Monday, 25 July 2022

Eridge Rocks Climbing Access Agreement 2022


Some climbing restrictions at Eridge Rocks have now been lifted with a new climbing access agreement between The Sussex Wildlife Trust and the BMC now in place. Additionally, repairs to damaged rock caused by climbers/boulders in 2020 have now been completed. Eridge Rocks should only be visited by experienced sandstone climbers who can climb in biological sensitive climbing environments and are able to undertake advanced levels of delicate climbing techniques, rock protection methodology and have a full awareness of the climbing restrictions and the Southern Sandstone Code of Practice. Anyone not able to follow the Code of Practice and the special Eridge agreement plan, should not climb a Eridge Rocks.

Permitted and restricted areas shown in current printed guidebooks no longer apply, though there
is a significant Rockfax App update due in the autumn depicting up to date climbing information for the area. To assist further with permitted and restricted climbing areas, new wooden posts (See image below) have been installed to help identify these areas.



Use of chalk or other substitutes is prohibited on all climbs/boulder problems. 


New 2022 Climbing and Bouldering Agreement:

As well as adhering to the Sandstone Code of Practice; especially no brushing with boulder brushes & toothbrushes, remembering to clean your shoes before climbing and as well as the new rule of no chalk or substitutes, please observe the following:

Climbing/bouldering is only currently permitted in the following areas and between and including the following. 

Permitted Area 1 - Close to You to Thin Layback
Permitted Area 2 - Mosquito to More Cake for Me, 
Permitted Area 3 - Yew Crack to Fandango 
Permitted Area 4 - Optical Racer to Portcullis inclusive. 

Climbing/bouldering outside these areas is forbidden. 

Discussions are still taking place as to the area between the car park and the A26 and for the time being this area will remain closed for climbing/bouldering.

Additional

It’s important to note that climbing/bouldering by organised groups is still not permitted. 
Greenery of any kind is not to be removed, which includes any vegetation, ferns, or moss.  Clearance work can only be undertaken by The Sussex Wildlife Trust. Eridge Rocks remains a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and we are fortunate enough to have access to the area to climb.

Future Access Updates

In addition to the discussions taking place regarding access to the areas between the car park
and the A26, the areas where climbing/bouldering is allowed will be reviewed by The Sussex Wildlife Trust in consultation with the British Mountaineering Council every six years. This coincides with the SWT’s bryophyte surveys. The BMC will work with climbers and SWT to ensure guidelines are adhered to and the SWT reserve the right to close climbing on site or on particular climbs if guidelines are not being followed causing damage to the reserve. Under SWT supervision, the BMC are permitted to carry out shellac rock treatment to repair any damage to the rock surface caused by climbing on designated climbing routes. 

This is another delicate time in the history for climbing at Eridge Rocks and it is vital that climbers avoid behaviour that will lead to an all-out ban. Anyone encountering climbers or boulderers not following these new restrictions are encouraged speak to them directly and inform them of the new restrictions. 

It is incredibly important that the climbing community demonstrates its commitment to the new agreement to help keep Eridge Rocks open and with possible access to further areas at the crag. Check Southern Sandstone Climbs and the BMC RAD for updates.

Recognition 

Recognition should be given to all those involved both in and around this new access agreement. Graham Adcock, Tim Daniells, James Parsons, Bob Moulton, Ben Read, Rob Dyer, Robin Mazinke, Simon Barden, Adrian Paisey, Tim Skinner and Daimon Beail.  

Video

Ensure to watch the fantastic information video which includes additional and hi-lighted information. The video was produced by Jay Eddie  and written and presented by Ben Read. Many thanks to them both! 

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Southern Sandstone Open Meeting - 12.06.2022 (Chimera)


The next Southern Sandstone Open Meeting will be an ‘in-person’ meeting held at the Chimera Climbing Wall on Sunday 12th June 2022 at 18:15.

