Wales

Climbing at Symonds Yat

The River Wye runs through the spectacular rocky gorge at Symonds Yat. While the village itself is popular with walkers, kayakers and people enjoying a drink in one of the pubs alongside the river’s edge, Yat Rock offers a beautiful place to climb. Towering above the river, it’s also the perfect nesting site for Peregrine falcons. This will be my first outdoor climb, so I’ve arranged to do it with All CLIMB.

I arrive at the car park at Symonds Yat on a beautiful sunny morning where I meet up with a couple of friends and my instructor, Mike from All CLIMB. Before we make our way towards the crag, Mike makes sure our footwear is suitable, hands us our kit and then delivers a safety briefing. He is the consummate professional and helps settle my nerves as a novice climber. 

The walk to the base of the crag through the trees is beautiful. Mike shows us a safe place to store our kit. I have a few butterflies in my stomach as I’ve never climbed outside before, but I feel reassured I’m in safe hands and I’m even a bit excited.

One of the members of our group has belayed (to secure the rope to rocks) before, but Mike wants to assess she is competent before he will allow her to belay others. Satisfied everyone is in safe hands, we’re ready to start. If no one in the group has experience, Mike will belay all the climbers himself or get group members to belay as a team, under his supervision.

I’m up first and Mike reminds me, “You have trust your equipment with climbing, which is why it’s so important to make sure it’s in good order.” He points out some of the routes we will be climbing that morning.  As a novice, I will be climbing on a top rope. Climbing this way ensures my instructor always has me secure, so if I fall, or my arms get tired, my body weight can rest on the rope.

With his encouragement, I find my first foothold, and, with each step, feel my confidence grow. I’m delighted (and a bit relieved) to reach the top of the crag. I take in the stunning views over the treetops across the river, before I’m lowered back down to the base. It’s someone else’s turn to climb now, while I have a little break and contemplate the next route already rigged up to the left.

My morning with All CLIMB is the perfect introduction to climbing on real rock outside. Mike’s passion for teaching people how to safely climb is infectious. The sun is shining and I feel I’m overcoming my fears, while my enthusiasm is growing with each climb. It’s a great physical workout and I love the problem-solving nature of looking out for each new foothold. As I start using my legs more, I feel my arms lighten as I begin to understand the intricate techniques that will help take me forward.

Mike at All CLIMB can set up climbs and abseils for anyone from absolute novices to experienced rock climbers. He takes groups of up to four novices, or six people if two or more can belay. It is possible to arrange a half day or full day’s climbing at Symonds Yat.

mike@allclimb.co.uk | 07843 358 092

Images copyright ALL CLIMB

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