Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Harrison's Rocks Carpark Update - 26th May 2020

Update: As of Tuesday 26th May 2020 the carpark and toilet facilities at Harrison's Rocks will be open from 8am to 10pm. Camping is still closed

Please remember that COVID-19 social distancing is still required. Please follow the government guidelines keeping 2 metres apart from anyone outside your household. A number of climbing groups have been forsaking this rule and putting others at risk.  

Crag/Rocks - Open
Campsite - Closed
Toilet Facilities - Open (8am - 10pm)
Carpark - Open (8am - 10pm)

Friday, 22 May 2020

Bank Holiday Weekend 23rd, 24th, 25th May 2020 - COVID-19 Update

We are expecting high numbers of climbers in the area this weekend. Currently Harrison’s is one of the busiest crags in the UK right now and Eridge and Stone Farm are seeing significant numbers of climbers which is causing issues with parking as well as the ability to keep a distance from one another. These areas are designated as honey pot areas and the BMC has put out its own advice regarding visiting them. Southern Sandstone is a popular choice with climbers in the London area and the southeast, and at this time we ask for climbers to be very aware of the restrictions in place and to consider whether they should make the journey this weekend. If you do visit the area then please consider other venues as an alternatives

We are still in a COVID-19 situation and people need to protect themselves, each other and the rock by following Covid-19 rules and the Code of Practice. Leave bouldering brushes at home and follow cleaning advice.

Harrison’s Rocks
CAR PARK - The carpark closes at 8PM. There has been a number of incidents with climbers being locked in. All climbers at this time should wind-down climbing at 7PM currently and return to their cars and leave before 8PM. Do not park elsewhere such as forge farm access, as this is causing a major issue for residents. The parking times are temporary and are due to the COVID-19 situation. Please remind fellow climbers if at Harrison's. If you have any queries as a climber about the current parking situation then please contact access@thebmc.co.uk 
Pay and display now in operation.

CAMPING - This is currently illegal in the UK due to COVID-19.

Harrison’s Rocks - Bow Window and Bow Window Flake
Birds are nesting so do not climb at this time.

Harrison’s Rocks - Isolated Buttress
We have seen large numbers of climbers lowering off and abseiling off the buttress. Inexperienced climbers should avoid this buttress if they are unable to comply with the rules. 

Stone Farm
Parking has been an issue due to parking overload in the area particularly along Admiral’s Bridge Lane and W Hoathly Road. Please respect the limited parking at these locations and utilise the carpark at the far end of Admiral’s Bridge lane or the carpark in Legsheath Lane. If these are full also, please climb elsewhere.

Eridge Rocks
Due to the continued closure of Broadwater Nature Reserve car park. Warren Farm Lane and its parking is very restricted at the moment. Warren Farm Lane is an access road and residents some of which who are elderly need to ensure the access road is clear for emergency services and supplies, as well as for themselves. If this carpark is full, do not park elsewhere along the lane. 

Eridge Rocks - Romulus
Birds are nesting so do not climb at this time.

Bowles Rocks
Bowles Rocks continues to be closed until further notice.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Covid-19 Update - 13th May 2020

Commencing Wednesday 13th May 2020, climbing will be permitted once again in England.

Crag suspension has been lifted in the Southern Sandstone area though Bowles Rocks remains closed until further notice.

The BMC have now published their advice here and it is vital that all climbers adhere to the recommendations given and that social distancing should still be followed.

Climbing will be permitted alone, with others in your household or with one other person at a time from outside your household keeping two metres apart at all times. Please do not meet up with groups of friends. Ideally climb with members of your own household. Everyone needs to be responsible and not contribute to the spread of this virus. Do not travel in cars together if you are not from the same household. No overnight stays, day trips only.

Social distancing and hygiene

  • Stay at home if you are showing symptoms of C-19 or self-isolating.

  • Maintain social distancing of at least 2m from anyone outside of your household.

  • Be cautious of touching surfaces and shared equipment. Be committed to hand hygiene.

Climbing and hill walking

  • Scale back your ambitions: be cautious, choose objectives within your technical and physical limits to minimise the risk of accidents and injury.

  • Avoid very popular areas: seek out less frequented venues, be flexible and have backup plans to avoid overcrowding.

  • Check the BMC Regional Access Database: avoid crags with known nesting birds or access issues.

  • Where possible, stay local. Whilst this is not part of the government’s guidance, staying local will reduce the load on national parks and rural communities whilst they are sensitive to increased visitor numbers.

