Climbing is big in Birmingham, and Birmingham Scouts are leading the way in providing vertical adventures for our members, whatever your age and ability!

This page will detail everything you need to point you in the right direction for climbing activities, whether you’re a young person who wants to experience climbing, a Leader looking to get your young people involved or even if you want to become a permit holder.

How to get involved

There are three main ways to get involved in climbing and abseiling in Birmingham: Attend one of our County Climbing trips (check out the above link) If you’re a Leader, book your Group into one of our Weekly indoor sessions at Blackwell Court If you’re an adult volunteer, join the County Climbing Team to help out at events and get a permit to take your Scouts out to the wall. Leaders can also apply for training and assessment to get a climbing permit. Please email us your requirements here. If you’re an Explorer Scout you can also join our County Mountaineering Unit and take part in organised activities that will help you to develop your skills and experience in a safe and fun environment.

Opportunities to take part in Scout climbing & abseiling activities

There are several ways in which members can take part in climbing & abseiling activities within Birmingham Scout County.

County Climbing Team 2020

County Climbing Team outdoor crags 2020

County Climbing Team at Blackwell Court Creation Moseley Redpoint 2020

Rock climbing on natural rock outcrops & crags

  • If you are an Explorer Scout, Network member, SAS member, or climbing instructor – by taking part in future Explorer Scout Climbing Weekends.
  • By taking part in future activity events organised by your District e.g. Tame valley “Sir Eric Clayson Event”, Rea Valley’s “Forwards” badge weekend etc.
  • For further information, please contact your District Commissioner direct.
  • By taking part in events which are organised by your leader (but only where your leader has enlisted the support of a Scout Association climbing instructor that holds a valid Adventurous Activities Permit for the activity).
  • By taking part in a weekend course organised by a National Scout Activity Centre e.g. Yr Hafod Scout Centre.

Birmingham County Mountaineering Unit

We are a County based Explorer Unit that focuses on providing adventurous mountain based activities for our members with an emphasis on fun, learning by doing and developing skills to increase proficiency.

We meet monthly and with a little hard work and commitment members can expect to gain personal activity permits and activity badges, achieve recognised awards such as the National Navigation Award Scheme (NNAS) and use the skills developed towards achieving their Queen’s Scout Award and DofE Awards.

To be a member you must

Be aged between 14 and 18 years old, and;
Be a member of a ‘conventional’ Explorer Unit that offers the Balanced Programme.
If you’re interested in becoming a member click here to send us an email with your details so that we can get in touch.

We work in partnership with the County Hillwalking and Climbing Activity Teams and have a large base of skills to offer and share with young people. If you’re interested in becoming a Leader with us email here.

Annual subscriptions are currently £10 per year and include the Unit badge. In addition, each event will carry a small charge and members will pay only for the events they attend.

Climbing & abseiling – useful information

Overview of Scout Association Climbing & Abseiling activities

Everyone who leads an adventurous activity for young people within Scouting is required to hold an activity permit for that activity, thus leaders wishing to lead climbing & abseiling activities must hold a permit for climbing & abseiling.

A climbing / abseiling permit is time limited (up to a maximum of five years but generally up to three years for climbing) at which point it expires. If you wish to continue leading the activity for young people you will need to apply for a new permit.

The vast majority of climbing & abseiling undertaken by young members is Single Pitch Climbing. A Single Pitch Climb is one that can be completed without any intermediate stances, and from which the climber can safely walk off un–roped from the top, or can be safely lowered to the bottom of the climb. In the case of outdoor climbing the approach to the climbing route should be non–tidal without any serious difficulties on approach or retreat.

