6 Reasons You Have to Visit @EICARatho

| March 24, 2016

I’m a big fan of Scotland as a walking and climbing destination. Most people know all about our epic sweep of mountains and hills, but what about EICA: Ratho, which is Europe’s biggest indoor climbing arena?

Here are my five reasons you have to head to the EICA: Ratho:

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It’s a World Class Climbing Facility – It may offer a lot more (we’ll come to that!), but at its heart this massive old quarry is a brilliantly conceived and realised world class indoor climbing arena. Not just for first timers and occasional visitors, serious climbers come here to hone their skills and really test themselves as they prepare for even tougher challenges in Scotland’s mountains. They even train North Sea oil rig workers on how to hike up and down tricky sections of oil rigs. The staff can vastly improve your climbing skills too, with an array of coaching options.

Experience the New Clip n’ Climb – Opened at Easter 2016, this brilliant new concept hails from New Zealand. This is the first experience of its kind in Scotland and it is truly unique. It uses an automatic belay system, which means that you don’t need a climbing partner. So anyone aged 4-84 can take to the ropes in complete safety in a harness that provides a gentle descent if you ‘fall off’. There are 15 eclectic challenges and 20 rope lines. Sessions last an hour and you can really make the most of the time as the introduction to this simple system is short and you are soon on the ropes. You can climb up steep walls or even bash down a vertical drop with a helmet on. I’ve taken my wee girls here and they loved it along with my wife, who is not normally into climbing.

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Get Fit – There are myriad options at the EICA: Ratho, from the aforementioned Clip ‘n Climb experience through to seriously high climbing walls and a heart pumping high ropes circuit. Whatever you choose to do don’t think it will be an easy session where you just do a bit of light exercise. A session here really works all your limbs and brings up your fitness too. It’s also great for mental fitness as you work your way through the myriad challenges and develop new skills. There is an excellent gym too for those looking to work up a more conventional sweat

It Offers More than Climbing – Yes it may be Europe’s biggest indoor climbing centre, but there is far more on site than just climbing. As well as that gym there is an excellent cafe (where home-made fare is the norm), a well brilliantly fun soft play (my girls swear by it) and a well stocked outdoor gear and clothes shop. You can easily spend a half day here if not longer.

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It’s Family Friendly – My daughters really did not like the sound of a ‘climbing arena’ when I suggested we visit, but they are serious converts. When they were wee they loved the soft play and now they are a bit bigger they have really taken to the new Clip ‘n Climb experience. I love that they are learning some climbing skills in a safe, fun environment. At the heart of why EICA: Ratho works so well for families is that its staff get both kids and parents’ needs and go about everything with a calm, smiling assurance that really makes all things climbing serious fun.

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*This post comes in association with Edinburgh Leisure.

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