England – specific guidance

For climbers and hill walkers in England only, the new guidance contains two key points which will come into effect on 13 May 2020:

  • Whilst not being explicit, it appears that all outdoor activities and sports (including all types of climbing and walking) will be permitted alone, with others in your household or with one other person at a time from outside your household keeping two meters apart at all times.

  • Travel is unrestricted, but importantly different regulations in Wales and Scotland do not allow travel across these borders. Where possible, stay local which will reduce the load on rural communities. 

As the situation develops, the BMC will adapt their guidance. At this point the key message is to be:

  • Cautious in your actions
  • Respectful of local communities
  • Extremely vigilant in avoiding transmitting the virus

The status of the BMC and privately owned crags is now as follows:

Harrison's Rocks
Crag - OPEN (from 13th May 2020)
Car park - OPEN - 8am to 8pm (Free Parking Currently)
Toilet Facility -  CLOSED
Camping - CLOSED (No overnight stays what so ever)

Stone Farm
Crag - OPEN (from 13th May 2020)
Parking is heavy restricted here here so please take this into consideration.

Bowles Rock
Crag - CLOSED Until further notice.

High Rocks
Crag - CLOSED Until further notice.

All other crags are open though please respect any crags who may have implamented other restrictions. 

Visits to all crags are only suitable for those able to safely make day trips. Do not rush out to the crags as we are expecting a high volume of visitors. Follow all the advice and as ever, please set up your ropes correctly and follow the code of practice to ensure the rock is not damaged. Those who do not will be asked politely to conform with the rules and regulations.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Covid-19 Update - 11th May 2020

In response to last night's confusing Prime Minister's update, the BMC will be reviewing the government's plan document in more detail when it is released later today (Monday 11th May 2020). Climbers have understandably been keen to know if this new announcement means that climbing can resume, but at this time please note that the BMC's advice is still in force and climbing is still currently suspended at all Southern Sandstone crags and all facilities remain closed at this time. 

We will keep you up-to date if anything changes and keep an eye on our COVID-19 page here.

A strategy concerning how Southern Sandstone crags will reopen in the future is currently in development, but please do not expect any overnight changes and note the BMC's advice at all times.

The full BMC article can be read on the BMC Website. 

Friday, 8 May 2020

BMC launches Covid-19 proposed recovery plan for climbing and hill walking

The BMC have put together a new recovery plan for the next stages out of lockdown to put to the government for approval.

Over the past two weeks, the newly formed BMC Covid-19 Working Group has been working hard to develop proposals for phased re-opening of the outdoors for hill walking and climbing. The culmination of this, so far, is a Covid-19 recovery plan for climbing & hill walking which has been submitted to English and Welsh government ministers and departments.

Rob Dyer, BMC Access & Conservation Officer (England) said: “This recovery plan aims to give government ministers and their advisors clear information specific to climbing and hill walking on how access to the outdoors for our activities could resume in a safe way as lockdown eases. We eagerly await the announcements from the Prime Minister expected this weekend and hope that this recovery plan influences thinking on a safe return to outdoor activities when lockdown begins to phase out. This is only the beginning of course and there is lots yet to be done, particularly once government strategy is made public, so watch this space as the situation develops.”

A link to the BMC website and recovery plan can be found here.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Harrison's Rocks Climbing Restrictions (1st Tuesday of the Month - 9:00 to 13:00)

Please be advised that once climbing resumes, the BMC/HRMG have given the go ahead for a naturist climbing event to take place once a month on Tuesday mornings at Harrison's Rocks between 9:00 and 13:00.

It is hoped to start in May and run for 5 months.

Please note that the areas from Set Square Arete RF p240 to Meat Cleaver (Zig-zag Wall) RF p268 will be restricted to only those participating during those times.

As you can imagine, it was a very odd request but in the face of inclusiveness we wanted to oblige where possible.

It is also our understanding that similar events may also be run (though yet to be announced) at Chimera Climbing and Volume One climbing walls. The event will also help with the creation of a new Sandstone and Tunbridge Wells climbers "Stone Nudes" calendar of which all donations will go towards the a yet undesignated local charity. Maybe we will see some familiar faces in there!

When events are being run, we kindly ask all those not wishing to participate to respectfully avoid the areas described. Signage and screens will erected on the day.

