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Dinas Rock - popular bouldering spot in Wales

Where to go Bouldering in Wales

Dinas Rock for bouldering in South Wales

Where to go Bouldering in Wales

Read on as we roundup the top destinations for where to go bouldering in Wales.

When it comes to a good workout, nothing compares to bouldering. What is bouldering exactly? Fun and hands-on, this form of free climbing strips things down to the bare essentials. Instead of a harness and ropes, all you need is a good pair of climbing shoes, a bag of chalk and a sense of adventure.

No need to panic. You won’t be going too high when bouldering. The sport sticks to small, low-profile rock formations or artificial walls studded with holds. Crash pads are usually placed below the route to cushion falls.

Wales is famous for its sense of adventure, so it’s no surprise bouldering is a hugely popular sport in the country. From coastal caves to granite mountains, the landscapes seem tailor made for bouldering. So where are the best places to do it? What is a bouldering problem?

Routes are known as ‘problems’ and vary in difficulty. A grade is assigned to indicate the level of difficulty and help you decide if you want to tackle the problem. It’s important to understand the rating system when bouldering in Wales, so we’ve put together a quick overview. In the UK, the most common rating systems used to grade problems are the V Scale and the Font Scale.

The V Scale

The V Scale is limitless which means the difficulty rating isn’t capped at a certain number. Instead, grades continue to increase as the sport of bouldering grows and evolves. Currently, the V Scale starts at V0 and climbs to V17. The higher the V rating, the more complex the problem. Climbing gyms usually offer problems up to V10. Anything higher is saved for the great outdoors.

If you’re a beginner, look for problems with a VB rating. These are easier than V0 and designed to help you get started. You might also see a + or – tagged onto the end of a problem rating. This indicates the problem may be a little harder or easier than usual.

The Font Scale

The Font Scale, also known as the Fontainebleau Scale, is another common grading system you’ll see when bouldering in North Wales and other parts of the country. Like the V Scale, it’s open-ended and will continue to increase as boulderers push the limits of the sport.

It starts at 1 (the easiest grade) and climbs to 6 before getting a little more complex. At this point, suffixes like A, B, and C are used to relay more information on the problem. For example, a 6A is easier than a 6C. You’ll also see the + suffix used to indicate smaller changes in difficulty. For example, a 7A+ is tougher than a 7A while a 7B trumps both.

Why try bouldering in Wales?

Before we get stuck into the best places for bouldering in Wales, let’s take a minute to wax lyrical about why we love the sport.

Angel Bay bouldering spot in North Wales

Easy to pick up

Unlike some sports which can take months to learn, bouldering has a low barrier to entry. It’s easy to pick up and most people can start tackling beginner-friendly problems in a matter of minutes. There’s no need for highly specialised gear, equipment or instructors. Instead, all you need is a good pair of climbing shoes and a basic understanding of problems.

Boulder solo or with friends

While we’d always recommend bouldering with friends for safety reasons, it’s also a sport that can be enjoyed solo. This makes bouldering in Wales a great option for independent adventurers.

A mental workout

Bouldering doesn’t just work out your muscles. It puts your mind through its paces. Most bouldering pros testify that the sport is just as mental as it is physical. Problems are basically puzzles that need to be solved. Your body is the medium you use to do this. In one academic study, researchers found that two hours of climbing improved working memory capacity by a huge 50%.

Improve perceptual cognitive ability

Bouldering sets itself apart from other sports by actively improving your perceptual cognitive ability. Decision-making is front and centre as you tackle a problem. Like it or not, you’re forced to plan, strategise, react and problem solve as you go.

Find your flow state

The more confident you get, the more likely it is you’ll find yourself in a flow state when bouldering in Wales. This describes a meditative state of calmness and relaxation that’s typically achieved when participating in activities like art and music.

Gain a sense of community

Like most sports, bouldering in Wales is underpinned by a tightknit community. Don’t be shy to say hi to fellow climbers as you explore different bouldering locations in Wales. Chatting to other boulderers is the best way to learn and pick up valuable tips, tricks and techniques. This is known as ‘beta’ and can help you take your bouldering to the next level.

Get outside

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, bouldering in South Wales and other regions is a great way to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

A full body workout

Bouldering doesn’t just activate your forearms. It’s a full-body workout that targets your upper body, lower body and core. Pulling muscles like your biceps, shoulders and lats will all get a chance to shine. You’ll even use muscles you didn’t even know you had in your feet, hands and fingers.

Free therapy

There’s a growing body of research to support the idea that climbing is basically free therapy. When you’re on the wall, you’re forced to practice skills like mindfulness. This can help give your mind a well-deserved break and treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

Now you know more about the benefits of bouldering, let’s explore some of the different locations to practice the sport.

Bouldering in Wales – North

Despite its size, North Wales packs a serious punch when it comes to bouldering. The sheer variety of landscapes, combined with a wide range of rock types and options for all skill and fitness levels, makes North Wales one of the top bouldering destinations in the UK. Whether you want to boulder on the coast or in the mountains, you’ll find problems for every preference in North Wales.

Bouldering crags in North Wales at the Great Orme

Snowdonia National Park

Home to some of the tallest peaks in Wales, it’s no surprise Snowdonia National Park is a prime bouldering in North Wales destination. Instead of vertical climbs, boulderers focus on the rocky valleys between the peaks.

If you’re a beginner and want to try bouldering indoors before heading to an outdoor site, we highly recommend the Plas y Brenin National Outdoor Centre. The world-class teaching and training centre is geared towards climbers of all levels, including newbie boulderers. You can also sign up for courses that will teach you the basics of bouldering in North Wales and help you build confidence.

