A good percentage of the e-mails I receive are from beginners wanting to know how to start climbing, where to go, etc. (obviously inspired by this site!).

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This Page offers some information that hopefully will assist would-be climbers. This page is UK biased but I think that similar resources will be available in other countries.

Experienced Climbers: The first thing I would recommend is to speak to someone who already climbs and try and get them to take you climbing. Most climbers are more than happy to help novices. If you are young it is best to get your parents to accompany you. If you don’t know anyone who climbs there are several other ways to help get started these are:-

Books: Go to a local Library and have a look at books in the climbing / outdoors section. These will give a flavour of the Sport and many cover equipment and techniques very well. Two good examples of books in my local library are: “The Climbers Handbook” by Garth Hattingh and published by New Holland ISBN 1 85368 717 0 and “Rock Climber’s Manual” by Turlough Johnston and published by Blandford books ISBN 0 7137 2490 0.

Magazines: are available from Newsagents, Examples published in the UK are “On the Edge”, “Climber” and the British Mountaineering Council’s (BMC) “High”. All have articles aimed at beginners but these are only a few pages generally, so a dedicated book like those above may be a better bet to start with.

Indoor walls: are located in most cities in the UK. Up here in the North there are dedicated walls in Sheffield (2), Leeds, Nottingham, Hull, Marple, Warrington, etc, etc. as well as some walls in Leisure centres.

If you want to find your local wall The BMC publish a small booklet that lists all the climbing walls in the UK and also a search facility to find your local wall. Also look under “outdoor Pursuits” in the yellow pages. Many of the Walls offer courses aimed at novices where for a fee you will be loaned equipment (Boots and a Harness, etc.) and safely instructed by experienced people for a couple of hours or so.

Try for more detailed information on walls with reviews, etc.

Outdoor Pursuit Centres: also run climbing courses along with other outdoor type courses. These , I guess, are relatively expensive but offer the use of equipment and safe tuition from trained people. Again these can be found in the yellow pages.

The Internet: There are many websites from all over the world, and again most “webmasters” will be more than happy to answer sensible questions on many aspects of the sport. There is a selection of links on this site which includes equipment manufacturers, outdoor pursuit centres, homepages, clubs and organisations. The BMC’s website (UK) is probably one of the better sites to visit for information covered in this page.

Climbing Clubs: Most areas have a local climbing club. Club members usually cover a whole range of climbing tastes from Mountaineering to Bouldering. Many clubs have regular meets / visits to climbing areas and most should be happy to accommodate novices and help them accordingly. A list of some clubs in the UK is available in the back of “Climber” magazine mentioned above and also there is a search facility on the BMC’s webpages to find a club near you.

The above information is probably represents the safest way to get started and there is no substitute for going outdoors with an experienced person. It is not unfeasible just to go to the rocks and start climbing with a group of friends, etc. and have a good time. With regard to safety a good deal of common sense is the best approach.

I’ve been climbing a while now and I still don’t know many things that I should, but I know enough to be fairly safe, but most of the thrill of climbing is from the perception of danger rather than any real danger, until that is you start pushing the grades on traditional climbs!

Where to go in the Peak: Novices/Children: Another question asked is where to go in the Peak District that is suitable for beginners or children. This is an awkward question but I think that the Gritstone is the obvious choice because limestone tends to be scrappy, vegetated and less enjoyable at grades below VS. Most of the gritstone edges are pituresque and suitable for picnics and children, the only problem being midges on summer evenings or shady still summer days

I recommend Birchins Edge Grid Ref. SK278728 located off the A619 Chesterfield to Bakewell road 15 minutes steady walk from behind the Robin Hood public house . The climbs here are short, with some of the best easy to moderate grade climbs in the Peak the area has a nice outlook and is popular with families. Stanage Edge also is an excellent choice, but in places is a bit too popular (see Peak top ten section of this site).

For a bit more solitude consider places like Over Owler Tor (Grid ref.SK251808) behind Millstone edge, there are many more and on most crags there is plenty of scope for beginners; get hold of a copy of “On Peak Rock” by the BMC which has a section devoted to novices.