I wont recap the finer points of my thoughts on said pursuit suffice to say my expectations of myself were low. My expectations of the shiny new centre… were high, not least because the original Boulder UK in Blackburn was often mistaken for the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta‘ not just in decor but complete with over crowded sweaty bodies and woeful toilet facility (yes, singular).
So the newly relocated Boulder UK has been open a few months on the edge of Preston, just off the M65 in fact, making it ludicrously easy to get to for anyone in East Lancs, certainly easier than the Depot and possibly even the other Manchester walls, certainly for me anyway!
In an industrial estate near Bamber Bridge I found the place easily which was handy as I’d forgotten the directions I’d noted down from the website….
First impressions were good – light, bright, airy and open on two sides to provide a good through draft. The registration process was easy and brief, and the staff were friendly. Although a Thursday afternoon, there were a dozen or so people inside working problems. However there was ample space for many more to be kept busy.
With Cafe area and toilet facilities (note – plural) it was instantly better than the old Boulder UK! The question remained however was my bouldering worthy of such a location?
I decided to warm up gradually and I did think I would look at the kids/beginners area, but changed my mind when I realised the number of V0-V1 problems was pretty large – a dozen or more which I ticked off slowly and steadily over the next hour or so. Each problem is colour coded to indicate grade by little plastic dots, up to V8+ also indicating the starting position for each line. I stepped up on to some V2’s and beasted in poor style my way up these. Graeme and I resolved to spend more time climbing for ourselves this winter and less for groups! I was beaten off the V3’s I tried (both of them) and carried on for about 1 hour 45 in total, somewhere in the region of 19/20 or so problems and I have to say I was impressed. the routes were different in character and style – even at the same grade, meaning there was plenty to work on. Good music piped through out, good coffee, interesting mix of people and ages. I am certainly resolved to head back again soon. God knows I need to do the training! There is a formal training area, although I did not visit that, but imagine its full of problem boards, campus cboards and various holds designed to
torture train you in to being a better climber!
So this is very much the style of the new Bouldering walls and one that can only add to the growing momentum around climbing as a whole that is building as we head toward the 2020 olympics, where climbing makes its debut…. I look forward to the interest that will bring our sport with eager anticipation.