Top Ten Climb Spots
What are the best climbing destinations in Cornwall? Opinions differ and it's a matter of personal choice but we think our top ten will take some beating.
With so many fantastic places to climb in Cornwall, it’s a tough task whittling them down to just ten. In pursuit of this list we’ve spoken to experienced rock climbers and local know-it-alls who share their favourite places to climb in Cornwall. They’ve provided us with a mixed bag of climbs of all styles and standards, in a range of locations, including a few indoor venues for those rainy days and long winter evenings.
Bosigran is a world famous granite cliff on the Penwith peninsula, attracting thousands of rock climbers each year. We can safely say that this is one of the best climbing spots in Cornwall. Perched precipitously above the ocean, this rock wall offers the very best in sea cliff climbing. It’s not one climb but a series of routes up a number of walls, including some multi-pitch climbs. Commando Ridge can’t fail to fire the imagination and is one of the most popular routes. But experienced climbers will be attracted by the E2s and E3s such as Xanadu and Raven Wall.
2. The Cheesewring
Set in a horseshoe quarry beneath some of Cornwall highest ‘peaks’, the Cheesewring is a classic Bodmin Moor climbing wall. The panoramic views of open countryside and the sea in the distance enhance the aura of this place which boasts many challenging routes on slick, granite rock. The wall rises to 120ft in places offering single and multi pitch climbs at all grades, from Learner Route through to the ominously named Gather Darkness.
3. Chair Ladder
You can’t fail to feel exposed on the Chair Ladder. Even further south than Land’s End, this climbing destination really is at the extreme edge of Cornwall and it feels it. On a sunny day you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world – gorgeous granite crags plunge into the sparkling blue sea. The area is rich in bird and marine life and you may be lucky enough to see basking sharks in the water below. But the main attraction is the rock and there are challenges here for even the most hardened of climbers. The Terrier’s Tooth is the target for many as it takes you out on to an exposed slab with waves crashing below.
4. The Barn Climbing Centre
As indoor climbing walls go, this has to be one of the best. The Barn is renowned in climbing circles as a first class training facility. Recently relocated from Bude to near Launceston, The Barn currently has a series of challenging bouldering routes and a new lead wall is being built. It is a perfect place to develop your climbing skills to put into practice when you move outdoors.
Few spots encapsulate the spirit of climbing in Cornwall as Sennen. The main crag is only a stone’s throw from the small fishing village and is accessible on foot at low tide. This ease of access does cause congestion in the summer months but patience is rewarded with superb climbing in an idyllic setting. The golden granite has many classic climbs – the most popular being the Demo Route.
6. Lower Sharpnose Point
Rugged North Cornwall has many jagged rock faces to test the nerve and skill. Lower Sharpnose Point, just north of Bude, is one such venue. It’s a geological masterpiece with three tall fins jutting out towards the ocean. As well as being visually stunning, the spot offers testing climbs such as The Smile and super extreme routes such as The Pacemaker.
7. Newquay Sports Centre
This climbing wall in Newquay seemed to spring from nowhere to become mid-Cornwall’s venue of choice for indoor climbing. It has a vibrant club scene and offers lessons to both children and adults. The wall reaches to the roof of the sports centre with many corners, cracks and overhangs to challenge most levels of climber. With top ropes permanently place, the wall offers hassle free training or learning.
8. Bass Point
Just about as far south as you can go on the British mainland, Bass Point near Housel Bay juts out into the Atlantic offering steep walls with climbs of up to 120ft high. Often overlooked because of its remote location and limited number of routes, adventurous climbers are rewarded with uncrowded walls in an unbelievably beautiful setting.
9. Pentire Point
The north coast of Cornwall is littered with fantastic but fairly serious, "atmospheric" (scary) climbing, often of the multi-pitch variety above churning seas! Pentire Point near Polzeath is one such destination where experienced climbers go to practice the extreme side of the sport. The spot has loads of superb climbing, including The Great Wall, which is home to famous and difficult routes such as Darkenbad the Brightdayler.
10. Wicca Pillar
Accessible sea stacks are in short supply in Cornwall but Wicca Pillar offers an interesting alternative. This 50ft tower of rock near Zennor rises out of the cliff, providing some ‘airy’ climbing on relatively easy routes. It’s not a great choice for serious climbers, yet it’s worth a visit if only for the dramatic views of the surrounding coastline.
This is just a small selection of rock climbing destinations in Cornwall. Individual climbers will have their own personal favourites and there are many ‘secret’ spots we dare not divulge. If you want to try climbing or improve your rock skills, see our climbing page for a list of centres and instructors offering climbing tuition and guiding.