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.   

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Southern Sandstone Open Meeting - Sunday 20th October 2019



The next Southern Sandstone Meeting will be held on 
Sunday the 20th October 2019 
at the new time of: 

13:30


Bowles Rocks Outdoor Centre
The Lodge Bar
1st Floor (take the external stairs to the left side of the building)
Sandhill Lane
TN3 9LW


This is an opportunity to give feedback and ideas relating to all things Southern Sandstone.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Eridge Rocks - Update 2019 - New Climbing Restrictions.

Further to a site meeting with the Reserves Manager of Sussex Wildlife Trust, the BMC have agreed to ask climbers not to climb or boulder on Yew Crack Buttress (SSC Rockfax Guide Page 130 - 131) due to the increase in erosion. This covers climbs/boulder problems 'Yew Crack/The Leaf to 'Earthrise Surprise'.   Earthrise is not covered by this restriction but if there is damage increase then there will, unfortunately, be no option but to add this to the restrictions also. The below sign should now be in place at the Buttress.

Eridge has become a hot spot for bordering in recent years, primarily due to some of the access issues faced at High Rocks. Eridge is notoriously sandy in places and excessive brushing with prohibited items like bouldering brushes have caused damage to the rocks in certain places. It's vital that we (climbers) take action to ensure climbing at Eridge can continue. Ensure to follow the code of practice to the letter! Climbing at Eridge is a privilege and we need to ensure we can all continue to enjoy climbing and bouldering by protecting the rock. 

Climbing at Eridge was once banned and has only been permitted since 1997 thanks to the Sussex Wildlife Trust and BMC's access agreement.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Stone Farm - Update 2019










Recently there has been some work undertaken at Stone Farm. The first is the installation of new signs at the rocks. This is a refresh of key information with updates to bring things in line with the most recent code of practice. It is the first area to be updated and Harrison's will follow soon. 

If you look closley you will see new illustrations of the type of brushes permitted for use at the crag and some additional shots which you may have seen in the Rockfax guide. When the Rockfax guide was written, the new code of practice was being produced at the same time.  It was decided that it was a good idea for these images produced for the Rockfax guide, to also be used in the BMC publications on the subject. Now we're very happy to see additional photos being used as part of the new BMC notice boards which work very well. 
Please note: If you now see anyone doing something which is not permitted, kindly point them to the sign for further information.     


On Sunday 15 September 2019, The HRMG and Members of the East Grinstead climbing club got stuck into removing two very old tree stumps above Cat Wall and Pine Buttress (Rockfax Guide Page 456 and 457). They did an excellent job and both stumps have now been successfully removed. Clearance work like this is hard but rewarding work. The tree stumps in question had to be removed as they were rotten through. Reports afterwards noted that it was in fact easier to remove than anticipated, which shows how important it was that it was removed. 

Bolts will be installed at some point to replace the stumps which were used as anchors. The HRMG is also looking at other areas which could well benefit from bolts also.  

Friday, 13 September 2019

Stone Farm – Area Closure 15.09.2019

Maintenance work will be taking place this Sunday (15.09.2019) above Cat Wall and Pine Buttress at Stone Farm - (Rockfax Guide Page 456 and 457). 

This is while work begins on the removal of two tree stumps.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

ITV Report on Southern Sandstone

As part of ITV's 'Spirit of the South' series, Southern Sandstone has been featured.

You can watch the full film report here.


Monday, 2 September 2019

Volume 1 Climbing - A New Bouldering Centre in West Sussex

A new bouldering wall will be opening in Autumn 2019 near East Grinstead in West Sussex. This welcomed addition to the South East is brought to you by Director and Co-Founders Belinda Fuller and Ben Read.

Belinda is a member of the GB coaching team and will be responsible for ensuring that the highest standard of coaching will be available at Volume 1. Belinda also has an impressive resumé when it comes to climbing in the higher grades for bouldering and sport climbing, and has been running her business 'Be Climbing' for the last 7 years.

Ben has managed two climbing walls in the past, with an impressive resumé of Southern Sandstone ascents. Ben has a wealth of outdoor industry experience and previously co-authored the Sandstone bouldering guide.

Their aim is "to provide a modern, premium bouldering centre that is accessible and inclusive for everyone."

Situated in a 12,000 sqft building with over 550 sqm of bouldering surface, Volume 1 will be the largest dedicated bouldering centre in Surrey and Sussex.

Their website can be found here: https://www.volume1climbing.co.uk/

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Bowles - Temporary Closure

Please take note: Bowles will be closed on Tuesday 27th August until the morning of Friday 30th August.

Bowles Facebook page reports:

"Bowles is going to be closed from early on Tuesday 27 August until the morning of Friday 30 August as we're having the driveway resurfaced.
This will include the car park, so the whole centre including the rocks are closed during that period. Thank you."

