We’re always on the look out for activities we can enjoy whatever the weather – and indoor climbing is one of our favourites.
It’s one of those activities that youngsters can have a good crack at from a surprisingly early age, but which they never grow out of. So perfect for active pre-teens who like a challenge!
One of the best centres we have found is Redpoint Climbing Centre in Birmingham.
The girls have been there several times, from birthday parties to school visits, and it was where they voted to spend a recent, rather soggy Sunday afternoon when we had nothing else planned.
The staff at Redpoint are fantastic. We’ve yet to meet one who isn’t incredibly friendly, helpful, patient and encouraging, even when your child is clinging on for dear life and weeping, several feet above your head, because they are “stuck” (let’s just say in the early days, Not Quite As Big Girl was better at getting up the wall than down).
There are literally dozens of walls to have a go at, with colour-coded climbs up to 13m high for all levels of climber, from the complete beginner upwards.
The centre’s family/kids taster sessions are an hour long, with an instructor and all equipment included. There is a minimum age of five and sessions are for between 1-4 people, although it works out a lot cheaper if you can get four children together as the cost is a flat rate of £36.00 for the hour regardless.
Even the first time my girls gave it a try, I was amazed how well they did. (If you’re wondering how difficult it actually is, adults can join in the taster sessions too – but prepare to be overtaken by youngsters half your size!).
Now they’ve been a few times, their confidence has really grown and our most recent visit had them selecting ever more challenging walls and routes to tackle.
There are chains to pull and bells to ring at the top of most climbs, giving them something concrete to aim for.
And it’s great to see them digging deeper and refusing to give up, even when the going gets tough.
The small group instruction gives every youngster plenty of climbing time, and they are also involved throughout in practical tasks to ensure the safety of their fellow climbers, meaning they are a. always engaged and b. learning a valuable lesson in teamwork.
After a really exhilarating 50 minutes, during which Not Quite As Big Girl was elated to have climbed higher than ever before, the girls ended their session with a quick taster of bouldering.
This involves climbing without a rope at a much lower height (so you can jump off if necessary), but looks to the uninitiated looks like potentially defying gravity in some of the more difficult places which my two failed to reach.
Post climb, there is a (very reasonably priced) vegetarian café at Repoint, plus an on-site climbing shop is run by RockOn if you’ve really got the bug.
The centre also runs a regular Rock Money climbing club, for children aged from five to 17, which my two are now angling to join. Youngsters aged 7+ can follow the National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme (NICAS), offering them a structured and logged path to improving their skills.
The instructors at Redpoint say climbing is a great way for children to improve their movement, balance, co-ordination, strength and confidence.
My two says it’s also really great fun!
For more information, visit https://www.redpointbirmingham.co.uk