There aren't many things better than climbing a route, lowering off and jumping into the sea as a cool down, says BMC ambassador Steve McClure. For the family climbers, having a beach to keep the kids occupied is perhaps the best way to get a day's climbing in. Building a sandcastle to avoid the hard start may offer an advantage, too! So where are these perfect venues? Let's find out.
Cala Barques. Photo: Steve McClure Collection
It's true that Cova Del Diabalo has stolen the limelight on the DWS scene in Mallorca but, for many people, Cala Barques will be their favourite. Diablo can feel rather high, whereas the cliff height at Barques is perfect – you'll almost want to fall off into those clear warm seas. But perhaps more importantly, it's right next to the beach, so you can mix steep climbing with working on your tan.
Get there: Easy! Fly to Palma (Easyjet, Ryanair and British Airways all fly there, amongst others) and hire a car.
Guidebook: Rockfax Mallorca by Alan James, Mark Glaister and Daimon Beail.
South of France
En Vau. Photo: Steve McClure Collection
The southern coastline near Marseille is one of the most beautiful in the world, with solid white limestone cliffs dropping straight into the shimmering blue Mediterranean sea. The 'Calanques' is the name for all the inlets, like deep zawns slicing their way inland. Many of them have fantastic climbing, and all have their own character. En-Vau is one of the most beautiful and feels rather special, having excellent routes right off the beach. But you'll find it hard to leave the ground! Pack your snorkel and facemask. There is also great sea level traversing.
Get there: Also easy. Fly to Marseille (again, Easyjet, Ryanair and British Airways all fly there, amongst others) or drive and combine with many other amazing areas in France.
Guidebook: Rockfax Côte d'Azur by Chris Craggs.
Punta Di Capineru. Photo: Steve McClure Collection
Corsica has absolutely loads of climbing, and as a holiday destination combining walking with climbing and beaches, this island is probably one of the best in Europe. For a real treat, visually as well as physically, then head down to the south coast, to La Punta Di Capineru, a beautiful boulder-strewn headland right on the beach. There is a bunch of great problems of all grades, from swinging traverses to thin slabs, all within moments of quiet sandy coves and crystal clear water. Piana Beach near Porto is another option for seaside climbing – this area offers steep granite trad climbing with awesome, clean steep cracks.
Get there: There are four airports on Corsica: Bastia Poretta (BIA), Calvi Sainte Catherine (CLY), Ajaccio Campo de'll Oro (AJA) and Figari (FSC). You can get direct fiights from Gatwick to all of these airports apart from Calvi with Easyjet between May and September. Out of the holiday season, it is possible to get Easyjet connections from Paris. Easyjet also fly to Bastia from Manchester on Sundays in the holiday season for reasonable prices. You can also get there by ferry from the French ports of Marseille, Nice and Toulons.
Guidebook: Arrampicata Sportive In Corsica by Maurizio Oviglia.
Cala Luna, Sardinia. Photo: Steve McClure Collection
Sardinia is about as good as it gets. It feels like Thailand, but is only two hours flight away. There’s a massive amount of climbing on the island – single and multi-pitch climbing in abundance, mountain cragging from 4a to 8s, and a few great crags, like Cala Luna, which rise straight from the sands. You access Cala Luna via a two-hour, 6k hike over the mountain from Cala Fuili beach, or a 20 euro return boat ride from Cala Gonone. Cala Gonone itself is a very pretty village with a small harbour and lovely beaches.
Get there: Ryanair and Easyjet fly all year round to Alghero and Cagliari, then hire a car. There is a regular boat service from Cala Gonone.
Guidebook: Pietra di Luna by Maurizio Oviglia.
Shipwreck Cove. Photo: Steve McClure Collection
OK, so there's the British weather to put up with, but this beautiful little spot has almost everything, including easy access at the edge of the awesome Rhossili beach when carrying all the associated beach gear like buckets, spades, BBQ, snorkel and facemask, towels and football. However, it's tidal allowing access for only 3-4 hours each side of low tide – sometimes a pain, but it also means you’ll not have any ‘tourists’ with their towels laid under your route. Sheltered and a sun trap, the kids will be happy, but you might moan about sweaty fingers. It's hard to complain when the climbing is so good, though – this is perhaps one of the best sport cliffs in the UK. Only downside is that there aren’t many routes, with perhaps just one or two of each grade from 6c up to 8c. Still, that’s more than enough for most of us.
Get there: Park at the National Trust carpark at Rhossili (£3.50 for the day). Follow the signs for the beach next to the pub. Once down the steps, walk five minutes along the beach towards the large cliffs on the left at the southern end of the beach.
Guidebook: Rockfax South Wales Sport Climbs by Mark Glaister.
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