Rock-climbing & Caving

Where to go climbing in the UK

Those who find walking a bit tame might like to try abseiling, rock-climbing, mountaineering, caving or pot-holing (subterranean mountaineering). The UK has a distinguished record in international mountain climbing and few mountains in the world haven’t been climbed at some time by British mountaineers, often for the first time.

If you’re an inexperienced climber you would be well advised to join a climbing club (over 300 are affiliated to the British Mountaineering Council) before heading for the hills. There are climbing schools in all the main climbing areas and many local clubs have special indoor training apparatus (e.g. a climbing wall) for aspiring mountaineers. Some sports and leisure centres also provide facilities for climbing training.

A number of climbers, cavers and pot-holers are killed each year in the UK (mostly in Scotland), many of whom are inexperienced and reckless. Many more owe their survival to teams who risk their own lives to rescue them. It’s extremely foolish, not to mention highly dangerous, to venture off into the hills (or holes) without an experienced guide, proper preparation, excellent physical condition, sufficient training and the appropriate equipment. It’s also essential to tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.

Mountain, fell or hill-walking shouldn’t be confused with ‘ordinary’ hiking, as it’s generally done at much higher altitudes and in more difficult terrain, and should be attempted only with a qualified guide. It can be dangerous for the untrained or inexperienced and should be approached with much the same degree of caution and preparation as climbing. The Royal Air Force provides a helicopter rescue service for those who get lost or stuck on mountains. A good map is vital for those who venture into remote areas. Ordnance Survey maps, available in 1:25 and 1:50 scales, are highly recommended and are available from bookshops, newsagents and leisure shops.

Many adventure holiday companies provide tailor-made vacations for climbers or cavers, including equipment, tuition, transport and accommodation. For information ask Visit Britain or Tourist Information Centres. For information about climbing in the UK, contact the British Mountaineering Council, 177-179 Burton Road, Manchester M20 2BB (0870-010 4878, www.thebmc.co.uk ).

This article is an extract from Living and working in Britain. Click here to get a copy now.

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