Monday, 15 July 2019

Air Ambulance - Kent Surrey Sussex


On Wednesday 22nd May 2019 we quietly reported that a hold
broke on Unclimbed Wall at Harrison's Rocks, which resulted in a young climber being badly hurt and hospitalised. What we slightly brushed over was the fact that a rather lengthy and complex rescue operation was undertaken to safely take the young climber to hospital. In edition to the great work the paramedics did and as well as the climbers who stepped up to help on the the day (luckily some of those climbers were also first aid trained) were the HART Team (Hazardous Area Response Team) who were on site to help evacuate the young climber and did a fantastic job. 

Another key and impressive aspects of the rescue that day was the timely first responders who flew in as part of the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey & Sussex and where the first doctors on the scene and played an important and critical part of the operation. They are a charity based organisation with their headquarters based at Rochester airport and their helicopters hangared and maintained at Redhill Aerodrome. 

Southern Sandstone Climbs set up a small Facebook fundraiser of which £200 was raised for the air ambulance. Therefore a big thank you is needed to those that supported this fundraiser by sharing on social media and especially those who donated! The Rockfax guidebook author Daimon Beail headed down to Rochester airport headquarters to donate a copy of the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide for the team. Daimon was amongst a small number of climbers who were first at the scene of the incident when it happened and helped guide the rescue teams in. He intends that the donated guidebook will assist rescue teams with crag locations for any future incidents. 

In addition to the fundraising done on that day, Chimera Climbing Wall in Royal Tunbridge Wells will be holding their annual summer party on the 20th July 2019 to help raise money for two charities. The well known 'Climbers Against Cancer' charity and for the first time 'Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex'.


Information for the event is as follows.

"The Summer Party preparations are continuing at pace - as well as prizes rolling in from local businesses for the charity raffle, the pizza van has been booked, the gin ordered and music sorted.

The staff have dusted off their best-worst Hawaiian shirts, the suppliers will be bringing lots of cool gear down and the route setters have been cooking up some truly wicked blocs for your climbing pleasure.

And if you aren't the competitive type never fear, there will be routes for all ages and abilities as this is a fun comp, and everyone is welcome to party whether they climb or not!

A fun comp for all ages and abilities, plenty of food and drink, music, games, face painting and so much more! All to raise money for two charities - CAC and the Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex. 

Remember to wear your worst Hawaiian shirt - prize for the most eye-catchingly awful shirt on show!"

20th July 2019, 3pm until late. Get it in the diary.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 4

On Sunday 9th June 2019, work continued at Harrison's Rocks regarding bolting. It was supposed to be a shorter work day, but took an unexpected turn regarding additional resin and bolt fixing. 



The area of the unclimbed wall had to be closed and we thank all those at the crag that day for your patience and support whilst we undertook the work. We would also like to thank people who gave us their additional support on the day, your appreciation of the work being done is very much appreciated. 

6 bolts were installed this time (3 sets in total) and 3 bolts removed plus 2 resin fixes.



1. Pullover - Solstice -  The Scoop Area  -  RF Page 264
To add better and easier protection to the climbs here.



2. Solstice -  Unclimbed Wall  -  RF Page 267
To protect the side face and reduce incorrect loading on bolts on the adjacent climb. 




3. Hangover 3 -  Long Layback Area - RF Page 194
This one was originally down for a re-resin and fix but eventually needed a complete removal due to stress fractures detected around the front bolt. Therefore, both bolts needed to be removed and relocated further back. A 120cm/8ft (ish) sling is now needed to protect this climb or alternatively use a Demma rope system



4. Unclimbed Wall  -  Unclimbed Wall -  RF Page 266
This was the removal of the old front bolt, which was no longer suitable for use. It was also filled in with resin to plug the hole.



5. Coffin Corner  Circle Area  -  RF Page 213
The front bolt has now been re-secured.



6. Stupid Effort  -  What Crisis  -  RF Page 204
Front left and rear bolts were now re-secured.


For now, this brings this rather large bolting and clearance project to a close. There are still items on the list, but these will be addressed separately and as part of another project.

In total since April, 45 anchor bolts have been installed, which makes for 22 and a half sets in total. Three bolts re-secured and 5 bolts removed. A full list of work can now be found on our bolts pageAdditional updates will also be found here in the future. 

Please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel. Please see our bolts page for more information.

 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"

Friday, 7 June 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 3

On Sunday 1st June, an exhausting session of bolt work was carried out to further the work concerning the Harrison's Rocks Bolting Project. The continuing aim is to install new sets of bolts to form top-rope anchors on areas of rock where inadequate protection is currently present. It was a hot day and water supplies were diminished, and the team pretty much crawled back to the car in a slightly delirious state. 


The isolated buttress was closed for a few hours and we apologise for this, but it was deemed necessary while the work was carried out. 

We would also like to thank people who gave us their support on the day, your appreciation of the work being done is very much appreciated. 







13 bolts were installed this time, making for six additional sets, and one back-bolt replacement. This now means that the work regarding opening up the Crucifix Wall, Wanderfall Wall and Birch Tree Wall is in essence, completed. The wall still needs some cleaning work, but all in all is in good condition and has become very popular, which was the aim regarding bringing new life back to these walls. Crucifix Wall is something for the harder climber, and hopefully, people will give these climbs a go, now that they are adequately protected. 



