Climbing High: A visit to Clip n Climb in Exeter
How is it that children are so much more fearless than adults?
I discovered this recently on a day out at Clip N Climb, down on the quay in Exeter, as I stood glancing up at the kids, feeling slightly queasy. If it looked a long way up I’m pretty sure it looked twice as daunting from up there!
We booked the kids in for a half hour session online which is really advisable, especially during weekends and school holidays. The sessions seem to ﬁll up very quickly and we managed to secure the last 2 spaces of an 11am session 5 days prior to our visit. You simply give your name on arrival and show the conﬁrmation email, no trees were harmed in the booking process!
Parking at the nearby car park, there’s plenty of (payable) parking spots on the roads too, it was a 2-minute walk to The Quay Climbing Centre, one of Exeter’s largest and iconic industrial buildings, it formally used as the city’s electricity works. It’s worth noting that the booking in desk is quite a distance from the entrance, you go up a couple of ﬂights of stairs then turn right until you come to the cafe. It does feel a little going round the houses, but there’s plenty of signs to let you know which way to go. There’s a real buzzy vibe there too and the check in desk staff were very helpful.
Once we’d passed check in, it was back down some different, metal stairs to the clip n climb waiting room, where you sit feeling like you're about to start a PE lesson! There are cubby holes in the area just outside, I’d recommend leaving valuables in the car if you're driving though to be on the safe side. There’s a nice cafe upstairs with papers, decent coffee and delicious looking cakes as well as a variety of soft drinks if you don’t bring the usual parenting picnic.
When all climbers had arrived the instructors gave a full and thorough run through of how to put your harnesses on, older kids were handed their own and with the help of parents or guardians left to tighten up the straps themselves. The instructors were on hand, walking around the room to check and help anyone struggling. Younger kids were brought forward and given smaller harnesses lined up in a row on the ﬂoor and helped into them. It all seemed very safe and assuring.
Adults are offered the chance to be unclippers, this is where you have to weigh up the temptation of 30 minutes peace with a coffee and paper upstairs or spending quality time with the kids. It does help them if you do volunteer as they can move quickly from wall to wall. You’re given clear instructions (which I very quickly forgot because I’m a scatterbrain with 101 things to remember already) a high vis vest and a gadget to use. It’s worth noting that it can get quite chilly as a spectator standing around so don’t forget a warm top.
After the full and thorough debrief it was through the door and the kids were unleashed into the clip n climb zone at their leisure. Which brings me right back that moment looking up at the little legs dangling from the ropes above me, thinking kids really are fearless! In no time at all they navigated most of the walls, reaching the top to press the button then falling slowly to the ground, waiting to be unclipped and straight onto the next.
After all that exercise, we were perfectly positioned to pop over the quay for a bite to eat so you can make a real day of it, even hiring bikes and taking a cycle along the canal. If you’re a picnic type of family, though, it’s a lovely spot to stop and enjoy the views... just avoid the swans!