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    Rocking the Cliffs: Unforgettable Outdoor Climbing Experiences in Dorset

    multi pitch sport climbing

    Welcome to the breathtaking cliffs and rugged landscapes of Dorset! If you’re an adventure enthusiast seeking an adrenaline rush amidst nature’s wonders, outdoor climbing in Dorset is an experience you won’t want to miss. With its stunning coastal scenery, challenging rock formations, and a vibrant climbing community, Dorset offers a playground for climbers of all levels. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most unforgettable outdoor climbing experiences that Dorset has to offer.

    Swanage: A Climbing Haven 

    Located on the iconic Jurassic Coast, Swanage is a mecca for outdoor climbers. The unique limestone cliffs provide an excellent variety of routes catering to climbers of all abilities. Beginners can start with the easier climbs on Subluminal or the Dancing Ledge, while experienced climbers can test their skills on classic routes like The Promenade.

    Portland: Climb on White Gold 

    Just a short drive from Weymouth, the Isle of Portland is renowned for its high-quality limestone cliffs and its distinction as the birthplace of British sport climbing. Here, you’ll find a wealth of challenging routes, both single and multi-pitch, as well as numerous bouldering opportunities. Blacknor Beach and Battleship Back Cliff are popular areas to explore, offering stunning views of the surrounding coastline.

    Lulworth: A Climbing Adventure by the Sea 

    The charming village of Lulworth Cove is not only a picturesque destination but also a hidden gem for climbers. Dotted along the coastline are various crags, including the iconic Durdle Door. Climbers can enjoy a mix of traditional and sport climbing routes with breathtaking views of the turquoise waters below. Be sure to check out the classic climb of Stair Hole for a truly unforgettable experience. Lulworth is also known as one of the best deep water solos areas in the UK.

    Dancing Ledge: A Secret Climbing Spot 

    Tucked away on the Purbeck coast, Dancing Ledge is a hidden gem known to the local climbing community. This idyllic spot offers a variety of traditional and bouldering routes, surrounded by beautiful scenery. Climbing on the rugged cliffs overlooking the sparkling sea creates a truly magical atmosphere. Don’t forget to take a refreshing dip in the natural swimming pool at the base of the ledge after your climb.

    Safety and Community: Climbing Culture in Dorset 

    Dorset boasts a vibrant climbing community, where safety and camaraderie go hand in hand. Local climbing clubs and experienced climbers are always ready to lend a helping hand, share valuable tips, and introduce newcomers to the area’s hidden climbing treasures. Remember to practise proper safety protocols, use appropriate equipment, and respect the environment to ensure a positive climbing experience for all.

    Outdoor climbing in Dorset is an adventure that combines the thrill of scaling majestic cliffs with the breathtaking beauty of the natural surroundings. From the cliffs of Swanage and Portland to the hidden gems of Lulworth and Dancing Ledge, Dorset offers a diverse range of climbing experiences for enthusiasts of all levels. So, gear up, embrace the challenge, and get ready to rock the cliffs of Dorset for an unforgettable outdoor climbing adventure.

    Take your indoor climbing outside with BMC Ready to Rock

    BMC ready to rock

    If you’re an experienced indoor climber you might be keen to test your newfound abilities on some real rock on the BMC Ready to Rock course.

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    Planning a climbing trip in Portland

    Portland coastline

    The Isle of Portland is effectively a huge limestone boulder off the coast of Dorset and is one of the UK’s premier climbing destinations for climbers of all abilities. Trad and sport climbers will find plenty to test them, whether they’re climbing solo or as part of an organised activity course. Portland is also a great place for families, kids and beginners to don a helmet and harness to begin scaling the heights.

    Portland’s location, out into the English Channel, means there are lots of south, south-west and west-facing crags and cliff faces that catch the sun, making it a great year-round climbing destination. The limestone rocks at these sunny spots dry out quickly, creating more accessible options.

    There are also areas on the island that offer protection from sea winds and the weather is often very different from the mainland. Equally, conditions can be as dramatic as the landscape itself on Portland’s southerly tips, making for an epic adventure.

    The most famous climbing spots in Portland

    At the last count, there were some 18 identified climbing areas on Portland. Each offers a multitude of routes, depending on the experience you’re seeking, your ability level and the grade of the climb you’re prepared to take on. Many people consider the west side of Portland to offer the best climbing on the island, as the sun hits here long into the afternoon. However, the eastern coast makes for a great morning ascent and some of the easier routes can be found here.

    Beginners tend to head for the Fallen Slab, Cuttings or Cheyne Weares areas. Intermediates might progress to The Battleship, Blacknor and the Lighthouse areas. Climbing experts will find plenty to challenge themselves at Coastguard Cliffs and Wallsend, but each separate place offers climbs to suit all three levels. As Portland takes its fair share of batterings from winter storms, the crags and faces change annually and with the seasons, making each visit a unique one.

    Bouldering, scrambling and hiking trails

    There are lots of dramatic trails around Portland, offering the opportunity for a ramble and a hike combined with bouldering and scrambling. The South West Coast Path meanders its way around the island, offering a 10-mile section with waymarked paths. You’ll find sections of the route that do require a bit of a scramble.

    Portland was also extensively quarried from the 14th century right up until modern times, so there are trails as well as climbs to be found in the abandoned quarry locations. The boulder areas strewn across Portland and around its shoreline also offer abundant opportunities for bouldering.

    Where to stay during a Portland climbing trip

    There are no full time campsites in Portland, but there is a summer only campsite that is first come first served close to the Portland Bill.  There are also plenty of B&B options. Those with a tent can stay over in Weymouth, where there are plenty of sites. If you’re fortunate enough to have a camper van, you’ll find that all the best climbing places in Portland are really close to the island’s car parks, meaning you can rock up, change and hit the heights within minutes. Or, for something truly unique, exhilarating and surprisingly restful, why not spend the night on a portaledge with a cliff camping option?

    All that remains is to choose your experience. If you’re looking for Dorset climbing courses, climbing in Portland sessions, trad climbing or learning to lead courses, contact us to find out more.

    BMC Ready to Rock Traditional Climbing course in Dorset

    BMC Ready to Rock course- Intro to Trad climbing

    We’re pleased to offer further climbing courses in Dorset this year!

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