I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I (and my wife) currently frequent Sunderland Wall for our weekly climbing fix (well, twice a week usually).
We’ve been going about 5 months now and have been steadily improving, climbing bigger and bigger wall, harder routes and things on bigger overhangs.
I can’t really compare Sunderland Wall to any other proper climbing walls yet as I haven’t been to many (plan on going to RockAntics at some point as its been recommended) but its been a good place to learn to climb. During the beginning of the year it was awfully cold, and now the summer is upon us its often awfully hot instead and the staff range from grumpy to mad/weird (mad/weird is good, but grumpy isn’t).
Berghaus Wall, Eldon Leisure, Newcastle
The first thing I will say about the Berghaus wall is that its hot, damn hot, and I sweat lots. But enough about my personal problems.
The wall itself is a brilliant bouldering venue, although it can be dauntingly high to start with. People keep complaining about the mats, but provided you move them to the right place (assuming they aren’t in use) then they are fine.
I would say that there isn’t altogether that much stuff in the very easy category, especially if you get hold of the little topo guidebook, which has barely anything in the 4a-4c range, and most things 5b+ (yes, thats right, it uses British technical grades).
Whickham Thorns, Dunston
At first sight this has to be one of the strangest looking structures ever, a convoluted giant exploded doughnut. But once you get used to that, plus the dizzy feeling you get when you stand up on the top its actually really good. Luckily I’ve been going with some people from work and I’ve found that really good, both from an encouragement point of view and also for finding interesting problems to try that a) aren’t obvious or b) I wouldn’t even sniff at under normal circustances. Whether this is just my lack of bouldering experience I’m not sure.
I have taken on nasty fall off the top when I just couldn’t pluck up the courage to get over the top and hand holds seemed to disappear, a nasty gash along my arms was the response from the gravel below, but generally you can get by without a mat provided you’ve got a spotter.
Rumour also has it that they’ve opened up a shop in the indoor complex (and there is also a climbing wall in their too, bizzare brieze block/stone affair but good for when the weather is crap, although it is often booked out by groups so phone in advance) but I haven’t been in yet.