London Fields is one of those Trendy places where long haired guys with transfer style tattoos, sit outside coffee shops drinking espresso and reading the last chapter of a dog eared copy of the Marksist Manifesto or Nietzsche – that you know they have not actually read – and now this is now the location of the hottest new trend – Climbing. But before you run to the shops to buy your gear there is no speed wall here …Yet – but don’t worry you can still go to the castle where all the other trendy wankers go. If not then you can always try here – Stronghold London Fields.
We have previously been and reviewed Stronghold Tottenham Hale but recently we had heard about the new branch in London Fields. We had thought initially it would be an outdoor wall in the fields itself but on further investigation we discovered it is actually in the basement of one of the new build of flats, overlooking the canal and the gas turbines.
As you enter to the reception you notice a coffee shop seating area to your left selling Coffees, recovery shakes and some food then a shop selling a moderate selection of shoes etc to right. Staff are friendly and helpful as per usual – although when we turned up there was only one member of staff so we couldn’t gain access to the Bike shed – however the staff were accommodating and allowed us to leave the bikes around the back of the check in desk.
We had to fill out the registration once again because all the systems had updated since 2019 and since there had been no climbing in 2020 we had to update.
Once that was all filled out and we were checked in we walked down the stairs, through the green arch then wandering through the warren of white doors and corridors.
There was an elevator that could take you up or down to the reception or the plant room. If you pass that you find a staircase then a few more doors and you come to the locker room/changing room/shower room which was pretty spacious. At the end of this room there was an arch way back into the climbing wall.
This time however they were route setting in that section and we couldn’t use that exit.
So back the way we came – there is no real warm up/stretching area but there is spaces between the mats which I guess you can use? Well we did anyway. Much to the dismay of some of the unfriendly/grumpy locals – equipped with the obligatory wanky tattoos including an Amy Winehouse one and wearing the usual dirty/sneery looks that most trendies have been stuck with (clearly the wind did change direction)
There is a small gym area towards the back between sections – which has two campus boards – pull up bars, Barbells and a selection of weights, kettlebells and medicine balls. The Campus Boards are so high up (over 2m) so you need the jumping boxes to be able to reach which is somewhat inconvenient for the short people.
So we warmed up/stretched and began to climb.
The grading is different in this wall as was explained by the staff but there are a number of signs explaining the grading spread throughout the wall.
So we started on the very small slab area near the entry stairs – the slab is literally 3 -4m heigh and 3m wide then it turns to overhanging and gets steeper and steeper. This is the same thought the wall there are 1 or 2 vertical areas (no slabs) but these are only stop gaps between the overhangs. Almost all routes are about 3 moves unless you are doing the overhangs which are almost all sit starts and very specific types of sit starts at that.
There is a small section to the side where you can climb on top of and look out of the window to street level which are all pretty easy apart from when it becomes a severe overhang once again. Why can’t walls do slabs? or mantle shelves? Is this too hard? Why does all walls have to be overhanging, campus routes or just swinging jumps? But I guess if we are asking this question why do all men have to take shirts off as soon as they enter a climbing wall?
Anyway the climbs stayed consistent and much like the other Stronghold the routes varied from V1 -V4 and everything in between didn’t exist. The sit start was the hard section but the rest was 2 or 3 meh moves.
All in all there is more potential there could be more variation in the angles of the walls as well as the routes, maybe some more slabs? With different styles of climbing in mind not just the average swinging person.