Steve McClure's top 8 crags for climbing with kids

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 05/08/2019
Steve's children Amelie and Harry at Stanage. All photos: Steve McClure Collection

You’d think that any crag would do the job but it’s very obvious, looking back, which places motivated the kids to climb. Just as it is for adults, if the venue doesn’t say ‘climb me’ then no climbing gets done, at least with any enthusiasm! For young kids it’s not about a hard bouldering challenge, it’s about having fun, running around and getting on top of stuff.

Which rock types are best for kids? 

Sandstone: Generally great for kids, with lots of intermediates and interesting shapes
Gritstone: Surprisingly reachy, generally Grit is hard but seek out the slabs
Limestone: Often steep, but with many intermediates and features. Tough in the UK for kids
Rhyolite: Great stuff, but generally trad routes

Here are Steve's top 8 crags for kids:

Scugdale, North York Moors

This is where I learnt to climb, and watching my kids when they scurry around over the perfectly-sized, easy-angled sandstone boulders I can see that this is perhaps the perfect place to learn. Ideal for kids from 0-5, and older. Short routes with easy to set up top-ropes.


Amelie psyched on the short routes at Scugdale


A young Harry learning about grip at Scugdale

Burbage North, Peak District

Very convenient, with a short walk-in and regular ice cream van! Lots of slabs to boulder around on.


Burbage North

Bamford, Peak District

Good for top-ropes. Lovely setting. Not likely to have many people around.

Higgar Tor and Burbage West, Peak District

A well-used ‘weaselling’ venue, ideal for play with super-young kids, with loads of crawl-throughs, easy slabs and little caves. Often sheltered from the wind. This is the starting ground for learning about the outdoors and having fun. Expect dirty knees through holes in trousers!


Higgar Tor

Cromlech Boulders

Heavily featured rock, so great for all sizes of climber. Loads to go at for every age, with plenty of scurrying around to be done. Worth taking a few pads. Midges in summer can be a pain so look for a wind or go in May.


The Cromlech

Brimham Rocks, Yorkshire

An absolute classic venue with millions of lumps of rock all over the place that will keep everyone entertained. Very touristy though.

Bridestones, North York Moors

Perfect for kids who have got into climbing, with lumps of extremely well-featured sandstone. Loads in the V0 – V2 range, though these are a little higher and best for about age 6 and up. Some great traverses too, and pumpy enough for parents to get a bit of a work out!


Bridestones

Shipwreck Cove, Gower

OK, not good for kids climbing, but perhaps the best venue I’ve ever been to where parents can get a real fix of hard climbing and the kids will be totally happy and leave you to it. A beautiful cove above the beach with perfect sand to play in and very little danger (other than them running off into the sea while you are going for it way up at the last bolt, and of course dropping rocks on them). All sport so a fast exit to ground can be made at any moment, with grades of about 7a up to 8c. Tidal, so take a little care to avoid the kids being washed away!


Shipwreck Cove - great for kids to play and adults to climb

READ MORE:

Top tips on cragging with kids. Several dads, including Steve McClure, offer their advice on how to encourage kids into the sport without putting them off.

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Anonymous User
07/08/2019
Any Scottish crags to suggest please?
Anonymous User
09/08/2019
Sport climbing. Bennybeg is almost right on the roadside, a nice sheltered spot and lots o climbs at lower grades. Kirriemuir has a easy walk down from the car park. Lots of climbs from lower grade to 7b.

Although not Scotland but only a relatively short drive is Bowden Doors in Northumberland for trad and bouldering. It is an easy walk from the roadside and is very extensive.

Traprain Law is a nice trad crag in East Lothian. Again easy walk in. Check UKC re parking - we do not want to upset the farmer.

All of the suggestions are, in my view, child friendly with lots of space around them, no big ledges or drops and no very long or awkward walk ins.

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