There are three levels of permit available:

Personal – These permits allow under 18′s to take part in the activity without the need for someone with a leadership or supervisory permit to be present.
Leadership – These permits allow you to lead an activity for a group of young people. You need to remain with the group throughout the activity.
Supervisory – These permits allow you to remotely supervise a number of groups taking part in the activity (up to a maximum of 3 rope systems at a time but depending on permit restrictions). When supervising more than one rope system the holder of a Single Pitch Climbing supervisor permit needs to designate a rope leader for each group. This rope leader can then act as the be–layer (but only for the current activity while the permit holder is supervising).

Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme
For further information on the Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme, please refer to Fact sheet FS120100

Single Pitch Climbing & Abseiling
For further information on Single Pitch Climbing & Abseiling refer to Fact sheet FS120452

How To Arrange Training As A Scout Association Climbing & Abseiling Leader / Instructor

Members are strongly advised to undertake a structured training course and consolidate their experience by operating under the supervision of experienced / authorised County instructors prior to presenting themselves for assessment for a climbing activity permit.

There are several ways in which members can receive training:

  • By regularly attending the County Climbing Team’s Wednesday evening (6.30pm – 9.00pm) climbing sessions at Blackwell Court activity centre throughout May and June each year. These evenings are geared towards climbing & abseiling on artificial walls and structures. Click here for more information.
  • By attending a training course organised by neighbouring Scout Counties (where the course is open to other Counties) – please check websites for neighbouring Counties for further details.
  • By attending a course organised by a National Scout Activity Centre e.g. Yr Hafod Scout Centre.
  • By attending a NBG award training course such as the SPA (Single Pitch Award). These courses are highly recommended, and especially the SPA training course for candidates seeking to extend their authorisation to include operating on natural rock outcrops & crags.
  • For further information, please contact Yr Hafod Scout CentrePlas y BreninMountain Leader Training England, or Mountain Leader Training Wales.

How to arrange an assessment for a Scout Association Adventurous Activity Permit for Climbing & Abseiling

Leaders and members are advised that they must not lead and / or supervise Scout Association climbing & abseiling activities unless they have a valid adventurous activity permit signed-off by their responsible commissioner, and they must always operate within the scope of any restrictions set out in the permit.

There are several ways in which members can arrange an assessment:

By attending an assessment course organised by the County Climbing Advisor
By attending an assessment course organised by neighbouring Scout Counties (where the course is open to other Counties) – please check websites for neighbouring Counties for further details.
By attending a course organised by a National Scout Activity Centre e.g. Yr Hafod Scout Centre.
NOTE – if you already hold a NGB award such as the SPA (Single Pitch Award), you will be exempt from a formal technical assessment by an assessor but you will still need to be assessed on your knowledge of the Scout Association activity rules, require a CRB check, and responsible commissioner’s sign–off as to personal suitability.
For information regarding opportunities on how to develop skills and experience after assessment – contact the County Climbing Advisor.

Instructors holding an adventurous activity permit for climbing & abseiling are reminded that they must keep their skills up to date at all times and maintain a log book recording details of personal climbing and instructing experience.

Scout Association’s Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme

For further information on the Scout Association’s Adventurous Activity Permit Scheme, types of permits, and the assessment process, refer to Fact Sheets below and the appropriate Assessment Checklists which can be found on Scout Base.

FS120100 | FS120101

Climbing & Abseiling Activities
For information relating to the rules and guidance that relates to climbing & abseiling activities, refer to Fact Sheet

FS120084 Scout Led Activities Index

Further Information
The BMC (British Mountaineering Council) provide a large amount of very useful technical information on climbing and climbing equipment (much of which is free to download). The technical committee articles on climbing equipment make interesting reading. Also, for those instructors operating outdoors, the BMC’s regional access database provides useful information on crag access / restrictions etc.

The Scout Association’s official technical manual for climbing & abseiling activities is Rock Climbing by Libby Peter, publisher reference ISBN 0–9541511–1–9. This book is very well written and illustrated and is recommended for general reference.

Any questions?

Please contact our County Climbing Advisor, Tom Parkin

Find your group

Find your local Scouting group based on your post code to get involved today!