Mountain Journeys

Rock Climbing for families - Lake District

Over the years of working and climbing here in the Lake District, we’ve come to learn of many types of crag. This short article covers those which we think are suitable for family’s and beginners.  By booking a rock climbing day with us we can show you some of these fine venues.

For the venues situated in the Northern Lakes, Keswick and surrounding areas make for a perfect base. Keswick has good amenities with shops, pubs,  restaurants, and a cinema.

For the venues of the Southern Lakes, we recommend Ambleside and surrounding areas as the best place to have as a base. Ambleside is home to a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, pubs, and shops as well as a cinema. We are based in Ambleside too!

For more information about any of the climbing venues mentioned below, either check out the relevant FRCC guidebook or get in touch with us.

We provide outdoor activities for all ages and abilities, and would be delighted to provide you with a fantastic day out here in the Lake District. Get in touch and let’s make it happen….

Mark & Kate

​Rock climbing near Keswick:

Wodens face, Borrowdale (grid ref: NY254168) – Set next to the iconic Bowderstone, this sunny crag of immaculate rock can be accessed very easily, being less than 5 minutes from the road. To the left the climbs are shorter at about 15m high and on the right hand side they reach about 30m high. Not only is it a sunny place, but also sheltered, being low in the valley and having many large trees nearby. Very good for youngsters and those new to rock climbing.

A visit to the Bowderstone should be included whilst here, and check out the bouldering routes on its underside!

Goats crag, Borrowdale (grid ref: NY277170) – With splendid views, an approach walk of only 20 minutes and lots of great picnic spots nearby, this crag takes some beating. The climbing is very diverse and offers a good spread of grades. The rock is rough Lakeland volcanic and feels untouched, so very grippy. Climbs are up to about 15m high and they pack a punch. If all that isn’t enough to tempt a visit, there’s always the nearby café at Watendlath, it’s walkable from the crag!

Steel Knotts Bluff, Borrowdale (grid ref: NY248162) - A pleasant 20 minute stroll along the banks of the Derwent is all it takes to reach this little gem. The rock is super rough and grippy, the routes are quite short at 15m and at the top are a selection of bolts to fix up top ropes if wanted. It enjoys a sunny outlook until mid-afternoon after which a stroll back along the river and maybe a paddle rounds the day off nicely.

Upper Shepherds, Borrowdale (grid ref: NY264184) - After a brew and bite to eat at the Lodore cafe follow the path to Shepherds crag but soon branch off uphill on a good path. The crag can be found after about 10 - 15 minutes of uphill walking and is on the left. A large and open grassy base makes this really great for youngsters, add to this a good range of excellent climbs on good rock and this place soon gets the win-win vote.

Church crag, St. Johns in the Vale (grid ref: NY305227) – Nestling on a small hillside above St. Johns in the Vale, this delightful little crag offers a range of high quality climbs up to about 12m high. The rock is superb Lakeland volcanic, so good friction and incut holds all come as standard.

Only a 5 minute walk from the road to, and with a sheltered Easterly outlook towards Blencathra this is the perfect introductory climbing venue.

Snail Shell crag, Carrock Fell (grid ref: NY355327) – Situated on Carrock fell, just beyond the hamlet of Mosedale, this immaculate slab of Gabbro begs to be climbed. There is a wild and remote feeling to the place, yet it’s only a 10 minute walk from the roadside, so access is very easy.

The climbing here is ideal for beginners, offering a good range of climbs up to about 25m high and on probably the grippiest rock in the Lake District. Great for building confidence in footwork.

Brunt crag (grid ref: NY397210) – In a lovely open setting just minutes from the A5091 Ullswater road and offering splendid views over Ullswater, we can’t understand why this place isn’t busier! It’s also right across the road from the magnificent Aira force waterfall which is well worth a visit too.

With about half a dozen climbs on offer, good sport can be enjoyed up to about 12m high. The rock is Lakeland volcanic, but a little mossy in places so best save this place for nice dry weather. Open fields and the huge trees nearby all make for perfect picnic spots too. 

Rock climbing near Ambleside:

Long Scar / Black crag, Langdale (grid ref: NY273036) – Set high on Pike O’Blisco yet only a 25 minute walk from the road, this duo of crags really delivers the full mountain experience. Impeccable volcanic rock abounds and there are climbs to suit everyone, from complete novice to hardcore ‘trad-master’. Views in all directions are exceptionally good, with the late afternoon sun outlining Harter Fell being of particular note. Windermere can be clearly seen from here too.

Being set high up, it can feel chilly and there will likely be a breeze, so have an extra layer and always a jacket.

Climbs on Long Scar are up to 30m high and on Black crag around 15m high.

Copt Howe, Langdale (grid ref: NY316058) – Above the hamlet of Chapel Stile are a series of small outcrops and quarries, all worth exploring by the visiting boulderer. Copt Howe is bigger and more of a climbing venue, the perfect place for beginners to try rock climbing. It can be reached in less than 10 minutes from the road and upon arriving at the crag the beautiful Langdale valley will make everyone stop and stare, for this is possibly the best view of Langdale.

The climbs here are generally less than 10m high and there’s a good range of difficulties. It is also possible to climb a multi-pitch route here and finish on the summit!

Scout crags, Langdale (grid ref: NY298069) – 3 separate outcrops of rock all offering something different and all very close to each other.

Lower Scout crag offers climbs up to about 16m high and a wide range of difficulties can be found, it’s a great place for beginners to learn and often groups under instruction can be found here.

Middle Scout crag is for the hardcore climber operating in the extreme grade range. Not a place for beginners, but worth a try if you like very steep climbing!

Upper Scout crag offers easier climbing in a multi-pitch setting. The climbs here are up to 55m high.

All are very easy to access from the New Dungeon Ghyll parking areas. There are good facilities nearby (2 pubs, both serving good). Views are typical of Langdale, so pretty amazing. The rock on all 3 crags is very good quality.

Raven crags, Langdale (grid ref: NY285064) – Perched directly behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, this collection of buttresses has easy access and offers a huge variety of climbing, giving something for everyone.

Middlefell Buttress is the ‘classic’ introductory multi-pitch route, complete with huge belay ledges the whole way. The central section of the crag offers more challenging climbs that are steeper in nature. Further right again brings us to East Raven crag. Here lies a range of single pitch routes where top ropes can be set up.

With great views, immaculate rock, and a huge variety of climbing, this is a great place to visit. Although the multi-pitch routes are not so family friendly, the East Raven sector is more suited.

Oxford crag, Patterdale (grid ref: NY393155) - A scenic and easy approach walk and sheltered setting are part of the attraction here. The rock is also very good and offers a few easy climbs that are all suitable for top roping. There may be in-situ anchor stakes at the top of some routes. As with any in-situ protection, please check these carefully before using.

If you would like us to arrange a rock climbing day for you, be it an introductory session or for advanced skills, please get in touch anytime, we’d be delighted to her from you. 

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