This is an opportunity to air your views in person, contribute ideas and meet fellow climbers who are passionate about Southern Sandstone Climbing. 

There will be further reports about climbing at Eridge and a round-up of all the outcrops.


Chimera is located at:

Chimera Climbing Wall
3 North Farm Road
High Brooms Industrial Estate
Tunbridge Wells
TN2 3DR

Google Map Link

Thursday, 5 May 2022

Eridge Rocks Update - May 2022



The owners, Sussex Wildlife Trust, have given permission to apply a limited amount of surface-hardening treatment to holds that were damaged in Summer 2020. 

When this has been completed, it is hoped that the BMC will be in a position to lift the voluntary restriction on climbing at Eridge Rocks this summer. 

The BMC and SWT have reviewed the agreement resulting in some changes to the areas where climbing is permitted and where it is prohibited in line with the changing pattern of where protected ferns, lichens, mosses and liverworts are growing on the rocks. 

SWT has also introduced a No chalk or substitutes policy for all climbs on the site. 

Details will be announced before the voluntary restriction is lifted together giving further information.

Until that time, climbing is still prohibited. 

Your continued support is greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

Harrison's Rocks Bolting Upgrade Work 2022 - Stage 3

Work continued on 03.04.2022 where further bolts were removed and clearance and repair work undertaken. 

The following routes had bolts installed to replace some of those removed on the 27.03.2022. 

Installs on 03.04.2022
  1. Birch Tree Crack   - Both Bolts 
  2. Senarra                 - Both Bolts
  3. Baskerville            - Back Bolt
  4. Elementary           - Back Bolt

Please note that routes with single bolts which are taped off will require alternative methods for setting up top ropes. If a setup method is not available then please treat the climb as temporarily closed.  
The BMC is now undertaking further assessments of bolts that may require replacement or relocation, and as such, some further climbs may need alternative methods for setting up if bolts have been removed or only taped single bolts are in place. 

Work to replace some further bolts removed is currently on hold until additional work is undertaken. 

Sossblitz will remain closed. Please avoid utilising other bolts to rig this line. 

Monday, 28 March 2022

Harrison's Rocks Bolting Upgrade Work 2022 - Stage 2




Work continued on 27.03.2022 where further bolts were removed and clearance and repair work undertaken. 

The following routes have had bolts removed and will require alternative methods for setting up top ropes. If a setup method is not available then please treat the climb as temporarily closed. Single bolts for climbs have been taped off to prevent climbers from setting up only from one bolt. 

Removals on 27.03.2022
  1. Big Cave Route 1  - Both Bolts
  2. Birch Tree Crack   - Both Bolts 
  3. Senarra                 - Both Bolts
  4. Baskerville            - Back Bolt
  5. Elementary           - Back Bolt

This completes the removal of now 17 bolts. In the next few weeks (weather permitting) bolting work will commence of which some areas will be closed when this work is taking place.

Additional repair work is taking place to repair the area of rock around the old back bolt of Sossblitz which collapsed due to an underlying fracture that was uncovered when the bolt was tested and removed. It is believed that water had been getting in under the concrete for many years and cased a cavity under the rock. The climb will be closed until repair work is completed which is being done in stages. 



Thursday, 24 March 2022

Harrison's Rocks BMC Workdays 12th & 13th March 2022 - Thank You!

A big thank you to those who came out to give their time and put back into the rocks and the Harrison's Environment. 

Lots of incredible work was done, so thank you!






Harrison's Rocks Bolting Upgrade Work 2022 - Stage 1


There are several bolts that are in the process of being replaced. 

This work is happening in stages and first involves a number of them being removed.

The following routes have had bolts removed and will require alternative methods for setting up top ropes. If a setup method is not available then please treat the climb as temporarily closed. Single bolts for climbs have been taped off to prevent climbers from setting up only from one bolt. 

This work is ongoing and some areas may be closed when further work is being undertaken. 

