This guide covers the climbing areas around Swanage (Isle of Purbeck) and on the Isle of Wight.
Swanage has long had a reputation as a climbing area with the accent on adventure. A combination of steep cliffs, crashing waves, and the occasional unnerving finishing slope make for traditional climbing days that linger in the memory for a long time. The consensus is that Guillemot Ledge, Boulder Ruckle and Subluminal contain the best traditional climbing, but other areas such as Cattle Troughs, the Promenade and Fisherman’s Ledge prove equally popular.
However Swanage is no longer just about traditional climbing. Development since the last Climbers’ Club guide has resulted in hundreds of quality sports climbs in and around the quarries, and Conner Cove has become the spiritual home for deep water soloing — a winter weekend spent clipping bolts in the quarries or a summer weekend raking splashdowns are commonplace. Further afield, Skeleton Ridge on the Isle of Wight is one of the UK’s great HVS adventures, and the Agglestone is a grand venue or an evening’s bouldering.
The Dorset sea-cliffs are blessed with a mild, relatively dry climate and a low tidal range. During clear winter days, conditions on the south-facing sea cliffs can be surprisingly warm and comfortable when rock climbing in the rest of the UK is out of the question. The location is further enhanced by the beauty of its setting within the serene Purbeck countryside; whether for climbing, enjoying one of its many fine walks, or just exploring the old quarries, it is an area that is a pleasure to visit time and time again.