Let’s admit it - sometimes, the thought of exercise can be somewhat daunting. You know the endorphin boost you get from working out will have you feeling wonderful in no time, but some days it can be hard to dredge up the motivation to get down to the gym. And especially while we’re trying to squeeze out the last wee bits of Vitamin D from the slowly fading sun.
It doesn’t have to be this way – exercise needn’t be a chore. Time to strap some climbing shoes on and make the world your gym, because climbing may just be your new sport.
Few things are as rewarding as working your way upwards, slowly at first, then faster as your footwork comes more naturally, a muscle memory. As you finally hoist yourself over the summit, you are rewarded with a quiet clarity – a stillness that resides from deep within as you stare at the humbling view from high above. And really, in Perthshire we’re not short of beautiful, lush scenery to surround yourself amongst.
Perth is in close proximity to a huge range of natural landscapes to stretch your muscles in. If you’re just starting out, Benny Beg in Crieff is a short drive, and provides a solid introduction into the climbing world. "Benny Beg is mostly ‘sport climbing’, which means there are bolts in the rock which you can clip into as you climb", rock climbing expert at Mountaineering Scotland, Kevin Howett, told me.
A disclaimer however - if you are just starting out, or lack significant experience it is absolutely mandatory that you seek out the help of other, qualified and professional climbers before setting into the outdoors.
Speaking to Neil Reid, Communications Officer at Mountaineering Scotland he advises that "For people wanting to start climbing, our advice would be either to join a club where they can learn from fellow members, or go to an indoor climbing wall where you can learn in a controlled environment, often with tuition and advice from staff or in a climbing wall club.
Mountaineering Scotland offers a range of support for both indoor and outdoor climbing and runs sessions to help both youngsters and adults to make the transition from indoor climbing to climbing outdoors on real rock."
For the more advanced, Glen Lednock too is a picturesque drive away, and with its abundance of crags, a popular destination amongst local climbers. With stunning waterfalls abound, the glorious River Lednock, and home to the cherished Scottish wildcat, an undeniable beauty is encapsulated here.
"In Glen Lednock the main attraction is the bouldering, which is climbing unroped on lower rocks – boulders usually – where the consequences of a fall are less, although the climbing can be very technical", Neil tells me.
The feeling of accomplishment gained by climbing what once seemed impossible, is one that stays with you.
But as we near the end of summer, Scotland’s weather can be somewhat changeable. Lucky then, that the city of Perth houses a state-of-the-art indoor climbing centre, located at Perth College. Open to the general public, this is an excellent place for climbers of all abilities – from tentative beginners, to seasoned climbing aficionados and everyone in-between.
A very modern facility - having been formally opened in late 2016 - Perth College’s website describes their centre as an “indoor climber’s paradise”. And although situated indoors, its design is modelled after the Scottish outdoors – with designers drawing inspiration from climbing hotspots such as Mangersta and Carn Dearg, to name a few.
Much, much more than just an alternative for a rainy day, Perth College’s climbing centre is a wonderful place to learn more about climbing, with its friendly and knowledgeable staff always keen to lend a hand. It’s also a great place to meet climbing buddies to set off on adventures with!
And the impact of these adventures are some that in addition to getting you physically fit, can change the way you approach certain situations in your life. When faced with a task that seems insurmountable, how often is the cliché repeated: that it is a “mountain to climb”?
Who can say that they wouldn’t feel abler to face the challenges of day-to-day life, safe in the knowledge that their mountain climbing exists not only in the metaphorical sense? Perhaps this sounds a stretch at first, but many climbers state the same: the feeling of accomplishment gained by climbing what once seemed impossible, is one that stays with you.
Perhaps most importantly, make sure you’re safe as you set off on your climbing journey. Indoor climbing is recommended for the absolute beginner, and it is absolutely essential to take on outdoor climbs only in the company of other, experienced climbers. Once you've done that, ensure you have all the appropriate equipment, pack for Scottish weather and you're good to go!
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