A short guide to climbing in Glasgow
What’s your favourite sport? Mine’s climbing. OK, I stopped climbing regularly about a year ago, and now I just go for fun every now and again, but it’s still my favourite sport. It’s taken me around some pretty nice places like the Lake District or boulder filled gorges in Romania. Have you ever tried it? If not, maybe I can convince you to give it a try.
Regular physical activity is a great way to relax after a long day in a lab or manage some of the stress that comes with our PGR degrees. It’s no magical cure and not everyone can or wants to exercise, I know. But if you’d like to try a new sport or fancy a change of scenery from the UofG gyms, climbing’s pretty cool. It’s very much a full body workout (after trying it for the first time many many years ago, I remember muscles I had no idea existed being sore), it’s excellent if you like problem solving and it usually involves lots and lots of falling (if you don’t mind that…). All climbing gyms will offer inductions and beginner’s courses, which is a good way to start if you’re not sure about the do’s and don’ts. Going with a friend who can show you the ropes (literally!) can work as well. Climbing is a great social activity!
So, where can you try climbing in Glasgow ? My favourite is The Climbing Academy (TCA) near Kinning Park subway station, a bouldering only gym with friendly staff, a range of routes (called problems) from simple ladders to “dear oh dear who came up with this contortionism?!!!” and some pretty amazing cakes in the gym cafe. They offer student memberships and the prices are quite reasonable. The Glasgow University Mountaineering Club are organise regular trips to the TCA if you’d rather go with a group. You can drop them an email, or just go to one of their weekly Tuesday meetings at Dram! If you’d like to join them.
If you fancy some longer routes and like the idea of roped climbing, the Glasgow Climbing Centre in Ibrox is the place for you. I’ll be honest, roped climbing was never really my thing, but it could be your favourite, and in a year’s time you won’t be able to decide whether you’d rather trad or sport climb on your sunny holiday! The Climbing Centre have instructors who can show you around and there’s short courses you can take to help you learn what you need to do. You’ll need a belayer to hold the rope for you, so if you’ll need to bring a friend along with you. If that’s not really an option, climbers are a friendly bunch and you should be able to find a buddy to pair up with. They’ve also got a bouldering area as well, so if you like both, it’s definitely a good place.
Another option is Climbzone in Braehead, which I have never been to myself, , but I’ve been told they have auto-belays so you don’t need to bring a belayer. One of my friends said that while it’s super safe, trusting a machine to catch you when you (inevitably) fall feels far less reassuring than having a human. Give it a go, and let me know what you think!
What if you’ve been climbing indoors for a while, and would like to try some outdoors climbing? Are there any places around Glasgow where you can give it a go?
My favourite place is Dumbarton Rock (affectionately known as Dumby by climbers). It’s close to Glasgow and has a lot of really good (and hard!) climbs, and many consider it to be the home of Scottish bouldering. I first tried outdoor climbing there, and somehow managed to slip before even touching the rock (yes, I am that climber…). You’ll need a bouldering mat (unless you’re doing the super hard trad climbs there), but there’s always people there with one or two mats so you could ask them if they’re okay with you joining in for a few minutes.
Cuningar Loop boulders are a bunch of artificial concrete boulders in Rutherglen. They’re set in a nice park in Glasgow, are easy to get to and are a fun mix between climbing outdoors and still having man-made structures rather than (sometimes very very polished) real rock.
Another place I’ve climbed at was Auchinstarry Quarry near Croy. A lot of my friends love it, but there’s definitely more roped climbing than bouldering so I can’t say I’ve done much around there. Again, I think it’s worth giving it a go and seeing if it’s your thing or not
Do you know of any other good climbing spots around Glasgow? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us at @UofG_PGRBlog.