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The best climbing walls in London

Ready to reach new heights? Here’s our pick of London’s best climbing walls, including ones suitable for kids

Castle Climbing Centre
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If there’s one thing we can all agree on it’s that, some days, experiencing the city from a plain old horizontal perspective just isn’t enough. On those occasions, as with most others, London will always provide the answer: and the answer is strapping yourself in and climbing up a pretend mountain, obviously.

That’s right: climbing! Slightly more serious than the adult play areas and Ballie Ballerson’s of the city, climbing walls sit somewhere neatly between being an actual sport and still being a really good way to have a laugh with your mates on the London fun venn diagram. And, given that seems like a pretty good place to be, we’ve put together a list of some of the best vertical excitement that the capital has to offer.

RECOMMENDED: Activities in London for big kids

London's climbing walls

1
Castle Climbing Centre
Ben Grubb: 2016

Castle Climbing Centre

This climbing centre is splendidly housed in an old Victorian pumping station. Taster sessions are available for kids aged 9–15, and under-18s can climb with the supervision of an instructor or a parent. For kids-only climbing, the Gecko Club (www.geckos.co.uk) is based here and offers a weekly two-hour club session from £25.

2
Westway Climbing Centre

Westway Climbing Centre

There are 120 lines and 350 routes to explore at Westway’s impressive climbing centre. The cheapest way for children to get on the wall is to queue up for one of the drop-in sessions on Monday and Wednesday afternoons for kids aged 5–6 (4pm–5pm, £5.50), and seven- to 14-year-olds (4.30pm–6pm, £4.50), or the family session for over-fours on Sunday mornings (10pm–11.30am; £5.50 juniors, £10 parents). For adults, there are bookable classes throughout the week.

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3
The Arch Climbing Wall

The Arch Climbing Wall

There are three Arch climbing centres to choose from; one is a converted art deco cinema in Acton, another is a 11,000 square-foot space in Edgware, and the third is located in Bermondsey in a former Damien Hirst gallery. Each has a number of easy and challenging walls to get to grips with. Kids from eight years old can join the fun as long as they’re with an adult climber. Kids aged 12–16 can climb unsupervised but need a parental note of consent and an intro lesson on their first visit.

4
Vauxwall

Vauxwall Climbing Centre

If you’re well into your climbing, Vauxwall's two climbing centres have got a lot going for them. VauxEast in particular boasts multiple climbing areas, a decent café, a shop, a gym – and it doesn’t hurt that they're both close to tube stations. You can get involved with everything from Sunday morning socials to the ‘Boulderama’ meetup on Wednesday evenings. There’s also a Junior club for kids aged eight and above – but anyone under 18 must be pre-registered by their parent or legal guardian before using the centre.

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5
Clip 'n' Climb
Lee Howell

Clip N Climb

This rainbow-coloured climbing centre in Chelsea is aimed at anyone new to the world of climbing. There are 21 wall challenges to try out in a standard 60-minute session from Monday to Sunday – but it doesn’t come cheap. Prices start from £17.50 for children (from age four) or £19.50 for adults (16 plus). For the venue’s special attractions, such as the ‘Vertical Drop Slide’ or ‘Stairway to Heaven’, expect to pay an additional £5 per person. The venue can also be hired out for special celebrations, including three options for children’s parties.

6
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Mile End Climbing Wall

If you’ve never tried this, you should: indoor rock walls provide the perfect chance to get to grips with climbing technique, and give you a pretty thorough workout in the process. The Mile End Climbing Wall is a brilliant place to start, offering weekend lessons for beginners – with a bit of work, you should have no trouble ascending towards your physical peak. Children from eight to 16 can attend beginner climbing sessions on weekday evenings and Saturday and Sunday mornings. Action-packed birthday parties for over-sevens can be held here, and there’s a busy summer holiday programme.

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7
Vertical Chill Climbing

Vertical Chill

For an alternative climbing  experience, the Vertical Chill in the Ellis Bingham sports store in Covent Garden is a pretty ‘cool’ way to literally get stuck in. Sessions on the icy eight-metre wall, which is kept in a refrigerated unit at a temperature of -5C to -12C, can be booked in hourly slots, and children aged 14 to 18 can take part provided they’re accompanied by a parent. If you’re a newbie, you can expect to shell out £50 for initial tuition and equipment – but this drops down to £25 once you’ve got the hang of it or invest in your own gear. It’s pretty popular, too – you might have to wait a few weeks to find a slot. For more details contact vertical.chilllondon@ellis-brigham.com.

You're good to go, London

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