It’s not often thought of as child friendly but rock climbing is an ideal family activity. So kicking off our new series on outdoor pursuits we look at rock climbing for kids.
Rock climbing is a really inclusive sport that costs very little to do yet gets you fit, strong and crucially outdoors.
Children of any age can get involved, from tackling small grips with an auto-belay line indoors, to scaling sheer rock faces. The sport is gaining ground across the UK so where there are no rocks of mountains, there are still climbing walls, which means no excuses not to give it a try.
Why we love it?
The National Trust puts rock climbing for kids at No. 46 on its list of 50 things to do before you’re 11¾. As well as getting kids outdoors, climbing is great for encouraging teamwork and building confidence. And it goes without saying that it’s excellent for strength and fitness, too.
But climbing isn’t something you can go out and do on your own. You need a qualified instructor to (literally) show you the ropes. The best way to do it is to book onto a half- or one-day course. There are plenty tailored for children and families.
Where to go:
To rock climb, you’ll need to go where the mountains are. That means Derbyshire and the Peak District, Wales, Scotland or the Lake District. If you fancy an outdoorsy holiday in the UK, it’s the perfect activity to combine with kayaking, rafting or mountain biking. Of course, climbing walls are cropping up all over the UK and it’s a good idea to spend a morning getting to grips here before you book a trip away, for confidence and stamina building.
When to go:
Spring and summer outside. Experienced mountaineers love snow and ice climbing during the winter months. But that’s a whole different kettle of fish, and isn’t something we’d recommend for young children.
In the kit bag:
Helmets are essential, as are climbing shoes, harnesses and ropes. But unless you live within easy access of the rocks, it’s not worth buying these yourself – most climbing companies will rent them to you. And if you are keen on having your own, there’s plenty of secondhand kit available.
Find out more:
Rock And Ice runs courses for children of all ages – they’ve had 3-year-olds climbing 150’ rock faces. The National Trust recommends places in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Wales and Ireland. And for more info about getting out there with children in the UK, visit Kids Climbing.