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New indoor climbing wall to open in Aith

The climbing wall in use. Photos: Kevin Learmonth

SHETLAND’s climbing scene is set to receive a massive boost this weekend when a new indoor climbing wall opens in Aith.

The wall, which consists of nine roped routes reaching a height of 7.5 metres and a boulder wall for free climbing, will open to the public at the West Mainland Leisure Centre from Sunday.

Kevin Learmonth of local group Climb Shetland hailed it as “good news” for the isles.

Taster sessions for all ages and abilities will initially take place on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and booking via 01595 807713 is essential.

Classes, courses and private bookings will follow the taster sessions at a later date.

Shetland previously had its only climbing wall at the Clickimin Leisure Complex in Lerwick, but it was removed in 2016 when changes were made to the facility.

The new wall is made by the same company and it has reused some panels of the old wall at the Clickimin.

It has been organised through Shetland Recreational Trust, while Climb Shetland members have helped to set it up.

Learmonth said the wall is a permanent fixture in the West Mainland Leisure Centre where the old squash courts used to be.

He said the new facility will give locals a chance to climb again all year round, regardless of the weather.

“With the climbing club, it’s something to do in the winter, but even just with the nature of weather in Shetland, we might plan to climb outside somewhere and then if it comes too wet then you can’t climb because it will be too slippy,” Learmonth said.

“So plan B might be to go to Eid.”

He also feels it could give Shetland an extra pull for visitors who are keen to climb in the isles.

“There is a surprising number of climbers who come from south to climb, so this might be another encouragement in that there’s something they can do when the weather isn’t quite so great,” he said.

The facility, meanwhile, will prove another boost for Aith, which already enjoys visitors thanks to the likes of Michaelswood, the charity shop and the nearby cake fridge.

“It means that Eid has got the only facility of its kind in Shetland,” Learmonth added.

“I think because if it’s in a town there’s a lot happening, but having it in a rural place, I think it will encourage more folk out of the town.”

Learmonth added that climbing can provide not just sport-based thrills but also benefits for the body too.

“Climbing has done wonders – it’s saved me years of physiotherapy,” he said.

“I used to have loads of problems with my back and shoulder and neck, and it was really climbing that cured it. I think it’s just gentle stretching is a good overall work out.”

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