Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Harrison's Hardest Route - Pollet Virtus

(c) Rhys Whitehouse
Rhys Whitehouse has made the first ascent of the hardest route at Harrison's Rocks. The route named 'Pollet Virtus' is located on the Isolated Buttress at Harrison's Rocks and is graded at French 8a+ / UK 7a.  This rivals other hard sandstone routes at other crags such as Chimaera and Judamondo (if climbed to the very top) which are also graded at the same grade.

The route starts up 'South West Corner' to a stance below the roof, the route then trends outwards into a vague groove. It finishes up the left side of the big roof after some strenuous long reaches, small crimps, knee wrenching moves and an awesome cut loose.

Rhys describes the route as being "a truly wicked little number in an awesome position and well worth getting on for anyone looking for a hard sandstone tick!"

It's worth noting that the first ascent was done on a shunt which is unusual for a first ascent of this nature. We look forward to all those strong climbers out there giving it a go and offering their opinions on the grade.

Monday, 3 July 2017

New Revised Sandstone Code of Practice

The BMC and HRMG have just launched a newly revised version of the Sandstone Code of Practice, it also incorporates the new Sandstone Bouldering Sense. Given the soft nature of the southern sandstone rock, rules are in place to protect it for all to enjoy.

The new Code of Practice has a modern style with photo illustrations and includes clear colour photography illustrating how to set up ropes on sandstone and the do's and don'ts of climbing practice, including the ban on boulder brushes and toothbrushes.

The PDF version can be downloaded from either the BMC website or our Code of Practice page. Most local climbing walls in the area will have them in printed booklet form also.

Feel free to hand them out or share with anyone who you think will benefit from reading it.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Southern Sandstone Climbs - Rockfax Guidebook

Over the past month Rockfax has announced in various forms the new Southern Sandstone Climbs guidebook which will cover the
popular sandstone climbing found in the southeast of England.

The more eagle eyed of you may have noticed the introduction of french grades as well as UK tech grades siting along side it. Guides are slowly leaning away from the traditional UK technical grading system in various forms, but this Rockfax guide will be the first to use the french grade in its entirety with UK technical grades siting along side to help people make the move to start working with french grades.

The French grade now help tackle the growing issue concerning  working with grades in the upper grading spectrum. This also helps climbers new to the sport and the area understand the difficulties of the routes, especially if migrating from climbing walls and help solve the age old problem of  confusing the UK tech grade with the French grade.

Bouldering has now moved to the font system which has been adopted heavily in the area and now throughout the UK.

As highlighted in the Rockfax and UKC announcements, this book will cover all the main routes and boulder problems on 12 different crags using the familiar Rockfax style of big photo-topos accompanied by clear descriptions and inspiring action photographs. It has been put together by local climber Daimon Beail who also compiles the deep water soloing section of the Mallorca Rockfax guidebook.

There are many new routes appearing here for the first time and additionally areas which are appearing in topographical form. There will be an expanded introduction to help deliver the much needed information to new and current climbers concerning best climbing practices. This has been done through photographic illustrations as well as in-depth explanations for those wanting to know more.

It is due to be published in September and things are on schedule at the moment. The book is set to be around 500 pages and will be accompanied by an app version published at the same time.

For further information see:

Rockfax and UKC

Monday, 15 May 2017

Sandstone Open Meeting - Sunday 21st May 2017

The next Sandstone Open Meeting is on Sunday 21st May, 6pm - 7pm in the bar at Bowles Rocks.

The aim is to have a short meeting to answer any questions about the local sandstone and to discuss anything you want to raise with other local climbers.

The meeting is open to anyone who would like to contribute in some way and raise questions, ideas and suggestions or to simply listen to get up-to-date on the latest news and developments.