Removals on 12.03.2022
  1. Dark Chimney     - Both Bolts
  2. Casement Wall    - Back Bolt
  3. Sagittarius           - Back Bolt
  4. Stupid Effort        - Back Bolt
  5. What Crisis         - Back Bolt
  6. Slimfinger Crack - Back Bolt
  7. Horizontal Birch  - Back Bolt
  8. Sossblitz             - Back Bolt


Monday, 28 February 2022

Harrison's Work Day Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March 2022 - Volunteers Needed



A new sector has been cut at Harrison's as well as trees that were blown down in the recent storm. The Harrison’s Rocks Management Group (HRMG) are asking for help with the clearance work on Saturday 12th March 2022 and Sunday 13th March 2022.

There will be a nominated event coordinator on each day – Adrian Paisey on Sat the 12th and TBA on Sunday 13th March 2022. Please report to them in the car park prior to the event briefing and also ensure that if you arrive later, you report to them before starting any work.

The plan is to meet in the car park at Harrison’s 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.

The work will consist of clearing the arisings from the tree cutting, moving the trunks to habitat piles or where they are required for revetment work and lining footpaths with the brash.
There may also be other work cutting back Sycamore, Birch 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.
Parking is £4 a day at Harrison’s and it would help if you could share transport. The BMC will cover reasonable parking costs – please retain your ticket and let the person in charge on the day have them after the day’s work so that we can recover the costs.

If you have a bowsaw, loppers, pruners etc. please bring them along but there is plenty of work to be done that doesn’t require tools.
 
Old clothes and boots, gardening gloves and waterproofs if it’s wet. Please don’t wear your best ‘Arcteryx’ gear! Bring a packed lunch and a drink, please!
 
We will have a first aider on site both days but if you have first aid qualifications, please let the day’s event coordinator know.

Friday, 18 February 2022

Please Avoid all Sandstone Crags Today due to Storm Eunice (Update)

Please avoid all sandstone crags today (Friday 18th February 2022) due to Storm Eunice and the now red weather warning in effect. There is an extremely high risk of falling trees in the area.
Harrison's carpark is closed.
Storm Eunice is causing significant disruption and dangerous conditions in the area due to extremely strong winds.

---

Update: Trees down at Harrison’s Rocks. Please avoid the area this weekend (19/20 Feb)

The car park is also closed this weekend (19/20 Feb) whilst debris is cleared.


Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Southern Sandstone Round-Up 2021

 


Tom Gore's latest instalment of his 2021 Southern Sandstone Round-up has hit the digital press. 

For the full story on UKC click here.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Sandstone Open Meeting - Monday 18th October 2021 (18:30) - Via Zoom



The next open meeting will be on the Monday the 18th of October 2021 (18:30) - Via Zoom. This will be an opportunity to listen to updates, ask questions and contribute to  access, conservation and climbing related items for southern sandstone in general. To sign up, simply click on the link below.

https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMpduyqpj4tHdYy8h4Iz4HqjifsZ5MBjMb5

Overview Report

Introduction 
The format for these meetings is that we aim to limit the meeting to about one hour and we have no agenda. This report is an overview from HRMG/SVG to tell people what has happened since the last meeting. This update, which be read out in summary will followed by about an hour of general discussion when any matter can be raised including any questions raised by the update. Minutes are being taken of this meeting and will be available from the usual websites but they won't be on the agenda for the next meeting.
This meeting is again being held online, primarily because of the higher attendance that we had online. For the record the attendance figures at recent face-to-face meetings varied between 25 in October 2016 and 9 in October 2019; for virtual meetings it was 12 in September 2020 and 16 in May 2021.   
In 2022 we hope to be having the Sandstone Festival organised by Chris Stone, chair of the BMC London and South East Area Meeting, that was planned for 2020 but had to be postponed, which will include an open meeting.  Any thoughts on whether or not we should have a meeting in May and if so what form it should take will be welcome during the general discussion.

