Guide to Climbing in Alston: Top 5 Destinations

by | Activities, Lake District, North Pennines AONB

This article is part of our Discover Alston series. You can find more articles here


Alston, nestled in the North Pennines AONB, offers a variety of climbing opportunities that cater to all levels of climbers. Here are the top five destinations for climbing in Alston or nearby, including essential information and some helpful links to plan your trip.

1. Cross Fell

Climbing in Alston with stunning views from Cross Fell, the highest peak in the Pennines.

Cross Fell, the highest peak in the Pennines, offers challenging climbs and breathtaking panoramic views, making it a top destination for climbers in Alston.

Location: Near Garrigill, Alston
Highlights: Cross Fell is the highest peak in the Pennines and offers challenging climbs and stunning panoramic views. The routes here are demanding, making it suitable for experienced climbers. The bridleways around Cross Fell also provide excellent opportunities for mountain biking.
Access: Start from Garrigill; there is ample parking available.

2. Helvellyn

 Climbing in Alston area, Helvellyn in the Lake District with scenic views.

Helvellyn, located in the Lake District, is famed for its dramatic routes like Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, providing a thrilling climbing experience near Alston.

Location: Near Glenridding, Ullswater
Highlights: Helvellyn is famed for its breathtaking views and classic climbing routes such as Striding Edge and Swirral Edge. These routes provide a mix of scrambling and climbing, making it a perfect spot for climbers looking for an adventure with dramatic scenery.
Access: Several trails lead to Helvellyn, with popular starting points at Glenridding and Thirlmere.

3. Blencathra

Climbing in Alston region, Blencathra's iconic ridges and rugged terrain.

Blencathra’s iconic Sharp Edge and Hallsfell Ridge offer climbers a challenging yet rewarding adventure, known for its rugged terrain and steep drops.

Location: Near Keswick, Lake District
Highlights: Known for its iconic ridges, Blencathra offers thrilling climbs along Sharp Edge and Hallsfell Ridge. The rugged terrain and steep drops provide a challenging yet rewarding experience.
Access: The most common starting points are from Threlkeld village, where parking is available.

4. Napes Needle, Wasdale

Climbing in Alston vicinity, Napes Needle in Wasdale with historical significance.

Napes Needle in Wasdale, a historic climbing site, offers the classic Wasdale Crack route and the easier Arête, providing climbers with challenging ascents and spectacular views.

Location: Wasdale, Lake District
Highlights: Napes Needle is a renowned rocky outcrop in Wasdale, considered the original rock climbing route. The most popular ascent is via The Wasdale Crack (HS), which is highly polished due to its long-standing popularity. For an easier route, try The Arête (HS) to reach the shoulder, followed by some challenging moves to the summit. The descent is also demanding, and abseiling is strongly advised against.
Access: Approach via Styhead Pass after parking at Wasdale Head. Follow Climber’s Traverse below the crags until you are below Napes Needle, then ascend Needle Gully to reach the start of the climbs.

5. Crag Lough

Climbing in Alston area, Crag Lough along Hadrian's Wall.

Crag Lough, situated along Hadrian’s Wall, features excellent crag climbing with routes suitable for various skill levels, characterized by its Whin Sill dolerite rock.

Location: Near Haltwhistle, Northumberland
Highlights: Crag Lough is situated along Hadrian’s Wall and offers fantastic crag climbing with routes ranging from easy to challenging. The rock is Whin Sill dolerite, providing excellent friction and a variety of climbing styles.
Access: Park at Steel Rigg or the Twice Brewed Inn; it’s a short walk to the crag from there.

Additional Tips for Climbing in Alston

  • Equipment: Ensure you have the appropriate climbing gear, including ropes, harnesses, helmets, and climbing shoes. For more challenging routes, additional protection such as cams and nuts may be necessary.
  • Weather: The weather in the North Pennines can be unpredictable. Always check the forecast before heading out and be prepared for rapid changes.
  • Guided Tours: Consider hiring a guide if you are unfamiliar with the area or if you want to tackle more challenging routes safely. Local companies like Canoes, Mountains & Caves offer guided climbing and exploration trips.

These destinations provide a mix of exhilarating climbs and stunning natural beauty, making climbing in Alston Aa prime choice for climbing enthusiasts. Always prioritizs safety and enjoy the unique climbing experiences these locations offer. For more detailed guides and maps, visit the links provided.

Where to Stay

Salvin House is a charming, historic building situated in the heart of Alston. It provides a comfortable and convenient base for climbing in Alston and nearby, with spacious rooms and modern amenities. Its central location makes it easy to access the surrounding climbing destinations and enjoy the local hospitality after a day of climbing.



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