As part of our family’s christmas present (to ourselves) we thought we’d book a lesson in rock climbing at a local centre in Norwich – which is where we were based at the time. We chose the Highball Climbing Centre that is located in the Twickenham Road Business Park. It’s about a 10-15 minute journey from the centre of Norwich.
All photos taken with the Samsung S7. Quality disclaimer – not great!!
What’s it all about?
The Highball Centre is Norfolk’s first dedicated climbing centre and it aims to provide a safe, challenging and fun environment for ANY AGE.
Regardless of ability or age, you can book a session here and this is why we chose this centre. Many other centres place age limitations on climbing which meant our youngest would never be able to join in and there’s no way we could all climb and leave her on the sidelines. Aside from the fact she’s the most agile and fearless of us all, it just wouldn’t have been fair!
They also offer a whole range of supervised activities and classes at a reasonable price for us beginners.
There’s almost 600m2 of bouldering walls up to 4.5m high, lead and top roped climbing up to 7.5m, warm up areas, beastmaker training boards (I have no idea what these are lol), a shop, a cafe, a four roomed clinic with osteopathy, physiotherapy and sports massage as well as a library and book exchange.
Still not sure what bouldering is, this is one of the Highball centre’s promotional videos.
The venue has loads of parking outside, I am not sure how many spaces exactly but over fifty!
Arriving at the venue is a bit different to arriving at other places because there’s a self-service check in with tablets. Let’s be honest, we’re so used to overly attentive, front of house staff that it DID confuse us for a bit.
Once you’re checked in though, walk to the side desk and (if you’ve booked a guided activity) let the staff know you’re there. This is where you can borrow shoes (climbing shoes are not the most comfortable), pick up ropes, order coffee and food etc.
The venue sells climbing gear if you want to climb frequently but the quality of the borrowed shoes was perfect for us.
The toilets and shower are clean and well maintained.
It’s always a worry when we take kids anywhere that we’ll be the only ones with kids and that people will stare at us but it was quite the opposite here. There was a real family atmosphere as there were lots of families with kids. Some parents climbed whilst their younger children were strapped into pushchairs and some children were climbing with their parents.
We felt relaxed and happy to be there… although it was FREEZING COLD.
I am very sensitive to the cold and I really dislike it. I did manage to take my coat off after we warmed up but I kept my hat on and I wished I had gloves too.
Our instructor was really lovely and he was called Jake. He was patient and friendly with the kids, he was informative, he tried to teach us and show us what we should be doing, rather than doing it for us.
We had a brilliant time. Our time went really quick though and our kids definitely wanted to stay for longer. They all climbed with relative ease.
FAMILY CLIMBING session at the highball centre
We decided to book a private taster session. The cost was £60 in total and we rope-climbed non-stop for 60 minutes. Because we had under 8’s with us, we weren’t able to go bouldering at that time but we could have booked a different session to include that.
We climbed just after christmas and the centre was busy and not offering the ‘megasesh’ which is 120 minutes from £15 per person (over the age of 8), although this is not a private session. The megasesh includes a 2 hour session where you rope climb, boulder, slack-line and climb compact caving ladders.
Top tip from emma
Cut your finger nails before you go. Feeling your finger nails bend up and off your fingers is mighty painful when grabbing the rocks!
Video of us at highball climbing centre
A really quick video we managed to shoot.