There will be no formal agenda but updates on the following items will be discussed:

  • Launch of the new Code of Practice  (BMC)
  • The new Rockfax Southern Sandstone guidebook (author present to discuss the new book)
  •  Sandstone Volunteering Group work update
  • Crag updates


Bowles Rocks 
Sandhill Lane
Eridge Green
Tunbridge Wells

(Located in the upstairs bar and buffet provided by the BMC)

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

New Routes

(C) Tom Gore
With the launch of the new routes page last month and the road map concerning reporting and submitting new routes and problems online, we have had a number of people contact us, in particular, Tom Gore, who as always is proactive and a great documenter. Not only adding all the relevant information into UKC but also recording his ascents via video and posting them to YouTube, which is very handy for everyone.

Tom and his brother Nick have been out putting up two new outstanding problems both at Bowles and Eridge Rocks and their new additions, along with others, can be seen on the New Routes Page and many others will be in the new Rockfax guide this summer.

For more information about adding new routes, please visit the New Routes page here.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Southern Sandstone Crag Update - April 2017

Happy Valley

There has been a clean up of the overgrown areas and the outcrops at Happy Valley and the leaning tree above Cheesewing Buttress  has also been cut down. Probably unknown to the Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators, the leaning tree was used to attach the belay for top-roping, but now it's no longer there, so top ropes cannot be set up. Some of the HRMG are looking into whether   bolts can be placed in the top of the block so climbing can take place on this buttress.

Top of the Cheesewing Buttress where hopefully bolts can be placed

The Tunbridge Wells Commons Conservators Warden Update:
"The work at Happy Valley is now almost complete, just a bit of tickling round the edges still to do. I must say that the contractors have done a wonderful job and the area has been transformed. Far more of the rock outcrop has been re-exposed than I had expected and the removal of the fallen trees from the Cheesewring Rock has let much more light into the area. It obviously looks a little raw at the moment but it will soon start to soften."


Bowles Rocks

Bowles New Climbing Area
The Bowles team have been hard at work clearing away soil and excavating the area at the very far right of the crag. Routes do exist here but with the recent work, these have been enhanced. Bolts are planed to be installed and work is almost finished. Six or seven new climbs have been added by the keen Bowles team and will also be included in the new Rockfax guide coming this summer. Until work is completed, please avoid this area.

Storm Damage and Trees

The fallen tree above St.Gotthards Boulders.
Storm Doris back in February ripped up a few things and in particular the large tree at the top of  St.Gotthards Tunnel at Harrison's Rocks. Eridge has also seen trees come down above the rocks in a few places. A massive tree has fallen above Stem Son Buttress (although this may have happened prior) which really could do with being removed. In addition the Sussex Wildlife Trust has removed a large chunk of the tree that was opposite Sandstorm Buttress which is worth a look.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Harrison's Rocks - New Woodland Management Plans Unveiled

The woodland management plan for Harrison’s Rocks will continue this year and volunteers are
needed to assist with the planting of new tress to the area.

The new species to be introduced are called “Arecaceae” and are more commonly known as the palm tree. They grow exceptionally well in sandy soil which will suit the sandy outcrops of Sandstone perfectly and will also help prevent ground slippage.  Maintenance of these trees is minimal, meaning regular cutting will not be needed, saving the BMC time and money.  The planting of these trees will certainly give the area a more exotic look, but on a more serious note will help reduce Harrison’s ground erosion.

(April Fool News Item )

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Rockfax Guidebook Announcement

This year will see the publication of the long awaited Rockfax guide to route climbing and bouldering on Southern Sandstone.  

The author had the following to say about the new guidebook:

"This is a significant progression for guides in the area and one which has been a passionate and time consuming project over the past 5 years.  There are lots of things to talk about, but the key word is 'modernisation' and this is something to keep very much in mind.

Great care has been taken to produce a book worthy of southern sandstone's unique conservation requirements, climbing methods and to capture the nature of the climbs and the great sandstone environments. 

No actual publication date has been confirmed yet and if all goes well it will be some point this summer."

