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With its minimal gear requirements bouldering is a fantastically accessible way to get out climbing on real rock but where should you go on your first few attempts? Below are a few suggestions of areas that work particularly well for beginner boulderers. You will still need one of the bouldering guides for the Peak District; if you don’t already own one we would suggest Peak Bouldering by Rockfax as it has the best coverage of lower grade problems. All the areas mentioned contain a great selection of problems in the font 3 to 5+ range (V0 to V2ish) and the majority have flat landings that are easy to protect with bouldering mats.

Cratcliffe / Robin Hoods Stride

Although they are always listed in guidebooks as two different venues Cratcliffe and Robin Hoods
Stride are separated by the width of a farm track so it certainly makes sense to plan on visiting them
both in a single session. Parking and access are quick and easy and RHS in particular is a lovely spot
for a picnic.

Start with the Top Boulders at Cratcliffe which give at least a dozen great warm up problems before
moving over to the Egg (maybe take a moment to glance at T Crack and Jerrys Traverse the two
classic 7B’s of the crag, it’s always good to have a long-term goal.). There are a handful of problems
in our target grade range here and all of them will feel really hard if you are more used to pulling on
plastic. If you can crack (pun intended!) Egg Arete at 6a+ then your gritstone apprenticeship is well
underway.

Time to cross the track to RHS. The slabby Lower Boulders will definitely feel more straightforward
now you have a better understanding of the frictional properties of climbing rubber on rock. The
problems on the Square Block and the Frog should give you enough of a challenge for the rest of the
day but if not, there are others dotted around. Alternatively spend some time scrambling up to and
around the pinnacles themselves, it’s a great place to explore.

Burbage South Boulders

The quintessential beginner’s bouldering venue. A beautiful valley surrounded by rock edges and
dotted with blocks the perfect height for bouldering. The landings are almost exclusively flat and the
vast majority of the hundred or so problems are in the font 3 to 5+ grade range.

If you walk in along the Green Drive then the first boulders you arrive at will be the Cobra and the
Pock Block. Fortunately, they provide some great problems to get you started with the Pock Block
being a particular favourite.

Those suspiciously convenient holes aren’t the handiwork of overzealous climbers but the remains of army training manoeuvres from WWII.

From here it is best to take an exploratory approach, essentially every large block you can see will
have something worthwhile to try. It’s unlikely that you will run out of things to do but if you fancy a
change of pace there are other bouldering opportunities dotted along both Burbage North and
Burbage South crags.

Curbar


The view from Curbar edge is always fantastic which is one of the reasons you should start your
circuit in the small quarry directly above the parking laybys. The walk up the steep slope is a great
warm up and if you tick the dozen problems up to 5+ then your fingers will definitely be working.
While most the problems are short and friendly a couple have less than perfect landings so a good
opportunity to practice the essential skills of mat placement, spotting and (if in doubt) walking away
and finding a different challenge.

Once you have finished in the quarry it’s time to move down to the boulders themselves. The slab
next to Gorilla Warfare (Crescent Slab in some guides) and the Mini Prow both hold some
worthwhile challenges as you head down to the Trackside boulder. Start on the uphill side and work
your way anti-clockwise around the block, the problems will become harder and harder. If you get as
far as Trackside itself then you definitely don’t need a beginner’s guide!

Other Contenders


Any best of guide is always based on personal preferences and biases which can and do change over
time. Here are a few alternative suggestions all of which are at least as valid as those above and may
well have had a starring role if this article had been written on a different day.

Stanage Far Right is a lot quieter and has more to offer the beginner boulderer than the far more
famous Plantation area, it also has free parking and a shorter and easier walk in so why not give it a
go.

There is a huge amount of bouldering spread across the various areas of the Roaches. At the 3 to 5+
grade range make the effort of walking all the way out to the Very Far Skyline and then picking off
the best of the problems as you make your way back to the parking area.

For a much shorter session how about the Pinnacle boulders at Froggatt or the Three Ships at
Birchen. These can work particularly well if you have non-climbing friends or family with you and
need a quick fix while they have a picnic.

The list really does go on and on….

Author

This article was written by Gav from Pure Outdoor

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