Law firm helps climbers hit new peak | 08 August 08

A GROUP of climbers are looking to scale the heights of business success – with help from leading North law firm Ward Hadaway.

Darren Stevenson and Chris Graham of Climb Newcastle

Hitting the heights – (from left) Darren Stevenson and Chris Graham of Climb Newcastle in action at Rothley Crags in Northumberland.

Chris Graham, Andy Earl and Darren Stevenson – all experienced climbers based in Newcastle – are setting up their own indoor bouldering centre on Tyneside.

Climb Newcastle is being created at the former Byker swimming pool in Newcastle and will cater for everyone from children learning the sport to experienced climbers when it opens in late 2008.

The 10,000 sq ft facility will feature a range of different bouldering walls designed to test all abilities and can accommodate more than 100 climbers at any one time.

Neil Smith, assistant solicitor in the commercial property team at Ward Hadaway, advised Chris, Andy and Darren on securing the new premises.

Chris Graham said: “Climbing and bouldering is getting more and more popular in the North-East, but there are very few indoor training facilities and places where you can start learning the sport.

“Andy, Darren and I had the idea of creating an indoor centre at the start of last year dedicated to bouldering and it has gone on from there.”

Bouldering is a form of climbing where participants tackle shorter walls – typically less than 15 feet high – protected by large crash mats underneath.

This makes it easier for beginners to get into the sport and to progress after only a short introduction.

Chris explained: “The great thing about bouldering is that you don’t need that much equipment or knowledge to get started.

“It’s easy to get started, but hard to get good at, so we will cater for everyone from young kids doing it for the first time who we can coach to experienced climbers looking to hone their skills.

“This is already a growing sport and more and more people who would normally go to the gym to get fit are now taking up the sport as it is great exercise and really challenging.”

The trio certainly have the experience and expertise to back up their vision.

Andy is a World Cup winner, former British Champion and British Bouldering Team Coach; Newcastle University PhD student Chris is a former British Climbing Team member who represented Newcastle University as part of their Elite Athlete Squad while Darren has climbed at the highest levels worldwide and is also a self-employed safety consultant for the oil and gas industries.

The business partners are hoping the Climb Newcastle centre will be equally impressive with different sections dedicated to different abilities, as well as a shop and café.

Chris said: “It’s an ideal building, both in terms of the layout and the location as it is in the city, but close to the Metro and other public transport.

“We’re really pleased to have secured the lease on the centre and very grateful to Neil and Ward Hadaway for all the work they have done on our behalf.”

Neil Smith said: “It was great to help Chris and the Climb Newcastle team to realise their ambitions. They have some brilliant ideas for the new centre which I’m sure will be a big hit.”

* If you are looking to hit the business heights, Ward Hadaway can help with a whole range of commercial property services. For further details, contact Neil Smith at or click here.