Castle Climbing Centre | Rock Climbing in an Old Water Pumping Station
As an activity, climbing is on an upwards trajectory…
It’s a great substitute for the gym, a great brain tickler (you really have to think deeply about which hold to cling onto next, problem-solving skills are required…), a great social exercise, it’s rain-resistant and, yes, not kidding, a very underutilised date idea all rolled into one. What’s not to love?
Of course, if you’re scared of heights, then there’s a bit not to love… but otherwise it’s one of the more unusual things to do on a rainy day. Particularly if you’re doing it in a venue as unique as Stoke Newington’s Castle Climbing Centre, a Grade-II listed former Victorian water pumping station, built in 1854, whose design was apparently inspired by Stirling Castle in Scotland. Seeing as though the castle’s services for water pumping are no longer required, a group of climbing fans in 1995 realised what everyone’s really thinking when they see a giant castle-like structure, and turned it into an indoor climbing centre.
The Castle Climbing Centre is home to five floors, with the routes dispersed across the whole rock climbing spectrum: there’s bouldering, top-rope climbing, abseiling, and lead climbing. For top-roping and lead climbing – the methods where you’re safely strapped to a harness and the walls are longer – there’s over 400 routes, graded from 4 up to 8a (in less technical terms: something for everyone). The tallest wall is 13m. For bouldering – the method where you’re without a rope and harness, and you’re just left with your grip strength – there’s 10 areas, including three boulders in their organic garden. Again, the boulder difficult levels range from little and kid-friendly (yellow, purple) to the stuff more suited (well, only suited…) to the pros who may be readying themselves for the mountains (orange), with the routes reset weekly.
Before ascending the castle’s walls you have to sign a registration form (to state whether your climb will be under supervision or not) and once you have made it to the top (or not, no judging), you can slump those tired arms over a chair at The Castle Climbing Centre café. All the food – cakes, sandwiches, jacket potatoes – is home-cooked, organic and fairtrade, and they even serve alcohol.
Which they encourage you to enjoy after your climb…
NOTE: The Castle Climbing Centre is open weekdays 8am-10pm and weekends 9am-8pm. A single entry climb for an adult is £16.50. For more information, click here.
The Castle Climbing Centre | Green Lanes, London N4 2HA
Built up an appetite? Hit up one of these great Stoke Newington restaurants