Climbing is a great sport to get into, offering a unique blend of mental and physical challenge, often in a relaxed, social atmosphere. The fact that a climbing route is referred to as a ‘problem’ offers some insight into the extent to which climbing is just as much about the mind as the body. The social side of climbing is also a huge positive. Due to the nature of the sport, you spend a lot of time hanging around with others whilst waiting to have a go on a particular rock or wall. As a sport that sits slightly outside of the mainstream, there is also much less of the stereotypical behaviour and competitiveness that is associated with sports such as football. All of this fosters a friendly, relaxed atmosphere where people can discuss ‘problems’, share tips, or just have a chat.
In recent years, climbing has seen a huge boost in popularity in the UK, largely thanks to the number of new indoor climbing gyms that have opened in towns and cities up and down the country. Previously, if you’d never climbed before but fancied having a go, you would have to travel to the nearest outdoor area with climbing rocks. Once there, you would either need to be accompanied by someone with knowledge and experience in rock climbing and the safe use of climbing ropes or pay to join a session led by an instructor. Climbing gyms make climbing a much more readily accessible sport by offering a safe indoor space where you can simply turn up and give it a go, with no ropes or guidance needed (though you’ll need some shoes!).
So you’re in Brighton, you’ve watched Free Solo, and you’ve got yourself some climbing shoes, let’s find you somewhere to have a go!
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Our top picks for the places for climbing
As the name suggests, Boulder Brighton focuses on bouldering, which means that you climb on walls without the need for ropes up to a maximum height of four or five metres. Located just a five-minute walk from Portslade train station, Boulder is easily accessible from the centre of Brighton, and there’s a good amount of parking available outside, too. Boulder Brighton is in a former warehouse so there is a ton of space, with a total of over two hundred problems available to climb at any time, ranging from simple first-timer challenges up to professional standard routes.
Away from the climbing walls, Boulder Brighton has an excellent range of facilities a changing room and showers, a space for training, warm-ups and cool-downs, a cafe and a shop, so you’ll find what you need whether a seasoned climber wanting a space to work on your strength or you’re a parent who wants to grab a coffee whilst you keep an eye on your kids.
Boulder Brighton is Brighton’s best bouldering-specific climbing gym, offering an unparalleled selection of bouldering problems in a massive, purpose-built setting. Two-hour adult (16+) sessions start from £9 and £7.60 for seven to fifteen-year-olds. Monthly memberships are available from £46, and they also offer a 15% student discount.
High Sports Brighton
High Sports is the city’s only other indoor climbing gym alongside Boulder Brighton, and whilst it does have a great bouldering area, it really shines when it comes to its enormous roped climbing section, which is so good that it hosts national-standard competitions. High Sports offers a thirteen-metre climbing wall with fifty-eight rope lines and eight auto-belays, which means less waiting around for other climbers on rope lines and more choice of climbing routes.
High Sports is an outstanding rope-climbing centre, one of the best in the south-east of England, and accommodates a huge range of visitors. From professional climbers (they’re an official GB Para Climbing training venue) to complete newbies, kids parties to stag-dos, and whoever else, High Sports is open to all to come and have a climb.
High Sports can be found within the Whitdean Sports Complex, located just off the main A23 road into Brighton and a twenty-minute walk from Preston Park station. Experienced rope climbers can book unsupervised climbing sessions, but you’ll need to get in touch with High Sports and pass a safety test before you can do so. If you’ve never used climbing ropes before then a one-hour introduction session for adults is £20, but before you can climb on your own you will need to pass the RockStart course. A four-hour intensive RockStart course (only on Saturdays) is £99 or a three-week course consisting of three ninety-minute sessions is £89. For parents wanting to take their kids climbing, you can take a 30-minute auto-belay induction course for £15.
If you want to get outdoors and grab hold of some real rock then you could get in touch with Hatt Adventures. Based out of Brighton Marina, Hatt Adventures offers all sorts of exciting outdoor pursuits, including rock climbing. For their rock-climbing sessions, you will travel with them out to sandstone rock-climbing areas in Sussex and Kent, where they will lead you in rope-climbing on real-life rock faces! A four-hour rock-climbing experience costs £65 and is available from March to October (slippery and cold rocks aren’t much fun to climb on!). If you’re a more experienced climber, then you can join Hatt’s climbing club, where you’ll travel to different rock-climbing locations in Kent and Sussex to try out new challenges and meet like-minded climbers – three-hour climbing club sessions are £35.
Hove Park Boulder
And for something completely different, there’s the Hove Park Boulder! To be clear, if you’ve ever climbed before, the Hove Park Boulder isn’t going to offer you much, but if you’re a complete newbie and just want to see how climbing feels then you could pay it a visit. The Hove Park Boulder is a great option for younger kids, offering a free, outdoor location for them to have a go at climbing without the pressure and fuss of a specific climbing centre.
When it comes to climbing in Brighton, there are two excellent climbing gyms that each offer something a bit different. For huge rope-climbing walls with national-standard climbing facilities, High Sports is the place to go, and they’re also your best bet for parties, schools, and any other large groups. For beginner climbers who don’t want to fuss around with ropes, and for more seasoned climbers just looking for a bouldering gym, Boulder Brighton is the perfect location. If you want to go out on some proper rocks with an organised group then get in touch with Hatt Adventures. And finally, if you just want to let your kids have a go at climbing you could head down to the Hove Park Boulder, it’s not much but it is free and offers an opportunity to let the kids try it out without splashing out!