Friday, 2 April 2021

Access Updates

Crags With Access Restrictions At Present

Crag/Rocks Open most weekends from the 3rd April 2021

Crag/Rocks - No climbing until further notice.

Check the RAD or COVID Page for the latest access information.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Charges for climbing at Harrison's Rocks - Summer 2021

Harrison’s Rocks will shortly be added to the list of outdoor crags in the south east
which will be charging its visitors who wish to climb at the rocks. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, BMC revenues have suffered and recovery funding has been looked at on a number of fronts, including charging to access BMC owned crags. 

Once funding stabilises proposals have been made for the installation and maintenance of wooden walkways and steps to help protect the ground, as well as implementing a full time warden. Funds will also be used for the ongoing costs of maintenance.

Work has already begun on building the reception area (pictured above), where daily tickets will be able to be purchased before heading to the rocks. Tickets will also be checked and and will be obtained at the rocks also. 

One welcomed addition will be that climbers will now have to sign a code of practice agreement which states they will adhere to the rules and be liable for any damage they cause if 'deliberately' not following them. 

Towels, carpets, rope protectors, super soft sandstone brushes and Eco Balls will also be on sale from the office until 'phase 2' is completed. 

Phase 2 expected in 2025 is a Forestry England Birchden wood visitor centre located where the toilet block is currently. Provisions for climbers, walkers and campers will be made available in a small purpose built eco friendly facility to the side of the building. The new building (architectural visualisation pictured) is for those seeking information on the area, refreshments and to make payments for rock climbing and camping. There will also be a small cafĂ© and shop. The shop will also be selling climbing items mentioned above as well as additional sandstone specific equipment. 

Phase 1 charging is not expected to come into effect until late summer 2021 and primarily for day climbers only. BMC discount for members will be available. 

For full details on the plans and proposed pricing, see the full BMC article here.

(April Fools News Item)

Sunday, 28 March 2021

29th March 2021 - Important Information

Cleaning feet before climbing is essential
The BMC have now published their take on the guidelines which come into effect on the 29th March 2021. 
The section on individuals is as follows.
  • All forms of outdoor sport and physical activity (including climbing and walking) have been allowed since 8th March and this continues to be the case from 29th March.
  • Groups of up to 6 individuals from different households or an unlimited number of people from two households can meet outdoors.
  • No social mixing is allowed indoors, other than for specific listed exceptions.
  • The ‘Stay at Home’ order will be lifted and although the overall message is to ‘stay local’, no legally defined acceptable travel distance within England has been set at this stage.
  • However, travel within England must be limited to day trips, as overnight stays are not permitted at this stage.
  • There are still restrictions on sharing transport in England, but at the time of writing the government guidance has not been updated.
The easter bank holiday weekend could well be extremley busy, so consider how apropriate your destination is for a visit and check all access arrangements.

Crag access and conditions are changing all the time so please ensure to check the BMC RAD or the COVID-19 page for up-to-date information. 

As always it is essential that all rope setups are done correctly, tooth brushes and bolder brushes stay at home and feet are cleaned with a towel or mat (winners use both) before stepping onto the rocks.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Update: Harrison's car park temporary closure - 22/23rd March 2021

Birchen Wood / Harrison's Rocks car park, which is owned by Forestry England,  will be closed on 22nd and 23rd March 2021 for maintenance work. 

The rocks will remain open to local visitors on foot and bicycle. As there is a lack of other appropriate parking, please avoid parking on the verges close to the rocks entrance, as this causes access issues on the narrow country lanes.

You can find up to date access information on the BMC Regional Access Database (RAD). 

Sunday, 10 January 2021

2020 South East Round Up

The annual 'South East Round Up' from Tom Gore is now live on UKC.  Click here for the article.

