Covering new ground

image_1After weeks of trying to run through the pain, this week my ankles finally swelled up and gave up, bringing me, quite literally, to a stand still.

I’ve been suffering from peroneal tendonitis, which began with a nagging pain running along the outside of my lower leg and into my foot and has now reached the level of constant pain and swelling, as well as pain in my knee and hip due to the affected way I have been running to minimise pain on impact. I know after my last injury I promised to learn to rest and recover, but I was running so strong before I was injured this last time I’ve been reluctant to give it up. However, the last few days of pain and disrupted sleep have made me realise how unhappy my body is, so (very reluctantly) I’m taking a couple of weeks off running.

To mitigate the grumpiness associated with this decision I’m upping my weight training and swimming, as well as my climbing.

vauxwall climbingOn Saturday I went to Vauxwall, the new climbing wall in Vauxhall which opened on 1 May, with a group of friends from The Arch. We fancied a change of scenery and given the number of walls in and around London we decided that it was time to try a few.

I’d heard mixed reviews about the wall, but wanted to visit for myself, and given it is only 20 minutes or so from my house I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained.

The wall has 500 square metres of bouldering, just under half the size of The Arch, and isn’t quite as high. However, there are three rooms of different wall types, with some interesting overhangs and a good range of holds, some of which I’d not seen before. If you like slabs or caves it’s probably not for you, but it’s really good for overhangs and traversing climbs and the routes are well set and make good use of the space available. There is also a training area, a system wall and a traversing wall.

Being a new centre, all of the holds are pretty rough and grippy, as are the walls, which makes smearing really easy but which is a killer on the hands after a couple of hours. All routes start on a thin rail along the bottom of the wall, which is an interesting idea, but which does make the starts quite similar and the sit starts slightly easier (which is not necessarily a bad thing!). The routes are labelled as sit or standing starts (‘ss’ or ‘s’) and have either an ‘f’ marker to denote the finish or else the finishing point is the top of the wall.

As the routes were all new to me I felt I climbed quite well and also tried some things which I probably wouldn’t have attempted at The Arch. I also found with a different colour system I didn’t get as hung up on the grades of climbs and had a bit of a go on everything.

Best of all we had the place practically to ourselves and not having to queue for routes (as is often the case at The Arch) meant that we got a lot done.

We stayed at the wall for a good 6 hours, with a couple of tea breaks. The cafe wasn’t quite as well stocked in vegan treats as The Arch, and they didn’t have soya milk, but I did have a Trek bar and a black tea and the guys had coffees and herbal teas, of which there was a good range.

At only a few minutes from Vauxhall station, with some interesting climbs and lovely friendly staff I’d definitely recommend at least one visit and there is a launch party on 4 June, which might be worth a trip.

imageSunshine on Sunday meant that we were able to climb outside, so we headed to Bowles Rocks in Tunbridge Wells. This was my first visit to Bowles and it was great to try somewhere else new. Not quite as picturesque as Harrison’s Rocks, it was very beautiful nonetheless and made for a perfect day trip.

While I would have liked to have done some top roping, my arms were pretty tired from the previous day, so I was happy to play on a couple of bouldering routes with Sandra, interspersed with some lounging in the sun.

I’d forgotten how tricky it is climbing on sandstone, particularly having been indoor climbing the day before, but after the first few routes I started to feel more confident again.

After a good few hours climbing in the sunshine we were just about ready for a pint in a country pub followed by a delicious veggie BBQ at Hus’s house. With plenty of tasty salads, veggie kebabs, corn on the cob, hummus and pitta, it was a perfect end to a blissful weekend.

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