It has been a while now since our last climbing wall and since there is a few opening up throughout this year. We decided to give one of these a go, Harrowall as the name suggests is in Harrow a distant land far away on top of a hill, you get there via the train.
There is a big issue we have with climbing walls that are far away from us! We are almost sure to love them! The walls that are nearer (Central London) just lack the variation and overall quality.
Harrowall is part of the Vauxwall Collection there are 3 in all (Kendall, Vauxhall and Harrow). We climbed down in ‘Souf’ London a while back but since Ash wasn’t that enamoured with Vauxwall he was a bit trepidatious.
It is a bit confusing to get to, you go to Harrow on the Hill station and then walk in a winding round and round route, over roads, under roads, around a giant Supermarket and bus terminals, which takes you go out of your way to come back on yourself.
It doesn’t look like much from the outside just an empty warehouse which if you look on Google Maps it appears as a ‘hemp and cannabis warehouse’, sadly none of those little green plants remain in its place there is a vast open colourful climbing wall.
The reception area is large but in all is the same as usual, a check-in desk, a coffee machine and then to the side a small shop area where you can buy climbing equipment.
There is no signage so we had to fumble our way around to find the changing rooms and locker area. (At first we thought it was upstairs, but that turns out to be the café, more of that later). The changing area is, it turns out at the back of the centre, do be warned that you do need a padlock for the lockers, or you can leave all your stuff out in pigeon hole boxes (for anyone to go through!)
The changing rooms are pretty basic, just simple wooden cubicles, the toilets however are way nicer and we would recommend going in there to change, less chance of splinters! The showers too look pretty snazzy, but we didn’t try ’em. Another trek across the mats to a hidden flight of stairs and a gym area that looks down on one of the main rooms and a good place to warm up and stretch. The weights and stuff is a bit basic, but it’s a Climbing Wall, not a Gym, you’re there TO CLIMB!
We came down and started to climb, simple, basic routes, to get started and was immediately impressed, the routes were consistent, V1’s were V1’s V4’s were for all about the same grade, none of the usual problem, of a V1 is all big jugs, the a V3 is all crimps and tiny holds. V5’s are all slopers. No Harrow’s route setters have done the impossible, they have set, laybacks, crimpy routes, slopers and bridge routes all in the grade and not just in one grade, but in all grades AND shockingly, they also didn’t put red routes next to orange routes, so the colour-blinded of us weren’t confused.
But not only are the routes good, but they are varied, there is a great traverse wall, that goes around and around and… so you can do endless stamina training (something Ash loves and until now only ever got at Mile End), there are slabs all over the place, there is a Moon Board, aLattice Board, Campus Boards, Competition 45˚ walls, roofs, caves, a 45˚, 15m tunnel (leading up to another viewing area).
But probably the best bit of the entire place is not even for the likes of us. No the best bit is the kids section – just because we are taller, doesn’t mean we don’t want to climb the walls of a castle, or a Tetris wall, A Dinosaur Wall or run across a rope bridge and down a pole when we are finished a route.
Harrow Wall we want a bigger version of the Castle!!
But in the meantime I guess we will have to settle for the entire row of Self-Belays, there must be ten of them in a row and some overhang, some are slabs too. We thought it was just a bouldering wall, but there is so much to do, we wish it wasn’t so far away on the train, or we’d be back every week!
We ran out of energy well before we managed to climb everything, including the Beanstalk, the giant’s door handles and the, dark cave, or the arch guarded by the purple ogre!
No we needed coffee by then. The Café is however only open Wednesday – Sunday from 3pm. so being a Tuesday at about 5pm, we had to settle for downstairs coffee, made by the reception staff. It however was pretty good, it could have been warmer, but we sat in the closed café and watched the wall start to fill up with the evening clientele, before starting on the hour + trek back across London.
OH But before we go, we must warn you of something… Do not dare to venture beyond the 2m high, picket fence at the rear of the centre where the cleaning area and new holds are stored, for behind it is a fierce territorial creature, caged behind the solid, wooden, high barrier…
The Guard Unicorn looking after the holds that have not yet been used.
Ash: In all Harrowall we love you!. It’s so much better than that pokey little thing under the train line in Vauxhall, but it’s a shame it’s so far out of Central London.
Bob: It’s so cute and Fluffy! The Unicorn that is!
The wall is incredibly varied and has such a good selection of holds and routes. I loved the flower and even the dragon, so cool! Plus the staff were nice! Now if only we could swap The Castle for this gem then all would be right with the world.
Well it would be a start!
Overall we rate Harrowall as 8/10
Well there you go a new wall and what we think of it. But what do you think of it? Have you been? What do you like? Or not like? Let us know. Also remember to follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook and follow on here for weekly posts on Coffee, Climbing and Contemplations from Climbing Moss.