The Arc FAQs

White Angles

Here are the answers to your questions about The Arc, our new climbing centre in Chippenham.

How do we join?

You don’t need to pay a membership or joining fee to climb at TCA. Just complete the relevant forms for the type of climbing you would like to do – you will be able to do this online before you visit or at reception – you then buy a pass or punchcard (for single visits) online or just pay-per-visit at reception. Our staff will help talk you through all of the options. See prices.

Registration forms for The Arc will be available online once we are ready to open. In the meantime, you could sign up at any other TCA centre. If you opt for a pre-paid pass or regular monthly (EFT) billing, this will give you access to every TCA centre. Just make sure you have completed forms that cover bouldering, roped climbing, etc if you are changing centres.

Is The Arc accessible?

The centre will be accessible. There will be a lift located in the North Block. This will provide access to the upstairs areas in both the North and South blocks which will include some bouldering and a meeting space known as The Loft. There will be accessible toilets.

I have never climbed? What do I need to start?

You can start bouldering without completing a course. You simply complete forms online or at reception. The forms include this safety video. To boulder, you only require climbing shoes. More about bouldering.

If you are new to it (even if you have bouldered), you must complete a course to start roped climbing. We will offer a number of tasters and beginners’ courses when we open. To start roped climbing, you will need shoes, a harness and a belay device. More about roped climbing.

You can hire shoes, belay devices and harnesses at our centres (see prices). You may wish to use chalk to keep your hands dry. This can be purchased online.

Do I have to have my own kit?

No, you can hire the essential equipment from The Arc (see prices). We recommend hiring first to get a feel for fit before buying. Staff in centres will be able to help advise you on required gear. We have a shop in The Mothership, in Bristol, where we offer bespoke shoe fittings. You can buy gear from our online shop and click + collect at The Arc.

How much does it cost to climb?

See complete breakdown of prices.

If you plan to come regularly, for most people the cheapest option will be regular monthly (EFT) billing. TCA has one of the least expensive climbing wall pass prices in the UK. You get an additional discount for your first month – see New Member Pass. TCA passes allow unlimited entry at all centres and access to our gym in The Mothership (Bristol) and The Prop Store (Glasgow). Please note that you must complete the relevant forms to access different styles of climbing.

What are the opening times for The Arc?

We hope that the centre will be open from 9am-10pm on weekdays and 8am-6pm at weekends.

When will the skatepark be open?

Due to planning agreements, the skatepark will not be open before 8am, after 8pm or after dark (which will be much earlier at certain times of year).

Access will be in line with the climbing centre opening times, which (on most weeks) will be from 9am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-6pm at weekends. If the centre’s opening times vary, for any reason, this will affect access to the skatepark.

The skatepark is a free unsupervised facility. Users skate there at their own risk.

Do I need to book to climb and how long is a session?

You can book courses but you do not need to book a normal climbing session. There is no set period, so the earlier you arrive, the longer you can climb.

Can I buy access to climbing in advance?

Yes. Sales are now live for punch cards which are pre-paid visits. You can buy in multiples of 5 or 10. These are valid for bouldering and roped climbing and can be used at any TCA centre. Once we have an opening date we will put pre-paid passes and monthly billing (EFT) on sale at the same link. Monthly billing allows for uninterrupted climbing access which you can cancel anytime.

What type of climbing will The Arc offer?

The Arc will offer bouldering and roped climbing and auto belays, including some roped lines outside overlooking the skatepark.

Is there an age limit to climb or skate?

You can climb at TCA from any age as long as you are being supervised by an appropriately registered adult (over 18). Our upstairs bouldering area in the South Block will have family-friendly problems. There will be some restrictions on access to downstairs bouldering in the North Block for the over 8s.

There is no age limit in operation in the skatepark as this is an unsupervised facility. Users skate here at their own risk.

How high are the routes?

The roped lines are varied heights, but the tallest one is 15m.

I've never climbed but the kids would love to give it a go, can we just turn up?

You can, to boulder! Adults can watch a short safety video, answer some simple questions then register to be able to boulder. A registered adult (over 18) can supervise up to 2 children at a time in the bouldering areas. We will have a bouldering area upstairs suitable for all ages and a bouldering area downstairs suitable for over 8s. Please be aware that the downstairs area will have time restrictions for under 8s and the upstairs area will have a capacity cap to keep everyone safe. To use the roped area or auto-belays you would need to attend one of our taster or beginner sessions.

My kids are really keen to give climbing a go. Can I bring them and only supervise as I wouldn't want to climb myself?

We’d encourage everyone to give it a go but can also allow non-climbing adults (over 18) to closely supervise up to 2 children in the bouldering areas at no charge to the adult. Non-climbing adults can watch a short safety video, answer some simple questions then register to supervise up to 2 children at a time. We will have a bouldering area upstairs suitable for all ages and a bouldering area downstairs suitable for over 8s. Please be aware that the downstairs area will have time restrictions for under 8s and the upstairs area will have a capacity cap to keep everyone safe. For the kids to use the roped area or auto belays you would either need to book a Taster or Beginners’ Courses or sign them up to our regular youth classes, when we get them going.

Will there be a gym?

No, but if you buy a TCA pass this will give you unlimited access to the gym in The Mothership, in Bristol (and The Prop Store in Glasgow).

Can I drop my kids off so they can climb on their own?

Over 16s may boulder unaccompanied, but under 16s must be supervised by a registered adult (over 18). Under 18s who wish to rope climb must be supervised by a registered rope climber (over 18). Supervising adults, can supervise up to 2 climbers at a time.

In due course we plan to run classes where children can be dropped off for supervised sessions with climbing instructors.

Do I need to pay to get into the skatepark?

No. Access to the skatepark will be free.

Can I visit the cafe if I am not climbing?

Yes. We hope that the cafe will become a community hub for Chippenham where visitors will feel comfortable enjoying a drink, snack or a meal.

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs are not allowed in the buildings and skate park, but they will be allowed on the cafe decking, which includes some covered areas.

Is there a car park or bike park?

There is a car park at the top of Westmead Lane, which is free after 6pm and some free on-street parking nearby. Please note that the small car park attached to the site will be for staff or pre-arranged visitors only, including some disabled parking. There will be bike parking, including a charge point for electric bikes.

We encourage our climbers to arrive via public transport, bike or on foot where possible. We are situated in the Westmead playing fields, only half a mile from Chippenham Railway Station.

When rope climbing, can I use any belay device?

You can, although TCA recommends an assisted braking device such as a Petzl Grigri or Black Diamond ATC Pilot. TCA believes that when used correctly, assisted braking devices provide an additional layer of security over traditional friction only devices. While we allow our customers to make their own decision as to which belay device they use, we strongly encourage the use of assisted braking devices.

Will there be showers?

Yes, there will be a shower.

What's a "problem"?

Climbing has lots of different terms that you will learn once you start climbing. A problem is how a single climb is described in bouldering. Begin at the starting hold(s) indicated by red bolts and climb to the final hold which you should “match” (i.e. touch with both hands). A route is the name for a single climb whilst rope climbing, simply moving from bottom to top. All problems and routes are colour coded. See in centre signage for grades.

Will you have colour-coded climbing circuits like Bristol?

No. Climbs will be identified by colour but individual grades will be marked at the start of each climb.