Friday, 4 December 2020

Winter Season

Lockdown 2 came to an end on 2nd of December 2020. Firstly, we would like to thank all those who respected the climbing suspension on southern sandstone and helped contribute to protecting this finite resource. It has been hard for us all not being able to climb, but looking at the bigger picture we can see why we have had to make the sacrifices we have over the past few weeks. Thank you! 

The climbing suspension status has now (cautiously) changed as the rocks are for the most part still out of condition and climbable rock is scarce. As indoor walls reopen, it is hoped that this will help alleviate the unprecedented demand for outdoor climbing for this time of the year. The BMC have put out the following statement about climbing on Southern Sandstone through the winter months.

"We are temporarily changing the advice in the code of practice regarding climbing in wet or damp conditions for this winter." 

  • Only climb on properly dry rock – this will usually take multiple days of dry weather in a row before a visit, and even then nothing is guaranteed.
  • If you are unsure, leave climbing for another day. It might be frustrating to travel only to find the crag isn’t in condition, but we all need to have the long term sustainability of the crags in mind. Once holds are snapped or damaged, they cannot be replaced.
  • Always follow the guidance in the Sandstone Code of Practice to ensure you have an enjoyable climb and do your bit to protect these amazing but fragile sandstone crags."

We are now also naming this period the Winter Season. Check the COVID-19 page and BMC RAD for any access updates.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Southern Sandstone Climbing Suspension - 10/11/2020

All climbers are now being asked to stop climbing on Southern Sandstone in the south-east of England. The BMC statement is as follows.

"We are appealing to all climbers to stop climbing on Southern Sandstone crags for now, to prevent damage to the crags whilst the rock is damp in the coming months. Significant and irreversible damage has already occurred since Lockdown 2 began due high numbers climbing on damp rock. Damp sandstone is weak sandstone and climbing on it greatly increases the likelihood of permanently damaging the route or problem being climbed. Snapped holds change the climbing forever: they cannot be replaced. Whilst pubic access isn’t changing and walking around the Southern Sandstone outcrops is fine, we are asking all climbers to help us conserve this amazing resource for the future - don’t climb for the time being".

We ask the climbing community to help spread the message and to give support at this time to help preserve the rocks and beloved climbs from being destroyed. This is until indoor walls reopen and the sandstone conditions improve. 

The full BMC article with the reasons why this decision has been made can be found here.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Crag Status Update - Lockdown 2 - 08.11.2020

Due to the current poor conditions it is strongly advised that people avoid climbing on Southern Sandstone outcrops throughout Lockdown 2 to avoid further Damage.

Currently there are only a very small number of climbs which are in condition. These climbs require care in order to ascend them. All other climbs are now damp/wet  and  are unsuitable for climbing at this time.  The extremely fragile southern sandstone crags in particular are even more at risk of damage if wet or damp. Understandably Southern Sandstone  has been the focal point of many south-east and London climbers this year, and increased numbers combined with damp rock has the potential to cause significant damage.

Crag/Rocks - Restricted: Very Limited Number of Climbs in Condition
Campsite - Closed
Toilet Facilities - Open 8am - 5pm
Carpark - Open 8am - 5pm

Crag/Rocks - Restricted: Very Limited Number of Climbs in Condition

Crag/Rocks - Closed from the 5th November 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Crag/Rocks - Closed from the 5th November 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Crag/Rock - Closed from the 5th November 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Crag/Rocks -  No climbing until further notice.

Crag/Rocks - No climbing until further notice.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Lockdown 2 - What You Need to Know - 05.11.2020

England goes into its second lockdown on Thursday 5th of November 2020. As climbing walls close again, outdoor crags come back into focus for many. The BMC has launched its latest statement about how the current restrictions will affect climbing. 

A large number of locations are now closed for Lockdown 2

Please see below and follow. Failure to comply could result in permanent loss of access moving forward.

Below are some sandstone related items to consider if you're planning to head out onto the sandstone over the autumn and winter period.