Cromlech Boulders

Set just off a main road, Cromlech Boulders is a great option if you’re looking for a quick climb. Test your skills with hundreds of problems, ranging in difficulty from V0 to V12. Some were set up by local legends Jerry Moffat and Alex Megos. The site is a stone’s throw from the village of Llanberis, where you’ll find some inviting pubs for a post session meal.

Wavelength Boulders

With problems ranging from V1 to V11, you’ll find plenty of variety at Wavelength Boulders. The site is a short walk from Cromlech, so why not pair your session with a visit to the ancient Neolithic site?

Utopia Boulders

If you’re looking for uncrowded bouldering in North Wales, you’ll love Utopia. The 30-minute approach is uphill which keeps the site amazingly quiet. Take your pick of a few dozen problems ranging from V0 to V8 in difficulty. Sweeping views over the valley are the icing on the cake.

RAC Boulders

This is another top pick if you’re looking for an easy approach. The site is a short drive from Cromlech and features more than 100 problems, some easy and others a little tougher. Even better, the ground below is grassy and flat which makes falls a little less jarring.

Sheeps Pen

Set in the Ogwen Valley, Sheeps Pen features a series of boulders strewn across a sun-drenched plateau. Tackle favourites like The Pinch (V7) or challenge yourself with routes like Jerry’s Problem (V10).

Anglesey Crags

A rocky coastline makes Anglesey a dream for boulderers. At this site, you’ll find more than 50 problems, including some that are only accessible at low tide.

The Ghost Cave

Check tide times before heading to the Ghost Cave, which is set on the western tip of Holy Island. Quartzite rock means you’ll find some gnarly cracks at this site.

Ruthin Escarpment

The cute village of Pwllglas is a gateway to Ruthin Escarpment, where you can choose from a variety of limestone problems.

Woman bouldering in Wales

Penmon Rocks

Bangor is a great launchpad to the Penmon Rocks bouldering site. Like a few other sites in our bouldering in North Wales roundup, Penmon Rocks is tide dependent. Check local charts before you plan a trip! As well as classic bouldering routes, Penmon Rocks offer gravity-defying deep-water soloing (DWS) opportunities for thrill seekers.

Pantymwyn (Devil’s Gorge)

The devil is in the detail at Pantymwyn. This limestone gorge will boggle your mind with all kinds of problems, ranging from easy to difficult. Venture into the cave to tackle routes that will get your forearms burning.

Conwy Crags

Easy access and a wide variety of problems make Conwy Crags a favourite with local climbers.

Angel Bay

Don’t let the name fool you. Angel Bay will test your endurance with all kinds of problems. Take it easy on the limestone cave walls or turn up the heat with roof problems. The area is also an important breeding ground for seals, so is closed from late August to late November.

Parisella’s Cave

Up for a challenge? Parisella’s Cave features some of the toughest problems in Wales. Many routes climb onto the roof and will test your strength, endurance and nerve.

Pigeon’s Cave

With problems starting at V0, Pigeon’s Cave is a great option for beginners. You’ll find it on the north side of the Great Orme’s Head near Llandudno.

Bouldering in Wales – South

From sandstone crags to limestone gorges, bouldering in South Wales is incredibly diverse. Challenging problems aren’t the only thing on the table in this corner of Wales. Expect eye-popping scenery, a huge variety of rock types and loads of different region to choose from.

Coastal cliffs bouldering spot at Ogmore by Sea

Get your pulse racing in mountainous areas like Bilberry and Garn Clochdy or be enchanted by Tolkien-inspired landscapes in spots like Melin Court Falls. Inland, legendary areas like Dinas Rock showcase the rugged limestone crags of Brecon Beacons National Park.

Dinas Rock

Of all the bouldering in South Wales locations, Dinas Rock is the most talked about. It’s set in a limestone gorge and was developed in the late 2000s by a group of locals, including bouldering luminaries like Liam Fyfe and Kevin Hughes. Tackle problems on Kennelgarth Wall and test your endurance on the muscle-burning Wife of Fyfe problem which comes with an 8A+ rating. The site is a short drive from the lively village of Pontneddfechan, where you’ll find plenty of places to enjoy a pint.

Ogmore By Sea

If you’re looking for technical bouldering in South Wales, you’ll love Ogmore by Sea. Practice your vertical moves in the Hardy’s Bay region, test your forearms with lip traverses in the Daylight Robbery Area and tackle vertical walls at The Trench. Problems like Hooby’s Roof and Scoop Dragon are bucket list routes for bouldering enthusiasts.

Preseli and Mynydd Dinas

Perched on a pair of hillsides, Preseli and Mynydd Dinas command sweeping views across Pembrokeshire. Fun fact for history buffs: the solid dolerite rock at Preseli has been linked to Stone Henge! Scramble up the Tarzan boulder to access Pete’s Prow, one of the best lines in the Pembrokeshire area. The much-loved Lip Traverse 6B in Mynydd Dinas is always a hit while Sam’s Arête will test your focus with epic views.

Rotherslade Area

Set on the Gower Peninsula, the Rotherslade Area is packed with problems for all levels. Beginners should target the Sewerpipe Area, where you’ll find more than 60 limestone problems with ratings of 7A or lower.

With so many amazing bouldering in Wales opportunities, why wait any longer to get your pulse racing? You can also find more outdoor activities to try during your trip on our blog.