A Climbridge Trip to Portland

Posted On June 3, 2023

Portland, Dorset contains a range of extraordinary limestone crags and has been a go-to place for climbers for years. Climbridge took a trip for the long weekend during the late May bank holiday (26th-29th).

Day 0 (25th):

We decided to leave Thursday evening after work to ensure we could maximise the climbing time over the weekend and have three full days to climb. Leaving at about 7 pm, we arrived at our Airbnb just after midnight, stopping for dinner and food shopping for the next few days. Traffic was excellent on the way down (which couldn’t be said for the way back).

The view from the Airbnb

A spot of Tesco shopping

We managed to pass the time on the road trip with great music (thanks DJ Sam) and an entertaining “abnormal load” being carried on the motorway. We thought it was part of a windmill but take your guess! 

The 'abnormal' load

Day 1 (26th):

None of us slept very well on the first night as the curtains let in far too much light and most of us woke up at about 4-5 am. Quite sleep deprived, we decided to set out early to the crag to get as much climbing in as we could before we exhausted ourselves. We managed to leave the house by 8:30 am, getting to the crag by 9! 

We chose a popular crag on the first day as we theorised that since it was a Friday, it would be the least busy of the days. The Rockfax guidebook we used was incredibly detailed and gave really good descriptions of the crags, including the grades (obviously!), quality of climbing (rated 0-3) and which climbers they suited (powerful moves, technical moves etc). We decided to start on Blacknor North since this is a popular area and housed a good range of grades. This was an important consideration we kept in mind throughout the trip, as between the four of us we had a range of abilities and we wanted to be as inclusive as possible. 

We started on the Fallaway Black on the Far North crag of Blacknor North (see picture below). This is a fairly simple approach. We parked on the road near the climbers and hikers carpark to avoid any parking charges. It was then a brisk fifteen-minute approach to the crag, traversing down some sketchy paths, involving a rope for aid.

Walking from the car park

Descending down the path

Descending down the rope

It is important to pay attention to when the path goes down to the crag, as this is not obvious from the trail. We ended up missing the path at first, realising this when we crossed the wooden bridge. This wall was a good starting point for us, giving us low enough walls with grades ranging from 4a-6c.  

We made it!

Admiring the view before climbing

Gearing up ready for Climbing

One downside of arriving so early was that the weather and subsequently the rocks were still very cold. Within a few clips of climbing, our hands were freezing! They quickly warmed up after the first few ascents, but this was a new surprise for all of us and thankfully something that was a one-off on the trip. We completed a few climbs here, with 5c being the highest grade attempted by myself. I first climbed this route before lunch bailing before the anchor. The rock before the anchor was polished and made the final part of the ascent tricky. After breaking for lunch I gave it another go, luckily after getting stuck at the same point a kind man from the Dorset bolting fund arrived and we borrowed his clip stick to clip the anchor. After doing this I miraculously found the perfect crimp to pull myself up and top out! 

I spy Gaz fry (5c)

After exhausting all the climbs we wanted to do in this area, we moved on to Blacknor South. This collection of crags featured higher walls with more similar climbs that we were used to. We settled on the Sacred Angel Area, which was a short walk from the North side. The approach involved traversing down a couple of sets of metal rungs before walking down to the crag. Whilst the metal rungs felt quite sketchy the first time, we quickly got used to these around Portland and it was not the worst approach for the weekend! That being said, I recommend caution going down here and dropping down any bags you can before descending.  

The view from the Crag

Passing through an alcove on the approach

Ben pausing for a photoshoot on the rocks

In this area, we split off into 2 groups, one of us climbed Do Ixtlan (5b) while the other climbed what we thought at the time was Well Done Poppe (5c). Whilst climbing the latter route, the same man from the Dorset bolt fund came around and pointed out that this was a new route, undocumented in the guidebook. To all of our delights, he rated it a 6a after climbing it! 

Sam on Do Ixtlan 

Nathan on Do Ixtlan 

Climb Log (Nathan)

Day 2 (27th):

Day 2 saw much better sleep for all of us, partly due to how exhausted we all were from the first day!

We decided to climb in Blacknor again, this time in the Far South area. The approach was very similar to Blacknor South, this time taking a left turn and having to hike through an alcove in the rocks to reach the crags. We started on Fear’s Younger Brother Area, a nice crag with highs of 20 metres and a great range of grades to climb.

The view from Fear's Younger Brother Area 

Traversing through the alcove

One climbing highlight was the route  “Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!”, translated to I Am In Great Pain Please Help Me! This was a very accurate description, as the first 3 clips of climbing involved very painful rocks and really hard moves. Ben and I had to let out Adam Ondra style screams to get us through that section of the climb. 

After climbing in this crag, we moved on in search of harder routes. After realizing that most of the routes we wanted to climb were taken, we split off into 2 groups. One went back to the Scared Angel Area crag and the other walked down to Reality Bites Area still in the Far South. 

We only had time for one more climb each. Sam and I chose Rag ‘n’ Bone Man – a 6B climb (which was the hardest outdoor climb I had attempted up to this point). A nice 20m climb (marked as a number 2), with excellent moves and some overhangs. I managed to send this climb after a fall and a rest, this was a real highlight of this trip for myself!

The 6b route (Rag ‘n’ Bone Man) 

Sam attempted this route after me and had to bail. This left us with the problem of how to get our gear back! Luckily we enlisted the help of some fellow climbers next to us who flashed the route (essentially made it a walk in the park) and we got our gear back (thanks Dan!).

After a long day of climbing, we took a much needed rest at the local pub and walked down to take a look at the lighthouse.

The lighthouse

Some swings we found near the Pub

A warning sign for climbers near the lighthouse

Climb Log (Nathan)

Day 3 (28th):

This was our last day in Portland, and so we decided to check out a really popular area, the battleship, specifically Battleship Edge. There were a couple of ways to approach this, we chose to park in Reap Lane and take the footpath down to the crag. It does not matter which footpath you take (we inevitably took the wrong one) as they both lead to the same place! 

This was by far the sketchiest approach of our weekend, to get down you must scramble down a gully involving metal rugs and chains to aid the descent. This leads to steps through a cut-out in one of the crags which leads you to the climbing area.

An excited Nathan coming down the stairs 

We had a great full day climbing here, splitting our time between Middle Cliff and Victims of Fashion Area. These were both beautiful walls with a great range of grades. A warning, this area was bustling when we went, and I would suspect this is the case most year-round (when weather permits!). So be prepared to wait for specific routes to become free.  

Middle cliff

The view from middle cliff

Powering up on Tenzing before the climb!

Dan on Serendipity (4b - Middle Cliff)

We ended our day with a climb up Margaret on the Guillotine (6a), this was a nice consistent climb with solid satisfying moves. It is also perfect for a top rope, which was great as we could accommodate all climbing abilities.  

Middle cliff

The view from middle cliff

Powering up on Tenzing before the climb!

Nathan on Margaret on the Guillotine

Dan on Margaret on the Guillotine

A highlight of the day was a 6b+ (appropriately titled Hats off to the Insane) attempted by myself. I managed to get about two-thirds up this route before having to bail. Rather annoyingly the climb seemed quite nice after the moves I got stuck on. Regardless it was a great experience to try and push my grades higher and gave me plenty of outdoor fall practice.

Nathan taking a rest on Hats off to the Insane (6b+)

Climb Log (Nathan)


Overall, this was an amazing climbing experience for us. We were spoilt by the great weather, climbs and the atmosphere and friendliness of our fellow climbers (climbers are the nicest people you will ever meet!). We can’t wait to climb outdoors again!

3 days of cuticle wear

The gang on the final day