1.  Avoid Wet and Damp Conditions

BMC - "The extremely fragile southern sandstone crags, in particular, are even more at risk of damage if wet or damp. Understandably this area has been the focal point for a surge of south-east and London climbers this year, and increased numbers combined with damp rock has the potential to cause significant damage. Don’t be tempted to climb on fragile rock types if wet or damp, it is all too easy to accelerate rock erosion and snap small holds. If in doubt, leave it for a day when the rock is dry".

2. Check Access

Check the climbing area pages and the COVID-19 page for the latest access information. Additionally check the BMC RAD, though this may incur some delays as access changes. Note any access agreements and avoid locations which require verbal permission at this time.

3. Remember to Wipe Your Feet and Follow the Code of Practice

If conditions are favourable for outdoor sandstone climbing, remember to wipe your feet so they are 100% clean before touching the rock. Winter ground conditions cause unfavourable elements to stick to your feet. Do not put dirty feet on the rock. Ensure you are efficient with all top-rope setups. The code of practice can be found here.

4. Parking and Overnight Stays

Observe car parking opening and closing times to avoid any issues. No overnight stays away from your home, this includes campervans, tents and cars. See government guidelines.  

5. Keep Up To Date

Check the COVID-19 page for any changes to crag access or parking access.

5. Trying times

These are difficult times for all so help your fellow climber by sticking to the rules and be courteous to those who are taking whatever action is required at this time to protect themselves, and others. 

Climbing suspensions in place on some Southern Sandstone Outcrops (Lockdown 2).

Crag/Rocks - Restricted: Very Limited Number of Climbs in Condition
Campsite - Closed
Toilet Facilities - Open 8am - 5pm
Carpark - Open 8am - 5pm

Crag/Rocks - Restricted: Very Limited Number of Climbs in Condition

Crag/Rocks - Closed from the 5th November 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Crag/Rocks - Closed from the 5th November 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Crag/Rock - Closed from the 5th November 2020 (Lockdown 2)

Crag/Rocks -  No climbing until further notice.

Crag/Rocks - No climbing until further notice.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Harrison's Campsite Closure and Winter Carpark Times

Harrison's Campsite
Kate Harris at Forestry England gave the following statement regarding the campsite
closure in 2020.

"Unfortunately the campsite at Birchden will remain closed for 2020 but we hope to welcome you back in 2021.

The decision to keep the campsite closed has been a difficult one, and we understand how disappointing this news has been. It is important to us that when you stay at Birchden, you can do so safely and enjoyably and this is something we feel we would be unable to deliver this year.

Please note that camping is not permitted within the wider woodland due to the negative impact it poses for wildlife".

Please visit the website for current information.

It's safe to say that climbers are extremely grateful for the way that Forestry England has managed the campsite, carpark and toilet facilities since they took over management back in 2015. The closure of the campsite is completely understandable and necessary and we ask that no further requests be made to Forestry England concerning it's reopening this year or early next year due to the pandemic we are in. Please help support Forestry England when climbing and ensure you abide by all opening times, do not stay overnight and ensure to pay for the parking.   

Harrison's Carpark
As the clocks are changing at the end of the month, the carpark gates will be locked. From the 25th October 2020, the car park will be locked at 5pm.

Kate Harris - Forestry England - "I appreciate that this may cause an issue for some who like to climb the rocks at night but it is also when we are likely to start experiencing anti-social behaviour.”

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

The Second Generation - Rare Ascent

Ben Read has made a rare ascent of The Second Generation at High Rocks on the 20th September 2020. Graded at French 8a UK 6c, the climb has always been regarded as a significant test piece which has inspired many climbers but managed to evade ascents.

Originally an aid climb put up by Terry Tullis in the 1970's, it was then freed by sandstone prodigy Jasper Sharp in 1990. It was Dave Turner who repeated the line, and shortly after Ben Moon took the third ascent. Holds became worn on the climb and at some point some crucial holds unfortunately broke. It is believed that there has only been one ascent  approximately 10 years ago in its modified state. Ben's ascent is significant as a repeat of which he proposes the grade of a potential 8a+. It is also believed to be potentially harder than its neighbouring climb, Chimaera which is also 8a+ though this is yet to be confirmed.

