spots scattered around.
In the past 20 years, bouldering has become popular around the area. The schist rock offers steep and permanently dry overhangs, caves and a variety of bouldering formations for all abilities. Best of all, the scenery in Glen Nevis is unmatched, so you’ll have something worth climbing for.
Nearest campsites: Glencoe Club Site.
10. Portland, Dorset
When looking for UK bouldering locations that offer adrenaline-packed climbing, are easily accessible and are fun for all, Dorset is your place to be. In particular, Portland.
Portland is great for climbing in summer. The island connected by a small isthmus has a whole shoreline dotted with climbing spots that offer a variety of challenges. The limestone rock has a mix of smooth, bullet-proof boulders to rough and ready tidal boulders. There really is something for everyone as Portland offers technical to powerful, high to lowball, slabs to roofs, and boulder fields to cliff-type boulder walls.
Nearest campsites: Moreton Club Site.