General
The historic system used for years was shown to be inadequate following a review and testing. It was discovered that we could not guarantee all the swaged links were as good as we wanted them to be. Added to that was the recommendation that both bolts be equalised to enhance the system currently in place. As such there was no choice but to remove the swaging used to connect the bolt pairs of bolts at Harrison’s, Stone Farm and Bull’s Hollow to improve safety for all users Please see the BMC article here: Changes to Southern Sandstone bolted anchors (thebmc.co.uk) . 
Further to the May Open Meeting most restrictions have now been lifted but some issues remain to be fully resolved. However, parking problems at some of the outcrops have continued and all such advice should continue to be observed. The BMC’s Regional Access Database  (the RAD) and  the Southern Sandstone Climbs website will be updated regularly and it is important that all climbers are aware of and following the advice.

The Sandstone Code of Practice (COP)
At the 11/5/21 meeting the change to the ‘climbing on wet rock’ clause in the COP proposed by HRMG was rejected and instead the meeting agreed that a working group be set up to consider the matter. The working group, consisting of Graham Adcock, Adrian Paisey, Mark Brewster, James Bouchard, Gerry Gilmartin and Paul Norris have considered other options and, for the moment, recommends that the text reverts to the existing (2017) clause, pending a full review of the COP. If this meeting is in agreement with this approach, the review will begin forthwith. There has also been some concern expressed that the BMC does not currently have funds allocated for this but, subject to agreement, costs could be covered locally through the Steve Durkin Sandstone Trust.

Harrison’s Rocks
HRMG’s next meeting is on 25th October
Tree Felling of the next phase of the Woodland Management Plan, below The Niblick  will take place over the winter and a work weekend will follow and notified to all in advance. HRMG will be considering a number of other site jobs that need to be done at its next meeting, including in the St Gothard’s area, some of these jobs may or may not be left until the work weekend following the tree felling. 

Resin/Shellac work: Graham Adcock has been out several times this year. Deep rope grooves have been noted and treated above Deadwood Crack, Slim Finger Crack and also above/left of Birch Crack, where there are recent bolts. The foot traverse on Boulder Bridge Route treate, which appears to be standing up well. There is still much to do 

Anchors: Daimon Beail and Emma Harrington have  installed new pairs of bolts above Rotten Stump Wall, Giants’ Ear and Small Wall, and have added new bolts to the existing pairs above Ejector, Belt and Braces and Unclimbed Wall. 
 
Stone Farm
Daimon and Emma have installed 5 pairs of bolts in the area where the tree stumps were taken down above the Stone Farm Crack area, and also a new pair of bolts above Moss Wall- Left Block at the far end of the Rocks. A repair that needs to be to made to  the revetments below the yew tree is  to be done in the Autumn by a small working party, possibly involving the EGCC.

Bowles
Bowles opened back to normal in August. Loz Reading reports, “We are aware than many key areas are losing ground height due to erosion, not helped by the fact the site is on a hill. We have just bought materials for stopping and repairing ground erosion under some key areas, the work will be carried out this winter. Loz will at the meeting to expand on this and answer any questions.

Eridge Green
Further to a meeting with the Reserves Manager for the Rocks in May and  a Sussex Wildlife Trust Ecologist colleague at Harrison’s on 4th May for Graham to demonstrate what was involved in the application of resin and show them it had been applied. The we have now heard from the Reserves Manager that the SWT have decided that they is are not against our treatment on the rocks, as long as it is in a very targeted and controlled way. The SWT are now consulting with Natural England (as the site is an SSSI) to ensure they agree with SWT’s assessment and to get all the relevant consents. The SWT want to review their agreement with the BMC and to assess all the climbing walls in relation to our biological survey data to ensure it is still a good fit for their reserve and is not causing any damage to sensitive flora. This might result in expanding the no climb zones. A review of the climbing restrictions is seen as inevitable as the agreement has been in place for 20 years and we will also be raising the possibility of removing the restrictions in certain areas. Meanwhile the BMC’s agreed voluntary suspension of climbing at the Rocks will remain in place but we hope that the overall suspension on climbing can be lifted next Spring.

