Boulders aims high as work gets underway at Wales’ largest indoor climbing centre

Work has begun on what will be one of the largest indoor sport climbing facilities in Wales and the South West of England, as part of a £525,000 investment.

Boulders Ltd is being developed on Rover Way, off Newport Road, Cardiff, to provide a world-class climbing and fitness facility. The brainchild of Rob Lawrence and Ollie Noakes, the new facility has received equity investment from Finance Wales and two business angels through xénos, the Wales Business Angel Network, which matches private investors with businesses seeking investment. Boulders has received business advice from Cardiff independent chartered accountants, BPU.

The new facility will house 2,000sq metres of climbing walls - the largest surface area of climbing walls in Wales and the South West of England – and include an Olympic Speed Climbing Track. Mr Lawrence and Mr Noakes first met in 2000 when training for an Army expedition to climb Mount Everest. Mr Lawrence is a former British Army officer, while Mr Noakes was a soldier in the Territorial Army.

“Our vision for Boulders involves a range of adventure activities and fitness opportunities that will see all types of people climbing.” said Rob Lawrence, Managing Director of Boulders Ltd. “Increasing demand for extreme sports suggests that ordinary life has become too easy with the sedentary nature of the modern workplace. We’re providing an ultra modern facility with climbing walls for all abilities, from novice through to international competition-standard climbers. Ollie and I recognised that people’s interest in sport, plus trends towards outdoor pursuits and healthier living could be combined with our climbing expertise to deliver an exciting alternative to conventional gyms and fitness opportunities.”

He added: “Identifying and sourcing the funding for the business has been critical. The private investment and business mentoring from xénos business angels, Peter Saunders and Keith Thomas, was crucial. As was the investment from Finance Wales.”

The Boulders Indoor Climbing Centre will have a capacity for a minimum of 240 people and will include changing and shower facilities, equipment hire, a café, and climbing kit shop.

Business angel, Peter Saunders, said he was pleased to be investing in such an exciting business start-up. “Rob and Ollie have specialist expertise in climbing and a real passion for the business. These are important factors for any investor. As business angels, Keith Thomas and I have been pleased to invest in the business, as well as give the founders the benefit of our wider business experience. It's a great idea and is sure to be a great success.”

Finance Wales, a subsidiary of the Welsh Assembly Government which provides commercial funding to SMEs in Wales, has invested £54,000 equity into the business. The two business angels have invested a total of £60,000 in return for a stake in the company.

Karen Davies, Investment Executive at Finance Wales, said: “Boulders Ltd is an exciting business with two exceptional directors who are turning a dream into reality. Finance Wales is pleased to have been able to tailor a financial package to support the business and to co-invest with two experienced business angels.”

Nick Toye, Director at accountants BPU, said: “We have advised Boulders from the outset and we are naturally delighted that the splendid new centre will soon be open in August of this year. BPU has provided business advice and planning, and we will be helping the new company to fulfil its growth plans.”

Boulders plan to support the Welsh Assembly Government’s Climbing Higher strategy which includes 5x60 and Dragon Sport initiatives managed by the Sports Council for Wales.

Commenting on the new facility, Ollie Noakes added: “Boulders will be a valuable addition not only to Cardiff’s vibrant sports and leisure recreation scene, but that of Wales and the South West of England as well.”

Notes to the editor


BPU is one of Wales’ leading firms of independent chartered accountants providing a wide range of structured, discrete services to Welsh owner-managed SME’s, partnerships, sole traders and personal clients, as well as Not for Profit organisations and pension schemes. The firm has recently conducted a major rebranding exercise and increased its staff and range of services at its new headquarters at Cardiff Gate. www.bpuaccountants.co.uk.