No. 46 clamber over rocks

Children exploring Brimham Rocks, Nidderdale, North Yorkshire

Adventure no. 46 on our list of '50 things to do before you're 11¾' is clamber over rocks. Whether you like to set yourself a challenge or if you're after a more gentle activity, clambering over rocks has options for everyone. There's all sorts of different terrain to explore and conquer. You can scramble over steep rocks and jump between the gaps, or you can enjoy a gentle meander over flatter rocks, while examining the world around you.

Clambering and scrambling over rocks is, in fact, an excellent way to find out if you would enjoy rock climbing. Many of the techniques and skills for this will help you to learn how to climb. You'll discover how to balance accurately, and where to position your feet in order to jump or climb to the next rock. You'll co-ordinate your hands and feet at the same time, in order to scramble across sections.

Exploring rocks means getting really close up to them and using your hands, so you may well spot things you can't see from further away. What shape are the rocks - do they have any lines or patterns in them? How do the rocks feel - smooth, jagged, rough or wet? Do they smell of anything? The cracks between rocks are often home to all kinds of plants, animals and small creatures, so keep an eye out - you never know what you might encounter.

What you need

  • Stable rocks that aren’t too wet or too steep.
  • Trainers for grip.

Think about your body

It may surprise you but clambering over rocks is a great way to become more aware of your body and how it moves. Here are useful hints that will help you when clambering. A lot of this you will do naturally but it’s useful to bear these tips in mind:

  • Before you scramble or leap, make sure you’re balanced and that you feel ready. If in doubt, always try to keep at least two (and ideally three) points of contact with the rock at all times. That could be both of your feet and a hand. Or it could be one hand and one foot.
  • Try to keep your weight over your feet – this will make it less likely that you'll fall. You may also want to use your arms to help you to balance.
  • If the rock that you’re clambering over is a bit tricky, check if there are any holes or areas where you can better grip with your hands or your feet.

Bits and bobs to be aware of

Remember that what comes up, must go down. And the same applies to how far you travel. Before you head back down to the ground though, have a think about how it feels to be way up high. Is it exciting? What can you see?

Clambering over rocks is more tiring than you think, so keep an eye on how far you’ve gone and how much energy you have left. Often the way back feels a lot longer and harder than the way there.

When clambering over rocks outdoors, remember that they can be deceptively slippery when they're wet. Start slowly and carefully until you’re more confident of the terrain. 

Do not clamber over difficult rocks alone. If the rocks are small and feel manageable, and you feel confident in what you’re doing, then give it a try. But if you have any doubts or fears, it’s always best to have an adult on hand to keep you safe.

Want a bigger challenge?

And if you’re keen to progress from clambering to rock climbing, many of our places run rock-climbing events. You can easily come along and try it out to decide whether it's for you.