Climbing on the Dorset coast

Getting a serious adrenaline rush climbing the beautiful cliffs and quarries of the Dorset coast. My hands are ruined and I can now tie a nifty figure of eight knot – I must be a proper climber.


My climbing senseis Claire and Beren and I headed to the seaside last weekend to get to grips (get it? oh I’m so witty) with Dorset’s much-loved quarry and cliff routes. I’m still alive, so I’m pretty happy with how it went.

We camped near the impossibly pretty village of Worth Matravers and stalked through waist-high fields of grass to get to the routes at Hedbury Quarry, where at the edge of the sea a small spattering of brave people were busy hanging off tiny footholds 20ft above our heads.

I’m usually pretty happy swinging upside-down from holds when I’m bouldering indoors, but outside on proper rock, high above the tiny person belaying you far below, climbing is a whole other mental and physical ballgame. I scared myself witless leading 2 and 3 grade routes, then watched whilst Beren effortlessly swung about on 6bs. In a straw hat.

We headed over to Winspit on Sunday and I scaled up some 20ft 4 grade routes with interesting names (my favourites from round these parts include Rampant Love Jugs, Boxing Day Diet Plan and Gary. Climbers are awesome), refusing to look down until I was level with the highest bolt, then talking myself into prising my fingers off the holds and abseiling back to solid ground. I think I’m still coming down from the adrenaline high.

As well as the satisfaction of pushing the limits of what I could climb, what made the whole thing so special was just how impossibly gorgeous the coast was. Azure water, white cliffs and bright pink clover swaying in the sunshine make for a very calming view when you’re looking down precariously from on high. So after our long Sunday session we hiked down to the sea and had a dip in the chilly water to wash off all the chalk and let our aching arm muscles have a little rest.