It's not easy keeping everyone happy on a family holiday, and a climbing holiday is no different! You need both easy climbs and something for grown-ups, plus plenty of fun stuff to do on days or afternoons off. Sarah Stirling rounds up the best places and crags to go on a family climbing holiday.
Costa Blanca, Spain
There’s a vast amount of limestone in the Costa Blanca, hence the name 'white coast'. There is so much climbing, in fact, that it can be difficult to know where to start. A good family area is Toix Far Oeste, an easily accessible crag just above Calpe, where a short wall offers a number of easy routes from F3 to 5 with a few 6s. Another excellent family spot is the Echo 1.5 area at Vall de Guardar (Echo Valley), which lies in a pretty valley behind Ponoch. Two small walls of great quality, easy-angled rock here were bolted by Rich Mayfield of the Orange House. There's a range of F3s, 4s, 5s and a couple of 6s. Check out the Orange House climber's home from home, where you can also get guiding and advice if needed.
What else to do: All kinds of beach activities from sandcastle building to kayaks, SUPS, sailing, diving and more. Horse riding. Swimming at the Algar Waterfalls.
Get there: Easy – the airport of Alicante is situated right in the heart of the Costa Blanca. BA, Easyjet, Ryanair and others all fly there.
Get the guidebook: Rockfax Spain: Costa Blanca
Climbing in the Costa Blanca. Photo: the Orange House
San Vito Lo Capo, Sicily
With limestone climbing right by white sandy beaches, perfect weather, cheap accommodation and delicious Italian food, this is the perfect spot for families. There are lots of crags in the area. For easy routes, try Salinella, a long cliff by the sea that stretches from Calamancina in the north to the entrance of the El Bahira campsite in the south. British climbers and Sicily fans Jim Titt and his brother Scott have equipped a brilliant range of routes for kids here, starting at grade 2, with a good range of 3s, 4s and 5s with Snow White-related names. There are also plenty of harder routes up to 8b.
What else to do: Normal beachy stuff, snorkelling. Windsurfing, kiting, sailing.
Get there: Ryanair, BA and Easyjet fly to Palermo; then it's an hour's drive.
Get the guidebook: San Vito Lo Capo Climbing Map
Ötztal, Tirol, Austria
The Tirol is Austria's most mountainous region, and it's a climbing heaven with over 5000 alpine climbing routes and 3000 sport climbing routes amidst stunning natural settings. No other valley in the Tirol region offers as many beautiful climbing areas and via ferratas next to each other as the Ötztal. 20 ‘climbing gardens’ here offer over 600 granite routes across a huge range of grades: there’s plenty for parents as well as kids. Where to start? So many options! Check out all the gardens and routes here.
What else to do: What to do on a day off? How about rafting, canyoning, kayaking, canoeing, visiting the thermal bath in Längenfeld or swimming and sunbathing at the Piburger See lake close to Oetz.
Get there: British Airways and Easyjet fly to Innsbruck, it’s then a 1.5 hour drive or you can get there by train.
Get the guidebook: Sportclimbing in Tirol
Climbing in the Oetztal region, Austria. Photo: Elias Holzknecht / Oetztal Tourism
Gorges du Tarn, France
Essentially a huge rift with a river in the valley floor, this limestone crag starts just outside the village of Le Rozier. Five individual sectors are spread out, offering over 400 routes. There are routes of all styles, lengths and grades, it’s easily accessible and possible to climb at a couple of different sectors in the same day to find the best sun or shade options. There are routes from F4 to 9a, including initiation routes. Routes begin at about 20m and can reach 70m in length, so bring a long rope. Le Grand Toit area has some excellent easier climbs up to 6c, including some very good 4s. Strong parents: it also has some tough routes in the 7's and 8's.
What else to do: There is a nearby high ropes adventure course, the tourist information office at Millau has some gentle circular walks with english leaflets of the route.
Get there: The climbing is about 30km from Millau. Ryanair fly to Nimes from Liverpool, then it’s a 2-hour drive. Easyjet fly to Montpellier from London, then it’s a 2.5 hour drive.
Get the guidebook: Les Gorges du Tarn; also check out this hiking map in the BMC shop: Gorges du Tarn.
Becky Brown climbing in the Gorges du Tarn. Photo: Will Oates
Windgather Rocks, Peak District
Of course there is plenty on our doorstep, too! This beginner and child friendly crag in Staffordshire, for example, offers plenty of good picnic spots and slabby Gritstone climbs, both trad and sport climbing. The routes are about 9m high and mostly in the easier grades: they start at F3 and Mod. It can be very popular in the holidays and at weekends. Try High Buttress Arete (D). Grown-ups: there are also routes up to E1 5b and F6c.
Get there: It's just outside the village of Kettleshulme. Turn left near the Bull's Head (signposted Goyt Valley). The rocks are on the left after one mile.
Get the guidebook: BMC Staffordshire Grit
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