The Castle Climbing Centre is the best known climbing gym in London, set inside an imposing-looking building which was built between 1852 and 1856 to act as a pumping station for drinking water in this area of London. It has it all – top ropes, leading and bouldering, and even its own organic garden.
This climbing centre is the first one many new climbers get directed to when they start climbing, especially ropes, as it is the biggest and most easily-accessibly one in London, but unfortunately it also means it is the busiest.
The climbing is situated on various levels, with bouldering and top-roping on the ground floor, lead climbing walls on the level above, more bouldering scattered across three levels, and lead walls down in The Wells, an underground section which even includes an entire room of autobelays. There is also an outdoor bouldering area in the garden, for those few sunny days we sometimes manage to enjoy in England. Exploring this place is a bit of an adventure itself when you come here for the first time!
Sustainability at The Castle
The climbing centre is also heavily involved in sustainability and uses much of the produce from its own garden, situated outside, to cook the food on offer in the cafe. This serves only vegetarian grub, but tends to be very tasty and reasonably priced, and it smells so good it’s usually pretty hard to resist, especially if you’re climbing on the lead wall just nearby it.
There are also usually lots of events on at the centre, which get advertised on the website or on the advertising boards and in changing rooms. These aren’t always focused on climbing – for example, in winter 2016 The Castle held an event called Disco Soup, where volunteers were invited to come and chop up vegetables that were picked up from restaurants that couldn’t sell them because they did not meet the required standards, but were perfectly suitable for consumption. This was made into a stew, and we all ate hefty portions afterwards. The events required a minimum donation of £5, which went to the refugee camps in Calais.
Finally, there is also quite a large climbing shop on the group floor which stocks a good selection of climbing gear.
My only qualms with this place are that it can get really busy during the evenings and weekends, and it is also the most expensive of all the London climbing gyms (unless you are eligible for a concession rate, £7.50 per visit). If you live nearby and intend to come her often though, it has good monthly and direct debit subscription rates.
Training for climbing at The Castle
The gym has a training room which includes an exercise bike, rowing machines and free weights, a campus board and finger boards, rock rings and a pull-up bar. There is also a separate stretching area near the bouldering section on the middle level (among all the confusing levels at this place!).
The Castle Address/ Location info
The Castle Address:
Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, London N4 2HA
Closest stations: Manor House
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12.00-22.00; Sat-Sun 9.00-19.00
Single entry: £12.50; concessions £7.50; monthly rates available
Pubs/food near to The Castle:
The Brownswood, a nice chilled out pub with a beer garden for summer, serves Sunday roasts