(April Fool)

Monday, 23 March 2020

COVID-19 - Southern Sandstone - Update



Crag/Rocks - Closed
Campsite - Closed
Toilet Facilities - Closed
Carpark - Closed

Crag/Rocks - Closed

Bowles Rocks - Closed

Do not - Travel unless it's essential.
Do not - Go climbing or hill walking. 
Avoid - All but essential contact with anyone.

Do - Keep a social distancing of 2 meters at all times.
Do - Stay local.

BMC Statement
The BMC advice to all climbers and hill walkers is now simple: climbing and hill walking are not activities requiring essential travel. Stay local, and put your climbing and hillwalking on hold. This applies to all types of climbing and mountain activities, from bouldering to ski mountaineering.
More information from the BMC article can be found here.

SSC Statement 
It’s been a fairly big eye opener this weekend for COVID-19 self-isolation methods. The fantasy that the crags would be quiet were destroyed with overcrowding on the crags, roads, small villages and towns close to them.  

Regrettably this has meant that social distancing for these recreational activities has fallen flat on its face. 

With the current situation, climbing communities across the world are pulling together to help stop the spread of this virus. Indoor walls have closed and those wanting to venture outside are now taking a stand to help promote the stay at home policy. 

There has understandably been discussions concerning southern sandstone and access to the rocks in recent days to help control the potential spread. Now we ask all climbers to stay at home. This item will be used for updates for all access for COVID-19.

UKClimbing Statement
"Though the weather is finally fine, and we feel the urge to get out as much as anyone, we at UKClimbing believe that all climbing should now cease, and we will be promoting that message loud and clear". 

UKC Logbooks - Restriction
The following information is now being published on all UK logbooks

"Due to the ongoing spread of Covid-19, please abstain from climbing outside.

At UKC we are all climbers and we understand the strong urge to be outdoors as the weather is finally improving, but we feel this is no longer socially acceptable. You can read our statement here.

We have suspended the UKC Logbooks Top Ascents and Conditions pages and we will no longer accept ascents dated from 23rd March onwards. You can still upload your historic ascents.

UKClimbing Team"

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Harrison's Rocks Campsite - Closed (Covid-19)

The Harrison's Rocks campsite was due to re-open on the 1st April 2020 but will now remain closed until further notice due to advice given concerning the implications of Covid-19. 

Kate Harris of the Forestry Commission noted the following:

"We had been working on the basis that the campsite would reopen of the 1st April.  In light of recent developments however, and to ensure that we are meeting guidance regarding social distancing, I have been instructed to keep the campsite shut."

However, the Forestry Commission are still planning to have the car park open for the longer summer hours as of the 1st April even if the campsite is closed. This also includes the toilet facilities which are open.

The proposed gate closures for the summer months will be 10pm as of the 1st April 2020. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Volunteers Needed - Clearance Work at Stone Farm Rocks on Sat 14th & Sun 15th March 2020

Photo by Daimon Beail

The BMC is seeking volunteers to help with clearance work at the BMC-owned and managed Stone Farm Rocks on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th March 2020.

As part of the BMC's Stone Farm Rocks Management Plan (agreed by Natural England), a number of trees are being felled on 28th February. Harrison’s Rocks Management Group (HRMG) have asked for help with the clearance of arisings, building revetments, blocking off unwanted footpaths and associated work. Consequently, there is plenty to be done and a good turnout would be very much appreciated.

When and Where?
Meet at the main entrance to the Rocks, below the Inaccessible Boulder at 09:30 on each day where there will be a full briefing explaining what work is to be done, where the work is and giving a full safety briefing. The last part is important and particularly so for those who may join later. If that applies to you, please find the person in charge before starting any work.

What to bring?
If you have a bowsaw, loppers or pruners etc. please bring them along, but there is plenty of work to be done that doesn’t require tools.

Please wear old clothes and boots, gardening gloves and waterproofs if it’s wet.
Bring a packed lunch and a drink.

Where to park?
Parking is limited and there is an overflow car park which is in the Rockfax guidebook for info.

First Aid and Medical Conditions
We will have a qualified first aider on site both days but if you have first aid qualifications, please let the day’s event co-ordinator know.

If you have a medical condition that we should know of, please inform the Event Co-ordinator or the first aider before starting work.

Please confirm your attendance on the BMC Facebook events page link here.