Today we are launching a New Routes Page. For the new guide, as much info as possible has been gathered from the now old 'new routes book' and current UKC databases, as well as from some of the more proactive climbers in the area. If you think you have something substantial that you wish to be considered for inclusion in the book, please visit the New Routes Page for further information. We will probably not be listing new routes straight away, but will do so more after the Rockfax guide publication. 

We are making a strong push towards people recording their ascents via the UKC database, which is a better way for climbers to instantly see new routes that have been done. At some point in the future the crags on UKC will have a refresh and clean up where needed.

Rockfax are also looking for talented photographers who think they have some great shots of people climbing. If you do, then do drop us an email through the Southern Sandstones Climbs Facebook Page.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Friday, 10 February 2017

Friday, 3 February 2017

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Climb and Yoga Day Retreat at Bowles Rocks

We are happy to announce coming to Southern Sandstone this spring, a Climb and Yoga Day Retreat at Bowles Rocks on Saturday 4th March 2017.

The day retreat will be run by local entrepreneurs Catherine Gallagher and Sandra Berlin who have a wealth of experience in both yoga and sandstone climbing. The day is open to all abilities, so it’s a great opportunity to come along and have a go. You will learn yoga teachniques and climbing skills required for the unique Southern Sandstone rock. So book your space for an active healthy day.

When: 4th March, 10am to 4pm

Where: Bowles Outdoor Centre, Sandhill Lane, Eridge Green, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 9LW

Who: Beginners to Intermediate climbers and yogis (no previous experience needed. Either for climbing or yoga)

How Much: £50 introductory offer

About the event:
Climb & Yoga is going to Southern Sandstone this spring with a very special day at the beautiful Bowles Rocks.
The day will start indoors with a 2-hour yoga workshop led by Sandra Berlin. You will be guided through concentration and relaxation techniques followed by an energising flow of standing poses and back arches. Ending with an introspective and soothing sequence of forward bends.

After the yoga session, there will be a pause for lunch with a feast of healthy refreshments and herbal teas provided by award-winning vegetarian chef Zipporah Santer.

For the second half of the day, Sandra will join forces with local climbing expert, Catherine Gallagher for a fun 3-hour rock climbing session, which will teach you essential skills for climbing Kent & Sussex’s unique Southern Sandstone.

Everyone will receive a special gift pack to take home.

Spaces are very limited. Book here.
Check out their Facebook page here.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Evolution Climbing Centre to Close

(c) Steve Collins - http://momofoto.500px.com & https://www.instagram.com/stevemomofoto/ 
Evolution Indoor Climbing Centre in Crowborough, East Sussex will sadly be closing their doors for the final time on Sunday 29th January 2017.

Evolution has been around for many years and was the 'go to' indoor wall for the area at the time.  Used by many as a facility to train throughout the winter and many beginners as a means to take their first steps into the world of climbing.

Undoubtedly, as other climbing facilities have sprung up in the area, the impact will have taken its toll.  Including the growth of other shops and online businesses.

Evolution is very much part of the Tullis family business legacy which started selling rock climbing gear to the local climbers back in the mid 50's.

The Tullis family has also over the years been a major contributor to sandstone as a whole and particularly Harrison's where both Terry and his son Chris have both served as wardens, and through doing so have very much left their mark in sandstone history.

We certainly wish them well regarding any future plans they may have!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Video - Harrison’s and Toad Rocks Freerunners

Check out this short video from 'Storm Freerun'. Although we wouldn't endorse freerunning on the delicate sandstone rock, due to the possible impact with fragile holds, the video comes across rather atmospheric and has some great aerial footage of the crag.  The main location featured is Harrison's Rocks and also Toad Rocks and they manage to capture the rocks beauty quite well. These guys certainly wouldn't have any problems getting across to Isolated Buttress!

Storm Freerun is a UK based, professional Parkour / Free running team. They specialise in delivering high impact choreographed performances for live shows, stunt work and corporate events and like to make their videos go viral.