Ben Noted: "It now involves a very hard sequence, holding a very small mono to get to another mono instead of the old figure of four move."

The break down is probably: UK 6b to the first set of good holds, then 2 UK 6c moves in a row, then a technical section of UK 6b to the top, giving an overall grade of French 8a / 8a+

Additional news also comes in the the form of an onsight of Kraite ArĂȘte by Ben Preston. This was his first trip to High Rocks and it is believed that Kraite Arete has only seen one onsight in its history by Tim Emmet.

Please remember that if visiting High Rocks, specific access agreement are in place.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Scoliosis - Significant New Hard Climb at High Rocks Annexe

Rhys Whitehouse has made a new and significant ascent of Scoliosis at High Rocks Annexe on the 11th September 2020. The route curves up the blank face to the left of the route Purgatory and has for many years been eyed up as a next generation sandstone climb. It took Rhys two years to finally make the ascent which is described as being impossible for the short, requiring balance and a hard pull to a sloper. Respectfully done on a top rope, and given the sandstone french grade of 8a+ (UK 7a), this has given High Rocks Annexe its hardest independent route to date. There are only a handful of climbs of this grade currently. One climb could be potentially harder, which is Peter Wycislik's 'Alone' at Eridge, though the rumoured grade of French 8b is yet to be confirmed.  

Rhys has expressed a desire to return to climb the route above mats to gain the high ball tick which he expects is in the region of font 7C+/8A.

Remember if you head to High Rocks Annexe, ensure you obtain permission as noted on the BMC RAD and all guidebooks. Failure to do so will jeopardise future access.  

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Bowles Rocks - All Day Weekend Climbing 19.09.2020

It’s nice to see things getting back to some sort of normality. Slowly but surely. Bowles Rocks: From the 19th September 2020 daytime weekend climbing is permitted. They will also be selling season tickets onsite from this week. This is alongside the rocks being open 5pm to dusk every weeknight.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

New Routes and Boulder Problems - Guidelines

If you think you have done a new route or problem and are looking at submitting new route information to UKC, then make sure you have checked out the current guidelines. These guidelines have been produced to help climbers understand the parameters of standard route recording and avoid any disappointment if their climb or problem is regrettably rejected. They are also available here.

Standard Definition of a New Route or Problem
The definition and parameters of a new route submission in the traditional sense is as follows:

1. A climb done on a section of rock where no climb has been done before.
2. A new significant independent start and/or finish to an existing climb.
3. A significant traverse. 

Significant is defined by a distance of approximately 1 meter away from an existing route or problem.

A submission of all the above types of first ascents would require the following information: 

Climb Name, Grade, First Ascent Details

Bouldering - Sometimes boulder problems have sit starts and alternative finishes added to them. In this case those additions would normally only incur a sub-note of information in a route description of which the grade and first ascent details would only be needed, as these variations are often part of the original problem. 

Eliminates and Variations

Climbs that eliminate holds do so by eliminating holds on climbs either side of them. These kinds of climbs are often narrow and restrictive in nature and do not allow for much/any deviation. New climbs in this style can be submitted in their full stature, though they are often seen as lesser climbs compared to original more independent climbs either side of them. 

Effects on original climbs - It is often the case that the original independent climbs become artificially restricted with the addition of eliminates being established next to them. In theory, eliminates generally are hard to establish without some form of incursion on an already established climb. Original climbs generally have much wider parameters to climb in with alternative holds are up for grabs, which can be used to climb a route in an alternative way. Some climbs which are established as being independent and often sandwiched between two other climbs do on some occasions utilise a hold from another climb or wander mildly into another climbs space. This is often deemed acceptable as long as this is kept to an absolute minimum, otherwise, the climb would become a variation of the climb it encroaches on.