BMC Event: Stone Farm Volunteer Work Weekend 14-15 March 2020

This event was organised as a major part of implementing the Stone Farm Management Plan that had been drawn up by Michael Phelan in 2019, and agreed by the BMC’s Harrison’s Rocks Management and Land Management Groups. Because the site is a SSSI, English Nature’s agreement to the plan was obtained and they gave a Consent to cover the work in March 2019, which lasted to March 2021. A proviso was included in the Consent that any tree felling had to be done in the winter months and before the end of February to avoid birds nesting. Although, we could have delayed the tree felling to 2021, we wanted to get it done sooner rather than later, and it was done on the 28th February. A further complication was caused by the Coivid-19 crisis, and to this end Michael provided hand washing facilities on site. The event took place an just before the BMC stopped all its events. With the wisdom of hindsight, there was an element of social gathering in the Event but most of the time participants were working on their own.
We had arranged for the tree surgeon to cut the trees into lengths that could be carried by volunteers to where we needed them, and in one case for a much longer length that to be left exactly where we wanted it. The objective of the workday was to move to clear the arisings, build revetments, block off unwanted footpaths and to do associated work, including putting up one of the new BMC signs at the lower entrance to the Rocks in a position that would be more readily seen after the entrance had been repositioned by the owners of the land, now a vineyard, to the south of the Rocks.
Attendance was somewhat lower than at the Harrison’s workdays in January but a total of 19 person days work were done, including four people who attended on both days. Most of the tree felling was aimed at opening up a group of previously shaded and usually green boulders between Stone Farm Pinnacle and the Inaccessible Boulder, including the Hippo Buttress / The Pleasure Dome. English Nature had previously advised us to arrange for a bryophyte survey to be on these boulders, which Michael arranged and this showed that there were no rare species of moss that needed to be protected. Stone Farm is now more popular with boulderers than climbers, and it is hoped that opening up this area will relieve the pressure on the popular bouldering areas.
On the workdays:
New revetments were dug in, and old ones were reinforced for approximately 100 metres along the foot of the Rocks.
Steps were dug in in various places, particularly between the foot of Undercut Wall and the small oak tree that we want to save.
A number of unwanted footpaths were closed off with logs and arisings.
Mud/sand was brought up from the bridleway and were used for infilling the revetments and covering the path below the Rock.
New posts were put in for the new notice board and the new BMC sign at the entrance below the Rocks.
The work that still remains to be done includes putting in bolts in the Stone Farm Crack area, where the rotting tree stumps that used be used for top-rope belays had been removed during the previous year, and building a ‘Bug Hotel’ using some of the remaining logs.

Friday, 7 February 2020

UKC - 2019 South East Roundup by Tom Gore

Tom Gore has recently released his 2019 round-up of the what's been happening in the climbing world in the south-east. Click here for the full story on UKC.

Remember that all new ascents are logged on the new routes page which has proved to be a valuable resource to many.  

In addition to the climbing update in this article, there has also been a significant about of work undertaken at Harrison's Rocks and Stone Farm which has been reported previously on this site. Check out the News Index or the HRMG page for links to other stories on this front. 

Monday, 27 January 2020

36 Volunteers at the BMC Harrison's Rocks Volunteering Weekend!

Photos - Bob Moulton and Christopher Stone

Saturday 18th January saw 29 awesome people head out to Harrison’s Rocks to undertake Volunteering work for the season ahead. Tim Skinner the HRMG coordinator had a plentiful list of work which needed doing including undertaking the tree felling clearance work from a few weeks previous. 

Climbers from all over the south east came along and contributed greatly with a fun and collaborative atmosphere felt by all. The amazing weather helped somewhat! 

Master chef Michael Phelan coordinated the work on the Sunday and 7 amazing volunteers came out to help conclude some of the work that was started on Saturday. 

The work undertaken is extremely valuable to help the rocks and environment remain maintained for climbers and walkers to enjoy. It also greatly helps erosion issues, which if left unchecked, can have significant consequences. 

It was a very successful weekend and all members of the HRMG are extremely grateful to all those who came out and volunteered and we would love to see you all again at the next volunteering weekend.
Photo - Christopher Stone
Photo - Christopher Stone

Photo - Christopher Stone

Photo - Christopher Stone

Friday, 3 January 2020

Volunteers Needed - Southern Sandstone BMC Clearance Weekend - 18th & 19th January 2020

The BMC are seeking volunteers to help with clearance work at Harrison's Rocks on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th January 2020.