High Rocks
Some Rhododendron work is needed.

Other Outcrops 
TWCC. They have asked for a small clearance of bramble etc. at Happy Valley, on the section immediately left of the Cheesewring.

The Steve Durkin Sandstone Trust
A meeting of the committee is imminent.

Bob Moulton - 12/10/21 

Friday, 24 September 2021

Changes to Southern Sandstone Bolted Anchors

Important changes to Southern Sandstone bolted anchors and required setups. Please note that all swaging will be removed over the next few days to accommodate the changes.

Rob Dyer of the BMC has published the following:

"Following a review of anchors used on Southern Sandstone, the way we use bolted anchors in the area is changing. The current system of a main bolt (which takes all of the load), secured to a backup bolt with a swaged steel cable has been used on Southern Sandstone for 30 years or more. However, updated expert advice has recommended that this changes to both bolts equalised to a central point, in line with standard practice elsewhere.

It is not possible to equalise the bolts with in situ equipment in a way that is both strong and will not cause damage to the rock so climbers will now need to equalise both bolts as part of their top-rope setup. In the short term, all swaged wire backups will be removed from bolted sandstone anchors as soon as possible. Additional bolts will be placed where needed at Harrison’s and Stone Farm Rocks as part of an ongoing BMC program of renewing and updating bolted anchors.

Visitors should arrive with equipment to allow them to equalise the double bolt anchors to a central point – there are many ways of doing this but the most common and easiest is to use either a sling or rigging rope with screw gates on each bolt. Remember to extend the anchor point sufficiently to prevent your climbing rope from wearing the rock. It’s a good idea to use rope protectors over any rigging to prevent damage to slings/ropes and the rock from normal movement whilst belaying.

Top Photo: one example of how to set up and equalised top rope anchor on two bolts with a sling. Note that here the sling is long enough that the central point hangs over the edge, which is essential to prevent wear from the moving climbing rope. In some cases, you will need to extend the central point to ensure it hangs over the edge of the crag, (as in the photo to the right).

The BMC would like to thank and acknowledge DMM for their assistance with testing."

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/changes-to-southern-sandstone-bolted-anchors

UKC form post here


Monday, 9 August 2021

Bowles Rocks - Opening Times Return to Normal (August 2021)

As of the 1st of August opening times for independent climbers at Bowles Rocks are 8am to duck. As always check their website for latest information. 


Bowles Notes:

We are pleased to be able to open the rocks as normal for August 2021, there are still some restrictions for July. There will be many Bowles groups on site during the weekdays in August, so it is likely the the Easy Gully Area the the Hargreaves Area will be in constant use.

As there are shared toilets, please ensure that you wash your hands regularly and only use the toilets one person at a time.

When open, we close at dusk and climbing/bouldering by torches/lights is not permitted. 

There is a charge of £5 per adult or £3 for under-16s. If the office is closed and there is no climbing collector please put the money in the ‘honesty’ boxes in the office entrance or by the barrier.  

Season tickets are available to purchase onsite for £50

Sunday, 8 August 2021

A Celebration of Southern Sandstone - An Interview With Daimon Beail

Back in June - Chimera Climbing interviewed Daimon Beail about Southern Sandstone. 

Chimera Climbing - "Daimon Beail kindly gave us some of his time to chat all things sandstone. From last year's 'war zone' to his hopes for this season and what is happening behind the scenes, it is well worth a read." Check out the interview here.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Bowles Opening Times for Independent Climbers - June and July 2021 (COVID)

An update from Bowles on opening times for independent climbers - June and July. As always check their website for latest information and changes.