Eliminates should in all instances be ignored when climbing an original climb.

The term variation is often applied to eliminate lines to allow for some misgivings, but it is expected that an eliminate climb is as independent as possible. 

Bridging - Where a climb is presented with a potential back wall to bridge against, the first recorded ascent style of that climb takes president with any subsequent elimination or addition of that back wall taking a secondary position within the description of the same climb. 

The elimination of holds or specific holds on climbs do not depict a new climb or problem of any kind unless it depicts the elimination of a main aid, such as an arete. 

Aretes - Climbs up the left side or right side of an arete would normally stand as independent climbs, as long as they do not violate a climb which purely climbs the arete in its own right using the left and right side when required. As such any addition to that original climb would become a sub climb of the original. 

Boulder Problems – Hold Specific

Hold specific problems will not be recorded due to the potential impact problems of this nature has on the rock and additional difficulty with documentation. This is where only specific holds are used for hands and feet as used on already existing problems.    

Boulder Problems – Existing Routes

Problems which are part of an existing full-length climb will only be noted if there is a sit start presented. A start and endpoint must be noted. Again, this would only be noted as a sub-note of the original climb.

Boulder Problems - Micro Variations

Micro variations will only be recorded as a variation of an existing problem as a sub-note. This is where an alternative (new) hold is used or removed to start an already existing problem and only changes the problem in a minor way. This would only require (Grade and First Ascent Details) It would only be noted as a sub-note of the original problem, though some originators may want to consider which micro variation becomes the dominant problem and weather a micro variation is valid or in fact needed. 

Boulder Problems - Links and Extensions

Links and extensions in this context fall more within the parameters of a traverse or boulder problem with regards to Southern Sandstone. A new traverse is defined traditionally as using a pre-defined line or area of holds permitted in order to traverse across a wall from a specific start and endpoint.

Those who add onto or into (or both) an existing traverse or problems should take into consideration the original traverse name and parameters. In general, new ground defines a new climb, but linking problems together is often done in various fashions and sometimes warrants an individual route description depending on the nature and length of the ascent, but often would just become a sub-note with a name associated with it. A sub-note would also occur if there is only a minor deviation of the existing traverse of the problem. 

Friday, 14 August 2020

High Rocks - Access Update - 12.08.2020

A new access agreement has been made which now reinstates top-rope climbing at High Rocks as of the 12th of August 2020. The agreement has been drawn up by Graham Adcock and Tim Daniells along with the owner. To ensure future access, climbers must be adhered to the rules. 

Bellow are the main points of which the full access document can be found here:

Climbing at High Rocks. 12th August 2020 - Rocks Open

Following agreement with the Owner, we are pleased to announce that limited climbing is now permitted at High Rocks. In order to ensure access is maintained, it is essential that the following restrictions and procedures are followed carefully. If conditions are abused, climbing will, once again, be suspended.

• Climbing will be available on weekdays when High Rocks is open. Some weekends are possible, especially Sundays. Availability will be made clear at pre-booking.

• Climbers must pre-book at least one day before you wish to climb.

• There will be no access for climbers turning up on the day without pre-booking.

• Book by telephone 01892 515532 or by email

• Climbing is £12 per person for the day. Payment will be taken when booking along with name and contact details.

• Opening time is 10:15 and closing will be about an hour before the light fails.

• Season tickets are not available.

• Access is for roped climbing only – bouldering and abseiling are not permitted.

• Climbers are to make themselves known to staff on arrival by using the intercom system at the gate and enter the rocks as directed. Access is only to be made through this gate.

• When climbing, please respect High Rocks’ staff requests to have your name checked against the day’s list or move to a different climb if requested.

Please note the following:

• No Bouldering/Bouldering mats.

• No abseiling.

• No Group climbing.

• All climbers must be age 18 or over. No children.

Check for updates on our main High Rocks page.