The work will consist of clearing the arisings from recent tree cutting, moving the trunks to habitat piles or where they are required for revetment work and lining footpaths with the brash.

There will also be other work cutting back sycamore and other saplings that have re-grown in areas cut in previous years and any new or replacement revetment work that is required.

Consequently, there is plenty to be done and a good turnout would be very much appreciated.

All volunteers are to meet in the main car park at 9.30am. If you arrive late, please head on over to the rocks and ask for the coordinator. Please let the coordinator know if you have any first aid qualifications.

You can view the BMC facebook event here.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Future of the Open Meetings

The last open meeting held on the 21/10/2019 was extremely poorly attended and as such the previous proposal for a once a year meeting that was originally rejected is be reviewed again. 

It is expected that the next open meeting will not take place until September 2020 with ideas to have it as a more inclusive BMC meeting, which may attract more numbers. The decline in numbers is primarily due to the lack of interest in these kinds of forums, and feedback news and discussions generally now take place online. 

Despite this fact, a once a year meeting would still present an ample opportunity for people to feedback and discuss in person items both past present and future if they so wish. Further updates on this next meeting will be announced nearer the time.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Chimera Canterbury to Open on 29th November 2019 at 6pm

Beth Algieri (C) Chimera Climbing
Chimera's new climbing wall based in Canterbury is set to open on Friday 29th November 2019 at 6pm. This is Canterbury's first dedicated climbing centre which is on par with other bouldering centres of its kind. Although smaller than its bigger brother in Tunbridge wells, this wall is expected to be just as popular. 

Perhaps as an added bonus is the fact that the new Centre Manager will be none-other than Sheridan Bridal who brings over 30 years of indoor and outdoor climbing experience to the role. Sheridan who was a key part of the Mile End climbing wall team previously, also brings amongst other things, creative route setting skills.

Chimera says this about their new Wall:

"Our modern indoor bouldering centre offers a fresh and exciting climbing experience for people of all abilities.  The gym has a variety of different angled walls offering unique challenges, as well as a dedicated training area with campus boards, fingerboards and more.

Stock up on those climbing essentials – our in-house shop sells chalk, tape, and plenty more. If you are looking for a present, we offer gift vouchers too.

Hungry? Grab a snack from our fully licensed cafĂ© or perhaps a well-earned drink after your session.  

Don’t forget – we organise outdoor rock climbing trips throughout the year so if you want to transfer those indoor skills to the local rock, let us know by checking out Chimera Outdoors."

For more information visit the Chimera - Canterbury website

Chimera Canterbury, 
Unit 1
22 Maynard Road

Situated ten minutes walk from Canterbury East train station.

The below photos courtesy of Chimera Climbing (c) are of the new wall in Canterbury and the dozens of new problems all waiting to be solved!

Monday, 21 October 2019

Bowles Rocks - Public Access Under Threat

The Bowles Rocks Trust is a non-profit making charity that supports children and young people to achieve their potential through outdoor education.  It should be seen as a privilege to climb at Bowles Rocks as it is on private land, with just a small fee to pay to climb there. However, like on any private land, there are rules to follow. The majority of climbers follow these rules, but some spoil it for the rest and on this occasion is threatening future public access.

Bowles have issued a statement concerning antisocial behaviour.

“Bowles are having issues with a minority of climbers. We are having increasing incidences of climbers not respecting that we are a charity for young people and will always have young children on site. The specifics are climbers that are coming into Bowles and taking part in antisocial activities, urinating in bushes and trees and allowing dogs to run loose and uncontrolled. These actions have caused huge problems with the school groups they have had in and are threatening their ability to provide a safe environment for the young people.

We are taking a number of actions, anyone suspected of antisocial activities will be reported to the police and CCTV and number plates will also be handed over. Anyone urinating in bushes will be permanently banned from using Bowles, as will repeated offenders who refuse to control their dogs.

If the issue continues, we will be forced to taking further action which could include (at its most extreme) banning climbing when we have groups in. As this would mean no climbing for about 90% of the year and only open during a few weeks in winter, this is not an action we would like to take. 

We hope that a stricter approach and help from the majority of respectful climbers, that this action will not be needed. Bowles would like to ask climbers to spread the word that the above behaviours are not acceptable.”

Bowles is amongst the three most popular climbing destinations in the south-east and the loss of access would be a huge blow to all. High Rocks still has no access and the effects have been felt across the sandstone climbing community.