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Peak District climbing with kids (plus abseiling and weaselling)

Peak District climbing with kids (plus abseiling and weaselling)

The Peak District is the perfect destination for outdoor activities, but one of the absolute highlights must be rock climbing. If you’ve spent any time in the National Park, you’ll no doubt have seen various rocks, boulders and cliff-faces dotted with climbers, perhaps along Stanage Edge or Curbar Edge.

Whilst we have some fantastic walks on this website that feature scrambling and bouldering (check out our recommended walks for climbing), your kids may want to take their Spiderman skills to the next level and do some ‘proper’ rock climbing.

Peak Lines is a wonderful, locally-run business and a perfect option if you want to try some Peak District climbing. With several packages available, an extremely friendly and professional guide, all in a safe and fun environment, you’re in for a great day. Keep reading for our review of our recent experience of a Peak District climbing session with Peak Lines.

Peak District Kids were provided with a complementary climbing session from Peak Lines to enable us to write this honest review.

Arriving to our Peak District climbing destination

We had selected the ‘Family Rock Climbing and Abseiling Experience Course‘ half-day option which begins at the layby near to Upper Burbage Bridge car park. This is the same starting point for our Higger Tor walk and Robin Hood’s Cave walk.

Once you’ve parked up, you’ll be met by your guide Dominika (Dom) who will say hello, arrange your harnesses, helmets, climbing shoes etc, before you all set off on the short (5 minute) walk to the climbing location along Burbage Rocks.

Climbing at Burbage Rocks

There are multiple climbing locations at Burbage Rocks and the exact location you climb will depend on several factors including group size, weather, ability, and where other climbing groups are already setup. Dom is an expert at selecting the correct site for your group (it may not actually be Burbage Rocks that day, it could be somewhere else in the Peak District), although try to arrive on time so you can beat the crowds and climb your preferred area.

It really is a climber’s paradise around Burbage Rocks and you’re almost guaranteed a good climb. The location we used was apparently perfect for children as it had one (relatively) simple route, with another more challenging ascent adjacent.

The all-important safety briefing and check comes first, making sure harnesses are fitted correctly and helmets in place. Dom takes time to explain the upcoming climb and everything felt completely safe and well-planned from the outset.

Our boys hit their stride immediately and were soon scampering up the first climb, learning some basic techniques and strategies for a smooth ascent. Once at the top, they abseiled back down the rock and reached the bottom with a huge smile and pleas to do it all again.

The second climb was tougher, with corners, ridges, and lips to navigate but (with some tactical help from Dom), they both soon made it to the top and came back down again with even more smiles and high-fives.

To our eyes, the climbs seemed perfectly suited to the boys’ abilities, with enough of a challenge (and fear) to make them tricky, but never so tough that they became disheartened.

Abseiling at Burbage Rocks

After a few minutes wait at the bottom whilst Dom setup the abseiling ropes, the boys were soon making their way to the top of the rockface in preparation to abseil down the cliff. The excitement was reaching new levels!

It’s worth mentioning at this point that Dom has a fantastic way with kids and really puts them at ease during the activity. It’s always a fun and relaxed vibe, but emphasis is always placed on safety and learning some basic technique. This came to the fore during the abseiling when the boys quickly learnt to space their weight out evenly to avoid swaying side to side and losing balance. By the time they reached the bottom they (to our untrained eyes) were beginning to look like mini-pros.

Weaselling at Higger Tor

This was a new one for us but is apparently quite the popular activity in the Peak District, and we can now see why. Weaselling is essentially the act of squeezing and wiggling through small gaps in the rocks, before emerging at the other side.

The rock fields around Higger Tor are ideal for this ‘sport’ and is something we’d never really thought of doing before, but the boys ADORED it! You’ll take a short one minute drive over to a layby near Higger Tor and ditch the harnesses and climbing shoes (but keep the helmets; there’s some tight spots to get through after all, and the head protection comes in handy).

It takes about thirty minutes and the kids complete an impromptu course across the landscape, ending at the Grand Finale section, right near your parked car.

What to wear and bring with you

Factor in the weather conditions when deciding what to wear, it can get slightly chilly waiting for the ropes to be setup; the boys were grateful for a pair of gloves and their Peak District snoods, even though it was April. You’ll be provided with climbing shoes but will need to wear your own shoes for the weaselling (plus the walk to/from the car), so make sure you have something sturdy. A pair of trousers is handy for weaselling, as you’ll be scraping between rocks and some extra protection will be appreciated.

About Peak Lines

Peak Lines is a small business in the Peak District, setup a few years ago by Dominika Kolarova, a qualified Rock Climbing Development Instructor and Mountain Leader. Focusing on smaller groups, with a strong emphasis on safety and enjoyment, it’s the ideal company to use if you’re a family looking for a climbing experience in the Peak District.

As we’ve mentioned, Dom is a brilliant guide and teacher, and has a great way of communicating with the kids, teaching them like little adults all the time.

How to book a Peak District family climbing session

Click here to visit the Peak Lines website and book online. For a half day family course for up to 6 people, the price is £150 (£220 for the whole day).

These course are private so you’re guaranteed to only be with your group, ideal if you’re a family and prefer to do things at your own pace. Parents can, of course, have a go at climbing and abseiling, or you may just want to leave it to the kids, it’s totally up to you.

Final thoughts on climbing in the Peak District with kids

Despite the overcast skies that seemed to linger throughout the Easter holidays, we had a brilliant few hours on the course, climbing and abseiling the beautiful rockfaces around Burbage Rocks and Higger Tor. The boys were talking about their adventures for the entire journey home and it’s something we’ve already planning to do again.

The course is pitched at the ideal level for beginners but can be modified if you’re more experienced. This part of the Peak District is overflowing with options and Dom knows the area well enough to find somewhere to suit you all.

With her friendly and professional approach, the half-day flies by and you’ll never look at those rockfaces in quite the same way ever again.

You may also like to read:
Peak District abseiling at Millers Dale
The BEST Peak District Kids walks for climbing and scrambling over boulders
White Hall Outdoor Centre: family and kids-only activity days REVIEW