Middle Child needed to do something for his personal challenge at Beavers and this seemed like a good option. I booked the two of us into a session at Clip ‘n Climb in Bicester and thought I’d take the opportunity to do a review. You know those days when the kids are metaphorically climbing the walls? This is perfect for those days!
Booking Clip ‘n Climb Bicester
You book into a 55 minute timed slot and should arrive 15 minutes before your slot for your safety briefings. There are slots every 30 minutes. Everyone is given a coloured wristband and they’re very hot on getting everyone out at the right time. The good thing about this system is that it means you don’t have too many people on the walls at any one time.
You don’t need to have any experience to climb and you don’t need any special equipment. You will need closed toe shoes, but normal trainers are fine.
I’d seen photos of the centre online but I was surprised by how small it is. It’s based in an industrial unit and for some reason I thought it would cover a larger area. That said, it actually didn’t need to be any bigger. There’s enough space for everyone and plenty of walls to climb. When we were in there, there were only a few times when we had to wait for a particular wall. This was only because the wall we wanted to do next was busy, rather than because no walls were free.
There are 11 walls (I think, I forgot to count), a net climb, a see-through, double-sided wall, a tree climb, the stairway to heaven (I strongly suggest this is a misnomer), stacked blocks and stacked balls. Then there’s the drop slide. The super scary drop slide. There’s also a cafe and seating area that you can use if/when you’re not climbing. Lockers are available for a £5 deposit.
Before you start on the walls alone you have to have a try on this wall with an instructor watching. You climb up to head height and jump off. Turns off I was crap at this bit. Head height wasn’t far enough up for the line mechanism to properly kick in so instead of gracefully dropping to the ground I ended up in a mangled mess of limbs. #Classy
I wouldn’t really be able to do a proper review of Clip ‘n Climb Bicester without having a go myself but OMG I was scared. I’ve not been the biggest fan of heights since I did a parachute jump many years ago. As long as you’re not a whimp like me then you’ll be fine. I still had a brilliant time. I tried the ones I could and enjoyed watching Middle Child scrambling up the ones I couldn’t. This isn’t the most glamorous photo of me but at least I’m up there!
As you’d expect some of the walls are more difficult than others. I only got about 3/4 of the way up, at best, but the great thing about this is that you don’t have to climb to the top. You just do what you’re comfortable with. I found the tree climb was the easiest, I really enjoyed it. There were a couple I just couldn’t do, like the stacked balls. Middle Child managed to get to the top of quite a few of them, and was super proud when he did.
There isn’t a member of staff for each wall, but there are several hanging around if you need them. You have to clip yourself into the line before you can climb but it’s easy to do and it’s impossible to do it wrong. Middle Child was more than capable of doing it on his own.
How hard it is to climb the wall mainly relates to how fit and limber you are. Don’t forget you’re hauling your own weight up a wall whilst balancing on small footholds. Once you’ve done you just jump off the wall and the line gently lowers you back down. That’s the theory. I swear it took me just as long to jump off the wall as it did to climb up as high as I did!
Stairway to Heaven
This thing is not for the faint hearted but if you manage it then GO YOU!! I mostly saw kids doing it, but there were a few adults brave enough. It’s hard to illustrate how tall the final column is but hopefully this video helps. Just in case you were unsure there was no way in hell I was even attempting that thing.
The drop slide
There is an additional charge of £2.50 for the drop slide. You can either pre-book it or you can pay in the cafe on the day. They recommend that you do the slide early-on in your session as you can only do it during your hour slot. We decided just to keep an eye open and see when there was the shortest queue as we didn’t want to waste climbing time.
Middle Child loves slides like this and would quite happily have gone to the top. How this slide operates is that you wear a slide suit and helmet, grab hold of what I can only describe as a winch and get pulled up a ramp. Whenever you want to you just let go and slide down. It sounds simple but despite his desire to go as high as possible Middle Child didn’t have the strength to hold on for long. He was really disappointed in himself so I’d maybe suggest this isn’t one for younger children (he’s 7 1/2).
Rhyme ‘n’ climb – £9.50 per child. Suitable for children aged 2-4. As well as the climbing there’s games, songs and stories. Tuesdays and Fridays 9:30 – 11:15. I’m a little unsure about the age range on this. I don’t think smallest child (2 1/4) would be able to physically climb these walls. Maybe 3-4 is a better age range? That said, she didn’t come with us so maybe she’d be able to shoot up there like a rocket!??!
Fit ‘n’ climb – £7 per person. An exercise class with added height!!
Coffee ‘n’ climb – £6.95. A senior social designed to show you climbing isn’t just for kids!
Normal sessions are £12.50 per person. Different prices apply for the special sessions above. A family ticket for 4 people is £49. Sessions must be booked in advance – you can book via their website.
Parking / How to get there
There is a small, free car park on-site.
Address – Unit 3 Bessemer Close, Bicester, Oxfordshire. OX26 6QE.
On-site, including a baby change.
There’s a nice little cafe on-site. We tried some of the rainbow cake before our climb and it was yummy.
Our Clip ‘n Climb Bicester Review
4 / 5 – Of all the climbing centres in our area this seems to be one of the coolest. The centre is brand new so it’s all in excellent condition and very clean. We had a really good time and I liked how varied the walls were. It’s not “just” clambering up a fake wall. It’s more interesting than that. Middle Child has decided he’s having his next birthday party here!
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook