Rock Up – Birmingham Review
If you are anything like me, your children have been attempting to climb up, over and onto things from the moment they could walk! With a daughter who was scaling the bathroom sink at 2 years old and with a climbing hobby behind us, taking her to a climbing centre from an early age seemed like a natural progression. However, Rock Up is nothing like any climbing centre I have encountered before!
Rock Up describes itself as ‘somewhere that makes climbing accessible for everyone’ and somewhere that ‘the whole family can get active and experience the fun of climbing!’ So ready for a new challenge, last Saturday, the whole family made the 35-minute journey into Brum to see what it was all about.
On arrival, I was immediately impressed with how accessible the venue is. Rock Up is based at Broadway Plaza in Birmingham and by following the trusty SatNav we were taken directly to the underground car park. This meant lots of easily accessible parking (and up to 3 hours free courtesy of Rock Up!) and only a quick trip up the escalator to reach the venue.
Rock Up only opened in September and it most certainly looks new and sparkly! The frontage is all glass which immediately shows you the brightly coloured and appealing variety of climbing challenges on offer. You can just ‘rock up’ and climb, however they do advise that you book in advance as there is a limit to the number of people who can climb at any one time…The cost to climb is £12 for under 16s and £15 for over 16s (cheaper off peak) but if you choose not to climb the staff will supervise your child and you can also help things along by ‘clipping’ them in and out of the climbs rather than waiting for staff to do it.
Once booked you are allocated a climbing slot. We arrived early to sample the café on site and the menu, although limited (with a Gluten Free diet I was really quite limited), was adequate and my little climber quite happily sat down to sausage, beans and chips while we sampled the (perfectly nice) coffee…
As your time slot arrives, you are asked to head up to the briefing room to get harnessed up and listen to the safety briefing. This was a little tedious as we were booked in at the same time as a large party of 25. Once we had been harnessed we then had a 20 minute wait before we could go in as unbeknown to us, we were asked to arrive in the briefing room half an hour before our slot! Just be aware of this potential delay as this was a tricky wait for my very excited 6 year old who was anxious to get started…
At last, our time arrived and we were first to clamber down the tower and into the climbing arena to begin our 50 minutes of climbing… At first, my daughter was overwhelmed with the choice and so needed to be gently coaxed into starting one of the simpler climbs to get her started… after this, there was no stopping her!
Each time you want to climb, you wait at the bottom of the climb (or in line waiting for the previous climber to finish) and are clipped onto the automatic belay device by a member of staff…so no worries about whether you are safely attached or not! Once attached, you climb at your own pace, safe in the knowledge that when you have had enough or reached the top (or fallen off!) you will gently be lowered to the floor by the device. You are welcome to climb each one as many times as you like (providing there isn’t a queue) and we quite happily got to climb all the challenges we wanted with very little waiting time…initially you think 50 minutes isn’t long but the constant climbing really does wear your out!
We happily climbed and tried out the drain pipe challenge, enjoying the variety on offer. I particularly enjoyed the fact that my daughter could access climbing which was both easy and a little bit of a challenge for her while I was able to access climbs that gave me a bit of a work out at the same time. They do run some ‘Climbfit’ sessions and I can certainly see how the centre could provide just as much challenge as a session at the gym; my arms and legs certainly ached after the session!
Staff are clear about the time you have and everyone is provided with a 10 minute / 5 minute / last climb warning (obviously useful with children!) and everyone left the arena happily.
There is a great spectator space both below the climbs and above which meant that Daddy and little brother could easily watch the activities (and film the antics!) but there is also a small and very clean soft play right next to the climbing arena which was a great resource to entertain our toddler (again, a small charge for this).
So would we go again? This was a bit of a trek for us, but it really was different to our local climbing centres. It was a good work out for me, great activity for Mum and Daughter to do together and provided something different and interesting to do and watch! My daughter is now considering this as a Birthday Party Venue so that is high praise indeed from a 6-year-old! I imagine we will be back; the Leap of Faith was an extra challenge that we enjoyed watching but didn’t try this time so that will no doubt nag away at the back of our minds until we conquer.