1. Wailing Wall  -  Isolated Buttress  -  RF Page 249
The back bolt was removed by hand after what appeared to be incorrect loads placed on it from the wrong direction back in May 2018. This may have been related to rope setups used for getting on and off the buttress. There was a delay regarding the replacement of this due to safe access to the buttress and ongoing bolting research, where we were only in a position to start work this year. It was probably the most time-consuming bolt to replace on the whole project due to the need to close the buttress, access it and brining up the equipment, as well as giving it time to set.  



2. Biceps Buttress - Finger Popper -  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
The thought behind this and something which has been done elsewhere, is that the front bolt is for Biceps Buttress and the back bolt which is angled to the left is for Finger Popper. They are connected so one bolt acts as a backup bolt to one another.



3. Crucifix / Hector's House  -  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
A straight forward placement. To protect both routes.







4. Corner  -  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
This climb is often out of condition but is slowly becoming more in condition than it used to be after the clearing work was done, but things could be a bit better, so still in the esoteric zone. The bolts are behind the block at the bottom of the above picture which is a little tricky to access compared to most and will probably not suit everyone on this occasion. 



5. Mischivas / Philippa  Crucifix Wall  -  RF Page 259
Put in place to bring life back to this great test piece and following on from the clearance work. 



6. Mister Splodge  -  Birch Tree Wall  -  RF Page 262
The decision was made to place these bolts on the lower shelf  in line with Birch Tree Wall + Variation. Primarily due to the angle at the top being rounded, so we could reduce rope cutting. It is still placed where the original finish was.



7. Tree Root -  Birch Tree Wall  -  RF Page 262 (ish)
This has been bolted for younger climbers and beginners, and is something a bit different. Primarily a down-climb, it was cleared up earlier this year and gives a bit more of a cleaner climb.



There is only a small amount of bolting left for this project and hopefully this will be completed this month (June). There are also some bolts that need some attention which have some slight movement in them but are ok to use, We will get to them.  



Again, please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel, (we have to keep saying this due to the Happy Valley incident). Please see our bolts page for more information.




 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"


Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Fallen Tree Removed at Harrison's Rocks


On Thursday 23rd May, the now rotten fallen tree found hanging over the left side of the Sewer walls and over the route Rowan Tree Wall RF page 220 was removed. The tree had been noted to be rotten, therefore had to be removed for safety purposes.

The work was executed with great results, which primarily meant that there was no damage done to the rock. If you think about this for a second, this is no easy task, as removing a tree in such a position without causing damage is no mean feat. 




This is good evidence as to how hollow the tree had become.


So all that is needed now is for you to update your guidebooks and scribble out that tree.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Harrison's Rocks - Bolting Project 2019 / 2020 - Stage 2








On Sunday 12th May, work continued concerning the Harrison's Rocks Bolting Project. The aim as before is to install new sets of bolts to form top-rope anchors on areas of rock where there is inadequate protection currently in place. Additionally, there is also the need to remove one or two bolts and replace them. 



All bolts, resin and equipment are supplied by the BMC and installed by some trained voluntary members of the BMC Harrison's Rocks Management Group. 

By being a member of the BMC (which all climbers should be in one form or another), you will be contributing to the Harrison's Rocks and Stone Farm climbing environment as a whole, along with many other things the BMC does for climbers. 



Here you can see the new bolts in comparison with the old ones which were removed and replaced. Please note that many of the bolts, which were placed well over 30 years ago, are still going strong, and a small number have been identified for advisory replacement over the next few years. It's also worth highlighting that the old smaller rear bolt as seen above, is only there as a backup bolt.





12 bolts were installed making for six further sets, which have been installed above the following:

1. Greasy Eliminate R / Directors  -  Pig Tail Slabs  -  RF Page 207

2. Big Cave Route 2 / Right Under Your Nose -  The Cave  -  RF Page 253

3. Forget-me-Not  -  Spider Wall  -  RF Page 254

4. Spider Wall  -  Spider Wall  -  RF Page 254

5. Wanderfall / Wander at Leisure  Wanderfall  -  RF Page 260

6. Birch Tree Wall + Variation  -  Birch Tree Wall  -  RF Page 262


The Pig Tail Slabs are now fully bolted and are expected to see more attention due to the ability to protect the routes better.




Bolting will continue in June with some access restrictions in some areas where it is taking place. Please remember that bolts can only be placed by authorised personnel. Please see our bolts page for more information.

 Excerpt from the Southern Sandstone Climbs Rockfax Guide

"There are many bolts on sandstone and all of them have been placed purely as top-rope anchors at the top of crags. There are no bolts actually on routes and they are never used to protect lead climbing.

Bolts on sandstone should not be regarded in the same way as bolts for leading climbing on limestone or other rock types. The softness of the rock means that there are special requirements when placing the bolts and they must not be used for any purpose other than setting up top-ropes. They are not designed for slacklines, zip wires or via ferrata. Excessive force placed on a bolt in the wrong direction may end up with the rock surrounding it failing and exploding in a sandy mess.
"